social sciences
special features
about glbtq

Advertising Opportunities
Press Kit
Research Guide
Terms of Service
Privacy Policy
site guide
search tips
research guide
editors & contributors
contact us
send feedback
write the editor
Subscribe to our free e-mail newsletter to receive a spotlight on glbtq culture every month.
e-mail address:
Popular Topics in Literature
Michelangelo Buonarroti Michelangelo Buonarroti
Best known for his genius in art and architecture, Michelangelo was also an accomplished author of homoerotic poetry.
Byron, George Gordon, Lord Byron, George Gordon, Lord
The bisexual Lord Byron treated many of his homosexual love affairs in his poetry, encoding them by the use of classical references or by purporting that they were affairs with women.
Modern Drama Modern Drama
Before Stonewall, censorship of the theater caused authors to encode homosexual content in publicly-presented plays.
Camp Camp
Combining elements of incongruity, theatricality, and exaggeration, camp is a form of humor that helps homosexuals cope with a hostile environment.
Selvadurai, Shyam
Sri Lankan-Canadian writer Shyam Selvadurai has emerged as a significant figure in post-colonial and gay writing by virtue of the style, wit, and perspicacity of his three novels.
Musical Theater
There has always been homosexual involvement in American musical theatre and a homosexual sensibility even in straight musicals, and recently the Broadway musical has welcomed openly homosexual themes and situations.
African-American Literature: Gay Male African-American Literature: Gay Male
The African-American gay male literary tradition consists of a substantial body of texts and includes some of the most gifted writers of the twentieth century.
Philippine Literature
A vigorous gay and lesbian literature emerged in the Philippines in the last two decades of the twentieth century.
Frank Bruni's Beautiful Essay
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 12/23/12
Last updated on: 12/23/12
Bookmark and Share

Frank Bruni.

On December 23, 2012, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni published a beautiful essay about his father's coming to accept his son's homosexuality. The essay is deeply personal and provides a poignant portrait of the dynamics of a particular family, but the father's growth is placed within the context of the nation's movement toward acceptance of homosexuality, and the essay has universal application, especially for gay men and lesbians who have had problematic relationships with their fathers.

Bruni's "A Father's Journey" begins with this telling paragraph: "FOR a long while, my father's way of coping was to walk quietly from the room. He doesn't remember this. I do. I can still see it, still feel the pinch in my chest when the word 'gay' came up--perhaps in reference to some event in the news, or perhaps in reference to me--and he'd wordlessly take his leave of whatever conversation my mother and my siblings and I were having. He'd drift away, not in disgust but in discomfort, not in a huff but in a whisper. I saw a lot of his back."

Like most young men of his generation, Bruni came out first to his mother, the "freer spirit" who insisted that she would tell his father, who was emotionally taciturn. His father seemed unable to discuss his son's homosexuality. "I was sure that he'd resolved simply to put what he'd learned about me out of his mind and pretend it didn't exist." But Bruni now knows, "I was wrong. He was mulling it over, trying to figure it out."

Indeed, Bruni's father made the same journey that the country has been making.

Bruni writes, "at some point Dad, like America, changed. I don't mean he grew weepy, huggy. I mean he traveled from what seemed to me a pained acquiescence to a different, happier, better place. He found peace enough with who I am to insist on introducing my partner, Tom, to his friends at the golf club. Peace enough to compliment me on articles of mine that use the same three-letter word that once chased him off. Peace enough to sit down with me over lunch last week and chart his journey, which I'd never summoned the courage to ask him about before."

On the one hand, the journey simply confirms the truism that when straight people know openly gay people, the less intolerant they become. But Bruni renders the evolution with sensitivity and in telling detail.

I was struck by the fact that while Bruni does not express any shame for his homosexuality, he does admit that he "had long felt a measure of guilt about the extra burden I'd confronted [my father] with, the added struggle." By the end of the essay, however, that measure of unfairly imposed guilt is beautifully assuaged by the father's simple and revealing statement of acceptance.

Bruni's essay is must reading because the relationship between gay and lesbian children and their parents is so frequently fraught with all sorts of anxieties.

Coming out to parents is one of the primary sources of stress among glbtq youth. Many young people fear negative reactions from their parents, including losing financial support and and even being disowned. Even when they are not utterly rejected, they are often made aware that they have deeply disappointed their parents.

Until recently, most gay and lesbian adults conducted their relationships with their parents in the spirit of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The child's homosexuality was something known but not acknowledged or at least not discussed.

That reticence may have avoided some painful discussions and the revelation of some home truths, but it also compounded the guilt and shame felt by the child and, to some extent, by the parents.

It has frequently been noted that sexual minorities differ from racial, ethnic, and national minorities, who may face discrimination and disdain, but who develop within their families important systems of support and nurturance. In contrast, glbtq individuals generally grow up in families in which their minority sexual orientation or gender identity is concealed, ignored, or condemned. Hence, they often receive little or no support from their families, especially during the crucial and often traumatic coming out process.

Moreover, since most parents are heterosexual and may have imbibed the larger culture's misinformation about sexual minorities, they are frequently ill prepared to understand and accept their glbtq children.

However, one of the most positive consequences of the national conversation about the movement for equal rights is that parents have become more knowledgable about homosexuality and many have openly embraced their glbtq children. Hence, the journey made by Bruni's father is by no means an isolated event.

Indeed, the support of parents and siblings has played an important role in the recent social and political gains achieved by the glbtq community.

In the clip below, Bruni comments about the country's march toward equal rights in an appearance on MSNBC's Alex Wagner show.

Related Encyclopedia Entries
browse:   arts   literature   social-sciences   discussion boards
learn more about glbtq       contact us       advertise on glbtq.com
Bookmark and Share

glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2014, glbtq, Inc.

Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.