This is what happened when I came out as the parent of a gay son

Author Tatiana de Rosnay (right) and her gay son, Louis

Our son came out to us when he was 16. We were standing in the kitchen, and he said he had something to tell us.

He said he thought he was gay; he said he wanted us to know. I remember being startled and moved; I remember thinking how brave it was of him to say this to us.

I wanted him to feel loved, to not be frightened. I wanted him to feel safe. He asked me to tell my mother. The rest of the family, he’d take care of himself, later. He’d speak to them.

Later that night, my husband and I felt bewildered. We hadn’t seen this coming. I guess you could say we were surprised; we felt we had perhaps missed out on something.

For a while, we were puzzled. And then things shifted into place, and there was no more confusion. Our son was still our son. The fact that he was gay was not an issue. It never would be, to us.

Telling friends and family our son is gay

At that point, we hadn’t realized that revealing our son’s homosexuality was at times going to be problematic. Not only with some of our friends, but also within the bounds of our own family.

My mother was the first to be told. She looked at me point blank and said that this didn’t change a thing for her and that she loved him exactly the same. Things didn’t go so well with other family members.

We were told that our son should undergo a medical treatment and get married, which would cure him. Others made us understand that this was just a phase and that our son would get over it. We grew to live with this.

It was tricky with friends. One close friend expressed his sympathy in the strangest way. We must be so terribly disappointed, he murmured. And another suggested that I must have done something wrong, because it’s always the mum’s fault, when boys turn out gay.

Tatiana and Louis

Tatiana and Louis (Photo: Supplied)

‘Small talk was occasionally excruciating’

Little by little, we learned that with some people, it was best to not bring the subject up at all.

Small talk was occasionally excruciating. When table guests at dinner parties asked what our children did, in which country they lived, and if they were romantically involved, I heard myself saying that my son had a very nice person in his life.

I had once uttered the word ‘boyfriend’ to a woman sitting next to me. She said she hadn’t understood and could I repeat what I had just said?

I did, not realizing the mess I was getting myself in to. She stared at me as if I had gone blue. Did I mean to say that my son had a boyfriend? Yes, I replied, blankly, an alarm going off in my head.

She had another gape at me, lowered her voice and whispered, did I mean that my son was a …. She struggled to pronounce the word and I could tell she how arduous it was for her. So I helped her, by ending her sentence: indeed, my son was a homosexual and he had a boyfriend.

I said it loud and clear, bracing myself for what may come next. She nodded, patted my hand and remarked with genuine sincerity, that my son was very brave to have chosen to become (lowering of the voice again), a homosexual.

I replied that he hadn’t chosen, he was born that way. She replied, tremulously, how brave I was, embracing all this, that such unconditional love was admirable, like those mothers whose sons were in jail and who still loved them, even if they were criminals.

It helps to talk with other parents of gay children

Yes, we learned and we are still learning. Meeting other parents of gay children was a key step. We felt we were not alone.

Many have similar tales to share with us. Some stories are amusing, and we can all laugh together. Others are tragic. One woman told me her son had killed himself because his father, her husband, had been incapable of accepting their son’s coming out.

Another sad story is this one. I met a charming lady at a writer’s lunch, about three years ago. She has two homosexual sons in their early 30s, one is a successful lawyer and the other, an up-and- coming designer.

Her friends don’t speak to her anymore, and her husband left her on the spot when they came out, stating he would rather have two sons in wheelchairs than two gay sons.

I never thought parents could be subjected to homophobia because of their offspring’s sexual orientation. How wrong I was.

The Rain Watcher, by Tatiana de Rosnay, explores the intimate repercussions of coming out within a family. The book is out now, published by World Editions, price £11.99 paperback original.

See also

Read what this Christian pastor promises to do if his children are gay

Pastor’s gay son sings heartbreaking American Idol audition about heaven

 

Author: Tatiana de Rosnay

The post This is what happened when I came out as the parent of a gay son appeared first on Gay Star News.

Clubbing in London can be incredibly isolating when you’re not a man

Charlie at a drag convention

The phrase ‘Let’s go to [insert name of a gay sex club]’ might signal the start of a good night out for some.

For me though, it’s quite the opposite.

There’s nothing more gutting than when I’m having a good night in a bar with a group of friends but then said group decide that next they’re going to head to a gay sex club.

I’m neither man, or completely masculine meaning that there are multiple venues in London where I’ll simply never be welcome.

Subsequently, my only option is to hang my head and retire to an early night.

When this happens, it goes something like this.

We’ll be in a bar in Soho. Everyone’s having a great time. The alcohol is flowing. The room is filled with laughter. Everyone’s face has a grin on it. It’s a good night.

Then a couple of the guys in the group will huddle and I catch wind that they’ve agreed on something.

Then, one person will approach me and explain that they’re heading to a gay sex club. ‘I tried to convince them otherwise but it’s just not worked, I’m sorry,’ a friend will explain.

I also try my hand at reminding that people if we go to one of the many places available that isn’t a gay sex club, we can still have a good time and I can join them!

Nothing works.

So then a couple of minutes later, everyone will start moving outside of the bar. Everyone apologizes for the fact that I can’t join them. I say ‘it’s okay’ through gritted teeth. They head in one direction, and I walk to the tube station to get a train home.

I can’t help but wonder though…

If you were really that sorry, why would you still go?

Charlie holding a rose at Ballie Ballerson

Charlie at Ballie Ballerson | Photo: Darren Mew

Queer venues in London

It’s hard to say really whether there’s been any progress in terms of diversity in LGBTI nightlife.

The number of venues that are safe spaces for those who aren’t LGBT men have experienced a noticeable drop.

Beloved queer venue HER upstairs closed abruptly in August 2018. This loss broke the hearts of many across the LGBTI London scene.

Ku Bar near Leicester square is a popular venue who host a weekly night for queer women – Ruby Tuesday’s. This is quite popular but, it’s just a weekly night.

Its sister Ku Bar, off Old Compton Street, runs SHE Soho in its basement. This venue is, as far as I’m aware, the only bar in London that is tailored and targeted at queer women.

They also have strict door policy that men aren’t allowed in unless they’re with a woman. DJ Tina Ledger once recalled seeing ‘a guy lurking around for hours offering women fifty quid to go in with him.’

Like Ruby Tuesdays, there are other examples of weekly events. Wotever World are a collective who regularly take over a variety of gay bars with their nights aimed at queer women, femme people and non-binary people.

There are other similar examples of this. Wotever World are a collective who regularly take over a variety of gay bars with their nights aimed at queer women, femme people and non-binary people.

The Friendly Society, Queen Adelaide of Cambridge Heath and CIRCA Club are venues for the community as a whole.

Bearing all that in mind, I’d say it’s pretty understandable that queer women and non-binary people would feel isolated in terms of LGBTI nightlife.

Sadie Masie and FIST

The biggest and most popular LGBTI venues in London are still predominantly gay venues – Some of which have no issue with discriminating against those who don’t fit the bill of an ideal customer.

This hasn’t always been the way however.

There was a fetish club in the early 1990s at the London Lesbian and Gay Centre called Sadie Maisie. The club welcomed people of all genders.

When Fetish Queen Suzie Krueger first opened her club FIST in the mid-90’s, I’m told this night was also for everyone. However, that event was later replaced by Hard On – a more hard-dance, sex night aimed much more at the boys.

I can’t help but feel like we’ve moved a bit backwards in this sense. Once upon a time, both my friends and I would have been welcomed into sex clubs together! Not anymore however.

All I want is to be able to join my friends on a night out, regardless of where they end up.

Author: Charlie Mathers

The post Clubbing in London can be incredibly isolating when you’re not a man appeared first on Gay Star News.