When I came out to my Dad in 1983 he wasn't happy. But I was single and kept a low profile and never gave him any real reason to deal with who I was. So we enjoyed an uneasy peace between us for many years.
Then I met Bill.
Bill and I knew we each had found someone who would be there no matter what. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part…though back then in New York State we weren't permitted to take those vows.
From the beginning, my brothers, my sisters-in-law and my nieces and nephews loved Bill and embraced him as one of the family. But the best we could ever get out of my Dad was….cordial.
So we lived our lives. We worked hard, we bought a house, we decorated. We volunteered, we paid our taxes. We decorated again! We did what people do. We were a team - Bill and Charlie.
Then, when Bill was 40 years old he was diagnosed with the same cancer my mother had died from many years earlier. And when my Dad saw how bravely Bill fought his disease - just like my Mom had, and how fiercely I cared for Bill - just like he had cared for my Mom, he finally began to understand that we were just like him.
And when Bill died at age 52, just about the same age my Mom was when she died, my father was inconsolable. When just before he died at age 90, my Dad told me he would look for Bill in heaven and tell him I was okay.
Bill died before marriage equality was passed in New York State so even though we were together for 20 years, we never got to say "I do!" But if you had asked my father at the end of his life if he approved of my relationship with Bill, he would have said "I do!"