Loving My Dad, Today

By: Johnnie R. Kornegay, III

In 1997 I began the very personal journey of fully accepting my sexuality. In my case, at that time, bisexuality was transitional. I knew it, but I couldn't say "gay" yet to anyone. We were in the car. I had finally gotten up the nerve to tell him. Holding a big revelation like that in was beginning to take a mental toll on me. I'm strong, but something had to give, and soon. In that car, at that moment I said it - "Dad, I'm bisexual." That was a lie.

I didn't have an expectation for what he'd say completely. What he said was something along the lines of "What?!" From the tone, I knew this was not what he wanted or expected, at least not right then. We discussed it potentially being a phase. Well, I was told it might be just a phase. I wanted the discussion to end quickly, so I didn't retort. I knew it was not a phase.

It was small things that I began to shed light on, at first. The first thing that had to stop - using the word "faggot." Faggot is a word that I grew up hearing all around me. It was a catch all word used to emasculate men, and it cut like a knife, because no one wanted to be a faggot. I began to correct him respectfully when he'd use the word. I'd ask him to please say "homosexual." He'd then restate whatever he'd said using that term instead. He caught himself one day, rolled back faggot and replaced it. This was a breakthrough. As ridiculous as it sounds to me now, it actually worked.

He always told me he loved me. It was so normal that I didn't think anything of it. Even though my perception was that I wasn't living completely up to his expectations of who he wanted me to be, I recognized that he saw me as a whole person; his son, whom he loved.

When I was about 25, I officially came out to my entire family, Mom, Dad and my brother, in a meeting in our house. "Everybody, I have something to tell you. I'm gay." Dad said "that doesn't matter, you're always going to be my son, and I love you."