Welcome to ‘Ask John Porter’ – a column sharing a source of wisdom, support, and empowerment in the colorful world of LGBTQ+. Porter’s advice column is a safe space where questions, concerns, and curiosities about life, love, identity, and everything in between are welcomed with open arms from contributing writer, John Porter. Your voices matter, and your experiences can inspire and help others on their journeys
I don't know what to do. Back in the mid '80s, I was trying to hide being gay very deep in the closet.
I dated a girl for a few months, didn't work out; we went our separate ways, and I never spoke to her again. I have now learned that she was pregnant and had a son, who is now an adult, and my son. He was brought to my attention by his aunt. She said he always questioned if the man that raised him was his dad. He also has twins, so I'm also an instant dad /grandpa. It's a lot to take in all at once. I'm angry at his mother. She knew from the moment this baby was born that he was mine. Not only did she lie to her son for all these years, but she denied me the opportunity to be a father. I want to pursue it but not sure how. Should I contact his mother? I don't know how to move forward.
- Randy from Illinois
You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. The years you've lost are gone, but you do have an opportunity to know your son. He is an adult now and has a family, so engaging with him directly is less confrontational than speaking to his mother. Trying to rehash the past with his mother isn't going to bring you closer to him. It could actually push him away. Reach out to him to see if he is interested in meeting you and take it from there. Remember that this is also very hard for him, and he may need time to warm up to the idea of getting to know his biological father. If you lead with love and openness, putting the past behind you, you can begin building a new future together. We can't undo the past, but we can ensure the future captures as many sweet moments as possible to help make up for lost time.
I was in a fantastic relationship turned marriage for over 14 years. Three years ago, that ended, and I do struggle with that grief, and I have allowed being a widower to define me. I have tried dating, but I just wasn't ready. I'm not looking for a relationship yet, but I definitely want to take my time getting to know people and maybe start dating again. I don't know how to get back into the world and meet new people. I live in a rural area with very little gay culture, should I move?
- Steve from North Carolina
I'm sorry for your loss. Grief doesn't happen in a straight line, and there is no timetable. Everyone's grief journey is unique. Be gentle with yourself and know it is ok to take a step forward and two steps back, but the important part is to step forward, even if your legs shake. Dating apps are great and can produce long-lasting relationships, but blind dating can also be anxiety-inducing. If you want to connect with people in spaces where you can explore comfortably with others who have shared values, find organizations you can volunteer with. Volunteering will get you out of the house and will introduce you to other people in your community without the pressure of a relationship. Living in a rural area as a queer person can be challenging for many reasons but moving to a city isn't always the answer.
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John Porter is an entrepreneur and founding partner at Oasis Asset Management. He has served as a political organizer and strategist within the Democratic Party, as well as serving as an executive board member for the Miami Yacht Club.