My closeted father (1918-2008) rarely displayed anger. I’ve wondered about why this was the case. Friends of mine who also grew up with closeted dads had very different experiences in their families. But in a conversation I recently had about this with Harvey Brownstone, the first openly gay judge in Canada, he suggested a possible explanation. Yes, my father closeted his sexuality, Harvey said, but he didn’t closet the rest of himself. It’s the first time I’d seen it that way.
The images below are a few examples of the creativity my father freely expressed throughout my life, things that brought him immense joy and pride.
This envelope contains a letter my father wrote to my mother during World War II. His fancy handwriting is on full display. When I was in the fifth grade, he taught me how to write this way using an old-fashioned fountain pen.
The family living room my father decorated with shoji screens, handpainted fabric, and antiques from Gump’s in San Francisco.
In the 1970s, my father made leather purses and belts for himself, family members, and friends.
This drawing of an angel my father made for Christmas cards sometime in the 1960s.
My father and I together worked on this needlepoint of two lovebirds.
I see these creative expressions of my father’s in a new light now. He feared revealing his sexuality in those early days. But he was never afraid or ashamed of openly expressing his sensitive, creative side. He didn’t closet all of himself.
Laura Hall grew up on the San Francisco Peninsula. She and her husband live in San Francisco. Her memoir “Affliction: Growing Up With A Closeted Gay Dad,” is now available at Amazon and independent bookstores.