Lenard Mace – Parenting

“Daddy! I came out today!

It was actually rather funny [when I told my daughter I was gay]. I mean, not funny “ha, ha.” Her mother—that in itself was a miracle—wanted to be part of the discussion. That was very significant, because my ex-wife was not a part of my daughter’s life for many, many years. The one thing I do give her credit for was her honesty and being able to say, “I never wanted to be a mother.” Well, [it] probably would have helped to know before we got married, but anyway . . . We, for several years, maintained—not “a friendship”—but an open relationship, for the sake of our daughter. When I came out to my ex-wife, because I didn’t want her to find out from anybody else, I didn’t think there was too much fear that at that point she would swoop in and want to claim custody. But, just on that slim chance, I wanted to be sure that all information she got came directly from me. So, [my ex-wife] made the trip up here from Portland and we told my daughter.

When I was trying to explain that, even though that had nothing to do with my divorce from her mother, that was just a crappy marriage . . . That’s hard to explain to a ten-year-old. When I’m emotionally in love with somebody, it’s with another man. [My daughter’s] only question was, “How could I love her, because she was a girl?” So, I had to go into that whole thing. “Well, that’s parental love, and that’s totally different.” Once she was secure that I still loved her, she’s been my greatest supporter.

Of course, I very cautiously told her, “Now, this is not something you run around telling your friends.” In fact, in the weeks and months that followed, we had several of those discussions. [I would say,] “You will know who’s safe to tell.” One day she came home, got off the bus, and ran into the house, “Daddy! I came out today!” “What?! What do you mean you came out today?” “Oh, you know, I told Brenda about you.” And I’m going, “Oh crap.” [Laughs.] She just thought that was the coolest thing ever, that she was finally able to tell her friend. Over the years it got to be rather humorous, because here I am, an openly-gay father raising a daughter. So, of course, all the parents were fine and dandy with sending their girls over for slumber parties at my house. We became the local place to go for all the girls. I taught most of them how to walk in heals. [Laughs.]

It’s been quite an interesting journey. My daughter and I are extremely close. Now that she and her husband have blessed me with my first and only grandchild, who is a year old, life is wonderful. We’re all just sappy stupid around her. [My granddaughter] is one spoiled girl!

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Source: Interview with Maureen Nickerson and Katya M., 2007; held in the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.