Unconditional Love: One Dad's Story


Unconditional Love: One Dad's Story

by Robert Byrne

I was sitting on the couch in our living room when my oldest daughter said she had something to tell me.  She sat down beside me and leaned against me, then told me she was bisexual.  I remember saying something that seems kind of inane in hindsight like, “It’s OK,” but that was exactly what I meant. It didn’t make any difference to me. She is my daughter and I adore her. Like any dad, I want her to find happiness and success in life. She’s a wonderful, caring, thoughtful, smart, and very funny person.

Later on, I started to worry about her, of course. She’s already a woman going into a technical field, where she is likely to experience gender discrimination. How much more discrimination might she face now? Will she be able to get married in whatever state or country she winds up living in? Luckily, things are changing for the better. And perhaps not surprisingly, I’ve taken much more interest in and become more supportive of LGBT equality.

It’s been kind of fun, too. We always did things together, of course, but now she’s started dressing more like me (boys’ jeans and t-shirts) so we can agree on the merits of having a pocket deep enough to hold your wallet. She also did a very credible job of dressing up like me for Halloween.

I was struck by how odd it is that LGBT people have to “come out.” Society doesn’t expect you to declare your ethnic heritage, religious beliefs, or lack thereof. And I don’t think most people would worry about how their family and friends would take it if they did. It is so sad to me that kids have to worry about whether their own parents and friends will reject them because of who they are. And it is even sadder that this happens.

If your child comes out to you, the most important thing to realize is that you love them more than ANYTHING. You may feel confused, upset, or even angry at first, but your child has just shared part of who they are with you, and they are waiting to hear that you still love them. This may have changed your world, but they are the exact same person they were before they told you. It’s up to you to let them know nothing has changed your love for them.

Remember that your child hasn’t changed, although your feelings may have, you can still relate to them the same way you did before. It’s OK to be confused and it’s good to educate yourself. But remember that your kids love and respect you, and that rejecting them will only hurt both of you immeasurably.

-Robert, 55