A national LGBTQI+ storytelling project curated by Maeve Marsden
featuring a book, event series and an award-winning podcast

A national LGBTQI+ storytelling project curated by Maeve Marsden
featuring a book, event series and award-winning podcast

Michael Kruger – Whip-Me Houston

Having moved to the Netherlands to meet his gay donor father, a young hetero-ish male – raised by lesbian parents – explores his sexuality and queer identity.

Michael Kruger is a published author, screenwriter and probably the most overly-sensitive new-age boy working full-time in sports media. He was raised by his two mums in Melbourne, but as gay luck would have it, he looks almost exactly like his donor dad. Michael is finishing a book about his queer family, and about his experience of moving to the Netherlands as a 22 year old to get to know his father.


Hi I’m Maeve Marsden and you’re listening to Queerstories. Michael Kruger is a published author, screenwriter and probably the most overly-sensitive new-age boy working full-time in sports media. He was raised by his two mums in Melbourne, but as gay luck would have it, he looks almost exactly like his donor dad. Michael is finishing a book about his queer family, and about his experience of moving to the Netherlands (as a 22 y/o) to get to know his father – who is also gay. At Queerspawn, an event I hosted for Midsumma 2020, Michael read this condensed, and slightly more PG, segment from his book.

Jennifer Hopelezz waved her arms as moustached men ran towards us in dresses. Stilettos over cobblestones. Frocks in flight. When the drag race had been won she put her beard next to mine and said mwah, mwah, mwah on each side of my cheek. I forgot about the traditional Dutch third kiss, we accidentally brushed lips. Dad introduced Jennifer as the type of queen who believed that “minimalism” was reserved for those who were scared of a commitment to bad taste. He thought we might’ve met already, that maybe she was just Richard last time – and then Jennifer butted in, said that today I had to call her by her full drag name anyway – Hopelezz was spelt like ‘Jennifer Lopez’ but with two Z’s … and a lot more arse. She jeered at how my serious dad, dressed plainly in blokey plaid, had scrubbed up. You can take the boy out of the country, my father dryly responded, but you can’t take the country out of the boy…

Jennifer asked who I was and if my Dad had traded his husband in for a younger model. She nearly fell out of her heels when my father said I was his son, grilled me on what I thought of this side of Amsterdam. I told her I’d come over to see what my old man’s life was really like, that he was finally giving me the queer tour. Jennifer pulled at the crotch of her body suit and said that this, this was not nearly the worst of it. She launched into a story about the last winter Drag Queen Olympics, how she’d opened the ceremony with a strip tease and a Dutch flag dangling from her arse. Dad had even been made to hold onto the flag as Jennifer had danced, and when the thread went tight enough, out came Britain, then Germany, then France.

When Mizz Hopelezz was back on stage judging the handbag toss, I turned to my father and asked, so, that’s your mate? Yep, Dad said, normal Richard is… Jennifer, however, well, she can imagine the flags of the EU as the perfect handkerchief parlor-trick. Either that, I replied, or she just thought the whole world was turning to shit. We danced a little more as Jennifer spun like a discus thrower and hurled bags and purses into the crowd. She exited and changed into a sexy Santa Claus outfit backstage, motioned from the wings for us to come and join her. I was tired of answering the same questions – I knew now that my father and I shared the same eyes and cheekbones – told her instead to call me either Nina Sir-Moan or Nicki Minaj À Trois. You should stick to naming cocktails, my dad flatly said, then added that I should be taking after him and not the new queen on the scene.

Jennifer couldn’t believe that my dad actually had a child, asked him how. I jumped in, told her that my two gay mums had convinced their mate here to cum into a vegemite jar in the 90s – you know, right before he ran away to the Netherlands to avoid child support. See, and I’d always thought I moved overseas cause I wanted to actually get married, my dad shot back – plus you’re turning out to be quite the vegemite yeast infection. Jennifer laughed at my father and my snide similarities, looked me up and down anew. So Michael, tell me, she said – and put a glittered hand on my denim jacket – if both biological parents have brown eyes, does their son have to have brown eyes too? Dad told the queen to back off. I looked sheepishly away. Jennifer grabbed a whip primed for eight BDSM-themed reindeer, then quipped, how strange – I’ve just realised you two also cross your arms the same.

Afterwards, surrounded by men, I danced with my father in a club to techno remixes of Sister Sledge. Dad carved out space for us on the dance floor with his elbows, half-balletic, half-bruising. I shouted out, We Are Family!, rolled the sleeves up on my shirt and showed off whatever muscle I had underneath. I checked to see if my father wanted anything more to drink, waited for his credit card. What, he asked sharply, do your mums pay for everything back home? I stopped dancing, said, dude, do you wanna try taking the country out of the boy?
Spinning away, I hoped to all the gay gods I had enough cash on my card. I waited by the bar, watched my father try to dance alone. He pumped his fist at the DJ, though quickly lost his verve. He took out his phone, got halfway through a message, lost his nerve. Checking the crowd for security, he popped something into his mouth, vogued himself off onto another universe’s runway. Slowly, and as the next tune’s drum pattern blended into the overhead mix, he stopped cutting shapes, in their place held his head in his hands, the rising techno kick morphing into a seemingly unbearable, head-aching pulse. He froze in strife beneath the beating heart of the strobe lights – like the one sad queen of disco for whom the music had suddenly stopped.

By the bathrooms, I bumped into Jennifer as Richard with his head in his phone. Without his wig and make-up, I realised that Richard’s hair was thinning on top, his aura less colourful overall, like the volume on a stage show had been turned down, barely audible. I hugged him hello, tripped over my words as I told him he could call me Whip-Me Houston from now on. I think Ms Houston needs some water, Richard teased, took me by the hand and filled my empty cup with water from the sink. He watched me drink, looked me up and down again. I’ve gotta go, I said, then kissed him goodbye – once, twice, three times on the cheek – then meaningfully on the lips. Richard pulled away after a moment. I touched his beard. He’s only been my dad for a minute.

Richard led me into one of the cubicles, took off my shirt gently before quickly heading downstairs. I flinched, thought it ironic that my first experience with a boy was with someone named Dick. Richard looked up after a minute, saw on my face that there was something wrong. He checked to see if I had ever been touched by a man before. Then he whispered, have you even been held?

In the early morning, I found my father alone and prone on his living room couch. We cracked beers, watched music videos on the smart TV. I put on a song by Grizzly Bear, said I reckon you’ll like this band – think the frontman’s gay as well. How can you tell, my father scoffed, does he have a cock in his mouth while he sings? He tugged at my shirt to reveal my hairy chest, said I was more a Grizzly Otter in his world anyway. I kept my eyes on the screen, asked him what it was really like growing up gay in country Victoria. He took a long drink, replied that he was raised good and God-fearing, that he’d come home once, maybe around this time, maybe around my age, found his own father drunk and waiting for him in the kitchen. There’s something wrong with you, his father had slurred, there’s something wrong, there’s something wrong… Dad grabbed the remote. Kylie Minogue’s ‘Come Into My World’ flashed up on the screen. Didn’t come out to my old man, he said, until after I’d moved halfway across the world. My father never recognised that I was gay, but he’d always known that I was a faggot.

We shared a soft glance, crossed our arms identically in rhythm and shape, and I recognised myself even more in his features. So, if both your parents have brown eyes, I asked, reckon the kid’s bound to have brown eyes too? Mate, it’s fine, he replied. You can always tell me if you’re straight.

I questioned whether he felt like he had his shit figured out at my age. No one ever gets it together, Dad said, just better at pretending like they do. I looked over then to our unopened Christmas presents stashed underneath a plastic tree, thought back to all the gifts he used to send over to me when I was a still a kid, football jerseys that wouldn’t fit, superhero comics I wouldn’t read. The disconnect had felt vivid. Three months ago in Melbourne, I’d pulled an old comic off my old shelf, watched an unread letter that he’d written to me slip out. He was still a foreigner then, unsure and uneasy when he’d penned it back in 2008. It’d taken my dad five years just to tell a joke to his husband in Dutch – had lost his language, himself – personality altered by a stilted tongue. It’d taken him almost a decade to be invited around to a colleague’s place for dinner – had clawed and pulled at any hint of intimacy, had done so, vulnerably. And still, after building a home away from home, in the letter he’d written that his biggest regret in life was not being more involved in mine. I’d never even given myself the chance to reply at the time, wondered now if he still felt the same way – asked if he could ever see himself moving back home.

I don’t miss Melbourne anymore, my father sighed, I got these plastic-free, organic bags right under my eyes. He got up and pulled out a photo album from under the TV, showed me an old flick he had taken once upon a time in Northcote. I recognised the kitchen instantly. One of my mothers rocked me as a baby in a pink blanket, the other stood beside her, arms gently draped around our trifecta, holding our family together. I’m not sure if there’s still any room left either, my father bluntly said. I turned to him, realised that while my mothers had raised me within a particular cradle of care, he and I had leapt into something else entirely. My mums had both taught me about the supposed limitations of male vulnerability, though over the years had deliberately shielded me from all three of my parents’ complexity and sadness. When I met my father he was instead immediately human and honest, masc and brutal. He had once called me a pussy when I’d had told him I was a vegetarian. He was teaching me about the world (and bacon) – in ways that my mothers never could – all without the predetermined coddling of love. I told him that for the first time I’d written Dad on his Christmas card instead of his first name. I referenced his old letter, asked if he still mourned an absent son. Michael, I never got my shit together, he replied, just got better at pretending like I had.

Thank you

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Queerstories is produced by Maeve Marsden and recorded by wonderful technicians at events around the country. Editors and support crew have included Beth McMullen, Bryce Halliday, Ali Graham and Nikki Stevens.