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.
Click here for the transcript.
So my dad drove up to the high school. And he had his farmer jeans on and they had cow crap on them, and he had his clodhopper 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 climb in the car and I'm riding home with my father. 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, cause you would never do that to your dad." And I 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?"
Robin Bolland (RB): (laughs)
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, "Now, how bout you? When you're a full-grown man, who are you gonna go out with at night?"
And I said, "I don't know." And he said, "I think you do know. Now, I'm gonna tell you something today, and you might not know what to think of it now, but you're gonna remember when you're an adult. Don't sneak. Because if you sneak, like you did today, it means you think you're doing the wrong thing. And if you run around spending 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 queer. What's he talking about?"
But he knew where I was headed. And he, he knew that humiliating me and making me feel bad about it in any way was the wrong thing to do. I had the patron saint of dads for sissies, and no, I didn't know at the time, but I know it now.