Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Wishful thinking…

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 fiancĂ©e 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…

11 comments:

  1. my advise after been so long in this gay relationship is i keep my hubby my friends. hehehe always works

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  2. I know exactly what you're talking about all too well...

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  3. I've been in your position. In my family, and probably in yours, the thing my parents and siblings want most for me is happiness, and if bringing my husband Greg to family events makes me happy, then it makes them happy too. Your family may react the same way.

    Tell them about JJ when you see them. Show them a photo of you two smiling and happy together. See how they respond and go from there.

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  4. I can see how that's tough - not much point in coming out if you can't be 'out'. Now that I have come out I'm perfectly open with my family (with the exception of my grandparents) and I guess I'm lucky I can be like that. I wouldn't be happy in that sutation but I hope you have a lovely Christmas - and you and JJ haev a lovely holiday period together.

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  5. @Suf_n_Steve I see your point but its my parents. They are not getting any younger...

    @Bobby I'd thought you would to be honest...

    @Cubby I was thinking of telling my mother about JJ. She's stalking me on facebook anyway, so she must have seen the photos from various trips.

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  6. @Mike Families are weird. Mine is no exception. Maybe in time things might improve...

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  7. My family went though many years of just not talking about it. I was not entirely comfortable talking about it either because I didn't want to push it. I realized at some point that I want them to know and love ME, not some edited version of who I am...so little by little I stopped pretending that part of my life simply didn't exist. Your family should meet your boyfriend; it's a big step but I encourage you to face it together.

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  8. It can take a long time. My parent's journey was about 16 years from first coming out to them to sleeping in a double bed together when we are at their home, something I never thought would happen.

    ahoj

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  9. Nik,
    Sorry to read about your relationship w/ your family. I come from a very close family (including extended relatives) and my experience is quite different so I can't lend any sage advice.

    But I will say I'm sorry that this is the situation you face at home and hopefully over time either things will change or you will come to make your own traditions.

    BosGuy

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  10. @Westopher I was thinking of mentioning at least that I am seeing the same person for more than a year now. I believe that it would at least please my mother that I am in a stable relationship and not sleeping around.

    @MadeInScotland 16 years? hmmm... OK, if I have to, I could wait that long.

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  11. @BosGuy Thanks.
    Unfortunately, I can't try the 'baby steps' approach like I can do in other situations. I can't really say 'I'm a little bit gay' and then say 'I'm getting a little bit more gay' etc. You either hint that you have a boyfriend and you like men or not. That only would be a bomb like no other in my family...

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