Twenty-four years ago, my family status went from “married, no children,” to “married, with one child.” My daughter’s birth in a hospital in London, England was a gift to her mom and I. We celebrated her birth with enthusiasm, complete with flowers, balloons, and Guinness Stout (it was England, after all). My daughter’s birth was my inauguration into the lesser-celebrated holiday of “Fathers’ Day.” As best as I can figure it out, husbands and fathers who were envious of Mothers’ Day created Fathers’ Day at the turn of the last century. Call it father’s envy.
I remember holding my sweet daughter close to my body, her small arms and legs moving slightly because she was wrapped tightly in large, warmed blankets. Deep inside me I knew that her life was going to be nothing like my life, and I almost wanted to apologize to her then and there. I wistfully told her to be ready for the ride of her life. While straight white parents in a middle-class suburb of Portland, Oregon, raised me, my daughter would have a life that was radically different than mine. It all has to do with who I am: at the time of her birth, I lived two lives: one life was as a husband, father, Presbyterian pastor, doctoral student and rising scholar who was trying to live out his parents dreams for his success. The other life was one in the closet as a gay man who lived a life filled with apprehension and an overwhelming sense of self-doubt.
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