Almost eight years after my dad came out of the closet as homosexual, finally I’m ready to step forward and proudly own my relationship with him — exactly as he is. Since David and I have journeyed out of institutional Christianity, our perspectives on other people have changed, and we’ve started inhabiting a more loving, non-judgemental space.

Wayne, Victor and Lauren, October 2011
It's been wonderful to spend this time with Victor and Wayne.

We’ve had a wonderful time with Victor in Sydney — seeing where he lives, spending time getting to know his partner Wayne, going out together and and reconnecting our lives. We’re glad that our girls are growing up making memories of “Pa” — they last saw my dad in December 2009.

It shouldn’t have taken me this long to adjust to my dad’s authenticity. After all in late 2003, when he first announced that he was in love with another man, I initially embraced the opportunity to finally get to know him. However, at the same time, I felt ashamed, embarrassed, even disappointed that the pedestal I had put him on was false. Or was it?

I didn’t know who the real Victor Bissett was, and the truth wasn’t what I wanted to hear. Now I’m thankful to know who my dad really is. He’s a wonderful, loving man, and I’m grateful that he’s forgiven our past negative judgements and embraced our family wholeheartedly.

One of the factors that changed our perspective was the realisation that we love our children — exactly as they are. We want them to be secure within our love, without having to present a false exterior in order to retain our affections. They can be real — and our love for them doesn’t change. If we offer this love to our children, why wouldn’t we also offer it to my own dad? Or to anyone else in our lives?

Thankfully, my dad has forgiven me for my immature responses over the past years. He has accepted any gestures of friendship that we have offered and has reciprocated generously with love. Now it is the right time to see where Dad lives, meet his partner Wayne and offer our girls a special connection with their grandfather.

Our fun started when we first arrived at Waterloo. Dad lives in an inner-city apartment building, great for a quick commute to his job in the centre of Sydney. The girls were immediately attracted to the playground directly opposite his block of flats.

Delaney on the swings, October 2011
Dad's apartment is directly opposite a small playground. The girls always love exploring new equipment.

Calista and Aisha on the playground outside Dad's, October 2011
A beautiful mural decorates the wall around the playground, and the encircling fence provides a climbing challenge for our girls.

Dad is very experienced with pre-school-aged children. My mother used to run a pre-school from their residence, and so Dad knows exactly how to talk to small children and makes friends with them very easily. Plus he keeps yummy stuff on hand in his kitchen. That always impresses our girls.

Victor and our girls in his kitchen, October 2011
Pa quickly won over our daughters' hearts with some juice. It's the little things — like talking directly to them — that establishes a relationship with our children quickly.

Brioni drinks her juice, October 2011
Brioni drinks her juice from a golden mug. We used to have these same mugs in Abidjan, and Dad got his from Aunty Laurel's.

It was a treat to go out to a restaurant together. We were able to just walk down the road to a place that Wayne recommended.

Wayne and Victor, October 2011
Wayne and Victor have been together for fifteen months now.

And we stayed in the restaurant for a long time — there was so much to talk about. Brioni fell asleep on the bench, and David carried her back to the truck. Wayne offered to take Delaney from me.

Wayne and Delaney, October 2011
Coming back home from the restaurant, Wayne gladly carried Delaney. Although she initially protested at being in his arms, Wayne won her over through distraction and she fell asleep before we reached the truck.

Parking in the inner-city suburb of Waterloo isn’t difficult. Dad had already scouted out a good place for our rig — within a very short walk of his apartment! Wayne baked muffins and a wonderful date loaf for our breakfast.

Parking in Waterloo, Sydney, October 2011
Dad gave us the best parking spot in inner-city Sydney. We've been staying in a completely vacant parking lot near his apartment — hassle-free!

In the morning, Wayne offered to take us to his favourite beach — Coogee Beach. Our girls love playing in the water and the sand.

Aisha and Brioni playing at Coogee beach, October 2011
We chose to play at the northern end of Coogee Beach where two small ocean pools are formed by protective stone walls. The girls appreciated the smaller waves.

Delaney and Calista at Coogee Beach, October 2011
The girls love playing in the sand.

Aisha and Brioni playing at Coogee beach, October 2011
Our girls like using boogie boards as a blank canvas for their creations.

Calista climbing the pole, October 2011
Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it's Calista conquering the spider-web tower at Coogee.

Back at Dad and Wayne’s apartment, they gave us a key to their place so we could come and go as we liked. Dad invited us to come in for each morning’s breakfast (buying extra milk especially for us) and later coordinated the drying of all our washing. (It was funny to have Dad handling our washing… it felt backwards, but it made me feel well-loved.)

Victor and Wayne, October 2011
Victor and Wayne work together in their kitchen.

Aisha and Delaney in Pa's apartment, October 2011
The girls love playing in Pa's apartment, climbing on the furniture and playing with the cat's toys.

Victor's memory door
We like looking at Victor's photo collection with pictures of family members and life in Africa.

While visiting Dad, I was able to show him a book of his that I found in the garage at David’s parents’ house after their house fire. It was originally Dad’s book and ended up being Hugh Fisher’s book through external, commercial means.

Victor's stamp in the front of a book, October 2011
Victor says he bought this book in 1972. I discovered it in Hugh Fisher's garage in 2011. Hugh says he bought it in an op shop in northern NSW.

As we move on from Sydney, we do so confidently, knowing that we can come back to visit Dad and Wayne any time. They’ve been so welcoming to us and our girls, and we’re basking in the love of another relationship that has been restored!

Aisha, Victor and Wayne, October 2011
We have enjoyed getting to know Wayne and participating in Victor's life here in Sydney.