Your best friend, your son, your daughter, maybe your uncle or your aunty or a work colleague has just told you they are gay. So what? What should you do next? If you’re a man and another man has told you his most intimate secret, your first instinct may be to call him a poofter (or something similar). Once you’ve realised he wasn’t joking, you can then tell him it’s fine with you so long as he doesn’t “try it on”, because if he does, you’ll “land him one”. Get over yourself and don’t be so vain! He’s gay, but it doesn’t mean he fancies every man on the planet – and certainly not you! Just because a person tells you they are attracted to members of the same gender, it doesn’t instantly mean they are a) a paedophile b) a sexual deviant, or c) interested in you. Where did you get those antiquated, moronic and totally inaccurate ideas?
Let us start with some facts – and firstly, look me straight in the eye here – I’m not in the habit of repeating myself. Someone you know has had the courage – the absolute heroic courage – to tell you something about themselves that you probably never even guessed, but which, because of ignorance and misunderstanding, is deeply upsetting, worrying and potentially harmful.. to them! Now, more than ever, they need your support and your understanding. Be an adult; a decent human being; give them your unconditional help.
Ask yourself a question. Did you like this person before they told you they were gay? I suspect you did (otherwise you probably wouldn’t be in this situation). What, then, has changed? If they had told you that they had been adopted as a child, or a Millwall supporter (well, someone has to be!), what difference would that make to your relationship? I would hope the answer to that one would be “none”. Thus, just because they have confided in you that they find themselves attracted to members of the same gender as they are, it should make no difference whatsoever to your association. Indeed, it should make the bond between you stronger, because they have shown you total trust and put themselves at your mercy. Don’t let them down.
Can you actually imagine putting yourself in their situation? Would you have the courage to face someone and tell them something that will probably change your life for ever? Would you want to risk losing the respect, admiration or simple friendship of someone, due to something entirely beyond your control? It’s different when it’s you who has to face these things, isn’t it?
Let us get a few more things straight (if you’ll forgive the pun) while we’re here. It isn’t a “phase” they’re going through. Suggesting they should take their mind off members of the same gender and focus on the opposite gender also isn’t going to work; it’ll make them feel worse. A “good woman” in the bed of a gay man or a hunky man making “rough” love to a lesbian really shows your naiveté. In fact the opposites are far closer to the truth. What’s the matter? Can’t you cope with this knowledge? Next, you’ll be saying you think the world is flat or that Darwin was a heretic. Oh and the nonsense about homosexuality being “against the designs of nature” is also total rubbish. It could easily be argued that the Human Race, itself, is against the designs of nature, but that doesn’t mean to say we should all “chuck ourselves in the drink” and drown gracefully! It means that we are all different and I, personally, am thankful that we are.
So mum, dad, aunty, uncle, best mate, colleague or drinking friend, what do you do in this situation? You listen, reassure, understand and support; things that any decent human being would do. It really isn’t very difficult. How about swallowing your pride, taking your nose out from where it has been firmly buried and maybe give that brave person in front of you a hug. At the very least, a pat on the back, or even shake their hand. What about a smile? Maybe even a “I’m still here for you, mate”. Just a little signal to illustrate that things haven’t changed and that you accept them for who they are. If you don’t understand, or are struggling to accept the news, you could always look it up on the Internet with the aim to learn about alternative lifestyle choices. Combat fear with knowledge, or perhaps try to find a support group, which will help and guide you.
Oh and one final point: it isn’t any of your business what gay people “get up to” sexually. I suspect, if truth be known, everyone who has a healthy sex life, could be accused of being “dirty” at one time or another; that’s what good sex is all about and your gay counterpart won’t be criticising you for what you do in the bedroom (or anywhere else, for that matter), probably because they don’t care. Homosexuality isn’t all about sex, though; it is also about feelings; very strong and real feelings. They are just as strong and just as valid and equal as your feelings towards a member of the opposite gender. Remember these things and you can’t go wrong.
A special word to mums and dads.
Be kind to your child. You brought them into this world. You gave them their life to live as they choose. It is up to you to support them. Their sexuality – just as yours – is not a choice, but they have the right to choose to live their life to the fullest and happiest. You didn’t make them gay. You need not reproach yourselves or feel you have done something wrong. There is nothing that you need to be forgiven for, unless, that is, you refuse to accept your offspring. In that case, I am ashamed of you and you should be deeply ashamed of yourselves! If you refuse to accept your child’s sexuality, you cannot claim to be a good parent. However, if you have difficulty understanding or accepting, but want to, then you are doing the right thing and there is a lot of support out there for you; support that is non-judgemental and loving.
Go into the world with your newfound friend/family member. Take them by the hand and walk proudly side-by-side with them, along the road of life. As you guide and support them, they will appreciate and respect you, as well as offer you their own help, if and when you need it.
We are all so different, yet so similar. Understanding takes so little; it only means opening your mind to different concepts. I, myself, have been homophobic – and I’m a gay man! The reason why is because I was brought up in a world of stupidity and ignorance. When I first came to terms with who and what I am and when I started meeting other people like me, I began to realise that I wasn’t all that bad, after all and that others, just like me, weren’t either.
I ask you to open your mind and your heart and accept, support, love and enjoy the simplicity of allowing others to be whom and what you are – just another human being! Good As You.
“…in spite of your talk of equality and fraternity, you still believe some people are better than others because of the way they make love.” Another Country