A few days before Pride Month begins this year, the third time without my step-dad, I find myself reaching for the bag of his old shirts without thinking twice, slipping one over my head and inhaling the remnants of his scent, of that pine-scented deodorant he always wore, letting the faded cotton wrap me up like one of his bear hugs.
My step-dad was my dad’s longest partner, from when I was six years old until my early twenties, and he remained in my life until the end of his. He died from the complications of lung cancer in January 2019. Denn, as I called him, short for another one of his nicknames (Denny), was an OG 80s queer punk, with multiple piercings he had done himself, tattoos of his own artwork—he was an indie comic book artist and illustrator. He also was the complete opposite of my bio dad. Together, the two of them, coupled with my god-father, a gay Tejano man, taught me everything I needed to know about accepting and coming to terms with my own queer identity as a lesbian years later. [continue reading…]