Editor's note: Michael Sam's father told the New York Times that he was struggling with the idea of his son being gay. Outsports co-founder Cyd Zeigler's father once struggled with the same thing. When he heard about Sam's father, he decided to write a letter to him. Like Mr. Sam, Cyd's father gave him the same name as himself.
Dear Mr. Sam,
My name is Cyd Zeigler, Sr., and I have a gay son too.
I'm writing this letter in hopes that I may be able to help you and other dads who are struggling with the knowledge of having a gay son.
When my son first came out to me I remember wanting to keep it a secret. I didn't want anyone to know about it. I remember thinking, "What will my friends think?" And "What will people in town think of me and my parenting skills?" I do remember feeling sad that I wouldn't have any grandchildren from him. At times I remember feeling almost betrayed. I remember feeling embarrassed. I also remember feeling that he wasn't really gay, it was just a "phase" he was going through in California. I remember all these things vividly.
A short period after he came out, I was having coffee with my buddies and finally got enough guts to mention that my son was gay after they asked me about him. While wondering what their reactions would be, immediately they all said, "So what! He's still your son and you love him the same."
The stigma that society has placed on the gay issue make it hard for many of us parents to deal with it, but immediately after hearing my friend's reaction it was like a light turned on and a weight was lifted off my shoulders. As they all said: My son is still the same person as he was before the day he came out. I love him the same and, yes, so what if he's gay.
Then I began to realize my problem was all about me and not him. All I ever wanted for my children was to be honest about all aspects of life, to work hard and be happy. Those are all the things my son has ever done. He is being honest as to who he is, and I am really proud of him. I support him in all aspects of his life. Any expectations I may have had are really about me. It should have been about him and the person he has become, not about me as a parent.
After my friends made me realize how little this issue means to the majority of people, it helped me see that love and family are what life is really all about, and not what anyone else thinks.
I understand you're struggling right now. But I want you to know you have someone here who has gone through it. If you ever want to talk to someone who's walked in your shoes, please email me at email@example.com. I'd be happy to listen and hopefully share a little insight about the journey you and your son are starting on.
Cyd Zeigler, Sr., lives in Washington, Me. He was a standout basketball player and high jumper at Harwich High School on Cape Cod, where he was inducted into the Hall of Fame several years ago:
Cyd Zeigler induction to Harwich H.S. Hall of Fame (via Outsports com)
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