Friday, 21 March 2008

Mums are great

In my heart of hearts I was hoping to be able to reach 1 January 2009 and, looking around, see all at once the man I love, a supportive family and my fantastic friends – all the things that would make my life complete.

Recent events have meant that isn’t very likely, but I decided despite the breakdown of my relationship – and possibly even because of it – I needed to tell my family that I am gay.

This morning I decided today was the day to come out to my mum. It was a spontaneous decision and in some ways I thought it a bit cruel to spring it on her out of the blue, but then I can’t really think of a way of laying the ground that wouldn’t have made her anxious or, perhaps worse, lead her to think her increasingly strident and panic stricken demands for grandchildren had finally been met. Oh, and before you wonder, gentle reader, my mother lives in the alps so it really is easiest logistically to call her rather than visit, which would have been the ideal.

I began to get very upset at the prospect of, essentially, losing my family. I’m jumping off a cliff and trusting people enough to catch me as I land, and I thought “no boyfriend. Possibly no family. Should I really put all my eggs in one basket?”. Online research opened my eyes to how much of an uphill struggle it could be, and what kind of reactions and timescales I needed to prepare for.

Eventually, I went ahead and dialled that number, though - I’m ashamed to admit - a sizeable amount of Dutch courage in the shape of a South African ‘Circumstance’ Chardonnay aided that bit of bravery.

My mother and I talked about total crap, as usual. It isn’t snowing here, it is there. Lots of significant pauses from me, but no useful “are you OK?” or “is there something on your mind?” to get me started. Damn.

I got there in the end, though, (after checking who was around to support her over the weekend) and explained that I was a bit down because I was in a relationship and it had recently ended. And after some platitudes from her I bit the bullet and said “I wanted to tell you about it because it made me realise that the thing I want you to understand is that [Darren] is a man… er… because you see….errrrm… I am gay”

Long pause.

“Would it surprise you to learn…” – Long pause (and I swear I thought she’d say “I am too”) – “that I did wonder?”

I did smile at that, as so few people have been bowled over by my revelation, but afterward we talked and talked about it and I have to admit it was many times more positive than I ever could have hoped for; I talked about the reactions I’d had and how supportive my friends had been, and she said nice things about how the man for me was out there somewhere.

Strangely, she’d only began to wonder, she says, over the last couple of years (I’m 30, so it seems a bit odd and I’m frantic about what alpine indiscretion I might have got up to two years ago that tipped her off) and she particularly wanted to just ask me recently when I had a hepatitis scare.

She also said that she wondered if something she’d done raising me had made me the way I am, and whether my (for various reasons) not-very-happy childhood had resulted in my homosexuality. I was half-expecting this (the importance, gentle reader, of research) and assured her that there was neither genetic-let nor environmental-hindrance to who I am and it was no-one’s ‘fault’.

Then, of course, her essential mum-ness kicks in and she tries as tactfully as possible to enquire whether I’m avoiding all those diseases out there now that (in her mind) I’m caught up in a world of bondage and leather and anonymous sex. I tried to explain as tactfully as possible that being out made taking care of myself a helluva lot more likely than being in, and the only difference between me being gay and being straight is the person on the other side of the table on a date will be a man not a woman. Plus I dress better.

As for the rest of the family, we agreed it was up to me to tell them. And we definitely, definitely agreed that my 83 year old grandfather was not to be told at all.


Monty said...

Hi Mike, just discovered your blog through Gay Banker's. Fantastic! I came out about 18 mnths ago and it's been a life changing thing - a completely new paradigm for me! But a good one! I have just read all your posts and soooo see similarities to what you're going through/have gone through! And I must say, blogging is a great way of getting stuff off your chest! I've been doing it since I came out and it's been the best!

All the best mate!

Monty! x

Nik_TheGreek said...

I'm in the process of reading your posts from the oldest to the newest (you probably won't even see this comment).

It's always nice hearing other people's stories and to find that they might be similar to yours. Our post just put a smile on my face. Your mother reacted really nicely. Good for you and her…

I’m looking forward to reading what happens next. I still have a year and a half to cover… :-p

Mike said...

Thanks. Unfortunately things over hte longer term didn;t work out that well. It's an oingoing process, and for most of my family it worked our well. Still, it could have been worse!

Thanks too for reading back!! :-)