Waving, Not Drowning

Dear Viv: I'm gay, should I continue to tolerate my family's homophobia?

On this week's podcast, Viv discusses being gay in a very Catholic family

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By Viv Groskop on

Dear Viv,

Where do I start? I come from a devout Catholic family with *lots* of siblings.

I have also always known I am gay, gay with a capital G. I am uber camp, uber flamboyant, uber queer. I always have been. It’s so obvious!

Despite that, growing up, I was explicitly taught the HIV and AIDS were sent by God to kill all the gay people, that you should NEVER go into a house if you knew a gay person lived there, a murderer could be forgiven for losing their temper, but a man who took it up the bum was not...(I could go on and on for days).

Being gay was the worst thing a person could be, and throw into the equation ENDLESS bullying at school for being gay – I couldn't tell anyone about it because my parents were even more homophobic than the bullies.

Anyway five years ago I was outed (by a cousin in a completely malicious way, before I was ready) and my life has changed immeasurably since. Previously – when it wasn't spoken about – people could choose to believe it didn't exist.

I am really close to my mum, siblings, nieces and nephews. I also work in the family business with my dad and have become close with him recently (provided no-one ever brings up that I am gay or what has happened in the past). However, my parents refuse to acknowledge the fact that I am openly gay. I have been with my boyfriend for several years but in their eyes he doesn't exist.

On top of that, one of my brother’s is a Catholic priest, he preaches that homosexual relationships are a sin. He tells me all the time that he has friends who "used" to be gay, and overcame it. He has given me books and countless articles about how I too could achieve this. One of my sisters (who, really sadly, used to be my best friend) is also as fundamental as he is, and neither of them can understand why I don't take their advice.

My question is, do I continue to play this game? No action is an option, I can carry on as things are, it’s just really shit, but in my eyes every option equals shit.

I LOVE being around my family, my nephews and nieces, if I'm honest the majority of my life revolves around them. I currently live at home to save money (yes I know moving out will help but the problems here are much bigger).

I have been on anti-depressants for five years now (since I was outed).

And I have seen counsellors but I need someone to be objective and tell me whether to cut them all out of my life or carry on. Counsellors are reluctant to tell me what to do because of course that is not their job!

As far as my parents and my religious siblings are concerned I am CHOOSING to have a relationship with a man, I don't have to have a relationship, I could happily be single for the rest of my life. Maybe one day even I will meet a woman who turns me straight and none of this will have ever happened! (I wish I was joking but I am not, all these things have been said and all these things are believed.) I have been told explicitly that my boyfriend will never be welcome (which makes birthdays and Christmas difficult).

If it was just me and the crazy people (mum, dad, priest brother, sister) I would have run away years ago, but I have several other siblings who I love and get on with and who accept me for who I am and like my boyfriend, and who have children who I am completely in love with and adore more than anything else.

Thanks for anything you can offer.

You can hear the answer to this question on Viv’s podcast, Waving, Not Drowning, above.

This question has been edited for length. 

Got a question for Viv? Email her at DearViv@thepoolltd.com. The Dear Viv podcast airs fortnightly on The Pool at 5pm on Tuesdays. All letters will be edited for length. Unfortunately Viv cannot reply to your emails personally. 

You can subscribe to The Pool's podcasts on iTunes.

 

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