Fathers and some of their daughters
The unintended consequence of a good relationship.
Psychological explanations for why some of us are lesbians have always fallen short and probably for good reason - they are groundless. Science will probably discover that this trait is in our DNA, woven into a double helix like hair and eye color.
That aside, one of the early explanations for lesbianism was theorized to be a poor relationship with fathers and of course, the implication was negative. Since everybody has had a crack at explaining why I am like I am, I am going to propose my own theory.
Good relationships with fathers of first-born daughters create lesbians - especially fathers who wanted their first born to be a son. My relationship with my father probably did have an impact on my development, but far more positively than the “experts” might want to accept.
Aside from deep dysfunction in my family, my father and I shared a special bond based on “doing” and not “thinking about doing.” From the time I was about five to eleven years old, my Dad and I were tight. He taught me how to throw a baseball like a boy, drive a car and look like I am fixing something with tools regardless of the outcome. He was an avid tennis player and made sure I was availed of lessons at the local park. We spent most weekends working on some yard project or endlessly cleaning out the garage. My younger sister and brother were not at all on his radar during this time.
The more I performed like his son, the more attention I received from him. As with all childhood experiences, we never realize their significance until years later. In retrospect, I was more like him than I ever realized. I used to shudder when he would walk into a gas station for fear we would be there for an hour as he talked with the owner about his life and business. My daughter displays equal anxiety now when I get out of the car at the mini-mart, as her concerns mirror those of mine as a child. I could easily spend an hour in a mini-mart interviewing the owner about drive-by experiences.
Give me your ear and I will tell you a story full of facts and exaggerations, with a few impressions of different characters thrown in for good measure. This is me now and my Dad then. He could make people laugh as easily as he could communicate a passionate business concern. He never took himself too seriously, despite a serious mental health condition from which he suffered.
\Most significantly, he could write. While he never made a living writing, this skill propelled him in business like little else. He wrote with the eye of an artist. When he wrote a business proposal, he made it interesting for a wider audience. He had an ear for the wry and ridiculous in life that few are keen enough to observe and enjoyed pointing it out.
These skills and traits are present in my everyday life. He taught me to be a man as best he could given the obvious challenges. I mirrored the good in him and not surprisingly, some of the bad. Though he never vocalized his desire for a first born son, there was no doubt to me this was his dream. I was the next best thing. I think even at the end of his life he wasn’t terribly disappointed in me. I was the only one of his four children to go to college, have a career, settle down with a good woman, have children, avoid arrest and maintain a fairly good credit standing. In fact, if he could admit it now, he might even say I am living the life he wished he could have lived.
He passed nearly twenty years ago. I was going through some photos he had sent me of his gentleman’s farm in Tennessee he purchased after his retirement. It was a picture of a broken down shed. I couldn’t figure out why he would have taken this photo and sent it to me. I had never looked at the reverse of this picture before. I flipped it over and saw his handwriting. In three sentences, he had told a silly story about this shed and its future importance to the “estate” he was building. It was pure “me.” In fact, I might have told exactly the same story in the same words about the same shed and sent it to him.
Thanks Dad. You made me a good lesbian.