With Father’s day coming up, I was asked to write a piece about being a Dad. I’m the incredibly proud father of two great kids, and grandfather of two beautiful boys. It’s not been an easy life, two divorces, multiple moves, new jobs, etc, but it’s not a life I would want changed for anything.
I struggled for quite a while over what to write, until this morning. On Tuesday night, a young man named Jonathan Allen walked out onto the stage for an audition for America’s Got Talent. He took down the roof with his rendition of Time to Say Goodbye. That wasn’t the best part…The best part was Howie Mandell’s response to Jonathan. You see, Jonathan was kicked out of his family a little over two years ago, on his 18th birthday, simply because he’s gay. Howie, on behalf of America’s Got Talent, basically “adopted” Jonathan.
As a father, it amazes me (not in a good way) that any parent could completely turn their back on their child. Children NEVER ask to be born. Parents bring their kids into the world, and in doing so, (hopefully) accept the responsibilities of being a parent. It’s always been my contention, since I can remember, that a parent’s love is unconditional. You can’t simply tell your kid “If you don’t as I say, and live as I want you to, I won’t love you.” I’ve seen this happen to a friend, whose parents disowned her completely because they didn’t like the guy she was living with. Later, after she broke up with him, and met and married someone “acceptable,” they “welcomed” her back into their family.
In my opinion, Jonathan’s “parents” are NOT fit to carry that title. To me, and again, this is only my opinion, they are nothing more than an egg and sperm donor. However, watching Jonathan’s obvious love for these people was inspiring.
About a year ago, my then 12 year old son and I were visiting my Mom. During a conversation about the work I do for Equality, my Mom looks me in the eye and asked me “What would you do if Luke came out to you? Would you be upset?” I looked straight back at her and said, “Yes…but only if he was ashamed of it.” In all honesty, I really don’t care who my kids fall in love with, as long as they love, and are loved in return. My daughter is married to an exceptional man, who is a great husband to her and extraordinary father to my grandsons, and my son, now 13, has his first girlfriend. I couldn’t be happier for them.
I guess what I’m really trying to say is that being a father is the most rewarding thing a man can aspire to. It’s also one of the hardest, most frustrating things a man can live through, but if, like me, you can sit back and see success in your children, you have every right to be proud. I am proud. My kids may not be millionaires, world leaders, or famous in any way, but they are both loving, caring, and totally accepting people. To me, this is the true success in life.
And if necessary, Jonathan Allen, I would be incredibly proud to call you my son!
Happy Father’s Day to ALL Dads, and everyone who fills the role of Dad!
(and BTW, Luke…this does NOT get you out of going to university, and getting a job, so you can support me in my old age! LOL)
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- A Gay Dad’s Requiem for Robin Williams, the Icon of the Modern Father
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