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A gay son's recollection of his dad's advice on how to live his life

Transcript

John Yang: And now on this Father's Day, a piece from StoryCorps. While growing up on a Washington State dairy farm in the 1950s, Patrick Haggerty came to realize he was gay. He now tells his daughter Robin about the day he performed at a school assembly, and his father showed up unexpectedly.
Patrick Haggerty: I'm riding to school with my oldest brother. And on the way to school, I'm putting glitter all over my face. And my brother said, what in the hell are you doing? I said, I'm putting on my costume. He said, well, I wouldn't be caught dead wearing that. So he dropped me off at the school. And he called my dad up. And he said, dDad, I think you better get up there. This is not going to look good.
So my dad drove up to the high school, and he had his farmer jeans on and they had cow crap on him. And he had his Claude Hopper boots on. And when I saw him coming, I ducked around the hall and hid from him. And it wasn't because of what I was wearing. It was because of what he was wearing.
So the assembly goes well, and I'm climbing the car, and I'm riding home with my father. And my father says to me, I was walking down the hall this morning, and I saw a kid that looked a lot like you ducking around the hall to avoid his dad. But I know it wasn't you because you would never do that to your dad.
And my squirmed in my seat, and I finally busted out and I said, Well, Dad, did you have to wear your cow crap jeans to my Assembly? And he said, Look, everybody knows I'm a dairy farmer, this is who I am. And he looked me square in the eye. And then he said, No, how about you? When you're full grown man? Who are you going ot go out with at night? And I said, I didn't know. And he said, I think you do know. And it's not going to be that McLaughlin girl has been making Google eyes at you, but you won't even pick up the damn telephone.
Now, I'm going to tell you something today. And you might not know what to think of it now. But you're going to remember when you're an adult, don't sneak because if he sneak like you did today, it means you think you're doing the wrong thing. And if he ran around a spin in your whole life thinking that you're doing the wrong thing, then you'll ruin your immortal soul.
And out of all the things a father in 1959 could have told his gay son, my father tells me to be proud of myself and not sneak. My reaction at the time was to get out in the hay field and pretend like I was as much of a man as I could be. And I remember flipping 50 pound bales three feet up into the air going. I'm not a quitter. What's he talking about? But he knew where I was headed. And he knew that making me feel bad about it anyway, was the wrong thing to do. I had the patron saint of dad's for sissies and no I didn't know it at the time, but I know it now.
John Yang: For more stories like Patrick Haggerty, as you can visit StoryCorps.org.
Online there's more coverage of Pride Month including this story on the challenges organizers of this year's Pride events are facing. All that and more is on our website pbs.org/newshour.
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