Collective storytelling

My fellow “gay dad kid,” Amie Shea, recently invited me and three other adult daughters of closeted (or formerly closeted) gay fathers to blog with her on her website, The Gay Dad Project.

This exercise, with each round of our stories told through a specific prism, is already shedding light on the value of collective storytelling for me.

Our common story:

There is comfort in being part of a common story. As a child growing up with a straight mother and a closeted gay father, I felt alone in my confusion and fear, and during the sometimes deafening silence in our house when I was little. Especially the silence. Our small tribe of bloggers are familiar with these feelings.

Our diversity:

As a group, we represent a wide range of generations, from Baby Boomer to Generation X to Millennial. Our relationship statuses include single, unmarried partners, and married. We are mothers, a grandmother (me), and aunts. We hail from the Mountain and Pacific states – Montana, Colorado, San Francisco, and the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

Each round of essays has a set theme. Our introductory essays featured photos of ourselves with our fathers along with a description of what was going on in the photo. Or what we thought was going on. Amie’s photo in My Dad, the Fish, and Me shows her as an infant suspended by her father next to his other prized catch!

In Dad Was Always There for the Big Stuff, Stephanie Cenedella writes about the comfort she received from her then-out father during a difficult time for her as a young adult. Her photo shows her sitting on her father’s lap. Both she and her dad are wearing big smiles.

Lisa Dalton’s photo in My Ride With Dad shows her as a young child sitting on her father’s lap at a favorite amusement park, a glimpse of her early carefree childhood before everything changed.

Casey McConnell-Leon is a happy little girl sitting in front of the family Christmas tree with her cool, fun-loving father in the photo accompanying her essay, You, Me and Laughter. He’d come out to her mother the prior year but not yet to anyone else.

Half Moon Bay, 1950s. I'm on the left.

Checking out my dad’s beach finds, 1956

In my essay, “Through my father’s eyes,” I explore my early, nonverbal years, viewing the wonders of the world through my father’s eyes, the same eyes who right from the beginning saw me as “fine” just the way I was.

I return the favor many years later.

I hope readers of My Dad’s Closet will also go over to The Gay Dad Project and check out the beautiful and evolving collective of stories there, too.

Our current theme is parenting from the perspective of growing up in closeted families.

My essay, to be published on May 11th, will look at parenting over three generations in my family, from my father to myself to my daughter. The prize (for me) comes from the healing words spoken to me by my granddaughter, the fourth generation.

You’re welcome to be part of this collective storytelling exercise by sharing some of your own closeted family’s story in the Comments sections beneath the essays.

None of us need be alone here.

Read more in Laura Hall’s My Dad’s Closet: A daughter’s memoir, coming eventually to a bookstore near you. Laura and her husband live in San Francisco.


  1. I, too, am proud to be in this sisterhood and thankful for its existence. Laura, will you let your followers know when a new essay is posted to The Gay Dad Project, like you do with My Dad’s Closet? Thanks again . . . for everything.

    • Laura Hall says:

      So glad you found us, Cayla, and vice versa! The best way to see new posts on The Gay Dad Project website is to subscribe on the Home page at: There are so many interesting essays there. The theme this month is parenting. My post goes up on Wednesday. All the best to you. xo

  2. Lisa Dalton says:

    Beautiful words, Laura. I’m proud to be in this sisterhood with you and the other daughters in our tribe.

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