HOP AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA
In honor of May 17th being International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, we’re stepping back from our usual reviews and such and sharing a personal story. Don’t forget to see below for giveaway information and links to other participants.
In April this year my brother, P, and his partner of 5 years, J, were married. They each have a child from a previous relationship, nothing unusual there, and that they are both men hardly raised an eyebrow. However, when my brother came out 10 years ago, in his mid 30’s, he was subjected to the kind of hate campaign that you read about but most of us never experience.
To give a bit of background, P’s prior marriage was brief, and to his girlfriend, J, from Uni. They’d had a child, and to this day remain very good friends. P’s best friend was her brother, KB, and they’d met at 15, so had been friends for more than half their lives.
P came out because he was tired of lying. Our family is liberal, multiracial, and accepting, so there were no problems there. J said she knew, but KB’s reaction was staggering. At first, he refused to talk to about it but then the emails and public vitriol via social media started.
KB contacted all of my brother’s friends, some he hadn’t seen for years, his employer, local pubs, and my niece’s school. He described him as a promiscuous predator who preferred young men. The majority of people treated this as nonsense, but some parents of my niece’s friends stopped their kids coming round, and he was asked to leave the PTA. P kept this to himself and internalized his hurt. He went from being happy and outgoing to withdrawn and moody. He was single, and in fact had been in only one homosexual relationship. He handed his notice in at work and was in the process of selling his house before we, his family, discovered what was happening.
J and I confronted KB. He was entirely unrepentant. He felt P had betrayed him and deserved to be hated, as he was an aberration. Nothing we said made any difference to this man who is a highly educated ‘professional’. There were a few others who’ve shared this opinion and have never changed their minds, but the majority of those KB had approached were simply ignorant and thought knowing P’s sexuality would somehow make him different. Approaching as J and I did, as P’s sister and ex-wife, made a difference. They saw that if his blood-family and the mother of his child could accept him, maybe he wasn’t different or unworthy. It helped them give P a chance to be the same man he’d always been.
KB’s campaign eventually dried up, but ignorance still had such a profound effect on P’s life. Keep in mind, this occurred when P was a grown man and had the backing of his family and friends. Then add how P essentially had to prove himself worthy of other’s acceptance, prove to be the same man as when he appeared heterosexual, and it’s equally infuriating and heart breaking. I cannot imagine the results of this kind of reaction were the target young and isolated. As a result of this experience, P and J are involved in a project that helps young people deal with issues arising from difficulties related to their sexuality.
While this part of P’s story has a mostly happy ending, aside from the loss and betrayal of his oldest friend, others may not share this. The importance of support and security cannot be overstated. Somebody coming out for the first time is sharing an intensely personal and vulnerable aspect of him/herself.
Prove worthy of their trust.
Our giveaway will go to one person who comments on this post any time until May 24, 2014 11:59 pm (EST). The randomly chosen winner (using Random.org) will be given a choice of two prizes: either one copy of each A Strong and Sudden Thaw and Out of the Ashes, or a $20 donation in the winner’s name to TJ & Eric. If you are the winner, don’t forget to email us!
Others involved with this hop: