I am reading Fun Home, where Alison Bechdel writes of revealing her lesbianism to her mother. And it has been several years since one of my sisters has come out of the closet herself.
It will do no damage to my Father – who after all, has been dead for 43 years – to write of my own very conflicted feelings toward him.
I tried my very best to idealize him, and make him my role model for nearly everything – which was clearly what he wanted. But this turned out to be impossible – there was nothing about my father that I could emulate. Nothing – and I tried hard to do just that.
I became an Engineer because Dad never finished Engineering school himself – as his friend Ed McKiernan did. I thought if I did that, I would somehow overcome a deficiency of Dad’s. Instead, Dad thought I was trying to become better than him – something he could not tolerate in the least.
My father’s generation did have a hard time – things were changing so fast they could not keep up with them. As soon as they became successful at something (at being a family farmer, for example) the world no longer wanted them that way. And there are few things harder on a man.
Even so, my father was a failure, in the last analysis, because he could never be himself. And I did not want to end up that way also.
But I have said nothing so far about his sexuality – which, as a horny adolescent, baffled me completely. Dad, I could see clearly enough was not interested in women – sexually. I asked myself over and over – was my father gay?
It was only many years later that I realized he was asexual – not an uncommon condition. And that this was the kind of man that my mother wanted. Back in the Midwest, back in my parent’s time, this was a very common situation. And I wasn’t the only child that had trouble understanding this.
Everybody did – because our sexuality was so complicated – with incest and sexual abuse all over the place. One solution to this may have been to become asexual.
What a mess! We did not get to chose our parents – and our parents did not get to chose us. It’s a wonder the human race has survived as long as it has.