This is a long post, I know. But the words just poured forth. I didn’t want to split it into more than one post because the guy in this photo is who inspired the story you’re about to read. I didn’t want to associate a photo of a different guy with the rest of the story.
Is it still called unrequited love if the guy you’re pining for knows how you feel? You told your parents you were gay at 15. You told him how you feel about him - how you’ve felt about him ever since puberty - when you were 18 that summer before leaving for college. Pretty ballsy to come right out and say it, right? Alcohol really is a truth serum like they say it is. He acted like you never said what you said to him and you went off to college 1,000 miles away with a heavy heart.
All four years at college and the next two of post-graduate school, you dated guys off and on. A couple along the way were even serious enough that you brought them home to meet your parents. Talk about awkward. Although it was apparently only awkward for you. He never acted like it mattered to him that just a few years ago, you had poured your heart and your feelings out to him and now here you were having some other guy’s arms around you. A couple times over the years, you tried to revisit the conversation from when you were 18 with him…even one time to the point that you had gotten a lucrative job offer from a firm in Chicago, but you had come to him hoping he’d give you a reason to turn it down and accept a job closer to home. But he shut you down every time you tried to talk to him about it.
A couple years into your new job, despite a murderous work schedule of 60 to 70 hours a week, you managed to meet someone and it became serious. More serious than any other relationship you’d ever been in. You’d been dating for over a year when, out of the blue, at a romantic dinner in a restaurant overlooking Lake Michigan, your man proposed. You accepted because you had fallen in love. The problem was, you didn’t love your fiance the way you loved Him. Even now as the two of you are planning your wedding, He is still in the back of your mind. Every time your phone rings, a small part of you keeps hoping it’s him, calling to tell you not to get married. But it’s never him calling…at least not for the reason you want him to call.
Shortly before your wedding was to take place, during a visit back home, some friends threw a bachelor party of sorts for you. As supportive as they’ve been of you ever since you came out, none of them could bring themselves to hire male strippers for you, so it wasn’t THAT kind of bachelor party. It was more of a gathering with food for people to visit and catch up. Your fiance couldn’t make it. He had to stay back in Chicago for work. But He was there. The two of you had a few polite, normal conversations throughout the party. When you were talking with others, your eyes would sometimes divert to him, involved in some other conversation in the room. God. Even after all these years. Even with you days away from getting married, he still brought out feelings in you that no one else did.
After a few hours, the party wound down. Everyone had left except for the two of you. You were sitting out on the back deck, looking up at the stars and talking. Both of you had downed a couple beers throughout the night and you each had a bottle in your hand now. Truth serum again… He’d been talking to you for the past few minutes about marriage. How it’s the greatest thing in the world and it shouldn’t be taken for granted. How you and your fiance should cherish each other and treat each other well. Keep communication lines open. Don’t go to bed angry…shit like that. Typical fatherly advice. During a lull in the conversation, you stood up and walked to lean over the deck. He joined you. You turned and looked at each other and that’s when the truth serum - mixed with a little bit of courage builder - did its trick on you again.
“I love you, Dad” you said with what sounded to you like deep longing in your voice. You meant I love you as more than just something a child says to their parent out of habit. But when he responded, almost reflexively, with, “I love you too, Son.” you knew he only said it about of habit. Maybe he thought, after all these years, your feelings might have gone away. Or, now that you were getting married, those feelings you told him about all those years ago didn’t matter anymore. The extra courage the alcohol was giving you compelled you to lean over and show Dad what you meant when you said I love you. While you were still looking at each other, you leaned in and kissed him. Maybe because he was so surprised. Maybe because it’s a reflex when someone kisses you. Or maybe it was for another reason… He kissed you back. In that moment, all of the feelings you’d had for nearly 20 years welled up inside you. Even though it was just a small kiss, not even any tongue involved, it was the most special thing that had ever happened to you. It was as if you’d never known love before you kissed him. It was then that you knew for sure that everything you had felt for him all of these years was right, no matter how many ways since the day you told him how you felt about him he’d tried to tell you it was wrong.
Though it seemed like several minutes, it was probably only a few seconds. Dad jerked backward suddenly…ending your rapture. “Son, no! No. That didn’t just happen.”
“But it did, Dad. It definitely happened.”
“Listen to what I’m saying, Son,” he said firmly. “This did NOT just happen.” I knew that tone of voice. In my youth, it meant what he said was the final word and he shouldn’t be challenged any further. However, I wasn’t eight years old anymore and more was at stake this time than a bike or a video game that I wanted.
He turned and started walking back into the house when I grabbed his arm. “Dad, we have to talk about this. I’m supposed to get married in one week. I can’t marry Doug now that this has happened. You can’t tell me you didn’t feel the same thing I felt.”
With almost steely coldness in his eyes, Dad shut me down yet again like he had so many times before. “Yes you CAN marry Doug. You love Doug. Doug loves you. What just happened, which - like I already told you, DIDN’T happen - shouldn’t have happened. Tomorrow morning, you’re going to fly back to Chicago and be with your fiance. And you most certainly WILL get married.” With that, he walked inside and went directly up to bed, leaving me standing there, brokenhearted again.
The next morning, he acted as if last night hadn’t happened. He went out of his way to make sure he wasn’t alone with me. When I was getting ready to leave for the airport, he hugged me. But I knew it was only for my mom’s benefit, so she wouldn’t think anything was wrong.
I went back to Chicago and tried to settle back into my life after that unsettling trip back home. My wedding day came and went. All of my family and friends were there…including Dad. Doug’s family and friends were there too. It was a beautiful ceremony. But the whole time, I kept picturing Dad when I was looking at Doug, pledging my love and fidelity to him as he was to me. Some of you are probably calling me a scumbag for marrying Doug when, just a week before, I had been ready to call it all off and basically told Dad I didn’t even want to marry Doug. The truth is, I knew Doug loved me and I cared very much for him. You’ve heard the phrase, “fake it until you make it”? I thought once we were married, if I tried hard enough, the type of feelings I had for Dad would develop for Doug.
We’d been married for about a year when I got a call from one of my sisters. I needed to come home right away. I dropped everything and home I went with Doug in tow. It was my mom. She’d been feeling under the weather for over a year, but never did anything about it. “It’s just a nagging cold. I’ll be fine.” The cold never went away, though. Finally, after prodding from my father and both of my sisters, she went to see the doctor two months ago and was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and told she only had a few months left. I went back home shortly after her diagnosis to spend time with the family. With my sisters, cousins, aunts, and uncles hovering around, fussing over Mom, I felt like dead weight. I did manage to spend some time alone with her before she insisted that I go back to Chicago. “I’m fine, Honey,” she said. “You always hear stories on the news about someone who is given months or weeks to live and, six years later, they’re still alive and kicking. That’s gonna be me!” Only, it wasn’t to be the case this time.
After I hung up with my sister, I headed home right away, understanding that this might be the end. I made it back home and had time alone with Mom before she passed away. Doug and I stayed for the whole week, through the funeral. After the service, during a moment at the house when Dad and I were alone in the kitchen together, we hugged and cried. I think it was the first time we had been truly emotional with each other since that week before my wedding. There was no romance or sexual energy to anything that was happening in that moment. Just two guys remembering the woman they both loved. A couple days after the funeral, after being assured by my sisters and father that they would be okay, Doug and I went back to Chicago and our lives.
Six months later, I got another call from my sister, Bree. “You need to come home…NOW!” I got a lump in my throat and my heart dropped. Not Dad too! After further conversation with her, my worst fears weren’t realized. Dad wasn’t dying. But things weren’t good. He’d sunk into a deep depression after Mom’s death. He stopped going out and doing things. He spent all of his time inside either watching TV or staring out the windows. Nothing anyone in my family had tried to snap him out of it was working. A once-vibrant man appeared to be wasting away. Noting the special relationship he and I had always had, Bree asked me to come home. Maybe I could finally make some headway with Dad. I took a week off from work and went home, leaving Doug in Chicago. “You need to be with your family and help your Dad,” he told me when I tried to convince him to come along.
The first few days I was there, it was the whole family together. Dad was behaving the exact way my sister described. He didn’t even want to spend time with all of us. I also noticed that Dad, who had always been so particular about staying fit and keeping in shape, had put on quite a bit of weight since my mom passed. Part of the depression, I reasoned. The afternoon of the third day I was there, I called my therapist’s office back in Chicago. Yes. I’ve seen a therapist from time to time. Everyone - even the most “together” person on the planet - needs an emotional “tune-up” from time to time…just to make sure nothing bad was building up inside. I got a referral for a therapist here in town…someone my own doctor had gone to school with and was old friends with. The next day, I sent my sisters and their husbands out so I could be alone with Dad. We had a long talk about life, about Mom, about what had been happening to him over the past few months. Dad opened up to me about the way that he had been feeling and I have to say, it was pretty heartbreaking…not only as a son, but as someone who was in love with him. The son in me - as well as the lover - just wanted to pull him into a hug and never let go. Dad agreed that he needed to get a grip on his life again. But when I pulled out the information about the therapist, he flat-out refused. It was time to pull out the big guns…and maybe a cliche or two, if necessary.
“Dad, I think it’s great that you finally want to turn your life around. But this is too big for you to do on your own. Stacey, Bree, and I are here for you…and so are Doug, Rich, and Greg” referring to our husbands, “but none of us is a professional. Neither are you. We all love you and we don’t want you to keep wasting away or slip back into this deep depression. Please see the doctor.”
“You’re not going to let up, are you?”
“I’m a lawyer. We don’t know how to let up. I may be all the way in Chicago, but I’ll just tell Stacey and Bree to stay on your case in my absence. Do you really want to have to deal with that every day?” I said with a smirk. For the first time, I imagine, since my mom had been diagnosed, he cracked a small smile. I picked up the cordless phone. “So can I call and make an appointment?”
“No,” he said, grabbing the handset from me.
“Dad. I thought we just had a breakthrough moment!” I replied, exasperated at how stubborn he was being. Then, he surprised me by gesturing with his hand.
“Give me the information. *I* need to make the call.” After he got off the phone, he put his hand on my shoulder. “Thanks, Son.” he said with a broad smile.
“It wasn’t me. You did it. You had the courage to make the call.”
“Thanks for everything,” he said again and pulled me into a big, long hug. For the rest of the time I was home, Dad seemed to change. He was more involved in spending time with all of us and seemed to be starting to try and find his old self again. Never once while I was home during that week did I talk to Dad about my feelings for him. The time wasn’t right…and at that point, I figured it was a dead issue for him. I had become comfortable and content with my life in Chicago with Doug. Continuing to rock the boat with my dad - especially while he was in such an emotionally fragile state - was no longer on my agenda.
Over the next few months, things with Dad really started to improve. He called me relatively frequently, telling me how the therapy sessions were really working wonders for him. He said not only had he learned to cope with his grief over losing my mom, but he also cryptically said he’d started learning more things about himself and getting more in touch with his feelings. I figured anything that was going to help Dad become a “better him” was a good thing.
Apparently, he was also getting his body back in shape. At least once every three weeks or a month, he would send me a photo via text to show his progress in weight loss. All of the photos were G-rated. I had to admit, it seemed like Dad had really turned things around. He was starting to get back the shape he’d always been in all the years I was growing up. After several months, I got a text message from him late one night, “Hey, Son. After all the hard work, finally think I’m back in fighting shape! Took this pic earlier today. Looking good, huh?” A few moments later, the photo popped-up on my phone. Unlike the previous photos that had been G-rated, this one was of Dad shirtless, sitting on the floor in only a pair of boxer-briefs. My jaw dropped and I think I almost passed out! Dad was right. He looked good. I was glad he seemed to finally be back among the living after my mom’s death. But that picture…his body. That handsome face. His sexy, hairy chest. It was all too much! I almost instantly got a hard on, which I started massaging through my shorts, as I kept staring at the photo. Another text came in from Dad, “Well? What do you think? Don’t leave me hanging!”
I can tell you how I wanted to respond. I wanted to whip out my boner, take a picture of it and send it back to him with the message, “I think this speaks for what I think.” But I couldn’t. Those feelings for my dad were several years and a thousand miles away. “Wow! You look amazing! Great job, Dad. So happy for you!” is what I typed into my phone and sent. Then, I brought the picture back up on my phone and blew two loads, looking at it.
A couple weeks went by. There had been a major development in my relationship with Doug. After much conversation, he and I decided it was time to adopt. We both wanted children and we finally felt like we were on footing to be able to provide a stable home for a child. Okay…I see you all looking at me with “judgy eyes.” First, I marry Doug when I don’t really love him. Now, I’m going to adopt a child with him and bring another person into the situation. I know… I’m a total scumbag. But it’s amazing the lengths we’ll go to in our lives when we’re trying to make things “okay” for ourselves and trying to do what we think we’re supposed to do. Anyway, Doug was called out of town on business before we could make any plans to visit any adoption agencies. We decided that, when he returned home next week, we’d make plans to move forward. I was happy. Maybe this is finally what was going to bring me the happiness that I’d been craving for so many years.
Doug had only been gone a day when a knock came on the apartment door. To my surprise, when I opened it, there stood Dad in front of me. Wow! Those photos he’d been sending of himself as he was losing weight didn’t do him justice. He looked good…damn good! He looked even better than when he’d been at his most fit while I was growing up. I was definitely looking at a man who had turned his life around. And specifically tonight, he looked especially handsome. He was almost dressed up as if he were going on a date after he was done visiting with me. “Dad!” I exclaimed and immediately leapt into his arms for a huge hug. “What are you doing here?”
He pulled away from the hug, smiling. “I’m in town on a some business and thought I’d take a chance and see if you were home.” He looked around. “Is Doug still at work?“
“Actually, he’ll be out of town for at least a week on business, himself.”
“Oh, good!” Dad responded. When I stopped short and looked at him oddly, he quickly added. “I mean, it’ll give you and I a chance to spend time together.” It seemed as if Dad was trying to cover-up for something, but I decided not to press the issue. My dad finally seemed like the man he used to be and I wanted to spend time with him with as little turbulence as possible.
We ordered food in and spent the better part of the next three hours catching up about life. It was such a great night. The best night I’d spent in quite a few years, actually. Finally, the time had come in the conversation where I decided to tell him that Doug and I had decided to adopt. “Dad, I have some news…” I started, but Dad interrupted me.
“Son, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to cut you off, but I need to say something to you. It’s pretty important. I’ve been trying to decide all night if this is the right time to have this conversation. But, as Dr. Thomason keeps telling me, I can’t put off something that I want and need to do.”
“Okay. What do you have to tell me, Dad?”
“I think it’s best if I start at the beginning, before I met your mother.” I made like I was going to get up from the couch. “This sounds like it’s going to be a REALLY long conversation. Do I need to brew a big pot of coffee?”
Dad chuckled, “Jackass! I’m not about to embark on a retelling of my whole life from then to now. I just want you to understand the context of what I ultimately want to tell you.”
“Okay. So no coffee needed, then?” I sat back down, caught in the playful glare of one of his mock “I’m not impressed” looks at me.
He continued his story, “Son, you know how things are when you’re growing up. You’re just living your life, trying to find out who you are and what you’re supposed to do. You try a lot of things until you find that right fit. That’s how it was for me. I tried a lot of things in high school and college. I dated women,” and then he paused for what I’m sure was a big reveal to him, but came off to me as a little melodramatic, “…and men.” I wasn’t too surprised to hear this. It’s not uncommon for everyone to experiment in their youth. Dad kept talking, “…in fact, I was seriously involved with another man at the same time I was dating your mother.” Now THAT surprised me.
“What?!” I exclaimed. I think he may have mistaken my outburst for anger instead of surprise, because he appeared to go into damage control mode. “Son, you have to realize that I loved both he and your mother. I wasn’t sure what direction my life as going to go in.”
“How did you end up deciding to choose Mom?”
“I’d like to say it came in an epiphany and I had a moment where I knew she was the one I was meant to spend my life with. But that’s not how it happened. Actually, I was prepared to break things off with your mom and explore that other side of myself when your mom told me she was pregnant with what ended up being your sister, Stacey.”
I had a vision of my head being like in that commercial on TV for either car insurance, or whatever it’s for, where the the top of each person‘s head blows off in a puff of purple dust because their mind has been blown by the low prices. My mind was officially blown by this news. Dad had been prepared to explore a gay lifestyle. “Dad, this is pretty surprising news.” I finally managed to vocalize. “If you wanted something else in your life, why did you decide to marry Mom?” Suddenly, my own life was having a spotlight shone on it by my last comment. I wanted something else in my life, but I married Doug. It was as if my life was mirroring his.
“Son, you know yourself that life for openly gay men like yourself - or even bicurious men, as I might have labeled myself back then - hasn’t been as open as it is now. No. I had gotten your mom pregnant. I had to take responsibility for my actions. Back then, my only option was to marry her.”
“But, if you didn’t truly love her…” I started to say, when Dad kept on talking, almost oblivious to the fact that I was talking.
“…we had a good life. And I think all of you kids would say you had a good life growing up too. I loved your mother…not the way she deserved to be loved, but I did love her as a friend and the mother of my children. When she died, there was still a hole in my life where she had been. It was devastating.”
I put my hand on his shoulder. “Did you ever stray during all the time you were married?”
“Not once. I looked. In fact, I looked a lot. But I never cheated on your mother. I did my best to shove those feelings down and put them in a box, away from everything.”
It all made sense to me now. “That’s why, when I told you how I felt about you when I was 18, you had almost a non-reaction. You were trying to keep that part of your life and those feelings from coming to the surface again.“
“Yes and no. I was also trying to keep your heart from getting broken, Son. Becoming involved with your own father that way… It would’ve lead to disaster. Not only for you, but for so many others at the time. You needed to get out there, live your life, and meet someone on your own. And I needed to keep moving forward. Every time you would try to talk to me about your feelings for me, it was like you were kneeling there on the ground, with a rock in your hand, trying to break open the lock on the box I’d put that part of my life inside..”
“And the night of the party before my wedding…?”
“You might say, you put a big dent in the lock. You didn’t break it, but you dented it pretty good. I couldn’t let you break the lock, so I had to end things that night before thing went any further.”
“So, Dad… What does all of this mean? What is this trip down memory lane about?”
“It’s about a truth that I’ve been learning about myself over the past several months with Dr. Thomason. By what we’ve already talked about, you’ve probably guessed that what I have to tell you is that I’m gay.”
This was a pretty anti-climactic end to our big, emotional conversation. “Yeah. I figured that’s what was coming. Don’t take this the wrong way, because I think it’s wonderful that you’re coming out and you’re doing it to me. But it’s not a big revelation, given everything you’ve just finished telling me.”
“I know, Son. But this isn’t all I need to say to you. While I’ve been going through the process of therapy and learning about myself, I came to another realization as I was working through my feelings. It’s why I’ve been trying so hard to keep my homosexual tendencies in check ever since you told me you loved me when you were 18…why I shut you down whenever you wanted to talk about it anytime after that…why I pushed you away when we kissed at the party before your wedding. Son, I have feelings for you. I guess I’ve had them all along. Somewhere along the way, paternal pride turned into something more. I wasn’t quite there when you told me how you felt at 18. But I got there shortly after. And when you were the one who pulled me out of myself and my depression after your mom died, that really helped crystalize what I had been trying to deny for so many years. Son, I love you…you know, more than a father normally loves his son.”
I was speechless. It was as if, with one fell swoop, Dad had taken a rock to the lock that was keeping my own box of emotions shut tight. Suddenly, everything that I’d been feeling…all of the love I had for my dad that I had put away in recent years, came pouring out within me. All I could do was hug him at that moment. Embarrassingly enough, I started to cry too. As we pulled away from the hug and Dad saw my tears, he became concerned. “Hey, my speech wasn’t THAT terrible was it?”
I laughed. “No. Of course not. It’s what I’ve been wanting you to say to me ever since I was 18….actually, before I was 18.”
“Son, tell me how you feel.”
I wiped away the tears from my face and my eyes. “You know how I feel…how I’ve ALWAYS felt.”
“I know. But tell me how you feel after what I just said.”
I wasn’t sure I could put it into words, so I did the only thing that I could do. “Does this tell you?” I leaned toward him. He met me halfway and our lips pressed against each other. The kiss quickly turned from sweet and soft into passionate and intense. Feelings we’d both keep keeping under wraps for so many years poured into that kiss. Our tongues wrestled against each other. Hands began to roam over each other…my hands feeling the muscle of his back and his shoulders. After minutes of making out on my sofa, we came up for air and ended up breaking the kiss…though not pulling away from each other. Our foreheads touched and our mouths were still just inches apart.
“Wow!” he breathed heavily, me feeling the heat of his breath on my chin.
“Wow doesn’t begin to cover it. That was SO worth waiting all these years for!”
He chuckled softly then, without a word he kissed me again…this time, a little more tenderly, but no less passionately. After nearly a minute more, I broke the kiss and stood up extending my hand to Dad. He looked up, questioningly.
“Let’s move to the bedroom, Dad.”
“Are you sure?”
With gusto, I said, “Oh…ho yeah! Definitely.” Then, I remembered that this may be new for Dad. “Are you ready for this? I mean, if this is your first…”
Dad smirked at me. “What am I..a virgin? I’ve been with men before. I’ve even been with men recently.”
That was a shock. “Yeah?”
“Sure. I wanted to make sure what I’ve been feeling is real and not just some overreaction to your mother passing. I’M ready, but I’m not so sure you are.”
I sputtered with indignation. I’ve been out for years. I’ve been wanting him for years. How could he say I’m not ready? “What are you talking about? Of the two of us, I think I’m more ready than you.”
“That’s not what I mean when I said I’m not sure you’re ready. I’m talking about Doug.” There it was. The one word that I hadn’t wanted to think about…Doug. Since we’d started making out, I’d basically forgotten I was married. And frankly, I wasn’t ready to remember yet. I reached out, took my father’s hand, and pulled him to a standing position.
“I know I’m eventually going to have to deal with that. But not now. This right here. This isn’t about he and I, this is about you and me. I’ll deal with the consequences later. I pulled him to me and we kissed again. “Come on. Let’s go get comfortable, stud.” He smiled and blushed a little at being referred to as a stud. Adorable…
In my bedroom, we kissed hungrily again, our bodies pressed against each other…beginning to feel the stirrings of each of our hard ons. Our kiss broke again and I tugged at his shirt. Getting the hint, Dad pull it off over his head. Finally getting a look at his chest, it surpassed my expectations….even after having seen it in that photo he texted me a few weeks ago. I rubbed his chest, feeling his muscular pecs and his light gray and black chest hair. This was better than I ever thought it could be. I took my own shirt off and Dad eyed it and touched it appreciatively. As apprehensive about doing this as he had been earlier, Dad started to take over. He kissed me again and soon we were on my bed, he on top of me, kissing me, my neck, my shoulders…with my hands rubbing his back and finally finding his ass and grabbing it.
After a little while, I rolled us over, and began giving my dad the same treatment he’d been giving me. Except, I went further down, kissing his chest, pinching his right nipple, while I licked and sucked on his left one. Finally, I crept lower, unbuckling the belt of his pants. Before unbuttoning them, I looked back up to his face. He was looking at me with what appeared to be expectation and desire. “Can I…?” I asked. He simply nodded wordlessly. I unbuttoned and unzipped his pants. After he slightly lifted his ass off the bed to let me pull them down his legs, I saw he was wearing the same white boxer briefs he had been wearing in that photo from a few weeks ago. White boxer briefs with a huge lump in them that was pointing up and to the right. I know my mouth started watering as I reached out and began rubbing the bulge, feeling it grow even more under my touch. When I looked back up at him, he had a shit-eating grin on his face. “You knew how much I liked that picture you sent me, didn’t you?”
In a nonchalant tone, he said, “I had an idea you might’ve liked it.” and then winked at me. Then, he reached and pulled me back up into a passionate, tongue-powered kiss. His hands roamed over my back and finally reached down into the back of my pants, gripping my ass.
I broke out kiss and looked down into his eyes. This should’ve happened years ago. I loved this man. Even though we hadn’t even gotten to the main event of our night together yet, the passion of what we’d done so far told me that he felt the same. “God, I love you, Dad.”
“I love you to, Son.” This time, unlike at the party before my wedding, I knew he wasn’t saying it reflexively. I knew he meant it. As he pulled me back down into a kiss and we continued making love, I knew my life had just taken a different direction. Everything had changed. Dad and I would still have to talk. I would have to deal with Doug…and face whatever repercussions might come. But in this moment, here on my bed, I was with the man I loved…the man I was meant to be with. As long as we ended up together in the end, I could face whatever rough seas I might have to sail through in the immediate future.