"Dad, I forgive you": How my father's closet bisexuality affected our family

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“My first experience with my father’s bisexuality was when I discovered his porn in the garage”

My 57 years on this planet are years of dealing with the effects of misogyny. When I came out last year I attributed my internal biphobia to external influences. But something did not resonate there for me. So I finally did what my beautiful and wise mother and my therapists taught me. I unpacked THAT BOX.

Homosexuality was accepted in my family, but bisexuality was never discussed. And knowing my progressive mother I finally questioned why?

Back to the box. I am an expert at compartmentalizing. Have been all my life. My own repeated molestations by a person who married into my family between the ages of 10-12 are a great example. The sexual harassment continued until I got pregnant – as I understand it now, as an attempt not to appeal to him anymore. After telling my family and not being taken seriously or validated I was off on a vicious cycle of self destruction.

Open the box and look Lynnette. Okey here goes. Wow. My father. Surrounded with his 80 assorted pills he took to end his pain. Very small. Very broken. Seeing no recourse when the only thing that made him feels a little sane and worthy had to finally protect herself and stop trying to fix him. My mother’s second round of cancer brought her decision to asked for a divorce.

His religious upbringing had no room for his bisexuality. Or the rest of the world for that matter. He had no language to speak about it. Nor did my mother. And they had no language to speak about it to me. He was a self loathing, angry, desperate man who thought he was evil. This permeated into everything he touched. Including me.

My own choice in men reflect this. I say I probably have had more black eyes then Mike Tyson. I hated myself too. You choose what you think you deserve. And my feelings of being evil myself were the basis for my own suicide attempts.

My first experience with my father’s bisexuality was when I discovered his porn in the garage. Lots of lovely pictures of pretty women that made me feel different strange in a good way. I was eight. Then there were the nudist mags (Vim and Vigor) which frankly made me giggle to see people playing volleyball, barbequing and fishing in the buff.

But at the bottom of this hefty stack was a very pulpy stark black and white gritty aggressive magazine full of people having sex. Different acts were blatantly portrayed as raw, animal-like and non-emotional. It was very upsetting. And these were men having sex with men. I had no language to process this. So I boxed it up and went away feeling very dirty.

As the years passed I learned of my father’s glory hole visits and other risky behaviour. I attributed this as a weakness of character. And a betrayal to my mother. And I boxed that up too. Filed it under “What a bisexual is.” Add the stereotyping and stigma from the rest of the world? = disaster.

So why do I feel we need to support and include our bi men in our discussions on bisexual activism and feminism? Because I was a child of a closeted self-hating bisexual man.

So why do I feel we need to support and include our bi men in our discussions on bisexual activism and feminism? Because I was a child of a closeted self-hating bisexual man. The permanent damage to my life is apparent in every aspect of it. Bisexual men are or will be fathers. They need a language to talk about it. They need community to turn too. Feminism is for everyone. We need to help them break through too. It is a radical activist’s job to recognize a problem. It is also our job to take steps to fix a problem. Everyone deserves a voice. It is crucial to survival.

My father had many problems. I viewed all of them as the face of what bisexuality was. I had no tools to discern otherwise. And I didn’t want to be anything like him. Now that I have met out and proud well adjusted men who have the language to talk about it And have healthy happy partnerships and children I am elated and deeply saddened. To be able to understand what bisexuality truly means is joyful. And grieve for my father and our family for what ours lives could have been. It is traumatic.

But finally I can say: “Dad, I forgive you.”

Lynnette.

Footnote about my mother: My mom was a kind loving self reflective woman who strove to make this world a better place for all. She fought injustice and taught us about civil rights from an early age. If she could have found the right books and tools and support she needed to understand sexuality she would have. But there simply was none. I grieve for her too.

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lynnette

My name is Lynnette McFadzen and I live in Portland, Oregon, USA. I am a 57-year-old single woman with three daughters and four grandchildren. I am single and, at the moment, celibate. I am disabled and a widow. I conceived, produce and publish The BiCast (www.bicast.org) directly from my home.

8 Responses to "Dad, I forgive you": How my father's closet bisexuality affected our family

  • Jan Steckel says:

    Such a great piece, Lynnette, taking the personal to the universal. My heart goes out to you — and to your father.

  • Christina Fiscus says:

    Thank you, Lynnette. This shows a lot of courage and compassion. A very powerful piece that definitely highlights the need to make sure we, as a community, include and validate bisexual men.

  • G. Henry says:

    I respect the courage it took to write this painful story and sharing your process in moving towards forgiveness. Sending thoughts of compassion to your father, it must have been gut wrenching for him to keep this sacred part of his identity secret. Thank you, Lynnette

    • Thank you. I truly believed it influenced his decision to leave this world by his own hand.
      It highlights the extreme disparity our community has concerning suicidality. We need to talk about these things.

  • Karen says:

    Lynnette,
    I have been looking for an article just like yours and just came across it. My elderly dad is also closeted, bi- , and anger is a strong emotion for him. Your first sentence, “My 57 years on this planet are years of dealing with the effects of misogyny”, absolutely grabbed my attention. The rest of your article also resonates so much with me. I am just beginning to deal with my issues from my own family of origin, but I am grateful to you for sharing how this issue affected you, and how you are dealing with it.
    Thank you,
    Karen

  • Rebecca Stell says:

    “when the only thing that made him feels a little sane and worthy had to finally protect herself and stop trying to fix him.” Such a heartwrenchingly astute phrase to sum up the experience of BOTH being or living with traumatised people who have turned the abuse on themselves and others.

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