Editor's Note: In celebration of Father's Day, we are sharing letters from LGBT children to their fathers, all of whom are well-known and powerful men in sports. Today we kick it off with a letter from Laura King, the daughter of Sports Illustrated's lead NFL writer Peter King.
On June 1 I read your beautiful tribute to my wedding in Monday Morning Quarterback while on my honeymoon. I then instinctively went to Twitter to comb through the responses to your Tweets. I maybe had about an hour to read through the evolving reactions and conversation before Caitlyn Jenner announced her transition on the cover of Vanity Fair. Jenner's revelation pushed our wedding, already a minuscule blip in the Twitterverse, almost completely off the map as the conversation naturally swelled around her amazing story.
I've started off this letter with that anecdote because while both your column and the Caitlyn Jenner story are very different, they share the common thread of a more public coming-out. My family, friends, and coworkers already know that I'm gay, and now many more people do as well. Most of them are people I don't know personally, and some are those I know only professionally. I've worried about coming out to them all.
My job spans two industries, one very liberal and another more traditional and conservative. I had no idea how the more traditional folks I work with would react, but I was absolutely blown away by their support. I received many amazing notes, but probably the best was from a client who reads your column. I had wrongly assumed he would treat me differently if he knew I was gay; Instead he sent a very warm note of congratulations.
You have two choices as a gay person in today's society. You can constantly make assumptions about how others are going to treat you because of who you are; In the process you become overly paranoid and closed off in the face of potential discrimination. Or you can just live your life.
I think most members of the gay community choose a combination of both options. I know I have. I do fear that I'll be treated differently when holding my wife's hand in public, but I think I've done a fairly good job just living my life.
I wouldn't be able to do that without you standing up for me.
You chose to make a very public declaration of support in a column that reaches hundreds of thousands of people each week: "With all the discord in this world, all the hate, why should any of us care who anyone loves, just as long as they have someone to love?" With that you have once again stood up for me, even when I haven't stood up for myself. You were the one to tell our family I'm gay, and now you have told the world. But you didn't just tell people, you took a stand. You told our family that you were proud of me and happy for me. And that's what you have shared with everyone else.
You're the patriarch of our extended family in many ways—you're a leader in organizing family events and making sure everyone stays in touch. Your personality is larger than life, and everyone loves being around you. I can't imagine your acceptance of my sexuality didn't influence at least some of their support.
Your column and your Tweets clearly influence as well. You've stood up for me—and for the entire LGBT community—by expressing your love and support publicly in both forums. The outpouring of positive affirmations, both to your Tweets and column, is inspiring. Reading some of your readers' responses, many with gay children themselves, it's easy to see how appreciative they are to feel part of a bigger community, a community that is now backed by a strong, influential public figure.
This isn't the first time I've watched you stand up for others. When I was younger you were approached in a New York City parking lot by a mother who had been evicted from her home. You went to an ATM, withdrew the sum of her monthly rent, and gave it to her. A few years ago, amidst terrible budget cuts and layoffs, your boss offered you a contract with a raise. You asked him to reduce the total amount to save jobs of your colleagues.
To bring it back to Caitlyn Jenner, she has also stood up for both herself and for the greater LGBT community. I feel an incredible connection to her story knowing that she, like you, has used her influence to at the very least foster a dialogue—and at best change hearts and minds.
Dad, you have always been my role model. Before my wedding, I would have said I looked up to you because you always strive for excellence, make my life fun, and are there for me. Now I can include that you've really stood up for me—not only to influence our family, but in a public forum that has had meaningful, real-world implications for me and undoubtedly others.
I'm so proud to be your daughter every day. I love you so much.
Happy Father's Day, Dad.