As I have gotten older I realized how much my dad and I are alike. And how painfully different we are. Through these similarities and differences we have grown and evolved our relationship into something I feel very lucky to have. Not all people have great relationships with their dad, and for LGBT people the tension and strain on the relationship with their fathers can be a lot worse.
It wasn’t always like that for us. My dad converted to from Judaism to Catholicism when I was 8. As time went on his faith grew, and mine began to wither. When I was a teenager he became a deacon. I had pretty much given up on my Catholic roots, but we were able to agree to disagree on topics concerning the church. We knew we weren’t going to change each other’s minds so having debates and discussions stayed interesting and respectful.
When I finally fully came out to myself in the winter of 2009 I was absolutely terrified to tell my parents, especially my dad. He’s an active member of the Church and I didn’t know how he would react to me being a lesbian.
In reality I had nothing to worry about, but when it was time to tell him I had to do it through a full blown panic attack. How could someone so deeply cemented in his faith, a faith that actively preaches against my existence, accept his daughter for who she was?
As a child one of the things that has constantly annoyed me about my dad was that he is able to achieve almost perfect cognitive dissonance. He’s able to hold onto two completely opposing beliefs without having one contradict the other. I couldn’t believe at the time that he would be able to do the same again, putting his daughter in a separate box away from his beliefs?
I realized that the part of my dad that had annoyed me for most of my childhood was one of his most endearing qualities. It’s admirable that he has the ability to love his children the way that they are without it challenging or shaking his faith. In a world where everything feels like an inseparable tangled web he has been able to divide perfectly into his boxes – making sense and order out of chaos.
In his world his faith compliments and strengthens his love for his children, and vice versa. I may never understand how he does it, but I’m lucky to have him.