Some of us in the gutter are looking up at the stars: Coming Out To Grandparents

Recently, Amazon recommended me Get the Guy by M. Hussey. Despite his glowing recommendations of being “the hottest dating expert on the scene”, I somehow doubted that this book would have anything to offer a person in a stable relationship with a woman. Since then, I have been wary of so-called personalised recommendations. I was proved wrong, however, when Spotify recommended me Good Guys by MIKA. Having been a fan of MIKA as a teenager but not hearing much from him since, I was intrigued. Even more intriguing was his question that he poses in the song: where have all the gay guys gone? This refers to the gay role models he had in his youth.

The LGBTQ representation on TV is like a slice of cheap bread: white and thin. Not to mention young, abled, cis-gendered and often male. (Of course there are exceptions; I am generalising.) Throughout my coming out journey, I have had to look elsewhere for my role models. Luckily, I have several openly out LGBTQ friends, who have supported me through my ups and downs. Without them, I would not be where I am today, and for that I am grateful. They lead by example of what it means to be proud of who you are. After coming out to my parents a year ago, and being a veteran of both London and Brighton Pride, I thought I was proud to me too.

There was just one hurdle left: my homophobic grandparents. Their views on anything LGBTQ was an exclamation of yuck, a shake of the head, followed by a lecture on how it simply isn’t right. I would tilt my head down to hide my blushes and prayed they wouldn’t notice my flinching lest they suspect I am ‘one of them’.

First I stumbled out the closet then I was pushed. A nonchalant Facebook comment last weekend opened the barriers to a flood of relatives, many of whom I forgot even owned a computer, let alone frequent social media, congratulating me on my Coming Out. My mum looked at me grave faced and said it’s time to tell the Grandparents. I composed my email there and then, and pressed send after several anxious re-readings.

I didn’t sleep well that night. Nor the next. Nor the next. It was three days before my Nanny rang me.  The conversation was awkward and not entirely successful. She still cannot believe that I am a homosexual and thinks that I will soon meet a man and everything will change. I would ordinarily be offended by this standpoint, but I know that this is her way of coping with the news and that she is trying her best to be more liberal-minded than her upbringing instructs her. Despite all the homophobic and heteronormative mindwashing that she has been subjected to for years, she concluded that she still loves me and that will never change.

Coming Out is scary. I was reminded that this weekend, but I have realised that the thought of coming out is actually the scariest part. My homophobic grandparents surprised me, not to mention my ‘traditional’ parents and elderly relatives. Over these last couple of days, I have felt so much more confident in my own skin. I can truly be me. That being said, if you don’t think it’s safe to come out, be wary. Maybe now isn’t the right time. That doesn’t mean you cannot get support from the community, for example the internet is an amazing place full of LGBTQ forums and websites with links to helplines.

In answer to MIKA, us queers are out there living our everyday lives. Each and every one of us is a role model, whether we actively speak up on behalf of our LGBTQ siblings who cannot, or simply take the hand of the person they love.

Be proud of who you are, because I am sure proud of you.

Peace and Love

Elliot

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