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An Open Letter to My Absentee Dad on Mother’s Day

Hello! I hope this finds you well. Let me start by introducing myself. I’m your daughter. I’m gayer than a picnic basket and the latter is not because of you. I say that not because I am coddling you the way you never did me, nor because I want to hurt your feelings. I’m saying it because it’s true. Wait—let me back up.

So much has happened since you got mom pregnant. I was born – do you remember that? I had your nose. I learned to walk, talk and write. I learned to put my words to music. I learned to dance. I do that all the time now. I met lots of people. I liked most of them. I loved some of them. I went to school. I went to work. I went back to school and never quite left. Mom took me to Africa. Mom took me to Europe. Mom took me everywhere. I came out to mom. She was very shocked. Then she was angry. Then she was guilty. Then she met my partner. Now she’s very happy. I went to dinner with you that one time and we had sushi. Do you remember? I waited for you at dinner that other time for over an hour before I left. You are still the only person to ever stand me up! Did I frighten you away? I do that to men sometimes. I’m not sorry.

I wish I could be angry with you, but I’m not. I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed I have to write you an awkwardly public letter to tell you I’m a dyke instead of in person, like I was able to with mom. I’m disappointed she feels like your absence made me queer. I’m disappointed I can’t convince her otherwise. I’m disappointed she had to figure out how to feed me on her own, how to clothe me on her own, and how to make me a good person on her own. I’m disappointed the government says I only cost you $52 per week in child support for 16 ½ years. I’m disappointed you leaving mom makes me a “statistic”. I’m disappointed mom and I never living in poverty makes me “lucky”. I’m disappointed I cannot say I’m glad you weren’t around without offending people. I’m disappointed it’s offensive to say I’m proud I grew up in a home free from fear of partner violence or disrespect; a home free of misogyny or denial of black women’s greatness. I’m disappointed a great black woman was always lonely so I could be safe. I’m disappointed after all of this, the lovely little unit that is mom and I don’t count as a strong black family.

So, I’m coming out to you in a letter and I hope you are happy. I hope you have everything you ever wanted in life. I am working on doing the same.

Love always,

Your Daughter

Tiffany Mott-Smith