I found my dad's gay porn

My father is very secretive. Should I confront him with this?

Published August 1, 2006 10:00AM (EDT)

Hi, Cary,

My dad is very secretive, and I have found his porn that is man-on-man.

How do you think I should deal with this? Should I talk to him or tell my mom? I know my brothers would disown him and I don't want to hurt my dad, but he is killing me.

I have no one to talk to, and I feel like I am doing my mom wrong. Help me, please.


Dear Lost,

This is one of those situations where there isn't a really great solution. But you have to do something. You can't ignore this.

You have to have a conversation with your dad about those pictures. It probably won't be in the top 10 favorite conversations with your dad. But you can't just let it go.

Do not assume that your dad is gay. Do not assume anything. Just get out of the house somewhere where the two of you can have a private conversation, perhaps outdoors where you can walk while you talk, and tell him that you saw that material. Just tell him you saw it.

Ask him what it means.

Listen to him.

His first response may be to lie. He may begin a rehearsed performance.

If that happens, it may be very upsetting to you. You may realize that you wanted the truth from him and are not getting it. If what he tells you doesn't sound believable, tell him so. But also tell him that you realize that it may be impossible for him to talk about it honestly with you. Tell him you are not bringing this up in order to pass judgment on him. Tell him it's just that you saw it and you could not ignore it.

It is tempting to say that what your dad does is his business. But it's not that simple.

Suppose it turns out that your dad is gay. Let's think about what that would mean.

First of all, if your dad is gay, he may separate from your mom. That would be upsetting for you. If he were to admit that he is gay, I would ask him if that means he's going to separate from your mom. I would ask him if your mom knows. If she does not know, I think he should tell her. If he refuses to tell her, then it might fall upon you to tell her.

Perhaps he has been deceiving her, possibly for some time.

It also would suggest that he has been deceiving you, the kids. He has been acting as though he is a monogamous heterosexual father when he is not. It is likely you would feel quite angry and betrayed if that were the case.

What else might it suggest?

Since he is your father, it might cause you to question whether you might be gay as well, or potentially gay. Such a thought might not be wholly based on reason, but it could occur to you nonetheless; not all our thoughts are rational. It might make you wonder about yourself. It might make you think about some of your father's friends also and wonder if they were not just friends but lovers. It might make you see certain events of the past in a new light. If your mother and father have been fighting, it might make you think that you know now what they were fighting about -- that this has been a struggle between them of long standing.

It might also make you fear your dad: If he is capable of hiding this life of his, what else might he be hiding? Might his love for you also be false? Might he harbor a secret contempt for you, as just another boring straight person? It brings a new dimension into your relationship, in which you consider your father in a new context.

Since you indicate that your brothers have strong anti-gay feelings, you might want to take extra caution in considering whether to tell them or not. I would discuss this with your dad. It would be quite a conflict; I would stop short of promising him to conceal it. It would not be right to ask a son to conceal such a thing.

And what of any anti-gay attitudes and feelings you might have expressed within his hearing over the years? Might you have inadvertently insulted or hurt your father by the things you have said? And what about the things he has said about homosexuality to you? Has he said things that now would make him appear to be a hypocrite?

These are just some of the things you might end up thinking about. That is why it's important to talk to him about it.

It may be that the gay porn means nothing. There may be some easy, if unusual, explanation.

So do not go overboard about this. Just have a calm conversation.

And try to have some compassion for your dad. If he is indeed gay, it can't have been easy hiding it all these years. I'm sure he's done the best he could to raise you kids and take care of you.

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