There was an article in the ‘Attitude’ magazine this month regarding how gay people can deal with Christmas family reunions. It is one of the same silly articles you find every year in similar magazines. It debates about whether it’s a good idea to come out to your family during the Christmas dinner, how to answer very private questions and how to deal with homophobic relatives.
This kind of advice provided though cannot be applied to me. I have mentioned to my parents that I am gay but we haven’t discussed it since and that was summer of 2009. I don’t think they’re in denial but I think that they simply choose to ignore the whole issue, hoping probably that it might go away. My mother only asks me if I am generally happy in my personal life, without of course even mentioning the word 'gay', 'boyfriend' or asking for more details. My father wouldn't even go there. So, when I pass the borders I am again a closeted gay guy to the rest of the family and family friends.
I don’t really care to be honest. I’m out to the people that matter to me which are MY friends and my first degree relatives. My brother is amazing. I don’t care what my parents say to their friends and other relatives. From the Greek gay people I know I am the only one that had the ‘talk’ with their parents and I have to confess that I am quite proud of that. We still have a long way to go, but the first and more important step has been made.
I’m not going to say that it doesn’t bother me at all though. Every Christmas which is also my brother’s name day (we celebrate these), we have a very close family meal. Normally, it’s me, my parents, my brother, my mother’s sister and her family with my two cousins (7-8 people in total). My brother was allowed to bring his long term girlfriend who later became his wife and his contemporary girlfriend since he got divorced. He never attended that meal alone for at least a decade. Now, my first cousin is engaged to be married next year and he brings his fiancée as well. My other cousin has a long term girlfriend but he refuses to introduce her to his family (he knows how they can get), so she is not attending any family gatherings. At least I am not the only unaccompanied person there (for now).
I can’t help but feel a little bit left out. As it seems, I am the only gay in the family and just the thought of mentioning a boyfriend is scandalous. I can’t even begin to think of a possibility that I might bring one along. The ‘gay issue’ is generally a not acceptable topic to talk about with my parents and my uncle’s family not having any openly gay friend! My uncle has made homophobic remarks in the past and I was never brave enough to face him (he can be a bit intimidating).
I can only admit that when I’m back to Greece, I feel like a child again, not being able to easily stand my ground and I just let some things pass. It is a bit shameful, I know but there’s not much I can do. I also know that if I mention that I want to bring a boyfriend to any of the family gatherings, my parents will feel torn since they would in a way like to stand by me but in another not know how to handle it. Unfortunately, if I ever bring someone with me in my relatives or family friends circles I will be the very first one to do it…
Unfortunately, JJ’s family is not that gay friendly either. They do know that he’s gay but they generally don’t talk about it either. His mother is very religious and his father strict. I have the impression that South Africa is not very open about it generally. That leaves us in a tough spot. I can’t bring JJ over to Greece for Christmas and I can’t go to his place either. I am not sure how and if this situation will change. At least JJ can understand where I’m coming from and vice versa. We did mention not to go anywhere next year and just simply relax and spend the holidays together…