One of the horrible things about growing up gay is the fear of rejection by one of your parents. What’s even worse is if it actually happens. I'll never truly understand why my father refuses to have a relationship with either me or my wonderful fiancé, but the mystery doesn’t make being estranged from the man who raised you any easier. Normally I can brush it off. The majority of my family (including his namesake) accept and love me.
Still, with Father's Day fast approaching it’s hard to not feel the sorrow thinking that your father kinda hates you. What gets me through is the love of my fiancé, my friends and the rest of my family. Three of the most important women in my life are my grandmother, my mother and Donna Meagle, so for this Father's Day I am going to follow their advice to Treat Yo Self. While these things can never replace a father’s love, they can make getting through this day much more bearable.
1. Madonna's Like A Prayer on vinyl
Like most gay kids who grew up in the '80s, I had a pretty strong affinity for all things Madonna. When HBO aired her Blonde Ambition tour, I made my father record it on tape because we were going on a trip. I must have watched that concert every day for a month. As I look back on that time, I can’t believe my parents were surprised when I eventually came out. Aside from the title track being one of her best songs, there’s one poignant song called “O Father” with lyrics which pretty much express how I sometimes feel about my dad. You could probably just stream it on Spotify or Apple Music, but vinyl is more in vogue and makes a great art piece.
2. Gay Pride t-shirts from Threadless
It’s a strange coincidence that Houston Pride and Father’s Day occur during the same month. Several years before I came out, I wore a Threadless t-shirt of two unicorns and a rainbow. Other than the unicorns humping, I didn’t think there was anything offensive about it. When my father saw it, the first thing he noticed was the rainbow and said that it was one of “their” shirts. I was too scared to proclaim that it was one of “my” shirts. Being out and gay is something that’s both a source of pride and a source of pain. It’s better to embrace the community then give into the pain. So later this month, I choose to defy his prejudice and wear this shirt while I march with my partner.
3. A vintage video game system
Before my biggest gripes with my father were that he doesn’t talk to me and his inability to accept my lifestyle, it was that he never bought me the Sega Genesis I always wanted. While I still had an NES, SNES and a Gameboy, I felt I missed out on some bitchin' games like Sonic the Hedgehog, Phantasy Star IV, and Gunstar Heroes. I'm sure at one point I stormed out of the room yelling “You don't love me!” at one point. Now that we’re adults with access to our own money and Ebay, why not prove to your father that you’re your own adult who can buy your own damn games. Plus, the endless hours of “blast processing” could distract from missing out on Father's’ Day lunches at the nearest Cheddar’s.
4. Any of the following movies for a Daddy Issues Film Festival:
The original Star Wars trilogy (daddy issues for nerds, and to remind you of the good memories you have with your father); Mommie Dearest (see, one person who has a worse parent than you); Paris is Burning (sometimes you have to build your own family if you feel you can’t handle your own); The Road (maybe a nuclear apocalypse road trip is the one thing that could bring you and your father together); But I’m A Cheerleader (the one thing worse than being ignored is trying to be scared straight); Mad Max: Fury Road (no reason, it’s just a badass movie).
5. Donate money in his name to PFLAG
As an adult, I've had plenty of time to deal with issues about my father. Even though we've made great strides as a civilization, there are probably plenty of GLBTQ teens struggling with parental acceptance. Organizations like PFLAG provide services search as counseling and outreach to help prevent someone from going through what I sometimes struggle with. To add a little snark, donate the money in their name. If they ever get a thank you card or some acknowledgement, maybe they'll realize the having a gay kid is neither unique nor a tragedy.
6. Be happy
No matter what you get yourself for Neglectful Father's Day, the most important thing to get is a moment of happiness. Know that you are loved, and that even if one man isn't there, there are plenty of people who will be there you. It's the love from others and loving yourself that can help fill the void he left behind. Being happy no matter how much he's not there is the best gift of all.