A Dad Comes Out to His Kids: An Excerpt from Big Love

May 12, 2016

BigLove-400x600 copy

Big Love has a wonderful father at its heart—Dane Bernard, a man who, relatively late in life and after the loss of his wife, comes to terms with being gay. This is how he tells his two teenage kids, Joey and Clarissa:

EXCERPT

How to say it? How does one break news like this?

Maybe an object lesson…. Not so long ago, Bruce—now Caitlyn—Jenner had been everywhere one looked. Perhaps he could use the former Olympic medalist’s journey to illustrate his own parallel need to finally come to terms with who he was, to live an honest life at last.

“You guys remember Caitlyn Jenner?” He grinned, feeling cold suddenly, as though all the color were draining out of him.

Joey snickered. “That old Kardashian dude? Became a woman? He looked pretty hot on the cover of that magazine, though. I mean for an old dude.”

Dane cut his gaze to his son. “Be respectful,” he admonished.

Joey continued shoveling mac and cheese into his mouth.

“Anyway, I thought what he—she—did took a lot of courage. It was a very brave move.”

Clarissa shoved her chair back from the table. “Dad. I really need to get back to Jesse. Is this all?”

It was Dane’s turn to roll his eyes. They were going to make it difficult for him to build up to his revelation. Maybe that was good. Sort of like being pushed out of an airplane when you first skydive….

“Jenner—Caitlyn was very brave,” Dane repeated and found he couldn’t look at his children. He stared down at the table, feeling his breath quicken. Beads of sweat popped out on his forehead. He could feel them up there, and he swiped at them. “She had carried around something that was important to her being for so many years. I know she got lots of publicity, good and bad, and lots of money, but I still think to make the move she did, to live an honest life, was courageous. Don’t you?”

“Brave? To wear women’s underwear?” Joey snickered.

“Joey, please!”

“What’s the point of all this?” Clarissa asked, finally glancing up from the screen on her phone.

Maybe you should do this another time. No. That would just be taking an easy out. These are kids. Another time is not going to be any different. You know that. You know them. But it’s time to take off the gloves. Maybe the object lesson would be good in a classroom, but a family kitchen? Forget it! Dane chuckled to himself. That seemed to get their attention. Both of them looked up.

“What?” Clarissa asked.

Dane blew out a big sigh. Out with it. “I was talking about Jenner to make a point. Jenner the man waited until he was sixty-five to come out—”

“Wait a minute! Dad’s gonna tell us he’s gonna become a woman!” Joey said, and both he and his sister collapsed in laughter.

This was not going the way Dane anticipated. At all.

“Yeah. He’ll need, like, size seventeen pumps!”

That tickled the two of them even more. Dane just stared.

When his children saw he was not joining them in the hilarity, their laughter dried up quickly. Clarissa’s mouth dropped open.

“You’re not. Are you? I mean, transitioning….”

Dane shook his head. “What do you think? I’d make a hideous woman. What I’m trying to say, Joey, Clarissa, is that I’ve had feelings for many years. Not feelings that I was in the wrong body, but feelings that I hid away, mostly from myself, but also from everyone I knew, including your mom, God rest her soul.”

He regarded his children at the table. Any vestige of joking or laughter had left their faces. He was certain they had no idea what was coming, but he wondered if there was something, instinctive maybe, within them that told them to brace themselves.

In the end there was no way to say it other than just to say it. He felt a curious sensation—a tightening inside. He felt he was steeling himself. He breathed out—whoosh—and said it. “I’m gay.”

Joey picked up a radish from his salad and flung it at him. “You are not! Dude, please!”

Clarissa shoved back her chair. “This has all been very fun, although I’m not certain I understand the point of it, but can I go to my room now? Please.”

Dane reached out, took Joey’s hand, took Clarissa’s. “Kids. I’m serious. This is something I’ve struggled against my whole life. Losing your mom has made me see how little time we have, and I just can’t live a lie anymore.”

Clarissa snatched her hand away. She looked up at him with wounded eyes. “Just to be sure. You’re not punking us here? This isn’t a joke?”

Dane shook his head.

There was something snide to her tone, but underneath that Dane could read hope. Hope that he’d confirm he was having them on, kidding around.

“It’s not a joke. This doesn’t change anything. I’m still your dad, still the same guy. I’m still here for you. I still love you—with every fiber of my being.”

Clarissa stood up from the table so fast her chair toppled over to the tile floor behind her. Dane could see she was shaking, and it made his heart ache.

“It doesn’t change anything?” Her voice went up high. “It doesn’t change anything? Are you out of your mind? It changes everything!”

She screeched this last bit, but Dane could see unshed tears standing in her eyes.

God. I should have kept this to myself. What’s said can never be unsaid. What have I done? What Pandora’s box have I opened? Dane said softly, “You’re right. It changes things. Changes who you thought I was, and that’s not small. But what I was trying to say—badly, I guess—was that it doesn’t change what’s essential—my love for you and your brother. The fact that I will be here for you both, always.”

Clarissa was shaking her head. “You’re unbelievable. Fucking unbelievable.”

Even Joey’s mouth dropped open as he stared, slack-jawed, at his sister. “Chill. Can’t you see this is hard for him?”

Dane looked over at his son. He was still holding his hand, and Joey smiled at him and squeezed. The tiny gesture made Dane want to cry. If you had asked him, before he told them this essential truth, which kid would have a problem with it, Joey was the one he would have picked.

“Hard for him?” Clarissa’s lips nearly vanished into a thin horizontal line.

Dane always thought the descriptor of someone’s eyes blazing was hyperbole, purple prose, but now in his daughter’s brown eyes, he saw it really happen.

“Please, honey,” Dane said, reaching out with his other hand.

She backed away, looking down at his hand with horror, as if it was diseased. “No! No! So, what? You used Mom all these years to hide behind?”

She took a couple more steps back toward the kitchen’s exit. “And what? Now that she’s gone, you can be free to be your faggot self?”

“Stop it!” Joey cried. “That’s too harsh.”

Dane didn’t know what to say and cursed himself for it. Mutely, he looked from one child to the other.

Clarissa turned and walked out of the room, calling over her shoulder, “The only thing that’s harsh is finding out we have a liar for a dad.”

Dane slumped. Joey pulled his hand away, but only to pat his dad’s shoulder.

“She doesn’t mean it. She’s just, um, like, surprised, you know?” He squeezed Dane’s shoulder. “It is an awful lot to take in. Dude, are you sure?”

Dane made himself look at his son. He nodded. “I’m sure.”

 BLURB
Teacher Dane Bernard is a gentle giant, loved by all at Summitville High School. He has a beautiful wife, two kids, and an easy rapport with staff and students alike. But Dane has a secret, one he expects to keep hidden for the rest of his life—he’s gay.

But when he loses his wife, Dane finally confronts his attraction to men. And a new teacher, Seth Wolcott, immediately catches his eye. Seth himself is starting over, licking his wounds from a breakup. The last thing Seth wants is another relationship—but when he spies Dane on his first day at Summitville High, his attraction is immediate and electric.

As the two men enter into a dance of discovery and new love, they’re called upon to come to the aid of bullied gay student Truman Reid. Truman is out and proud, which not everyone at his small-town high school approves of. As the two men work to help Truman ignore the bullies and love himself without reservation, they all learn life-changing lessons about coming out, coming to terms, acceptance, heartbreak, and falling in love.

BUY–35% OFF RIGHT NOW!

Dreamspinner Press ebook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7583

Dreamspinner Press paperback: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7584

NOH8RickBIO

Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love.

He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.”

Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

STALK RICK

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
Twitter: www.twitter.com/rickrreed
Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/
Website: www.rickrreed.com

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rick-r-reed
Email ID: rickrreedbooks@gmail.com  

 

Leave a Reply