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Looking for My Father's Love PDF Print E-mail
Dad's decision to pursue homosexuality devastated our family--and launched me on a desperate search for male affirmation that almost destroyed my life. The reality of homosexuality invaded my innocent world when I was just seven years old. One night after dinner, Mom went to work and Dad tucked my brother and me into bed for the night. But I was restless and got up to ask Dad for a drink of water. I crept down the hallway on tiptoe and peeked through the lattice partition into the front room. 

From my hiding place, I saw my Dad at the front door, in a firm embrace and kissing another man. Dad's back was toward me, but I could see the other man's face. His eyes were tightly shut. They seemed to be somewhere far away together, unaware of my silent stare. 

I couldn't believe my eyes. Daddy shouldn't be kissing another man! Unable to make any sense of what I was seeing, my thoughts went into the safe world of make-believe. They are just pretending, I thought. They are putting on a show for me like the circus; this isn't real. I went back to my room, feeling numb all over. 

A year passed. One Sunday Mom and I were driving home from church. The air was pungent with the smell of orange blossoms as we passed large groves of flowering trees. 

She glanced over at me. "Your Dad and I haven't been getting along very well lately." She paused, looking straight ahead as she uttered words I will never forget. "Suzy, your Dad and I are going to get a divorce." 

My response was immediate. I broke down into heartbreaking sobs. I could hardly breathe from the unbearable anguish inside me. "No, you can't do this, Mom!" I said between sobs. "Please, no!" My safe and comfortable world was falling apart. My mind flashed back to Dad kissing another man; now I knew it wasn't pretending--it was a sickening reality. 

I wondered if I would ever see my father again. Not that I really liked being with him. He was always in a bad mood, exploding in anger and uncontrolled fits of rage. I was angry with him. He was breaking up our family and I carried his shameful secret. It even seemed that God had abandoned me. How could He be all-powerful and let this happen to our family? 

Daddy moved to an apartment with the "other" man who haunted my thoughts constantly. Finally I told my mother, "I saw Daddy kissing another man." She looked shocked. "Your father is very disturbed. He has a mental illness." Then she told me he was a homosexual. 

"Suzy, promise not to tell anyone. It will be our secret." I made a solemn vow not to tell. 

A few months after my conversation with Mom, Dad started bringing his "friend" to our house. His name was Gene, and I hated him. I wanted to shout at him, "Get out of my house and leave us alone!" It seemed strange to me that Mom just let him invade our home. I felt so confused, but kept my feelings to myself. I didn't know how to express the pain deep inside. 

When I was 10, my parents' divorce was finalized; my little brother, Kevin, and I lived in both homes as part of the divorce agreement. My inner pain began manifesting in rebellious behavior. I was already smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. When I turned 11, I started smoking pot; by the next summer, I had sexual intercourse for the first time. 

Life continued downhill from there. I was arrested by the police when I was 14 after overdosing on a combination of prescription drugs I had stolen from my grandmother. By age 17, I had graduated from high school and moved in with my boyfriend who was 22 years older. The year I turned 18, I had my first abortion (and a second one two years later). 

I was experiencing firsthand the impact of my father's homosexuality. He deserted my family--and his absence devastated me. Searching for male affirmation, I sought sexual involvement with older men. It was the only way I knew to get the love and attention I craved, just like my Dad. 

The majority of Dad's friends were homosexual, which impacted my brother and me in different ways. It was dangerous for my brother; he was sexually abused by two of my father's friends. It was uncomfortable for me; I knew these men didn't like women--or children, for that matter. 

Even as a child, I heard conversations with homosexual innuendoes that made me uncomfortable. I did not like most of my dad's friends, but I needed their approval so I tried to act in ways I thought would be attractive to homosexual men. 

Eventually Dad and Gene moved to northern California; my brother and I saw them twice a year. They took us on a family camping vacation each summer and we had fun hiking and playing games around the Coleman lantern at night. 

However, the reality of Dad's homosexuality was never far away. I remember many times Kevin and I would return from a hike to find the tent tightly closed up. I could hear heavy breathing inside; I knew Dad and Gene were having sex, and I kept my brother occupied somewhere else until they were done. I felt so lost and alone; I had to be strong for Kevin and pretend everything was fine. 

As I grew older, Dad didn't take an active interest in my life. We shared only superficial conversations; we never talked about my life plans or secret dreams. I only shared my true feelings with him once, when I wrote him a letter about how hurt I felt over the divorce and his homosexual life. He read it, became very angry, and promptly sent it back to me. He wouldn't even keep it. 

My father's homosexual preferences influenced me another way: He was repulsed by the female body, and told me so. As a teen, I was uncomfortable with my growing body and have been overweight most of my life due to this discomfort. I sought out other men to find validation of my femininity, using a series of sexual experiences in an attempt to fill my basic human need to accept myself. Dad was not able to affirm my femininity in any meaningful way. 

But, even though my father found the female body repulsive, he was attracted to men who exhibited female qualities. He also acted in feminine ways, through speech, gestures and clothing. This was confusing and upsetting to me. Later in life, I was deeply drawn to macho men who exhibited "real" masculinity. 

Dad wasn't my only bad example in terms of demonstrating immorality. Mom acted out her own pain by having a series of "flings" with different men after the divorce. Eventually she remarried, but she didn't let that commitment restrict her sexual activities to one man. 

In my insecurity and confusion, I would do anything for "love," so I was easy to manipulate. With a combination of drugs and alcohol lowering my resistance, I became very sexually promiscuous. I crossed many boundaries that put my life in danger, because I had a consuming need to be loved and have my sexual needs met at any cost. 

One summer when I was 16, I went to San Francisco to visit Dad and Gene for a couple months. Gene was turning 30 and having a crisis. A few weeks after I arrived, Gene left Dad for a short affair with another man. My father was extremely distraught and cried for days. I tried my best to comfort him. 

"Dad," I reasoned, "you know Gene better than this. I am sure this is just a passing fling. Gene is very sensitive about his age. Just wait patiently and he'll be back. He really loves you." After our conversation, Dad started to feel better and calmed down considerably. And, sure enough, Gene eventually came home. 

Several years later, I moved to Laguna Beach, Calif., and met my next best friend looking for an apartment. She shared a rented home with a gay man, and we hung out together at gay restaurants and went dancing in their nightclubs. 

But when I was alone, voices in my head whispered that I was fat, ugly and worthless. Unless I was partying, dancing, drinking, or occupied with a man, I would be in a depressing pit. I did everything I could to keep busy. By the time I turned 23, I had moved to Newport Beach. I went from boyfriend to boyfriend, and party to party. I wanted to settle down with one man and get married--but I didn't know how. 

Then my brother married a Christian woman. I didn't know much about her except her influence on my brother was enormous and positive. Eventually, he confronted me on my "sinful" lifestyle. I was livid. "You have no business telling me how to live, you little twerp!" I sputtered. 

As I lay in bed that night, I thought about all the good things I had done in my life. I was a kind person. I liked animals. I paid my taxes, voted, and even picked up litter in the streets. 

Then something strange happened. As I was listing all my wonderful qualities, darkness swept over me. I thought about all my sexual relationships, even with married men. Habitually I lied, cheated, and took drugs. Could I really be a sinful person? 

After several months, I wasn't angry at my brother anymore. In fact, when he and his wife invited me to church, I accepted. I was amazed at all the young people in the congregation, wearing casual jeans and sandals. When they sang simple love songs to Jesus, I started crying. Something was radically different about this place. I knew these people had something that I lacked. Right there, I knew I wanted to be close to Jesus. As I wept, I could feel the empty places deep inside being filled with His love. I knew my sins were real--and they were forgiven. I sobbed as I felt clean inside for the first time in my life. 

But becoming a Christian didn't solve all my problems. Between Sundays, I still drank and got high. It took another year before I finally reached a place where I could put aside these habits. Then, in one night, God completely delivered me without any withdrawal symptoms. I knew it was a miracle, and I cried with gratefulness at His intervention in my life. 

I lived with Dad for the next 18 months. Wonderful things happened in our relationship. We commuted to work together every day, having long talks and crying together about the things I had gone through as a teenager. Dad told me how sorry he was that he had left our family, and explained his painful childhood (his father was an abusive alcoholic). Then he apologized in tears for all the hurt he had caused me. 

His words deeply impacted me, and enabled me to forgive him. Finally I understood why Dad craved love from other men; he had never had a secure loving relationship with his own father. I fell in love with him as a father, and we began spending all our spare time together. 

I am grateful that, when I was an adult, Dad began giving me the love and nurturing I had been denied as a child. He helped me by being honest about his own life. He told me over and over again in tender notes and affectionate words that, if he had received help in dealing with his homosexuality, he could have gained the strength to remain married to Mom. 

In the years since then, I have had to continue to process my past. During one period, I saw a professional counselor to help me unravel the memories of my childhood. I had to choose to forgive both my parents after experiencing again the painful effects of their sin. 

Today, I can look back and see the devastating impact of my father's homosexuality upon my whole family. I tell my story to educate people about the hidden realities of "same-sex marriage" and gays adopting children. My father's homosexuality almost destroyed my life. But, by God's grace, I'm no longer a victim of my past. I have a secure future in Him. 

Additional Information:
© 1997 Suzanne Cook. Distributed by Exodus International, PO Box 77652, Seattle, WA 98177; 206/784-7799.
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