“My Dad Set Me Free”

“My Dad Set Me Free”

Rees’ dad set him free when he asked him if he was gay. Now his father, Bob, suffers dementia and is in an aged-care home, and Rees is adamant he’ll be as supportive of his dad as he was for him. In this special Father’s Day tribute, Rees shares his story…  

“My dad is the most amazing father in the whole world. He set me free when I was 30 when he chuckled and very politely said to me, ‘I want to ask you something. Do you like men?’ I remember it clearly. We were playing pool at the Orient Hotel in Sydney, surrounded by people. I looked at him and replied, ‘I do, Dad’. He walked over to me, looked me in the eye and gave me a very firm handshake then hugged me. He said, ‘you’re a man for telling me’. His acceptance set me free to fly like an eagle. Nothing else mattered after that.

“My whole life was a lie up until that point – I was hiding who I really was. I was in relationship for two years with a woman I adored but it just didn’t feel right.”

“But after that moment with Dad, I didn’t care what anyone else thought. I truly believe that with the love and support of your family, you can conquer the world.”

"My Dad Set Me Free"

Brett (Rees’ partner), Rees, Rees’ mum and his dad, Bob, rockin the birthday celebrations.

“My father has always been amazingly supportive and non-judgmental. I grew up in a small town in New Zealand where no gay people were ‘out’. I had a lot of blokey friends, and there was a lot of prejudice and non-acceptance from society at that time.”

“I remember my father telling me that his mates would make comments about ‘gay people’. And he told them that their money is the same colour as everyone else’s. He treats everybody the same and believes everyone has beauty.”

“He’s honest and a man of few words, but extremely caring and very polite. There are so many situations as a child when I thought I’d get into a trouble from mum for doing something bad and Dad would save me and make me feel safe. Or he’d sneak me lollies and say ‘sssh, don’t tell your mum!’ He is so special to me.”

"My Dad Set Me Free"

Rees and the family visiting Bob.

“He has dementia now, but although his mind and memory is failing, his beautiful personality will always live on. I take my three boys to visit him every Saturday and Sunday.”

“I’m trying to teach them that in life, while a home may not be an exciting place to visit each weekend, there are some things that you need to do because it’s the right thing. I’m trying to instil the same values in them that my dad taught me. I believe that people’s personalities are 50% nature and 50% nurture – and you take the most inspiring parts of your parent’s personality. Although if you were to ask my three boys who is stricter – me or their Papi – they’ll say me!”

"My Dad Set Me Free"

A hat trick of love and support: Joel, Blake and Chandler with their Granddad.

"My Dad Set Me Free"

Let’s make like a tree and leave! Rees & Brett’s three boys, Chandler, Blake and Joel.

“There are lots of dad’s in the world suffering from dementia and while their mind may be somewhere else, I always tell my dad the same stories over and over again. It’s very special to me to have time with him where he can remember. And while he can’t remember recent events, he can remember some things from years and years ago. I take him a lot of photos from the past so he can remember friends and relatives, and I play all the old songs, which he remembers and sings the words to. He still remembers the words to the Lord’s Prayer verbatim! His face lights up with happiness when he feels connected to the world. I also take him sneaky treats that he shouldn’t necessarily have, like lollies, just like he snuck them to me as a child!”

“My Father’s Day message to dad is this: ‘Although your mind and your memory fails you now, who you are as a person inspires your children every day.’ The positive influence that a parent has lasts forever.”



  1. Kerian
    September 2, 2016 / 8:30 pm

    What a lovely story Franki. Way to many judgmental people in the world. We are all the same on the inside. We all have the same feelings. A beautiful story

    • September 2, 2016 / 9:22 pm

      Thank you kerian, that is very kind of you!

  2. Rees Rear
    September 2, 2016 / 5:57 pm

    Thank you Frankie, you have told my story precisely. I believe that I’m a better Dad, because of the influence of my own Dad. Rees 😉

    • September 2, 2016 / 6:35 pm

      thank YOU Rees. You are an inspiration. Very grateful you shared your story x

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