Rory Feek Struggled to Accept That Daughter Is Gay: 'My Job Is to Love Her Even When It's Hard'
Adjusting to life as a single father has been hard for Rory Feek, especially when his daughter Hopie came out to him.
In a preview of the country singer-songwriter’s upcoming interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Feek — whose new book Once Upon a Farm: Lessons in Growing Love, Life and Hope on a New Frontier hits shelves Tuesday — revealed that just days after his wife and musical partner Joey Feek succumbed to a battle with cancer in March 2016, he could tell Hopie had something important she wanted to tell him.
“I said, ‘Just tell me, Hopie,’ ” Feek, 53, remarked. “And she went on to tell me that her friend Wendy was more than her friend, that Wendy and [she] had been dating for almost a year. And that she was in love.” (The couple are now engaged.)
Before meeting his late wife, Feek had two daughters, Hopie and Heidi, from a previous relationship. Together, the pair had 4-year-old daughter Indiana, who was born with Down syndrome.
After telling her father about her relationship, Hopie was afraid that he would judge her, and wondered whether he would still love her.
“And my first reaction, honestly, was I don’t know,” Feek remarked. “Because my conservative Christian faith that saved me — the first reaction is that challenges that immensely.”
Continuing, he asked himself, “Am I supposed to shun my child now and say, ‘No, you can’t be in my life until you come around to thinking like I’m thinking?’ ”
During the interview, Hopie mentioned she could see the “panic” register on her father’s face, but understood where he was coming from.
While he did initially struggle with accepting his daughter’s sexuality, Feek came to understand his only job is “to love her.”
“The only thing I try to keep in mind is it’s her life, it’s her choice, it’s her faith,” he explained. “And my job is to love her even when it’s hard.”
Speaking with PEOPLE in August 2016 — six months after her step-mother’s death in March of that year — Hopie reflected on the impact Joey had on her life. “She was the first woman I could actually look up to,” Hopie shared.
Feek also previously opened up to PEOPLE about how he’d “like to think that Joey is proud” of how he’s doing as a single father.
“I’d like to think that Joey is proud of how I’m doing – how we’re all doing, especially Indiana,” Feek remarked “She took so much pride in the work of being a mama to Indy, and I find myself thinking of her every day, all day long in the time that Indy and I spend together and the things we do, wondering how she would handle this, or do that.”
“I remember how present Joey was and am trying to be that way too,” he added.
Feek’s CBS Sunday Morning interview will air in full on Sunday at 9:00 a.m. ET on CBS.