For 16 years, I didn’t realize that I was the child of a bisexual parent. My parents divorced when I was four, and although there were a host of reasons contributing to that event, I never knew bisexuality was one of them. My father was awarded visitation rights, which meant I went to visit him every other weekend. Shortly after the split, Dad met someone and moved in with him. I assumed they were roommates, an assumption I held onto for a ridiculously long time and one that Dad never sought to challenge me on. I don’t know exactly when I became aware of homosexuality, but it was pretty early on in my childhood. In elementary school, my classmates would often call things “gay”, and because I didn’t want to expose my ignorance by asking them what that meant, I think I must have gone to an adult. When “gay” was explained to me, I still didn’t make any connections between that word and Dad. In many ways, he’s a typically masculine guy. He watches sports, drinks beer, and fixes stuff. He also has remarkable taste and skill when it comes to interior design, gardening, and flower arranging, so much that everyone says his home deserves to be featured in Martha Stewart Living. My stepdad was never interested in these activities, but I figured “to each his own.” Other people may have considered these things tell-tale signs of a man’s interest in other men, but I never did. Whenever one of my friends would meet Dad, they’d always ask me the question, to which I would confidently reply in the negative. However, by the age of 14 I figured out that Dad’s partner was gay from his effeminate manner and the growing presence of rainbow items in the house. It may sound like denial, but I honestly still thought they were roommates and that Dad was simply cool enough that he didn’t care what people thought about him living with a gay man! Finally Dad came out to me, and when he did he was so distraught I assumed that he was also going to tell me he was in the final stages of cancer. He wasn’t. I guess he thought I wouldn’t accept him, although I don’t know why because of all the values he has instilled in me, tolerance is at the forefront. Ten years later, I don’t see my father the bi man, I just see a man. I acknowledge the fact that he’s different from the average guy, whatever that may be, but I don’t let this one facet of his personhood define him. After all, the “straight” label doesn’t do a very good job of explaining much about straight people. We all get so caught up in these superficial, inadequate labels that we can lose sight of our shared humanity. For all of the differences that set people apart, there’s more to bring us together when we take the time to look. This I believe.
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