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While most people may be writing in about the amazing biological father they have, my amazing "father" is someone that I did not meet until I was 17. My junior year of high school I began volunteering with HIV-positive children at a summer camp for terminally ill kids. It was there that I met Bob, the camp director. ... At the time, I knew I was gay but was petrified to tell anyone—it was the late 90s, Will & Grace were just becoming mainstream and gay wasn't exactly "cool," especially for a 17-year-old boy in Houston.

When I came out to my parents their reaction was less than thrilled and they asked me to move out. Bob continued mentoring me and helped me through the roughest time in my life. I felt that even though I was so alone, I wasn't alone. As I weathered my senior year living in an apartment by myself, working two jobs and finishing high school, I always had the support of Bob and his partner, Joe. I moved the following year to Chicago to attend Loyola University and have recently finished my master's.

While Bob is not my father, he is my dad. As my relationship with my true parents has mended over the years, I have watched as they show their admiration to Bob for the time they couldn't be there for me as parents while they dealt with their own issues surrounding my being gay. In retrospect, I don't know if I would have been able to accomplish the things I have had it not been for Bob pushing me the entire way and reminding me that I was never alone.

Jason, Chicago
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