Mom story: My dad is gay

Jun 11, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. ET

Meet Erin Margolin, mom of three. When she was a teen, her dad came out. Since then, she's built a network to support gay parents and their families. She's now working on a documentary to help spread the word and open a healthy dialogue within families.

Erin and her father

When Erin Margolin was 15, her dad came out of the closet. As her parents’ marriage fell apart, Erin struggled with the news that her dad was gay and had known that he was his entire adult life. Learn how she slowly repaired her relationship with her father and created a space for others to connect and heal.

When Dad came out

Erin Margolin and her parents

After struggling to try and resist his homosexuality, Erin’s dad reached a breaking point and shared his sexual orientation with his family. His confession sent shockwaves through Erin’s family. “I fell apart,” Erin says. “I was dealing not only with the divorce ‘thing,’ but also the gay ‘thing.’ Plus it was 1991, and at that point I knew of no one else who had a gay parent.”

Though she saw a therapist regularly, Erin struggled at school and didn’t know how to talk to her friends about what she was going through. When her anger and depression reached a peak, she struggled with self-harm. It wasn't until she left home for college that she truly began processing her feelings.

A question of sexual identity

In college, Erin developed feelings for another girl. Her feelings helped her develop an attitude that everyone’s on a continuum when it comes to sexual identity. “There are shades of gray and everything in between,” says Erin. “I also feel strongly that we can fall in love with a person, and sometimes it just happens to be the things about that person we love, and it has nothing to do with what's between their legs.” Erin’s dad’s coming out helped her learn to be open minded and accept people. “He taught me that differences are what make the world go round,” she says. Ultimately, she identified strongly as an ally.

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Teaching kids that ”gay is OK”

Erin is a mom to three kids. “They know what it means to be gay; they know that ‘gay is OK,’ as we say in our house,” she says.

Her children are able to see role models in happy relationships, including her father who is now married to his partner.

“There's no shortage of diversity in our family, and I'm so grateful for this,” Erin says. “I teach them acceptance, love, friendship. I teach them respect. I teach them about bullying being wrong. I encourage them to befriend the underdog. I talk to them openly about everything.” Erin hopes that her children will grow to be allies who support their friends just as they will be supported regardless of their sexual orientation.

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The Gay Dad Project

Erin and Amie Shea, both daughters of gay dads, began The Gay Dad Project as a way for others to connect. “The blog is a safe place where people can come and share their stories about parents or other loved ones who have come out,” Erin says. “If there's one thing I wish, it would be that when my dad came out, I'd have had someone to talk to about it who had been there.”

The Gay Dad Project accepts submissions and plans on expanding to include message boards and other ways to connect. Right now, The Gay Dad Project is fundraising to support a documentary about kids and adults with gay parents. As for Erin and her father, “I think just doing this project will help open some dialogue between us,“ Erin says. “It already has in a lot of ways.“

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