A father who says he was a “textbook homophobe” has repented after bullying his gay son “every day of his life” for 20 years.
The anonymous poster, who grew up in Boston before joining the US Marine Corps and the police force, also admitted to calling his son “a Nancy” for not wanting to fire his guns, and to trying to make the theatre-loving kid “act less gay.”
“I remember every time I’ve said faggot around him”
— The dad on Reddit
The father told the LGBT subreddit that he had “hated gay people for as long as I can really remember and I honestly don’t know why,” and that when he discovered he had a gay son, he “flipped out, said disgusting things to him, s**t that keeps me up at night.
“I wanted him out of my house but my wife wouldn’t have any of it, so I just pretended like he didn’t exist,” he continued.
“I don’t think I can describe what it’s like to live in the same house as someone, see them every day, eat dinner with them, and never say a word to them, never make eye contact with them, for six months.
“Then he went away to college and didn’t come back.”
The dad told Reddit he had discriminated against other gay people in various terrible ways, admitting that he “used to throw rocks at gays” and that he had “tried to get someone kicked out of the Corps because I thought he was gay.
“I don’t know how I can ever forgive myself for all the lives I made a living hell in high school,” he added, before confessing that when he was a police officer and pulled someone over who he thought was gay, he “would give them a ticket for anything I could think of.”
The ‘textbook homophobe’ stops hating
The father said he didn’t know why he stopped being a homophobe, recalling that “one day I woke up and I was changed. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t hate him, or anyone else like him either.”
He called his child, wanting to talk to him for the first time in six years, but when the son answered, “he told me to kill myself and hung up.”
“He said he couldn’t forgive me for any of it”
— The dad on Reddit
After his wife convinced the son to speak to him for the first time in six years, he said: “I told him everything I felt, how sorry I was, how I want to know him.
“And he just listened, and when I was done he told me how I f**ked him up. How my casual homophobia made him feel unloved and made him think about suicide when he was 13 years old.
“And he said he couldn’t forgive me for any of it.”
But the dad explained that more than a year since that initial conversation, he talks to his son “many times a week. I know my son now. I don’t know how to express how happy I am.
“He says he forgives me, and he’s happy to feel loved again but I know that for almost 20 years I unknowingly tormented him every day of his life.”
The poster wrote on Reddit that his treatment of his son “haunts me,” adding that “my son wanted to kill himself because of me, and that makes me want to die.”
He explained that on Thursday, which is Thanksgiving in the US, he was set to see his son for the first time in many years, along with his son’s boyfriend, saying he was “happy and nervous and afraid” at the prospect.
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The father concluded his Reddit post by writing that “I’m sure many of you have been on the other side of this, and I know that all of you have gone through something like this from someone like me.
“It’s all a lot for me and I wanted to get it off my chest.”
How did people on Reddit react?
Commenters were split between throwing hate at the father and praising him for eventually trying to do the right thing, often in the space of the same response.
One person wrote: “Nice sob story but you get 0 sympathy from me because what your son went though is immeasurable compared to how bad you feel for doing it to him.”
And another similar comment read: “You didn’t unknowingly torment him. You purposefully ignored and abused him. Maybe you are doing better now, but don’t sugarcoat things.”
One Reddit user summed up the conflicted nature of the replies by writing: “You just sound like an asshole. There’s a lot you will have to do from this point on.
“But it’s so good of you that you changed like this. I am very proud of you. Part of me wants to lash out at you and get angry but another part of me wants to forgive you.”
And another person said: “You’re not going to find much love here. You were the definition of a terrible human being. It sounds like you’ve changed, which is good.
“Your son is an incredible person for giving you another chance. I honestly don’t think I’d have been able to do it. Good luck, this is an incredible opportunity to mend some chasms you’ve created with your son.”