Family / Kids / Parenting

The Abdication

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Photo Credit: Eric Horwitz

Eric Horwitz is an openly gay father of two children in lower Manhattan. Currently, Eric is the founder, CEO, and career  and life coach of Gem Coaching LLC. Eric has been coaching for eight years now, following many years working in corporate America. The success-driven coach strives to have the message known that all of life’s hurdles can and will be beat.  We’re thrilled to feature him here at VQ ~ Deborah

The King of England abdicated his throne because he loved an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson.  In the recent past, true love was always trumped by power and tradition.  Although I have no royal roots that I know of, I can relate.

Born in the sixties in a “modern” Orthodox Jewish family, I accepted that the traditional power structure of families has always legislated acceptable relationships. My Orthodox Jewish father once casually told me if I married a non-Jewish woman he would disown me.  Surely my dreams of meeting a nice non-Jewish man were not in the cards. As a dutiful Jew, I succumbed to these social pressures and married the best woman I could find and had two unique children. These events occurred during a virulent antigay period of time, including the scourge of AIDS, the murder of Harvey Milk, Ronald Reagan’s presidency, The Moral Majority, and the passing of the Defense of Marriage Act.   The only bright lights during these decades may have been the Village People movie, Wham, and Billy Jean Kings’ tennis wins.

Because of these pressures, some internalized homophobia, or a futile attempt to perpetuate the social order, I abdicated parental moral authority and basic respect, as I did not believe that I was worthy of those rights.

As a gay man parenting from inside the closet, I never demanded the respect I truly deserved, that inherently any father should have.  Although I came out of the closet to my children many years ago, there was no immediate shift in my behavior or thinking. But recently, a change has been manifesting. My journey to finding my fatherly authority started when I was on a recent road trip with my kids. I wanted a snack, but the children insisted there was no time to stop.  When I resisted, they claimed that I was using the Daddy Card. Now to most families, this Daddy Card would just be the father’s power for having been the provider for about twenty years; Daddys only need one card.  But I couldn’t take what was rightfully mine until I truly felt respected. So no snack for me.

Fast-forward to the recent Supreme Court ruling making DOMA unconstitutional: now, millions of homosexual Americans, particularly in certain states, are on the same legal level as every other American. My country, in June 2013, gave me more respect than I ever gave myself.

A week later, with my new-found endorsement by the Supreme Court of the United States of America, I was again put to the test.  Although my son and I have a very healthy, open, and honest relationship, we had an emotional breakdown. Normally due to my lack of respect for myself as a father, we would fight like equals, but now suddenly I demanded to be treated like a father after a line had been crossed. My son had told me to shut up, and I normally would sadly have accepted that, but suddenly I felt a new powerful force in me, and was able to push back. I am his father; I deserve respect. It was not his fault that he saw me as an equal because I had never demanded or showed that I deserved or wanted that.  But now I did.

I am still planting the seeds towards gaining the respect as a father that I had given up before I even got started. I am confident that if you look deeply into your own parentingstyle, you will find a form of this poison.  Can 6,000 years of cultural bias be wiped out in a generation?  Does planting one more flower in the garden kill the weeds?

Equality and respect for all is my solemn plea, and that we believe every homosexual parent is just as much as a parent as any other parent.  And a parent who is willing to be open and honest in the face of prejudice is certainly worthy of respect, a snack on a long road trip, and the privilege to rescind his request to abdicate what is his right.

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14 Comments

  1. Thanks for this. A perspective I have not heard before.

  2. Eric, thank you for this unique perspective and saying what many others would be afraid to. Often I fail to ask myself the ways internalized homophobia orients me to the world– mostly because I am afraid of the answer.

    • Clare,

      That is what is so hard to face, being so hateful of yourself…that even the government loves you more….ask yourself the questions, than you can start to address it.

  3. Jim Sullivan says:

    Very enlightening and uplifting…thank you for offering your personal story to help this heterosexual married man understand more what many of my loved ones face.

  4. Standing up for ourselves and our own needs can be quite hard, even with our children. Good luck on your journey!

  5. Thank you for sharing yourself with us! Curious to know what your children think of their newly empowered father.

  6. To be more accurate, he didn’t abdicate solely because he wanted to marry Wallace Simpson, he also was asked to step down as he was a highly unstable Nazi sympathizer who would have happily allowed the Nazis to conquer Britain.

    Anyway, your initial point is not supported by the anecdote – true love, in this case, was not trumped by power and tradition. He was allowed to abdicate, remained extremely wealthy and comfortable, and enjoyed his love life relatively unimpeded (except to some extent by the war of course).

    I’m not disagreeing with the sentiment of the piece -clearly a difficult personal journey – just pointing out the very poor writing.

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