“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” – Maya Angelou
I was disowned for 10 years when my family found out about my sexuality. About 3 years ago, one of my brothers died and I reconnected with my family through the mourning period. Right now, I am at my dad’s house and frequently spend time with my family.
I remember having a conversation with my brother within which I asked him to explain why he had disowned me.
He asked me how I responded when I realised I was gay. I informed him that I had tried to deny it, at times I had ignored it, and other times I closed the door on my sexuality, as I didn’t want to acknowledge it, because I couldn’t handle it.
He paused a moment and then he said, “I think that’s exactly how we felt. We didn’t want it to be true and we didn’t know how to handle it and didn’t want to acknowledge it, so we closed the door on you.”
As I sit here writing this I feel emotive. It’s a melancholy sadness. Not a sadness over being disowned – I love who I am and I don’t think I would have grown into me if I hadn’t been told to leave the family home. Rather it’s a sadness for my family. I remember how hard I struggled with my sexuality. How difficult it was in the face of Islam and the community. How ashamed I felt. How painful.
And all the while my family were experiencing the same pain, the same shame, the same anger and hatred and the same fear. I feel sad no one was there to hold their hands when they struggled. They didn’t even feel they had access to converse about it amongst themselves. I think I could have initiated contact sooner. Nonetheless we are in a far better space now.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that as much as it’s a journey for ourselves with our sexuality, it’s also a journey for our families. They are experiencing many of the same feeling, perhaps from a different perspective, but there is a definite congruence there.
Rather than frustration, what would happen if we tried to feel compassion. Rather than wanting conformity, what would happen if we practiced acceptance; often this is what we are striving to receive.
We don’t discuss my sexuality. We probably never will. My parents frequently discuss how proud of me they are though. Every Asian person alive must know that I’m doing a Masters degree, because my parents shout about it.
I’m comfortable with their discomfort around my sexuality. I reach to them across the religious chasm that divides us with warmth and compassion and I believe that they see who I am now. And inside, I think it makes us all smile.
(Graduate of The Quest Workshop for Gay Men)