Don't sneak.
June 28, 2014 8:36 AM   Subscribe

"Patrick Haggerty grew up the son of a dairy farmer in rural Washington during the 1950s As a teenager, Patrick began to understand he was gay–something he thought he was hiding well. But as he told his daughter Robin, one day, when he went to perform at a school assembly, his father Charles Edward Haggerty, decided to have a serious talk with him." (transcript)
posted by roomthreeseventeen (22 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

posted by PMdixon at 8:39 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]


Another nail in the coffin of the idea that everybody in the past was bigoted and can't be judged by own standards as that's just the way it was.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:51 AM on June 28 [18 favorites]

Well, that made me tear up. Thanks.
posted by mondo dentro at 8:51 AM on June 28

The denouement of that story was exactly the opposite of what I expected. Good on Charles Edward Haggerty.
posted by virago at 8:56 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]

That's awesome. My great uncle came out to his parents by sending them a graphic picture of himself having sex with a man in the 1950's. He was such an awesome guy, I'm extremely glad to have known him the little bit that I did.

It's so hard for me to believe that hatred of people for being gay exists.. I mean I SEE that it exists, I just feel disbelief when I see that.

It's really heartening to know that even when being gay was so systemically despised that you could be persecuted and even killed for it (and still is the case in some horrific places) that there were people who just KNEW to stand up for it, somewhere in side them even though no one told them it was wrong to persecute people for being gay they just knew.

It's really heartening because sometimes it seems the only hope for humanity is to lead the sheeplike (or cruel and heartless) nature of human impulses into morality, but it really warms my heart to think there are people out there who would instinctually have empathy regardless of how horrific the culture around them becomes. Although in some ways the "just knowing" seems like it's own kind of luck, sometimes when I've been an ignoramus on some issues I still WANTED to be an empathetic person but my logic and ability to evaluate how well I was doing that seemed to totally fail (sometimes due to my own selfish or fear/pain based emotions).

In any case these takes me on a whole train of thought about where the will inside us to be who we want to be comes from. Is it given to us or do we engineer it? Does the desire to be empathetic arise from "choice" or is it given to us?
posted by xarnop at 8:56 AM on June 28

That's a sweet story.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:56 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]

Does the 4-H Club still do drag shows?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:58 AM on June 28

Oh wow, that's an amazing story.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 8:59 AM on June 28

Another nail in the coffin of the idea that everybody in the past was bigoted and can't be judged by own standards as that's just the way it was.

everybody was never anything in the past, or now for that matter. But in terms of something like homophobia, it was a hell of a lot easier thirty-forty-fifty-sixty years ago for a halfway decent and thoughtful person to carry some skewered notions about sexuality than it is now. Or as Haggerty himself puts it, "I had the patron saint of dads for sissies,"

Must everyone who ever lived be judged for failing to rise to sainthood?
posted by philip-random at 9:13 AM on June 28 [15 favorites]

Some people are just good people. How fortunate to have one of those people as a parent.
posted by HuronBob at 9:46 AM on June 28 [5 favorites]

posted by benito.strauss at 9:51 AM on June 28

heard this the other morning on the way to work. Put a smile on my face to start the day.
posted by TedW at 10:02 AM on June 28

My great uncle came out to his parents by sending them a graphic picture of himself having sex with a man in the 1950's.

Wait... what? Can we also get a feature on this guy?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:06 AM on June 28 [14 favorites]

My mom used to tell this story. She was a child during the Great Depression, living on a farm in Wisconsin. One of her older brothers asked their mother, my grandmother, if the family could help out his friends. The friends were a pair of bachelors living together in a cabin on a neighboring farm. One of them had broken his leg and they were struggling to make it through the winter. And my uncle explained to my grandmother that they were known to be a couple. So maybe nobody else would help them.

My grandmother said, "Are they hungry?" My uncle said yes. So my grandmother said "Well I suppose they had better come stay with us then."

It's nice when compassion trumps disapproval.
posted by rekrap at 10:28 AM on June 28 [44 favorites]

My uncle was gay, and my mom decided to keep it from us when we were kids. We found out when my brother (who was mildly homophobic as a teen) went to stay with him for a week before he went to boot camp in the Navy. He discovered a stash of gay porn, and called my mom in a panic, and the big secret about Uncle Bruce finally came out. I remember I was 14 at the time, and all I could think was, "Well that's dumb, why's that some kind of big secret?" I adored my uncle Bruce. Much more than my other uncles, who never came to visit, and it made no difference to me. It just bugged me that she'd hide it, like it was some big deal. When you hide a thing, you make it bigger than it needs to be.
posted by routergirl at 11:54 AM on June 28 [2 favorites]

Yeah I heard this on the radio as i drove to work and was floored by it.
posted by edheil at 12:32 PM on June 28

This is why I call it "Crying in My Car" Corps.
posted by chaiminda at 12:35 PM on June 28 [9 favorites]

It is a lovely story. I admire this kind of rural individualism.

I wish I could match it with my mother, growing up in the 80s, but I can't. Oh she wasn't too homophobic and she did eventually come around when I came out to her. But it was a long road. And she had so many gay friends, out co-workers, half our townhouse neighbors were gay. But being gay was always a tragic thing for her, a life of loneliness, and then on top of that the fear of AIDS. The morning after I told her I was gay she told me she couldn't sleep because she kept having dreams that I'd died. She did eventually accept that I was gay but it was always a disappointment for her.
posted by Nelson at 1:30 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]

Great post and thread! Thank you.

I initially only read the transcript, but now that I've gone to the audio link page, I learned that Patrick Haggerty was the lead singer, songwriter and guitarist of the country and western band Lavender Country--their 1973 self titled LP was the first gay themed country music album. How cool!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:56 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]

Lavender Country is a fine name for a 70s era gay country band. If I ever start a band I might steal the name from the last line of this transcript: Patron Saint of Dads for Sissies.
posted by Sublimity at 2:18 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]

I'm really struck by the moral insight on his father's part, that "sneaking" in the sense of hiding who you are from the world can be a kind of spiritual maiming, and I'm impressed by the further practical wisdom that it took for the father to spot the opportunity to share that insight at a moment when it would be most memorable for his son.

We should all have such parents.
posted by Ipsifendus at 7:14 PM on June 28 [7 favorites]

Does the desire to be empathetic arise from "choice" or is it given to us?

It's given to us. It's what makes us human.
posted by sour cream at 12:23 AM on June 29 [1 favorite]

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