This photo of my father was taken in Los Angeles in October, 1940. It is the latest one I have of him during the brief period of time that he was out. Two months after it was taken he was arrested for being gay. He told me he feared he might spend the rest of his life in prison, or worse.
This photo was taken five months later, in March, 1941, in the Central Valley oilfields of his childhood. My father is on the right side of the photo. He had left his boyfriend and fled Los Angeles and his open life forever. It is the earliest photo I have of him taken after he went back into hiding. He looks resigned to me, as if his spirit is fading away. This might just be me projecting, though, because of what I know of him and that time in his life. But the contrast between the two photos is still striking.
Some who know my dad’s story have told me how disappointed they were that my dad wasn’t “brave” enough to live an open life.
Which brings me to the mass shooting last night at the LGBTQ club, Club Q, in Colorado Springs. My wish is for those who choose to closet themselves as a result of this massacre of LGBTQI+ people will never be judged as cowards. And may they one day feel safe and welcome enough to come out again. 🏳️🌈❤️🏳️🌈
Laura Hall was born on the San Francisco Peninsula to a gay father and a straight mother. Her memoir, “Affliction: Growing Up With A Closeted Gay Dad,” is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores. Laura and her husband live in San Francisco.
Carolyn Lee Arnold says
Laura, This is such a poignant glimpse of your dad, as well as the consequences of the massacre. I think you are right that he went back into the closet because he felt he had to to survive, and that anyone else who does that should not be blamed but be understood. Great post connecting these 2 events. Thank you.
Laura Hall says
Thank you, Carolyn!
Thanks for writing this and telling your story. There are few resources for adult children of elderly, closeted parents.
My parents also had a mixed-orientation marriage. The book title resonates, I will buy your book.
Laura Hall says
I appreciate your comment and would love to hear more about your parents one day.