Chely's lifelong secret also affected her relationship with her family. "When one lives a closeted life, there's a compartmentalization that happens. That's my experience," she says. "I became a skilled liar, and I lived two different lives."

Then, one day, Chely received a phone call from her father, Stan. "He said: 'Chel, what have I done? Are you mad at me? Is there something wrong? Why aren't we close?'" she says. Soon after, Chely found the courage to tell her father the truth.

After a concert in Missouri, Chely sat with her father and faced her fears. "[I said]: 'I have to tell you something I've needed to tell you my whole life. I've been afraid, though, to tell you because I'm afraid you won't love me, and I'm afraid you'll be ashamed of me. ... I'm gay,'" she says.

At first, Stan didn't say a word. "I grabbed her, and I put my arms around her," he says. "I told her it was all right. It would be fine."

Stan says he was raised to believe that homosexuality was wrong and sinful, but he found out quickly that was not true. "I knew her heart. I knew her mind. I knew her soul," he says. "You hear a lot of times unconditional love. Well, in this old man's world, it's true."

Before passing judgment on others, Stan offers one piece of advice to people in the same situation. "The simplest thing I can tell anyone is, do not close the door," he says. "Open the heart."


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