Frank Bruni Discovers How His Dad, Long Silent, Accepted A Gay Son

FrankbruniAt least four people emailed over the course of the evening to pass along Frank Bruni’s latest New York Times column, “A Father’s Journey on Gay Marriage.”

I thought, “Well, this better be good…” It was better than good; it was great.

After years of skirting the issue of his sexuality with his father, a father who stayed silent after Bruni’s late mother told him then-younger Frank’s secret, Bruni recently had lunch with his dad to find out how he came to accept him.

Here is an excerpt from a piece worth reading twice. The scene picks up with Bruni’s father explaining why, even after knowing the truth, he said nothing:

“It was just so unusual to me,” he recalled, groping for the right word.

He’d heard it said that gay people were somehow stunted, maybe even ill.
But that made no sense to him, because he was confident that I was
neither of those things.

He’d heard it said that peculiar upbringings turned children gay. “I
thought about it a lot,” he said, “and I came to the conclusion that it
had to be in your genes, in you, because I couldn’t think how the
environment for you was any different than it was for your two

He said he worried that I was in for a more difficult, less complete
life than they and my sister were. I asked him why he’d never broached
that with me. He said that it would have been an insult — that I was
obviously smart enough to have assessed the terrain and figured out for
myself how I was going to navigate it.

It’s a touching and telling people, particularly the elder Bruni’s hypothesis on why some American remain hesitant to accept gay people. “I’m convinced that people who don’t accept gays just don’t
really know any of them.” Smart man.


  1. Keppler says

    The last line of the piece, I confess, had me misty-eyed: “I almost think I love you more for it — for being what you are rather than what was expected of you.”

    Definitely worth reading in its entirety!

  2. jamal49 says

    Frank Bruni’s article was moving and spot-on.

    I never miss anything Frank Bruni writes. He is one of the best essayists working today.

  3. Josh says

    Our priorities are not in the right place. A Madonna article would get 120 comments, but this article gets 3 comments? Very moving article indeed!

  4. Carlos says

    There’s another piece by him that I really love: “Rethinking His Religion”, March 24, 2012. I recommend it so much.

  5. Explorerh says

    This article was so profound and appropriate during the holiday season. When so many LGBT people are going home to their glass closets just to be around their families. The closet where everyone knows that you are gay, but do not want to hear about your life. Thanks for the good cry this morning Mr. Bruni!

  6. Caliban says

    A very nice article!

    But it’s also truly not that unusual. If my father were still alive he’d be in his late 80s or early 90s now. He was born in the 1910s in semi-rural Tennessee.

    I came out to him when I was 17 years old, and during that conversation I mentioned I’d heard of parents who kicked their gay children out of the house. His response to me was, “I could never do that; it would be like cutting off one of my own arms.”

    We didn’t necessarily talk about “gay issues” or whatever, but he always welcomed my partner and my brothers’ partners (brother came out a few days after I did because they asked him) into their home, put us up in the guest room in the same bed, etc.

    Honestly I think one of the “secrets” to being accepted by your family is to EXPECT it from them. (Obviously that doesn’t apply to nutball fundies.)

  7. Steven says

    I also cried reading this article. My father is the from the same age generation as Frank’s father. I am lucky to have very accepting parents. My father is 77; this is the generation and age group that has been difficult to obtain tolerance. Frank’s article about his father is proof that personal knowledge of someone gay can change people’s opinions. Frank, thank you for a wonderful piece on your father and his evolving views.

  8. says

    said that peculiar upbringings turned children gay. “I thought about it a lot,” he said, “and I came to the conclusion that it had to be in your genes, in you, because I couldn’t think how the e

  9. Rexford says

    Well, thank you for that Christmas present Mr. Bruni. I’m pretty sure I just read an essay about my own father. I just wish he were still alive today, so I could share it and let him know there were other dads out there just like him.