Aug 10, 2016 3:56 AM GMT
NYT: By Name Withheld, My father died seven years ago. He was 93. When I was getting divorced in the late ’80s and sharing my sexual woes with my mother, she confessed to me that my father dressed up in women’s clothes, and that she never could deal with it. She wished she had gone to therapy years earlier when she first discovered it. She made me promise never to talk about it. I later found out that both my sisters knew about this as well.
As my father aged, it seemed as if he might not care if the subject was brought up: He left a makeup tray out in his bathroom, as well as nylons hanging to dry. I knew from my mother that he would get dressed up and go to the drive-through at the bank and other places. But I kept my promise. My father was always tight-lipped when it came to emotions and carried around a lot of baggage from his childhood. His mother died shortly after he was born, and his stepmothers supposedly were never very nice to him.
Since he died, I regret never having discussed this aspect of his life with him. I wonder what it would be like for him to see specials on Caitlyn Jenner, for example. I don’t really know if my father was queer, just a cross-dresser or what, but being a freewheeling bisexual myself, I hold no judgment, and I feel that if I had brought the subject up with him, our relationship might have been a closer one. Or maybe he would have clammed up more; I will never know.
Was my mother right in asking me not to mention it? My parents had a history of hiding information. For example, if one of them was in the hospital, they would say, Don’t tell anyone else. That request was easy to ignore. But what about this one?