To celebrate Fathers's Day Tim Coffey spoke to some local PFLAG Dads, check out the interviews below.
Thanks to the Dads who told their stories! Happy Father's Day!
Contact Tim Coffey if you have an idea for the "Question of the Month" or if you need awesome photos!
“From the moment our daughter, Meridith, came out, there was never a doubt about my love for her. Rejection was never an option! Soon after she came out, I immediately began look for ways to support her, as well looking for ways to educate myself regarding LGBT issues and challenges. That search led me to PFLAG, and in 2006, with the help of friends, chartered the local PFLAG chapter. This journey of support, education and advocacy has led me to experiences I never dreamed would happen to me. From leading our local chapter, to speaking at conferences and churches, lobbying state and federal legislators on LGBT laws, to meeting a vast array of prominent LGBT advocates, has all been a life changing experience for me! We have accomplished so much in ten years. All of this work and love culminated in me walking Meridith down the aisle last month to join her wife in holy matrimony. For all the parents and loving family members who are struggling with the fact that someone you love is gay, I'd say, you are not alone. These are the same sons and daughters, cousins, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, moms and dads, that they always have been and deserving of our continued love and support. And if you need to talk to someone...come see us at PFLAG!”
“Meridith came home her freshman year of college for the Thanksgiving holiday. She came to the house and began to talk. We were sitting in the living room and she was on the edge of the couch. I could tell she was a little antsy about something. It wasn’t long before she asked if she could talk to me privately. When your daughter comes home from college and tells you she wants to talk privately to you, sometimes it’s not a good thing. Things automatically began running through my head, ‘Is she pregnant? Does she want to quit school?’ Needless to say, when we had that talk, she came out. My wife’s brother is gay. And I have a gay uncle as well. So we have other gay family members. It wasn’t a big deal to us in the respect that she’s lesbian.
“This was in 2001, way before marriage equality. There were a few things I was concerned about. One was her safety mostly. And then I always wanted to walk my baby down the aisle and have grandbabies. It didn’t take me long to figure out that can happen anyway. Here comes marriage equality, and I just walked Meridith down the aisle two weekends ago. It was just a beautiful day.
“We just started to look for ways to support her and ourselves in this journey. Even though we did have other gay family members, I really didn’t know any gay people here in town. I knew I wanted to support her in some way. Started googling and found PFLAG. My wife and I started supporting them financially for a couple of years. Then I finally thought, ‘Hey, Salisbury needs a PFLAG chapter.’ Someone put me in touch with someone at Food Lion. They were such a diversified company. They had an LGBT resource group there. I got a core group of people that wanted to do the same. We started PFLAG in Salisbury. The rest is history.
“As a father, the best day has to be walking that baby down the aisle two weeks ago. It was the culmination of a daddy’s dreams. Meridith didn’t want this to be her gay wedding. When she asked me to speak at the reception, she said, ‘Now, Daddy, you know I love you. I know you’re my biggest supporter. And you know I’ve appreciated everything you’ve done. But I don’t want my wedding to be about the big equality battle. I just want it to be my wedding day. Just like anybody else’s day.’ I totally get that. It shouldn’t be about equality. It should be everybody’s right.
“What I try to impress upon parents that I talk to is first is that you’re not alone. I think that’s one of the big worries of parents of gay children. They think they’re in this all alone. And they really are not. And secondly just that they’re our children. Rejection of a child is not an option for me.
“Being a part of this whole movement has changed me. Being the father of an ostracized, lesbian daughter has changed me. When Meridith came out it didn’t take me long before I realized that I couldn’t ask the world to accept my daughter if I didn’t in turn accept every body else. So that’s been my mantra for the last ten years. We’re all just one. We’re all just alike. We’re all just struggling and fighting to have a good life. And that’s what it’s about.”
“I have a gay son named Stephen. It’s not really been unusual. He’s just been like any other son. My only concern really was for his safety. I figured the world is just not as safe for someone who’s gay as for someone who’s straight. But the world’s been changing so I think it’s a whole lot safer now.
“I have two sons. I love them both equally. Some days I may love one more than the other - just depends on what’s going on at the time. I think it’s that way with kids.
“I don’t think it’s been that much different with my gay son. He’s doing fine. He and his partner have been together close to twenty years. They were recently married and live in Atlanta.
“Most of the memories come from before I knew he was gay when both boys were little. I was involved in automobile racing. So every weekend we would hook up the camper and go somewhere. We did a lot of other camping as well. I think one of the highlights as a father that I remember is the camping when they were little. Since they’ve grown up, they’re more like equals with me. I have a great time with each one of them.
“I guess the one thing that I want other parents to know is that they’ve know this child up to some point and all of a sudden the child says they’re gay. It’s the same child. Just value them, love them, care for them, and spend time with them just like you did before. It’s no different from that aspect. You may have to adjust. Just treat them well. And they’ll treat you well. And you’ll enjoy each other.
“I didn’t have any animosity towards people who were gay. If I knew any, I didn’t know they were gay. After Stephen came out, I think it’s opened me up and broadened my perspectives a little bit. I’ve probably learned a little more.
“PFLAG has been very helpful to me. When Stephen first came out to us we went to Charlotte for a couple of PFLAG meetings. We didn’t need to do anymore necessarily at that point because we didn’t have any trouble accepting Stephen and so on. Here is Salisbury I belong to PFLAG. We’ve had kids - late teenagers or early twenties – come to the meetings whose parents have basically thrown them out of the house. That’s just really sad. I do advocate for people who are gay. My wife and I sponsor a scholarship for a senior every year in high school. It’s important for me because I don’t like hearing people say negative things about gay people.
“Treat your gay child after they’ve told you they’re gay as before. You may have to make some adjustments. They might be dating someone of the same sex, which might take some getting used to. Just be a good parent to your child regardless.”
The Salisbury chapter of PFLAG meets the third Thursday of the month at Haven Lutheran Church at 207 W Harrison Street in Salisbury. Meetings start at 6:00 pm. For more information about the Salisbury chapter: firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-213-0181. To learn more about PFLAG, visit the national website: www. community.pflag.org
The Concord/Kannapolis PFLAG chapter meets the second Tuesday of each month from 7-9 pm at Trinity United Church of Christ; 38, Church Street N, Concord. For more information, contact Joan Gale email@example.com or 704-794-7905.