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I knew that already Dad

I have just come out of a 14-year relationship with a woman, who came to live with me along with Robert, her then 18 months old son, in 1987. I was 34 then and she and I both knew that I was gay, but felt that our love for each other and for Robert would conquer all. At the time, I had not explored my "gayness" very much and did not have any gay friends or acquaintances.

Although we did not marry, we lived together as a conventional family unit and I ceased exploring my gayness. I became Robert's de facto father, although he has not been formally adopted. (Robert has had no contact with his birth father, who cut himself off from his family and friends as part of a fundamentalist religious movement at about the time of Robert's birth.)

Our love did, and does, conquer most of life's challenges, although I went through various periods when the pressure of my subordinated and invisible identity was very great. Until recently, however, my overriding concern had been to continue to provide a stable and loving home environment for our son and the desire to do that, along with the pleasure of parenting, outweighed the pressure to express my gayness.

Over the years I progressively come out to my siblings and my friends, but not to my parents or work colleagues. In any event, whether out to them or not, I wasn't doing anything about it and presented the picture of the seemingly straight family man. I was frustrated that part of my true identity was invisible.

About a year ago the pressure became overwhelming and I initiated discussions in an attempt to find a way of relieving the pressure without breaking the family apart. We agreed that we would stay together as a family but that I could explore my gayness externally. "If you have got to do it, then go and do it". I also wanted to tell our son that I was gay, but agreed not to force the issue whilst we tried to work out how we were going to take our lives forward.

I set about trying to end my isolation. I had become aware of the existence of the Gay Dads group through a newspaper article and went to my first meeting about 2 months later. It was immediately tremendously helpful to be in the company of gay men who had children, and indeed gay men! I also joined the Gay Outdoor Club (GOC) and started going on their walks and cycle rides as well as their monthly socials. Other than daytime visits to the Blue Moon café I had not been in an Edinburgh scene venue for 14 years - and all of them were different now! In the intervening months I have been going out to gay events and both the Gay Dads and the GOC socials have given me a framework for socialising in a gay friendly and gay parent friendly environment.

That has been good for me, but less so for my partner. We eventually concluded that the best way forward was for us to separate, so that each of us could take our lives forward constructively. This was easier to allow ourselves to do as our son was almost 16. Nonetheless, we were both very concerned that his interests should be paramount, but, and this was a first for us, we would allow ourselves to give some weighting to our own needs.

We fretted for some time about how and when to tell him. We took advantage of a "window" during his school holidays after he returned from a month long trip abroad and before the start of the new academic year. We sat down together with him for a "family discussion". I said that we had something to tell him and that it was that I was gay. He interrupted immediately with "I know that, Dad", which rather upscuttled the carefully rehearsed follow on about the separation! Adding, "I have known for two years, since finding something on the computers Temporary Internet files about fathers coming out to their sons"! "And what did you think when you saw it?" "I just thought - oh well!"

In many ways we were much more worried about how he would react to the news about the separation, but he was equally laid back about that too. He asked some pertinent questions about logistics and finances then made some jokes about getting double pocket money and being able to play us off against each other! All in all, neither of us could believe that the thing had gone so well and we both felt very proud of him. The release of tension was enormous for both of us.

I have since come out to my parents (both age 75) and, after the initial surprise, got a very supportive reaction of "if you are happy, then we are happy". And I am.

Other stories...

 A Traveller's tale
Tom's story
Turning my world upside down
David the military officer
Scared of judgement

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