“Thanks Dad!”

Jim Burroway

June 10th, 2008

This Father’s Day message is from Tony K.

My father was an “old fashioned” man. After returning from a long army posting abroad he and my mother were strangers, so they had me to keep them together. It’s not strange that I ended up as a couples therapist.

He learned parenting from his father but decided that he wasn’t going to submit me to the continual brutal beatings that he’d had. Insteadhe needed to toughen me up — after all I was going to have to fight as a soldier, just like he had. Softness of any sort was going to leave me vulnerable and hurt. He didn’t want that. When I was three he decided not to touch me except in anger. To drag, push or hit. He never cuddled, held, praised or showed affection. It’s not that he didn’t love me. The experiences he’d had in Burma and India were so bad that wanted me strong and independent. This was his way of loving.

When he did touch me I would often end up on the other side of the room. I was terrified of him.

When I went to college he told me that I could never return to be at home with my family. I’d left them for an education and would never be able to part of them again. He was proud of me but terribly sad.

On a visit back I came out to my parents. He was standing in the kitchen by the sink. He went silent.

Then he opened his arms, stepped towards me and hugged me for the first time in twenty years. “You’re my son. I will always love you,” and then he went upstairs.

Later I introduced him to my boyfriend. Boyfriend? We’ve been together for thirty years. He and Dad shook hands and I saw my father change.

He loved hugs, he hugged me, my friends, my partner. He trusted Bryan to run his finances, give him advice, and he laughed with him, with me.

So often we do things in love that are totally wrong. My childhood was a nightmare of fear and terror. Not because he didn’t love me but that he loved and hoped so much that he wanted me never to hurt. He toughened me up.

It worked.

Genetics be damned. I learned to be very strong. Anyone who hurts my family, my friends, my people, my children finds out that I won’t stand for it.

I’m walking down the street. It’s “Fantasy Fest” in Key West. I have a friend on each arm — hell, I have a drag queen on each arm. Not, I have to say, very pretty ones and they keep falling off their heels. There’s a group a straight couples on a corner and as we pass they shout out something nasty. One of the girls pushes me forward. “Go get ’em Tony.”

I step forward. The straight couples run, the women squealing, the men (overweight and drunk) dive for doorways, run across the street. One is sick with fear.

“Thanks Dad!” I say.

He taught me to stick up for myself. I’ve been arrested on marches, sacked from jobs, attacked on streets, in buses, at libraries, bars, boats and bookshops. None of it hurts, not really. I’ve rescued
children, battered women, chained animals, abused gay teenagers, elderly people, the disadvantaged, distressed and derided.

“Thanks Dad!”

Do you have something you want to share for father’s day? Please send it to Superdad@boxturtlebulletin.com.


June 10th, 2008

What a great way to undermine the Focus on the Family’s horrible discrimination.

Regan DuCasse

June 11th, 2008

Tony’s testimony is why no one should judge a gay man or woman by their cover, or no cover at all.
The utter rise above being outcast, being assaulted. Obtaining higher education and skills, and determination to be productive, love and be loved despite all manner of stumbling stones to reach it…

that is the Darwin aspect so thrown in the faces of gay people, fiercely at work.
Sometimes knocked down, but not out. Sometimes sick, but not done with life. Sometimes without love, but ready to love anyway…most of all, still and always here.

Beyond tough…sometimes, miraculous. THAT is something to celebrate and that’s what Pride is all about.
Still and always….here.


June 11th, 2008

Awesome post! Inspiring

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