On Saturday night, I was running late to my own birthday party at Saint

Felix in West Hollywood, wondering if the right people were going to

show up. I didn't care about the number of people, I just wanted the right people. Ten minutes later, as I stood in the middle of the crowded bar, my parents, Pat and Beanie McDonald, walked through

the door.

     Pat (far left), Beanie (center, in green), and son, Patrick (in black, green tie) at the party.

Without my knowing, Pat and Beanie had flown into Los Angeles only hours earlier from Spring Lake, New Jersey, which is, of course, 3,000 miles away. I was beyond happy to be surprised by them, but I didn't realize how important it was until after the party. Let me backtrack a bit.

Since we live so far apart, my parents don't often see my gay side. I go home for a quick visit, hang around the house, and then fly back to California and do my thing. Now my parents were actually in West Hollywood in a gay bar with my gay (and straight) friends, watching me kiss, hug, and hang out with my people, as it were. I didn't realize until later that Pat and Beanie didn't flinch. In fact, they were whooping it up, talking with everyone, and really enjoying themselves.

(from left to right) Japhy Grant, PRM, Matthew Poe, Vincent De Paul, Michael Gallant, and Gregg Baxter at Saint Felix bar.

The next day, we were sitting in their hotel room, watching the New York Giants football game. In between plays, they told me how it was so great for them to see my friends and to see me, their son, happy. Right then, I remembered a friend who told me of a very different, and not so happy, experience under similar circumstances with his mother, which led me to conclude, yet again, that Pat and Beanie are wonderful parents.

In this new year, when the gay rights movement will be fighting a multitude of battles, especially in California, I hope parents take a minute and truly understand how they affect their sons' and daughters' lives. We need your support more than you, and probably we, realize…particularly when various groups and people are now gunning for your gay sons and daughters in a major way.  It makes life's struggles easier when you know your parents have your back, and I know Pat and Beanie have mine.

(All photos by Tina Dupuy.)

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com

LA Weekly