Father’s Day is just around the corner. That’s why I thought to write you this letter. I am writing this letter to thank you for everything you’ve done for me, because I don’t have the money to thank you with a haul of new duck decoys from Bass Pro Shop or your favorite meal of fish n’ chips from Uncle Buck’s.
I am also writing this letter because there are things about me that, even after being my father for 20+ years now, you do not know. As your youngest child and only daughter, our relationship is unique and worth cherishing, which is why it’s crucial that I remain transparent and truthful with you from this moment forth. The blunt honesty that I’m about to hurl at you in this letter is my way of saying “I trust you.” It’s also my way of thanking you for being a father I can confide in, a father that I desire to deepen my relationship with, a father that I do not want to lie to or hide from any longer.
It is no secret that you and I are on polar opposite ends of the political spectrum. I often laugh about the fact that, on the rare occasions when I am home, I’m in the living room watching CNN and you’re in your bedroom watching Fox News. As you clean your guns and prepare to go hunting, I’m on my way to my favorite restaurant with the extra-gooey vegan cheese that I like, crying as I’m driving because I pass a truck full of animals on their way to becoming someone’s dinner. You’ve vocalized your distaste for Bernie Sanders; I’ve vocalized mine for every Republican candidate, ever. You think that women shouldn’t have hairy armpits or hairy legs; I think those beauty standards are a result of the heteronormative patriarchy that we live in and that razors are a waste of my money, and shaving is a waste of my precious time. Mom says I’m barred from discussing politics with you while I’m home, and I’m sure she’s told you the same. “I don’t want politics to cause any unnecessary rifts in your relationship. It’s too important,” she’s said, so I bite my tongue more often than I would like because I know she’s right.
You are a Republican; I am a Democrat. But above all, you are my father, and I am your daughter, and you deserve to know me – all of me – for who I truly am. It is the least I can offer you as a sign of my gratitude. So, I’ll say this as simply as I possibly can.
Dad, I am your daughter and I love you.
I am your daughter, and I am queer.
I am your daughter, I am queer, and I do not want to keep my identity a secret from you any longer.
I guess I should elaborate on what “being queer” means to me, as I know you aren’t well-versed on the subject, and it is a vague term. I don’t consider myself to be a lesbian, but I am most definitely not straight. I suppose one could say I’m bisexual, but the restrictions that come with that label make it less accommodating than I would like it to be. Let’s just say that, in relationships, gender is not important to me; it is not a deciding factor. What is important to me is a loving, mental bond based on things like intelligence and empathy, compassion and shared ideals, the ability to make me laugh, or to console me and spoon-feed me ice cream when I need to cry; and these are things that are not offered strictly by any person of a specific gender.
Dad, I am queer. I am queer, but I am still your daughter.
I’m still the daughter, three feet tall, head full of blonde ringlets, who ran to you at the airport whenever you would return from a business trip, new stuffed animals in tow that you handpicked just for her.
I’m still the daughter, four years old, who could locate you in the pitch dark during a game of hide and seek because she could smell your deodorant in the closet, the daughter that yelled “it smells like Dad in here!” and won the game as a result.
I’m still the daughter, the stubborn, failure-fearing “Gabby Goose” who crashed a bicycle at age five and swore to never mount one of those two-wheeled monsters again and who has held her word to this day.
I’m still the daughter whose violin concerts and solo contests you attended regularly for ten years, the daughter who covered her instrument in shimmering wrapping paper for sake of standing out and being colorful amidst the wooden sea of the orchestra.
I’m still the daughter who, at age eight, decided she was going to be a professional soccer player, the next Mia Hamm, the daughter you spent countless hours, days, and years working with to achieve those ambitious goals; the daughter who would snuggle up with you on the couch and scream for Manchester United with, the daughter who named every soccer ball she ever owned, the daughter whose limp and broken-boned body you had to carry off the field and into the hospital on multiple occasions after suffering a nasty slide-tackle.
I’m still the nine-year-old daughter who would rub mud on her face before soccer matches to intimidate the other team, the eleven-year-old daughter who decided boys were weaker than her, less athletic than her, and were going to be trampled and embarrassed by her, the thirteen-year-old daughter who decided traveling six hours a night for practices was a necessary sacrifice if I wanted to play a Division I sport, the seventeen-year-old daughter who sobbed for nights on end when she realized she was far too injured, her body far too worn and ragged to play soccer anymore, the daughter who thought that, because of this, she was failing her father.
I am your daughter, I am queer, and I have not told you until now because I’m still afraid of disappointing my father.
I am your daughter and I’m not “going through a phase.” I knew this about myself before I graduated high school, and I kept it from everyone, including myself, for longer than I should have.
I am your daughter, and I have fallen hard for women in my life, and I have had my heart broken by women, just as I have by (dumb) boys.
I am your daughter, and, as a woman, society has taught me to hate myself. As a queer woman, there have been points when I’ve felt that I shouldn’t even exist. This is why there are webs of scars covering my hips, my arms, and my wrists: scars that I’m sure you have noticed, but have never commented on.
I am your daughter, and for years I have struggled to love myself, to value my body and my existence. Now I’m 20-years-old, and I’m finally learning to embrace myself – all of myself – and I need your acceptance and your support more than ever.
I’m your daughter, the daughter who shares your love of Tom Petty, of Fleetwood Mac, of dogs, of stupidly-hilarious television shows, of The Lord of the Rings, of mountainous plates of spaghetti, of dinner dates at Sushigawa.
I am your daughter and I need to know that, if I ever bring home a same-sex partner, I will have your support. I need to know that you will promise to love whomever I love and whoever loves me, that you will not flinch when they hold my hand, that you’ll smile when they make me smile, that you’ll welcome them into the family as you would someone of the opposite sex.
Dad, I am still your daughter, though I am queer. And I hope that, after reading this, you still love me as much as you loved all of the past versions of me that I’ve mentioned in this letter, because despite all of our differences, I have and always will love you unconditionally.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. And thank you, thank you, thank you, for everything you have done to make me the person I am today.
With love forever and always,
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