Published on September 25th, 2013 | by Healthy Gay Lifestyles0
About My Son
by Tim Unruh
As far back as I can remember, probably from the time that I knew where babies came from, I knew that I wanted someday, more than anything, to have a blonde-haired blue-eyed son of my own. I had the most rotten relationship imaginable with my father so I guess I was looking for the chance to try and right everything with my son that was wrong in my own father-son relationship. Although I was struggling severely with my sexual identity I fell in love with a beautiful young lady in my mid-twenties, and trying to prove to myself and the world that I could fight through my homosexual thoughts and feelings, we married and we soon had that blonde-haired blue-eyed little boy that I had prayed for. Little Andy became my pride and joy from first sight and I soon began to throw every single bit of time, energy, love and commitment into giving that boy all of the things that I had longed for as I was growing up.
In a matter of less than two short years my growing battle with my sexual identity began to take its toll on our marriage and Andy’s mother and I went through a divorce. While we agreed on joint custody and shared visitation I kept Andy with me most of the time and poured every ounce of energy into being a dad and raising a little boy. When Andy was 11 I was offered a job that required a move from Kansas to Iowa and after some discussion with his mother it was agreed that he would move with me. From that point on it was just the two of us and I began to raise Andy as my best friend and buddy. Not everyone agreed with my parenting skills, and I wouldn’t necessarily suggest that it was right for every family, but it worked for us. We did everything together; school events, sports activities, church, boating and jet skis on weekends, concerts and vacations. Even with my own personal social activities I had a general rule; if Andy couldn’t be with me and participate, then I didn’t do it. To some this might sound unhealthy but for us it was the only way we would have it.
Andy will tell you to this day that I was, and still am, his hero. He looked up to me, respected me, and trusted me wholeheartedly. But one day, when Andy was 17 years old, that trust was put to the ultimate test and our lives changed forever. For a couple years leading up to that time I had been actively, and secretly, exploring my gay desires. As time went on, and I began to experience all of the things that I had so desperately tried to avoid throughout my life, I became much more bold and daring with my lifestyle. Although Andy and I cherished the fact that we could always trust each other and tell each other anything and everything, there was something that I had hidden all of those years, and felt that I couldn’t tell him. A lie that was testing the very heart and soul of the relationship that I so treasured. It all came out one night and I couldn’t do justice in telling the story so I will share with you an essay that Andy wrote soon after, which he entered into a contest that won him a scholarship to the University of Kansas.
“Early last summer I began to suspect I was on the outside of a dreadful secret. Initially, there was no rhyme or reason for my suspicion, simply a gut feeling. I felt ashamed of thinking such thoughts about my father. But the abandoned computer, opened to the now reoccurring website, became impossible to overlook. It is my nature to investigate to find answers, but this was an answer I did not want to discover. The fact that the truth could potentially change my relationship with my father curbed my usual enthusiasm. There was no evidence that validated what I already suspected to be true; I found relief in being naïve. This short lived state was shattered by the emails which blatantly spelled out the facts.
All I can remember is spending every waking hour with my father. We found hobbies that we both enjoyed and rarely went separate ways. He was my hero. My father’s involvement in my life filled many of the voids that a child can suffer by having only one parent. Lacking a college degree, my father struggled financially for many years before finding success. His example showed me that through hard work I could do anything. I was motivated to achieve a 4.0 throughout high school and earn a scholarship at a prestigious university. This would save me many stressful years locked in a dismal job.
The most important example my father taught me has been unconditional love. Regardless of the poor decisions I made, I had no consequences. I learned my lessons by listening to my dad, my best friend and hero. My father would just correct me and reassure me that he loved me despite my mistakes. A lifetime of lessons was put to the test as my father and I reached a crossroad.
For seventeen years, our relationship was based on trust and honesty; all of which seemed to be slipping through my fingers. I felt betrayed. My father no longer fit my definition of hero. Could my father still be my hero despite the fact he is gay? Due to my father’s example of unconditional love I realized my definition of hero was flawed. Redefining hero was essential to overcome this adversity. My father was no less an amazing father just because he was gay. I came to realize he was more of an amazing father because he battled internally with the fact that he was gay. He still managed to persevere and raise a son with clear-cut morals, excessive drive, and unsurpassable compassion. Through this experience I have gained additional insight in dealing with the adversity that undoubtedly awaits me in my future years of college and adulthood. This will not be the last time that a fundamental belief will be challenged, and I will be required to reconstruct and redefine what I believe”.
— Andrew Michael, 2007
There were some extremely challenging times for Andy and me following my coming out six years ago , I kid you not. What a tough thing for a seventeen year old boy, with no signs or forewarning, to go through. He battled his way through that period of “what will my friends think, will they make fun of me, will they still be my friends?” Obviously, as you can tell, Andy is not your normal boy and he had the willpower and maturity to make it through. Although that “unconditional love” that he spoke about was what ultimately got us through, it was also put to the ultimate test. Andy soon went off to college and that separation, along with new friends and a much more gay-friendly environment, helped us through everything and over time our relationship and bond grew even stronger than before. Today Andy has graduated from the University of Central Florida with honors, has earned himself a position with a large corporation, and has grown up to become a remarkable young man. We talk and text each other every single day of the week. He has been my roc k, my pride and joy, my best friend, and far more than I ever dreamed of back in those days that I prayed for God to give me a blonde-haired blue-eyed son. I love you Andy.
There are several lessons in this story to be learned.
1. To other parents and children, no matter what the circumstances may be, live by that rule of unconditional love. It will get you through anything that life throws your way.
2. Parents, be open and honest with your children and don’t underestimate them. They are resilient and will surprise you with their love and support.
3. Kids, I have experienced firsthand the pain and hopeless feeling of hiding a secret for fear of rejection and not being accepted. Everyone must make that choice to come out based on their own individual situation and no one should force that decision upon you. But just remember, there will be many loving and accepting people there to support you when the time is right.
Wherever you may be in the process, you must know that you are not alone. Others of us have gone before you and have experienced the pain of the struggle, but have also experienced the joy of happiness and a better life. No one is saying that it is going to be easy; struggle is not enjoyable, but it makes us stronger. The definition of struggle is “a forceful or violent effort to get free from restraint or resist attack”. You are not alone; there is hope. We are here beside you in your effort to get free. Follow us, contact us, talk to us, and let us stand beside you on your journey towards freedom and the happiness that each and every one of us so deserve.
Until next time.
Tim D. Unruh – Writes a blog called www.justhalfwayout.com that shares his life story of his struggles with growing up gay in small town rural America. How he learned to deal with his sexuality, religion, depression, alcohol abuse and coming out to his son, friends and family.