Fathers and Their Lesbian Daughters
Santa Cruz, California
*Some of the names in this entry have been changed in order to maintain privacy.
Explaining to my family and friends that I was a lesbian had not been an issue at all. After having a falling in love with my childhood best friend over a decade ago, I had rushed to announce my revelation to everyone. My first stop was to one of my closest friends, a man I adore – Fr. Michael Marini. Yes, the first person I told I was a lesbian is a Roman Catholic priest. It never really occurred to me that anyone would judge me in a negative light for being a lesbian. I didn’t choose my eye or hair color. I didn’t have a say in my place of origin. God had planned that all for me so I never worried. Fr. Marini’s words had come as a bit of a shock though, “Finally, she gets it! Congratulations.” What’s that supposed to mean? As I continued to make my special announcement to my loved ones about being a lesbian it was clear I was in fact the last one to know the secret. “Dude, you got your first black belt when you were 12! What did you think you were? You really thought you were straight?” My older brother Antonio had seemed confused as to why it had taken me so long to stumble across this revelation.
Growing up in my family I was taught to love without condition or judgment. And even though I couldn’t recall the terms ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ ever being used, it hadn’t mattered. Mamma and Pappa insisted that we love and respect everyone. Despite being surrounded by loving, supportive and completely non-judgmental people, I did recognize at times there were certain social norms people expected when they learned I was a lesbian. Pappa had naturally assumed I would want to start using his barber instead of the salon I had patronized for years. Yeah, not so much! Friends had tried to set me up with women who were clearly not lesbians, thinking that it didn’t matter because “hot women just belong together.” I’m still trying to figure out what that means. I had grown to expect anything, with love.
The caller ID on my cell phone read ‘Pappa cell’ and I immediately answered, “Hi Pappa!” Like most Italian – American families we are very close and speak nearly every day. And like many retired police officers you knew he loved you and then BANG the grumpiness that accompanies a few of us with age revealed itself in a mighty gusto of profanity. Is' fuck nut' one word or two? It was clear by his tone of voice he was irritated and his questions didn’t make any sense to me. I responded with humor hoping to break his tension, “Seriously, Pappa? I’m gay – I’m not a guy. I have not idea how to fix a garage door opener! Jesus, Joseph and Mary. You have three sons, call one of them!” Being Pappas’ only daughter and a lesbian had somehow qualified me, in his mind, as an adviser on an array of mechanical repairs I held no knowledge in. “Well, you’re like your Mother and just kept going to college so I figured you could help out a little.” I doubted my degree in Criminal Justice Management or my Teaching Credential in Law Enforcement Studies was of any real assistance with the broken garage door opener. “Let me call Daniel and see if he can swing by the house, OK?” I cracked a smile when I spoke, trying not to laugh. Pappa was somehow adorable when he was frustrated. “I’m at the church. We’re at the church. Padre’s damn car is stuck in the garage and the game starts in 4 hours!” The truth of the frustration was slipping out. Pappa and Fr. Marini, affectionately known as Padre, were to attend the Giant’s game in San Francisco and Padre’s car was apparently stuck in the garage at Holy Cross Church. It became increasingly more difficult not to laugh. “My latte is melting. Gotta go, kid. Love you, ciao.” Just confirm I was hung up on because his ice latte was melting? I dialed Daniel and his cell phone beeped as though he was on the other line. It was safe to assume Pappa or Padre had called Daniel for help.
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