By LAUREN FORCELLA
DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: I’m 16 and have a 13-year-old sister. Our parents are divorced and we’ve always lived with our mom. We used to see Dad every other weekend, but he moved so now we just see him two weeks in the summer and one week over Christmas. We still talk a lot and have a good relationship. We’re scheduled to visit soon.
Dad lives in a one-bedroom apartment and when we we’re there, we stay in the bedroom and he sleeps on the couch. He just told us he is “coming out of the closet” and his partner, “George,” is living with him and they plan on getting married now that it’s legal. I asked what the sleeping arrangements will be and he said “we’ll work it out.”
We’re not that surprised to find out Dad is gay and we can accept that. However, we’re uncomfortable staying in a one-bedroom apartment along with his partner when we don’t even know what the sleeping arrangements will be. We would like to get out of the visit, but we don’t want to hurt our dad. What can we do? — Sacramento
Kira, 21, Moraga: Your dad isn’t going to put you in an awkward situation. He just wants to see his kids, as a parent should. Because you’re feeling uncomfortable, talk to him! Don’t ruin your relationship just because you didn’t have the courage to speak up. You could have a really fun time! Keep an open mind and go!
Breele, 19, Dana Point: Ask yourself if you would still be trying to get out of your visit if “George” was a woman. This is your father! If your relationship is as decent as you say, don’t give up visitations over a sleeping arrangement that can be easily solved through polite communication. Also let him know you also want some “daddy-daughter” time with just him.
Brie, 22, San Francisco: It’s simple: Sleep on an air mattress in the living room. You can change clothes in the bathroom or ask for a partition if you need more privacy. It’s unreasonable to expect him to give up his bedroom now that he’s in a relationship. Your relationship with your dad is really important and it sounds like he really cares about you. Just go. If you hate the situation, you can ask to go home sooner.
Katelyn, 18, Huntington Beach: What about a hotel? Gay or straight, no teenager wants to be squished into a one-bedroom apartment with a total stranger who happens to be lovey-dovey with their parent. Actually, most teenagers are wary just meeting such a person.
Treyvon, 19, Yorba Linda: If Dad was with a woman, would you feel the same way? Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of gay households and they solve that by labeling them as “sinful.” Fortunately, this is not western civilization’s current path. Open-minded people are happier in the end.
DEAR SACRAMENTO: I hope the panel has convinced you to go — open-mindedly! Families have found personal privacy in small living spaces for centuries, so I hope you don’t insist upon a hotel. I guarantee Dad and George have put a lot of thought into being fantastic hosts. I’m betting you have a great time. (My suggestion matches Brie’s: Create a private space in the living room and give the bedroom to the couple.)
You sound like kind, caring daughters. Please realize how much courage it took your father to “come out” and possibly be rejected by his own blood. I’ve known some rejected fathers and it hurts for life. — Lauren
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