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“gay like my dad”

November 6, 2007

(this post has been a long time coming)

in college i started to realize that i was not the only person in my immediate family with homosexual tendencies, it began to dawn on me that maybe this was a trait passed down to me by my father. the big “ah-ha” moment took place as i was sorting through the mail at my parent’s house, and my fancy (if you will) was caught by a catalog, international male, addressed to my father.

the models in the catalog were young, very fit, attractive men with no body hair to speak of and sporting very vibrant clothing. as i was scanning the pages, reading the descriptions of items called “fancy sunglasses,” “swashbuckler shirt” and “the bodyshaper underwear,” i began to question my father’s sexuality.

i would rifle through my fathers pile of catalogs and “periodicals” (men’s health, wine enthusisit) and take international male to school with me. i would show the catalogs to my friends, and we would roll around laughing at the photos and descriptions like:

Gauze Caftan
Think of all the occasions you have to wear such a comfortable piece of clothing: the beach, the pool, Sunday mornings at home, late at night. Oh the comfort. Made from a lightweight and airy cotton gauze. Loose, full sleeves. Deep cut neck. Side slits. Machine wash. Relaxed Fit. USA.
An International Male exclusive.

and:

Tinello Faux Chinchilla Hooded Jacket
Incredibly soft, warm and stylish with realistic chinchilla markings. Zip-front closing. Acrylic faux fur with polyester lining. Dry clean. Imported.

my friend kathleen and i would have entire conversations about how funny the descriptions are, almost ten years later we still joke about it. paul t. and i started to regularly speculate that my father was really a gay man, and after he would come-out i would have enough material to write a book . . . at some point we decided that this book would have a children’s counterpart i would call “gay like my dad,” focused on helping children deal with the repercussions of living with a closeted gay man.

my father owns plenty of clothing from international male, and trust me, you would be able to spot an “international male exclusive” from across the dance-floor of your friendly neighborhood gay bar.

my father’s penchant toward silk and spandex led to childhood trauma. the variegated-florescent-leopard-print speedo my mother forced my father to stop wearing when the fabric started to look worn in the early ’90’s, the biking shorts, the button down silk shirt printed with martini glasses he wore at my high school graduation, the list could go on and on . . . the jewelry he wears is a post in itself.

my father is not really gay, although you wouldn’t guess that if you saw him with his soul-patch, i later learned the term “metrosexual,” this is a better explanation.

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