That letter marked a turning point in my relationship with my dad. We were never as far apart as when I realized that, to my father, I was dead. It took another four years for us to arrive at a place of mutual respect and acceptance. Despite that fierce seven year struggle I consider myself lucky.
I was 28 when I came out. I was living independently and had the support of my lover, friends and some of my siblings. So many queer folk are disowned by their families. Up to 40% of homeless youth in Canada identify as LGBTQ2S (Western University study). Across the world queer people are denied housing, persecuted, beaten, driven to suicide or murdered. For many, “home” is something longed for but not always found.
“Vale of Tears” is a Christian phrase that refers to the tribulations of life that Christian doctrine says are left behind only when one leaves the world and enters heaven. The letter from my father floats on a linen tablecloth that was given to me by my nana. I didn’t know it at the time, but my nana’s 95th birthday and the letter that my father penned the next day, set me on a path to find my own home with my own chosen family.
Vale of Tears (2023)
45” X 45”