The Conclusion: What We Fear Can Save Us
loved by God’s messenger
even though "the sin"
is bigger than
the sum of us — Tremaine L. Loadholt
I had struggled with who I am, however, I am sharing that with my family and in doing so, bit by bit, I am learning that the fear I harbored did not need a resting place. It did not need to live within me, burn me deep inside, make me want to end my life. Fear can strangle us, it can make us bottle and clamp up when nothing else will. I spent many years — decades hiding behind an image of me because it was comfortable. Each day, I am aware that I could have burst out of my cocoon much sooner.
On Monday, January 28, 2019, my father called, said he wanted to talk to me about something. Something that was, “weighing on his heart for years” and gaining a better understanding of me is what he sought. First, he prefaced the conversation by telling me that he loves me, and no matter who I am or what I do will change that. I am his child and the love he has for me supersedes anything else. My dad does not beat around bushes. I have not met a minister who does.
“Do you like women?”
“I am attracted to both women and men, Dad.”
“Okay. Okay. This is good. We are getting somewhere. How long have you known you were attracted to girls and boys, Tremaine?”
“Since I was eight years old.”
There was a brief pause between us. The hum of my television and the short pants for air from Jernee could be heard. I waited. The moment did not need my words.
“Why…why did you think you couldn’t come to me and tell me? Is it because I am a minister? Did that stop you?”
At that moment, I was careful of the words I chose. I felt what I needed to say, I knew it, but how to get them out without crying? How to let them leave me without feeling exposed?
“How do you tell the one man you looked up to when growing up in a home learning of “right vs. wrong” that you are what’s wrong? That you are what the pastor in every pulpit calls a sinner? How do you say it and not worry about the backlash?”
I could see every memory of my dad and I passing through my mind. Our basketball matches, him attempting to teach me how to play tennis, him showing me how to be a better swimmer, learning how to cook, etc. Everything swirled through so quickly and if I wanted to reach out and touch them for just a moment, I could not. I was not quick enough to hold on to what was already gone.
“Listen to me, baby. You are my child. I don’t care about anything else. I love you for who you are, you hear me? That will never change. Never.”
I told him of how I have watched some of my friends lose their family over coming out. How some people that I know have taken their lives and recently, a very good friend of mine was berated and asked not to contact her mom anymore. She has been erased from her mother’s life. The list goes on. I told him that as much as I wanted to truly be me, I hated the thought of possibly losing my family.
And this is when I realized that my mom and dad meshed well for years, but everything has its end date. It was when he said,
Those people are putting themselves first over the love for their children. They are being selfish, only honoring their feelings instead of trying to understand their child’s. I came to you because you are mine. I wanted to hear this from you. I am not going to lose you.
I used to cry almost every time I would speak to my dad because there was a pressing for me to speak up, but I did not. This talk was what we both needed. It felt like a casual conversation, like something that I would have with a friend or an acquaintance learning a new detail about me. And then he said, “Well…have you been with women too?” Again, never one to beat around the bush. It was almost like answering the same questions from my mom. I had to stifle a giggle or two.
But suddenly, there was no fear. Why would I be afraid now? How could I be? I love my experiences. I should be able to talk about them when asked.
“Yes, Dad, I have.”
“Okay then. Well, that is that. No matter what… You can come to me. I hope you’ll always remember that. I love you.”
We had to cut our conversation short as he had a funeral to eulogize but I made certain to tell him how much I love him too. Sometimes, the fear we allow to nail us to the shadows of our souls releases itself at just the right moment. I no longer have to wonder what my dad will say or do about his oldest daughter being bisexual. I no longer have to shelter, hide, or deny myself happiness thinking I will be shunned from the spirit of the messenger.
After all, I am his child.
©Tremaine L. Loadholt, 2019. All Rights Reserved