Transmitting my family’s experience


Times feel scary for many of us right now. Terrorism, violence, hate crimes, all amplified through their real-time dissemination on social media, keep us on edge.

What can we do?

For LGBT people who’ve lived with targets on their backs, times have generally felt scary.

The slaying of 49 people at the gay nightclub in Orlando last month hit me particularly hard. Though I’m straight, as the child of a gay father I suffer homophobia as if it were aimed at me.

I wanted to help, but how?

Should I attend vigils for the slain? Volunteer at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center? March in solidarity?

All are worthy acts, but as a straight ally they make me feel like I’m crashing a party I wasn’t invited to.

Elie Wiesel, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor, who died this month at the age of 88, provides us with a good model. After the war, he devoted his life to telling the story of the Holocaust.

“Not to transmit an experience is to betray it,” he said.

Sharing and writing about my father’s closeted life, and my own experiences as his child, is what I know I can do. I can show the consequences of homophobia on him as well as the trans-generational effects it had on me.

I will do so in the hope that knowing stories like my family’s will one day help make homophobia but a bad dream from a distant past.

#icangive by transmitting the true story of my gay father who lived his life in the shadows. I will be a voice for him, for myself, and for LGBT rights.

What can you give?

I originally published this post on The Gay Dad Project blog on July 19, 2016.

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.

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