Muffled sobs could be heard from the table of gay boys at the back of the reception room as my father addressed the crowd.
“You sure know how to work an audience, Dad,” I thought, feeling a lump rise in my throat.
I had felt a similar knot several decades earlier when sitting in a café with my mother. We were sharing a huge dessert comprising of twelve scoops of ice-cream, melted chocolate and a heap of cream. She was aware I had something important to tell her and I knew I would be stalling hence the big order. Half an hour later I’d come out to her. She told me she loved me and would support me, and we ordered coffee to warm up our frozen teeth. Opening up to my father was a lot harder. I couldn’t pin point the reasons why. The anticipation was definitely worse than the outcome. Perhaps it had to do with natural instinct, masculinity issues, fear of rejection or fear of disappointing him. I may also have been worried about lineage and how he’d react to not having the family name passed on.
Luckily, I never experienced anything but love and acceptance from my father. He and my mother not only adapted to the situation seamlessly, but they also welcomed MBH (my better half) into the family when we announced our engagement and subsequent wedding. The greatest gift my parents could ever give me was to fly half-way round the world to attend our commitment ceremony.
One of the many highlights of the reception occurred when my father took to the lectern. Having ditched his notes in favour of an improvised speech, he spoke from the heart.
“By now, you’ve heard that my wife and I live in Switzerland and we spend a lot of time in the mountains trekking. Every time we take on a new path, we always ask ourselves, ‘Is it going to be steep. Is it going to be rough?’ It’s always hard going, but ultimately you get to that place where it’s level,” he said.
“The weather is marvellous. You’re looking down the valley at cars the size of bugs and all your problems seem quite small in comparison.”
Pointing towards MBH and myself, he added, “I think these guys have gone through the steep part. They’ve spent half a lifetime looking for each other. Perhaps now that they’ve found each other, they’re on the flat part. The wind’s behind them. The sun’s in their face. They can relax and enjoy their journey.”
As my father lifted his glass to toast us, several of our gay friends took to tissues, wiping away their tears.
By LUKE BRIGHTY