Mental Health Professional Writes About Coming Out as Gay at 35 and How His Father Reacted 22 Years Later

Jake McPherson (Photo Credit: Jake McPherson via HuffPost)

Coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc. is not easy when you are a teenager and it does not get any easier when you are an adult.  The biggest fear about coming out is the fear of being rejected for being anything but straight. 

This is certainly true for Jake McPherson, who wrote an essay for Huffington Post on how his parents disowned him for being gay.  McPherson, who is now 57, recounted in the op-ed piece his experiences as a teenager watching Anita Bryant interviewed by Barbara Walters:

“Walters asks Bryant what she would do if her child came out as gay. Bryant’s response is immediate and harsh: She says she would disown her child. 

I don’t remember exactly how Walters responded, but it must have been with something like disbelief, because my father, referring to the news anchor, said, ‘She just can’t understand that, can she?’

But I understood: My parents would disown their son if he was gay. My parents would disown me if they knew I was gay. So I retreated as far as I could into the closet I was hiding in, and I resolved to never tell anyone my secret.”

McPherson goes on to talk about how he repressed his homosexuality throughout his teenage years and into adulthood. He also used alcohol to further his repression. He explained how he married a woman and had three children.

Finally in 1998, at the age of 35, McPherson came out to himself and to his wife, who was very supportive.  A year later, he joined Alcoholics Anonymous to put his life back together.  McPherson detailed how coming out changed him:

“it felt incredible to no longer spend all of my time and energy keeping up that facade. It was also at AA that I first revealed in drag, and my alter ego, Miss Constance Havoc, was born. Then, in 2000, my wife and I separated, a necessary but still gut-wrenching event for both of us.”

In 2001, McPherson came out to his mother, who has a horrified reaction.  He assumed his mother had told his father but would learn almost 20 years later otherwise. 

“At some point in the last two years, my niece gave my father an iPhone, which he was especially excited to learn to use so that he could receive photos of his great-grandchildren. From there, it was only a matter of time before he joined Facebook and, I’m assuming, discovered my profile, which shows me as an out and proud gay man.

On Jan. 4, 2020, at 9:56 a.m., my phone rang. It was my father calling. When I answered, he told me, ‘It’s about this homosexuality. Your mother and I can’t condone that. You are not to contact us in any way ever again.’

My heart was pounding harder than I imagined was possible. My vision blurred. I felt like I was being physically attacked. Before the call ended, my father added, “Am I making myself perfectly clear?” I told him he was and hung up. 

There I was ― disowned at the age of 56 because I’m gay.”

McPherson’s full essay can read in full at HuffPost Personal.

 

Source: Huffington Post

 

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