It’s probably common for most dads to dream about the moment when they can watch sport with their son.
Male bonding time, father and son moments. Swig a beer and cheer, and all that.
So I always worried that when I came out as gay at 18-years-old, my dad would wonder if I had really enjoyed all those football and rugby games we had watched, or if he’d thought that I might have rather played with a Barbie instead.
The truth was that I had enjoyed every one of those outings, no matter how uncomfortable I had occasionally felt. And in that moment, I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.
It’s not uncommon for a gay guy to enjoy sports. There are loads of us that do. However, typically I’m not that gay guy.
I don’t get excited about a football match or Wimbledon. I have no desire to pick my fantasy football team or go for a kick about in the park.
But it’s 20:20 cricket and like clockwork every year I’m here at Lords, sitting watching with my dad beside me.
You’d think by now I would understand the rules, the length of each inning and who is up next to bat, but still I sit here asking my dad what’s happening and if I should be cheering.
When I was younger every over month we would go and watch the Saracens play rugby with my cousin and uncle.
At the time, I hadn’t really considered thoughts of sexuality and just assumed my feelings were the norm, or that I was just a polite outsider that didn’t always fit in.
But for some reason, the self-confessed non-sports lover, enjoyed every single one of those rugby matches.
The excitement and cheer of the crowd, the high kicks of the oval shaped ball and the half time face paint showing I proudly supported ‘my team.’ I was a lad and at least for two hours every other month, I was normal.
It was my one time that I got a brief glimpse into what it might have been like to fit in. To be an average boy.
But more importantly, it was my time with my dad and that was best thing in the world.
We’d walk back to the train after every game and I’d choose my player of the match – probably picking the wrong guy.
Other times my dad (an avid Barnet football fan,) would take me to a game where I’d stand in a cold football ground, desperately trying to learn the chants and sing along with the rest.
I’d see my dad cheering, and then I’d laugh when he got angry if they were losing. This was his world.
As I grew up I started to decline the football games and we stopped going to the rugby, though I oddly missed those games.
When I came out to my dad he couldn’t have taken it any better. He showed me nothing but love and acceptance.
You see it was never about sport, or whether I enjoyed it or not.
The truth was I had actually enjoyed the rugby games and every year I love coming to the cricket.
But it’s not because I love the game, it’s because he does. And in these moments he is getting to be him and I’m getting to be me.
He’ll roll his eyes when I say something stupid and knows I probably appreciate the men more than the game, but it’s our thing.
I haven’t always felt like I fitted in and at times I’ve felt a little bad that I may have deprived my dad of a more ‘sporty’ son. Although he’ll tell me: ‘Don’t be daft.’
But the fact is: those matches, right or wrong, made me feel normal.
Today it’s the cricket, next week it might be a comic book movie at the pics, I’m just lucky that I get this time with him.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy in my skin, but it’s always nice to experience that sense of ordinary.
I may not be a sport-obsessed lad, but I’m an educated, career focused, happy guy and a son – with the most incredible dad in the world.
I’m not just a gay guy at a cricket match. I belong here too.