The bright side

Disneyland, 1960

Growing up in a family with one parent in the closet and the other keeping the secret makes for an anxious childhood. I’ve written plenty about that. Today’s post is about my parents as parents, not as their sexual orientations. My three siblings and I were wanted. One of the reasons my father wanted to get Read More…

My dad wasn’t a trophy hunter

My dad, 18, in 1936

No, he wasn’t. Though at least once, he was the trophy. My dad was a gentle soul and my model for a man and father, the prism through which I gauged all others. This model was brought to bear for me last month when I heard the news of the maiming-by-arrow, and then killing, skinning, and beheading of the South Read More…

Marriage equality: Joy & melancholy

Stanley, Cabrillo Beach & Bathhouse, 1937

I can still see the twinkle in my dad’s big blue eyes after I recited the long poem, The Children’s Hour, from memory. The previous night, Dad had helped me write it out for school in his fancy handwriting. His eyes twinkled then, too. They also twinkled when my brother’s computer program received a shout out in an Read More…

He knew he wanted a family

Four children, Half Moon Bay, 1958

My dad knew he was gay when he was five years old. By the time he was a young man, in the late 1930s, he knew he wanted to be a father. By then he’d also long known that homophobia existed, both in his Central Valley oilfield hometown and in the broader American culture. He questioned his paternal urges, wondering if homosexuality Read More…

Thank you, Caitlyn Jenner

The family home and the hills behind it where my dad came out to me

I first saw the image of Caitlyn Jenner in her cream-colored corset as I sat in my neighborhood coffeehouse flipping through my iPhone. The June 1st Vanity Fair cover was popping up everywhere. Tears rolled silently down my cheeks. This wasn’t a normal cry with loud sniffles and snobs. And I couldn’t stop it. After Diane Read More…

Life’s trajectories

Dad and Susan in 1972, three years before she got sick.

My father was one to ponder single events that forever change the trajectories of people’s lives. If he hadn’t been arrested in 1940 for being gay, he wouldn’t have dropped out of college and given up his dream of becoming an English teacher. Instead, he enlisted in the army and spent his wartime years and civilian life working as a bookkeeper. If Read More…

Eleanor, Hillary, and my dad

From the letter my father wrote in September 1943

“She is, I fear, the object of very great ridicule among most of the troops, because of her actions, her writings, her sayings…and because, shamefully, of her looks. It makes me burning mad that there are so many jokes told at her expense.” My father was referring to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt when he penned Read More…

A sacred space

Wooden settle

The man who owned this antique bench, called a settle, died of AIDS in the early years of the epidemic. I don’t know if I met him or not. He was one of a number of young gay men who spent their remaining days in the home of a gay couple in my parents’ neighborhood on Read More…

From the beginning

My father, age 22, in 1924

A chance whiff of witch hazel the other day brought back memories of my father and some of his more unusual (to me) personal products and food preferences. When I was a little girl, I’d watch him splash the medicinal-smelling astringent on his face after shaving. Then he’d let out a little shriek. He also used Read More…

When a wallet isn’t just a wallet

Alligator skin wallet, 1966

Really, the fancy wallet shouldn’t have surprised me. My father was, after all, fond of elegant accessories. I first saw the black, alligator-skin wallet when my brother brought it over to my house on Christmas. He’d dug it out of an old family heirloom box in his garage. Dad purchased it in July, 1966. The wallet’s price tag of sixty dollars, the equivalent Read More…