THE PATERNAL QUESTION
I will always remember the day my father said, “Your mother and I are gay, son.” He was a big man, six-three, two-fifty. Used to be a fullback at Kent State. His voice was a sort of rumbling bass that reminded me of an engine idling. “I mean to say,” he added, “that I self-identify as a lesbian. And your mother is a queen.” He flashed an ironical smile meant to tickle and embarrass me. A week later he was dead of heart failure, which is a problem that runs through my family like a trigger-happy madman with a shotgun, taking aim at any man over forty.
Twenty years on and I can’t remember my father’s face but his jokes stay fresh in my brain. I have my own boy now. I wonder how he’ll miss me if I die young. I’m not as funny as Dad was. If he were here, he’d get all serious and ask why I think too much.
– Ricky Henry Harris