Pete Shea is about the last person you’d expect to see on a daytime talk show. The soft-spoken, clean-cut retired schoolteacher who lives on the remote east side of Glacier National Park says his love of his daughter and serendipity explain how he found himself on the couch with Rikki Lake, telling her his personal journey of coming out later in life and the impact that has had on his family.
A Pride Foundation supporter and state coordinator for Montana PFLAG chapters, Pete reached out to us to spread the word about his daughters’ new multimedia endeavor called “The Gay Dad Project,” which was spotlighted on the show’s November 2 episode.
Amie Shea, who turned 30 this December 1, had worked as an online editor for a website, where she discovered one of her colleagues was raised by a gay dad too. That young man also knew someone from Kansas City with a gay dad, and the three of them began sharing about their experiences. That dialogue turned into a web, documentary, and book project, which they hope will be a resource for others like them.
“They all felt they went through some trauma because of this,” Pete said. “They really felt there was no one there for them who understood what it was like.”
Pete said his daughter found out he was gay while she was still in high school and he was still married to her mother. “We locked horns all through her high school years, and it was a constant battle,” he said. “I didn’t know she knew at the time. There were a lot of tears, and now I know why.”
Pete said his coming out five years ago and divorce three years ago were both hard on his adult children, and especially took a toll on his relationship with Amie.
“We haven’t been real close, but through this project, I think our mutual respect is growing,” Pete said.
The Rikki Lake Show came calling after a gay dad in Los Angeles with contacts in the industry stumbled upon the website. He called Amie, and then presented it to the show’s producers.
Those interested in supporting the documentary can visit the project’s webpage.
Caitlin Copple is Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer in Montana. Email Caitlin.