Sometimes I don’t know what to write about in Who’s Your Daddy. Tonight, my niece Ashley suggested either ghosts or kindness. Two seemingly somewhat divergent topics. But for us, they were tied together.
You see, we started out texting about the University of Utah’s impressive win over USC in college football, then the conversation turned to family. She told me that my dad had shown up in her house. My dad passed away over six years ago. A photo of him with one of her daughters mysteriously appeared in her pantry. She took that as a sign that he was with her and her family and hung it on their fridge.
She reminded me how kind my dad had always been. We need a little kindness in this world. No, we need a lot more kindness.
Recently, Lt. Governor Mark Robinson of North Carolina said, “there’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth.” He called millions of LGBTQ+ people filth. Frankly, I don’t care what he calls me personally. But I do care what he calls other people – especially young people. Words have power.
A 2020 survey by The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and crisis intervention group focusing on helping LGBTQ+ youth, found 40 percent of queer young people between 13 and 24 seriously contemplated suicide within the past year. Equally as horrifying, according to a Journal of Adolescence Health study in 2019, one in four preteen suicides is likely to be of a queer kid.
Further, researchers at Yale studied the death records of 10,000 kids ages 10–19, all of whom died from suicide. They found that the records were “substantially more likely to mention bullying than [those of] their non-LGBT peers.”
Honestly, I can’t help wondering how many of the LGBTQ+ kids who died by their own hands would still be with us if, rather than being bullied, they’d simply been shown kindness and acceptance.
But I’m sure if he were asked, Lt. Governor Robinson would scoff at any questions suggesting he is a bully. As I’m writing this, he has steadfastly refused to resign his position. But how else would you describe someone who calls kids “filth”?
What really surprises me about the Lt. Governor’s bullying is that he’s both the child of an abusive dad and a father himself. You’d think he’d work hard to avoid being abusive – even if it’s just verbal abuse spat at strangers. I’d like to think that, even though I’m “filth,” I’m a better dad than that.
Look, I’m the first to admit that I’m far from a perfect dad. In fact, there are days when I think that becoming a dad probably wasn’t the best idea. My kids aren’t perfect either. I’m sure there are days that they wish someone else was their dad. But I’m immensely proud that they’re both kind young men.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my niece found a long-forgotten photo in her pantry of all places. Just like I don’t think it was a coincidence she told me about it on the day I made my grandmother’s Greek egg-lemon soup, her cute, accented voice whispering in my ear, reminding me to go slow so as not to curdle the soup. You see, I’m a firm believer in Greek ghosts. Not the spooky ones that haunt creepy old houses, but those who once loved us and still do. My dad was just sending my niece love and kindness. I wish he’d send some to Mark Robinson.
If a young person you know is struggling, please contact the Trevor Project.