I do not love my father. I do not think that I ever have. And that’s okay.
This resignation is not a new or revolutionary sentiment, because my father and I have been at odds for my entire life – and most of his. My father, in spite of his many efforts, has never been able to love me because of what I represented, or would represent, or even, what he could not. But despite our toxic relationship and his abusive nature, I pen this letter under a cloak of anonymity because my father, from what I have recently learned, is queer but not proud. And by no means is he out.
Since the weeks that I have known, I have thought a lot of Langston Hughes and his thoughts on dream deferment. Moving past, for now, what happens to a dream once it has been deferred, how is this idea conceptualized when deferment is incipient? It is no doubt compartmentalization, both societally and internally, that forces one to live a nightmare of a lie in order to deny the dream of their truth; but is there cognitive awareness of the deferment during the process? In order to achieve “success” in such detriment, I am forced to believe that there has to be a continual displacement of desire. Displacement that façades itself toward a realization that is unachievable, but ever hopeful of being imminent. Displacement that only masks the sight of innate desire but does little to actively “treat it”. Displacement that creates delusions to distract inquiring minds from questioning and rescinds the opportunity of space, agency, love (however false), and freedom to allow cogitation to be cognitively realized. My father has used sex and lies to prove a point of patriarchy, masculinity, and heterosexuality. Yet, even with five points of attempted distractions, my father has been, by and large, unsuccessful at denying his sexual affinities and realizing fatherhood beyond providing sperm to an egg.
Juxtaposed against his own dream of what life might be as a lady’s man or a man’s man, my queerness has had to come as a nightmare for him. Queerness not only in regard of sexuality, but in the truest sense of the word: my aversions to celebrated sports for Black boys; my mannerisms that fell further on the feminine spectrum of gender expression; my desire to be and comfort around women and girls; and, lastly, my inability to relate or to love a man whom I should have adored and admired given our multitude of similarities and overlap. Yet I was only ever readily able to conjure fear. And he used fear to guide me to the path of masculine heterosexuality. And for his every failed attempt there remains a scarred memory in my lived experience.
Returning to dreams post-deferment: I am curious how the outcomes apply to the bond my father and I share now. A bond that is only visible in genetic markers and soap operatic acts of humiliation. I’m forced to remember there are: years of lies, threats of violence, manipulation, a memory or two worthy of a smile, physical attacks, fire, botched haircuts, and a moment where I feared for my life. Then, there is clarity and decidedness. Life opened up for me when I decided that I would no longer entertain his presence in my life. But as it opened, life closed in on my father’s dream for me and, by extension, himself.
Before our love could form, it dried. During a time where we could’ve healed, the void of self-love festered. Tears ran and often so did I. As distance grew, a stench emanated from our long dead relationship. During that time, I learned to love myself, sweetly at first, and, then, purposefully. My father, in his attempts to remain chaste to his desires and vile in his direction, sagged into a ball of supernatural hate.
But I’m hoping this letter will serve as the explosion needed to, in some cosmic work of a miracle, de-center the hate in my father’s life that he has routinely disguised as love. Not for our relationship as father and son, but as one queer man to another who had to learn to love himself in spite of so much hate.
My father and I could have had a different relationship if he had only known that he could have loved himself freely and proudly; and by extension known how to love me in a way that included all of me instead of rejecting me. I could have loved my father had someone taught him how to love himself or assured him that he was worthy and needed a commitment to self-love.
At the heart of all of the lies, hatred, pain, and deception there lies a question that my father has failed to hone, neglected to realize, and has been dissuaded from seeking, and that is: what happens to a dream deferred?
As the literal personification of everything that he has tried to avoid in loving himself, I am proudly aware that I am his deferred dream. And I will stop the vicious cycle, as his namesaked, queer deferment.