I have a lot of weird and funny stories about the relationship I had with my father. He was a gay man, but was in the closet to me for 10 years after he left my mother, even though I always knew the truth. In fact, it was so undeniable and obvious that I could write an entire comedic movie about that decade where we didn’t acknowledge the big pink elephant in the room.
My dad and his boyfriend, whom he called his “roommate,” lived in Dallas, Texas, and I was living in San Francisco, attending college. I went home to visit every Christmas. At some point, he started spending so much time at his local favorite gay bar that he could no longer be bothered to actually drive to the airport and pick me up when I got to town. Three years in a row, he sent a town car to collect me from the airport, and take me directly to the gay bar. I always found this laughable, since he never “came out” to me and never ever spoke about or acknowledged that he was gay.
On this particular Christmas visit, I arrived at the bar straight from the airport, and it was packed. My father’s friend who is a singer was onstage performing her set. Her name is Linda Petty, and she has a beautiful voice and has been nominated for a Grammy in the past, alongside crooners like Barbara Streisand. Linda was about halfway through her set and I guess she and my father had agreed beforehand that when I arrived, she would announce my arrival to the crowd and dedicate a song to me. It was a lot to walk into! My father was so well-liked that he was like a minor celebrity there and that’s probably why all the hoopla about my arrival to the party… That and I think he enjoyed showing me off and also embarrassing me.
I walked in, and sat at a table with my father, his friends, and his boyfriend. Linda announced, “Dale’s daughter is here, all the way from San Francisco!” And then she dedicated the next song in her set to me. I don’t think she realized what the next song was until she began to sing it…
“She gets too hungry for dinner at eight
She likes the theatre and never comes late
She never bothers with people she’d hate
That’s why the lady is a tramp”
I looked at my dad and said, “Hey! Just what is she trying to say?” and we laughed our heads off. “The lady is a tramp.” This is what Christmases with my dad were like. I do love that song, but that was a funny thing to dedicate to me.
I loved having a Gay Dad. I truly did. We had so many funny times, and I hope to share more of them. This week’s historic Supreme Court decision to legalize Gay Marriage in the U.S. makes me miss him even more. I wish he was here so we could talk about it.