The Saint of Dry Creek Gets the Tears Flowing

By  · Published on January 25th, 2017

Short of the Day

A true story of unexpected acceptance.

I had a friend one time describe his experience of coming out to his parents as “like taking off a costume I’d worn forever and hoping they still recognized me.” I imagine this is a shared experience, the fear born of revealing your true self to people who are supposed to already know you better than anyone. Of course, when my friend took off his “costume,” what he realized was that his parents had already seen through it and had been loving the real him all along. This isn’t unique, but it isn’t common, either. Coming out conjures all sorts of emotions in both those who are coming out and those who are being come out to. Today, there’s significantly more understanding and acceptance than there’s been in eras past, like in, say, 1950s rural Washington State farm country, which is when and where Patrick Haggerty started to realize that he was gay.

In the following animated short directed by Julie Zammarchi for Story Corps – a program where people get together with a loved one to relate a meaningful life experience – Haggerty recounts how his embarrassment about his father’s appearance at a school assembly led to the most important conversation the two ever shared, and one that revolved around one very simple, accepting life principle: don’t sneak.

If you can get through The Saint of Dry Creek with dry eyes, then you’re not listening close enough, not only to Haggerty’s words but to the timbre of his voice and the awe and appreciation – both for his father and his own resolve – that it conveys. Nowadays there are a lot of stories about parents embracing their child’s sexuality and the courage it takes to reveal it, but in decades past this was the exception, not the rule. That’s why to hear about acceptance from the most unlikely of people in the most unlikely of eras is especially powerful; because it proves that even while ignorance dominated the culture, decency still survived, slowly spreading itself until it was ready to thrive. Gay, straight, bi, or however you identify, watch and share this video with the people you love, because the message applies to us all.

Don’t sneak.

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Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist