Sunday, 29 March 2009

Family

On Friday I met up with a couple of my cousins. This was the first time I’d seen any family since I came out to them a year ago, although we are friends on Facebook and are in quite close touch. It was therefore something of a seminal moment for me!

My cousins are of course lovely, and great fun. My cousins’ mothers and mine are good friends and there was always some friendly rivalry between them about who would be first provided grandchildren first; oops!!

One of the main topics of conversation that evening was my relationship with my mother in the light of my status as the cheerful fairy. Over the last year things have become strained; indeed, my mother and I have not spoken in 2009 at all.

This is something of great disappointment – if not surprise – to me as after coming out to my mother in March last year I felt things would be OK. Admittedly it was not easy; I did a lot of research and really had to work on doing it in the right way. But I thought it went OK. Sadly, however, it seems her initial reaction that my homosexuality, whilst tolerable, remains somehow a failure on her part is still with her.

Our relationship founders because of her refusal since then to discuss it further or acknowledge it in any way. So for the last year I have not been able to talk about my life or what’s happening to me, and instead have had to sit through drivel about my cousin’s cat and daffodils and what particular thing is wrong with the car this time etc. It’s not sustainable: so instead we just don’t talk any more.

What was particularly interesting was to hear my cousin’s view of my mother’s reaction. She lives in the flat above hers and as such her side of things is as close as it gets to me actually being there. It would seem my mother did in fact react that number one son being a pooftah was… well, quite shameful. Something bad and wrong.

One of the things I’ve found about coming out is that it has rarely been a black and white thing. I was, for example, confidently expecting either “it’s fine” or “I have no son”; instead there is this middle ground. As it was with those friends who were fine with me being gay but saddened by my dishonesty about it for all those years.

I must confess I am at something of a loss on how to progress from here; if at all. I don’t perceive a route to take to address things. I don’t know how to – or , in fact, whether I should - tackle the situation. I suppose I'd better bite the bullet and make another difficult phone call.

...As before, any comments or suggestions would be gratefully received...


4 comments:

P.Brownsey said...

Is there that much (to do with your being gay) actually to talk about with her at present? I mean, however untroubled she was about your being gay, I guess you wouldn't want to be passing on titbits about The Four Guys I Shagged This Week. (Or would you?)

In my own case I found the thing that served to bring my mother (and various other family members) around was having a Nice Bloke to present to her. I'm pretty sure it was wanting to inspect the son-in-law that played a significant part in getting my mother from "No, I don't want to talk about that" to "Why don't I meet you and Jim for a meal when you come to London to fly to Italy?"

Perhaps you want to persuade her that there's nothing wrong with you and that she hasn't failed in some way. She may not be open to that sort of 'abstract' discussion (which is where introducing a Nice Bloke may work better) or she may not be willing to accept such assurances from you. Well, there are books and websites you can refer her to. There used to be something called Parents Enquiry; indeed, just Googling Parents Enquiry Gay brought up several lines of help. She might say she's not interested in reading such things, but my guess is that if you left a suitable book or pamphlet at her house she'd take a surreptitious peep at it sooner or later.

Paul

Mike said...

There's nothing about being gay per se, that is true. But if I can't talk about my life - if I'm seeing someone and when I'm not (c.f. International) then that is a problem. It's also a problem for me to be treated like I have some unfortunate illness that must be coped with; that it is a reflection on parenting skills rather than just who I am.

If anyone can't being to accept me for who I am I don't see much prospect of a relationship. We shall have to see how things go.

P.Brownsey said...

Another element in my multi-faceted strategy for Winning Mother Around (isn't it appalling that we gays have to go through this?) was the blunt ultimatum: "I'm not coming for Christmas if I can't mention it." That produced a shift from "I don't want to talk about that, thank you" to "Well, you see, I haven't known what to say."

I also found that one thing that brought my mother on-side was disapproval from *other* members of the family. It was one thing for her to Not Want To Talk About It, another for her brother or sister to spurn her Paul, and in the end she was telling her brother she wasn't going to visit him again until I was welcome with my partner. (Previously there'd been, from heer brother, a grudging, "Well, Paul can visit because he's family, but not this Jim.")

Paul

Mike said...

I think what I have to make clear is that she and I can't play happy families so she can pretend everything's fine (which it is, except for her). It's sad, but i'm not going top pretend ot be something I'm not after all these years of doing it in part to conform to the unspoken expectation.