Dear Dad by Ryan Cassata

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy


Dear Dad, I’m skiing behind you, watching how you do it, copying the way your legs
move, wishing to glide as smoothly as you do.

Dear Dad, you’re putting my hair in a pony tail, you do it perfectly, not too tight, not too
loose, I’m Daddy’s girl and I love it.

Dear Dad, you are cheering from the bleachers when my bat clinks and that softball
soars into centerfield, you call me twinkle toes because I’m so fast, and you call me
peanut because I’m so small.

Dear Dad, my first love broke up with me, I come home trying to describe the sickness in
my stomach. I don’t have to explain it, you know what it is. You hold me until I stop
crying. I can still feel your hug 7 years later.

Dear Dad, you bought me a girly necklace, I’m trying to force a smile but I’m so
uncomfortable with myself. I come out to you after school that day. You take it well, you
call me “buddy.”

Dad, We’re fighting again. You won’t call me “Ryan.” You “correct” my brothers when
they call me “he.” I feel like I’m sinking.

Dad, you won’t call me anything now, I feel invisible. I don’t want to come to your house anymore.

Dad, you’re making me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, my favorite. You make it a
double decker to get me through the school day. You spend time cutting the crusts off.
You pack it neatly in a brown paper bag with my favorite snacks. You’ve never missed a
day from pre-school ’til high school graduation. Maybe we aren’t talking right now, but
you’ll still take care of your kid.

Dad, we are yelling at each other by your front door. You invite me in. You calm down, I
calm down. With tears rushing from my eyes I tell you I’m depressed, I tell you how I
can’t shower with my eyes open. You finally understand, you finally get it.

Dear Dad, I just got my surgery 4 days ago. You’re teaching me how to be stronger, how
to talk to other men. You’re feeding me, You're calling me your son. You’re taking me to
doctors appointments. We walk around San Francisco as tourists.

Dear Dad, I just flew back from California. You’re hugging me at the airport. You’re
thanking, God I’m safe. You know my girlfriend's Dad threatened me, you flew me home
quickly. You tell me you love me, you hug me, I feel safe now.

Dear Dad, I’m moving away. I’m driving across America, and you fly to San Francisco to
settle me in. You tell me that you’re proud of me. We both know that I’m not moving
away from you.

Dear Dad, When I visit New York we sit side by side and watch TV together. We laugh,
we eat tons of snacks and we bond. I look forward to visiting you.

Dear Dad, I’m back again and I’m heart broken again. I burst out crying randomly after
dinner. You hug me, you warn me about problem drinking, you give me ice cream, you
joke until I laugh, I’m okay now.

Dear Dad, I’m sorry I’ve been so distant. I was struggling to get my life back together. I
just needed to go through what I was going through and you couldn’t help me this time. I
tell you I’ve been clean for 2 weeks. You’re grateful I’m safe and you support me. When I
tell you I’ve got a year clean you congratulate me in big bold letters and tell me how
proud you are of your son. I can feel it, Dad, I can feel it.

Dear Dad, we’re driving from New York to Arkansas together. We don’t fight anymore,
we haven’t in a long time. I’m so happy to be on the road with my Dad.

Dear Dad, we’re in Nashville, I just played an open mic, you filmed it on your cellphone
to watch later. Excitedly, you tell me that I should be on the radio. Dad, you know,
sometimes, you make me want to cry, in a good way.

Dear Dad, it’s father day. You’re in New York, I’m 3,000 miles away. But I feel you with
me. I feel your strength and your compassion and your love. It’s all inside of me now, I
carry it with me everywhere I go. Dad, I hope I grow up to be as good as a man as you
are. I couldn’t ask for a better father.

Dear Dad, I love you, Happy Father’s Day.


Photo of Ryan Cassata

Photo of Ryan Cassata


Ryan Cassata is an award-winning, transgender, singer-songwriter, actor, YouTuber and LGBTQ activist based in New York. With features in Billboard Magazine, The New York Times, Buzzfeed and The Daily News, he has made the most of his young career, which started when he was 13.

As a musician with over 500 performances touring across the United States and internationally, including dates on the Van’s Warped Tour, SXSW and at the world's biggest pride festivals, Ryan has been praised by The Advocate saying he’s a “Transgender singing sensation” and LOGO put him on the “9 Trans Musicians You Need To Get Into” list.

As an actor, Ryan was the main focus in documentary “Songs for Alexis,” which screened at such seminal film festivals as Frameline, Raindance, Toronto Hot Docs and DOC NYC. His roll in indie film Collective: Unconscious, which received praise from Rolling Stone Magazine, won him the "Best Breakout Performance" award by the Victoria Independent Film Festival.

As an activist, he is the first recipient of the Harvey Milk Memorial award, became the youngest keynote speaker to ever be selected for the largest transgender conference in existence, and has made appearances on shows such as The Larry King Live, and The Tyra Banks show.

Currently, Ryan is in the early stages of writing a memoir and a new album of original music as a follow up to his most recent album SHINE now available on iTunes.

Committed to educating through music and speech to wipe out ignorance, Ryan continues to share his inspiring message of hope & acceptance with numerous schools and universities across the country via his popular YouTube channel and at venues across the nation.