Monday, 15 April 2013

Wider views of being gay

Last week I found out that my niece is gay. I didn't think much about it until I started talking to her father. She came out to him when she was about 18 (she's 22 now) and he had a terrible time accepting it.

I couldn't understand that. She was a bit of a rascal when she was younger but now she's a truly lovely young woman, one any father should be proud of. He is proud now but he still doesn't understand and I don't think he approves. He wouldn't consider himself homophobic but he is 'disappointed she's not normal.'

He said that he simply didn't understand why a woman would want another woman because he couldn't see what she would 'get out of it.' He said that – and these are his words – that he knew 'there was something up a man's bum that made sex that way good for them, although he didn't have whatever it was.'

That left me speechless. He hasn't got it and he doesn't even know what it's called?

But then he went on to say that he had no idea what a woman would do with a woman that they couldn't do with a man.

That left me reeling. He seemed to think that being gay was all about sex and nothing else, that she could have found a 'girly man' if she wanted company.

Perhaps I have become more cocooned by the views of my friends and desensitised to the reality of the 'real world' then I thought. But I honestly didn't think anyone could think like that these days. It's not just his aversion to her being gay, but his complete lack of knowledge that I can't comprehend. He's only 48, has been a community worker for a long time and is well educated, so how can he be so ill informed?

This has rather rocked me. Not that she's gay – she's a lovely, decent person. What else matters? – but that anyone can think like her father.

I am obviously more naïve than I thought.


  1. We have something else in common!

    I don't get homophobia and there is nothing I can say politely about her father.

    I do think we are surrounded by people like us, and forget that the rest of the world is not like us. When I trip over a neighbour or friend who makes a comment that takes my breath away, I realise we are in a minority.

    1. You have a gay niece? I didn't know that... or did I?

      I do think we are surrounded by people like us, and forget that the rest of the world is not like us.

      That's exactly how I felt. It was a real slap to be reminded what the real world is like. But he is making huge progress and I'm really pleased to see him trying so hard.

      Are we getting together soon?

  2. I think some people - consciously or unconsciously - keep their heads in the sand, and don't want to do otherwise. I've run into folks much younger than me who seem amazingly uninformed/misinformed

    1. You're right. It's not just that they don't know, it's that they don't want to know or learn. I really don't understand that attitude. But I am surrounded by like minded people and it makes me forget what the real world is like.

  3. I don't understand homophobia either. As you said, Faith, a person's sexuality is about more than physical sex. And it is no more a choice than what colour or race you are. I think it is harder for people to accept because it is an internal difference, something that is not obviously different. You have to be able to accept there is no "normal" to be able to think about accepting, and for a lot of people that is really scary. Because if there is no "normal", then why have they been making themselves miserable trying to achieve it?
    A few years ago, I was stunned when a family member stated that homosexuality was unnatural. In my normal, confrontational way, I then asked whether, if I brought a girlfriend/bride to visit, if we would be welcome. I haven't been invited to sleep over since but it doesn't bother me because I have family members of the "as long as you're happy" mentality.
    To be honest, I think a lot of it is about fear of the unknown and being unable to accept without understanding. I give thanks every day for my family because I love them all, but some of them, well, we have things we don't talk about because it will lead to an argument.

    1. I think every family has things they don't talk about, for us it's politics. We have to agree not to talk about that subject.

      I've always been of the opinion that being a decent, caring person is what really matters. I don't care if my kids are gay, straight, doctors or dustmen (although I would struggle if their politics was completely opposite to mine!) as long as they are good people.

      As you said, gay isn't a choice, it's part of who someone is. If they are a decent person then who they chose to love really shouldn't matter.

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  5. I just finished reading your two posts concerning your cousin as well as the comments here. One thing I didn't see is the recommendation of going to an LGBT center and gathering as many pamphlets as you need to help your family members understand that it's not a choice. Go on the internet and find documentation on the issues, there's plenty of info out there. You could also let them watch Shane and Tom's story ( ) "It could happen to you". (Find it in your YouTube if it doesn't play). Even though Shane's video is about Gay Marriage, it shows the immense love these two men had for each other and the consequences when a loved one is taken away.
    Because one is not 'educated' in the why's does not mean they can't eventually come to understand. I'm a mother of four, all of my children are LGBT members and I will love them until my last breath, then then on. Try to help the family understand, educate them. If at least you change one (1) of them, you'll accomplish a great deal. Hopefully through that one person, the others will come to understand as well.
    Much luck to you and your family, dear.


    1. It turns out that my niece is actually leader of a LGBT group, which should help things along. But thanks so much for the suggestion, it's a really good one. I never thought about going along but I'm sure it will help some of the younger members of the family to really understand. I think the video you recommended could be really useful.

      My niece's father has come an awfully long way already, his thinking has changed so much. It shows what can happen when someone stops and thinks. He's gone from quite a bad attitude to a good one and he's still changing.

      It gives us all hope.

      Thanks so much.