Micah Porter thanks his son – a gay athlete – for inspiring him to come out.
Editor’s Note: Micah Porter wrote this letter to his son, also named Micah, hours after the father and son marched together with Outsports in the Denver Pride Parade.
This past weekend was a Father’s Day I thought would only occur in my dreams. You gave me the gift of authenticity, courage and a son’s love. From the deepest realms of my heart, thank you. I overflow with pride.
We all have pivotal moments in our life when things fundamentally change. When you were born 18 years ago this September, there was a seismic shift in my entire perspective on life and the meaning of my existence. I remember that day as if it was an hour ago. I had a son. A new sort of primal instinct emerged from within me. At that moment, nothing became more important to me than your protection, health, growth and love.
As you grew stronger, smarter and more beautiful every day, I began to see myself in you in nearly every way. I saw the same likes and dislikes, temperament and smile as you experienced the world from your eyes. As your life unfolded before you, I beamed with pride.
I knew you were gay when you were a young boy. I saw you be your authentic self every day and challenge every notion of normativity I knew. Untarnished by a society that had boxed gender and sexuality into different camps, you were just yourself. You were Micah. I want to apologize for any disapproval I gave as you advocated to just be you.
You were my first teacher about the importance of loving oneself. I have never told you this, but you had an impact on me that is ultimately beyond words. My arduous journey to embrace my sexuality and love myself as a gay man began with you. Son, you inspired me to confront my fraudulent life and begin to be proud of who I truly was.
It also helped awaken me. Those experiences woke me to a reality that never would have happened without you. How could I raise you to be your true self while I lived an inauthentic life? How could I teach you to be honest, moral and good, while I lived a lie?
As you well know, my coming out led to many painful changes to our family, the ending of many relationships, and ultimately a complete reset on our lives. You were just 11 years old. I know it was extremely difficult for you as our family was intertwined through school, athletics, church and friends. There is nothing we did not do together, and that all came to an abrupt end.
I considered waiting, but I knew that it would only get more complicated as you entered your teenage years; and as anticipated, those years were difficult. I made many mistakes during that time and our relationship was damaged. I am sorry for the pain that those years caused you. I also knew that you were struggling with your own sexuality and I wanted to be there for you in a way that only a father could be. Though our time together during those years was limited, for the first time, I sat next to you, hugged you and walked with you proud of who I was.
Your own journey has been incredible to witness as your father. Two years ago, you told me you were gay. We hugged, we cried, and we bonded like we never had before. My heart beamed with joy that night from Grammy and Grandpa Porter’s home in North Carolina. I went to bed with a love in my heart that finally felt free.
This past Father’s Day weekend was a culmination of many things in my life. At Denver Pride, I was reunited with my family from Outsports where you met Cyd Zeigler, who provided me the platform to finally have the courage to share my story. We marched with my friends and colleagues Glenn Witman and Brian Kitts of You Can Play. When I felt alone, they were my safety net and gave me an outlet to begin my advocacy work for LGBTQ inclusion throughout the world of athletics.
Together we wore Nike BeTrue shirts proudly through the streets of Denver. Someday, I will take you to Portland, where my BeTrue experience began. You once again spent time with a true friend of mine, “Uncle Anthony” Nicodemo. He and I have made much of our journey together, and he will always be there for you, as he has always been for me.
You and I both made many new friends as well. Hold them close and dear. These organizations and individuals strengthened and empowered me during some very dark days. They became part of my family, and I became part of theirs. Now, in Denver, I was sharing this family with you, my son, on Father’s Day. You now have a gift to share with those who yearn to embrace their true self and thrive in the world of sports. Please use this gift to help others as those have helped you.
Thank you, son, for being exactly who you are. Thank you for teaching me about love, courage and what it means to be an authentic person. You are an incredible athlete, artist, scholar and human. Your talents and accomplishments are beyond the scale of those your age. You have blossomed into a beautiful young man, and I could not be more proud to be your father.
I know we will have many more Father’s Days together, but none will be the same as 2017 when we marched together for Pride. On that day, this father’s pride beamed brighter than he ever imagined possible.
I love you,
Micah Porter is athletic director at Northfield High School in Colorado; He came out publicly in 2013. His son, Micah, is a high school gymnast, swimmer and competes in track & field.