As parents, is there still any reason why we should or must be ashamed of the sexuality of our children and hide rather than accept and celebrate them and move on? Alternatively, how are many parents dealing with the tragedy of knowing that they may not after all become natural grandparents some day?
Or still trying to make my point as sensitively as possible and put differently; as parents especially of African or Asian descent, how would you handle your daughter or son coming home and announcing that they are gay/lesbian leaving you wondering how to break the news to other family members and members of your close knit community who obviously are intolerant of people who are sexually different.
“I really love you and want to tell you more about myself. He responded, be careful, I only love women and have no business with men. On trying to persuade him to give him a chance, he warns; “stay away from me because if you move a step closer I will knock the life out of you”. (This is a true story of an openly gay person and another in the closet who did not want his parents to know anything about his sexuality and thus his painful efforts to brush off an advance that may be the one he has been waiting for).
Follow me below for further comments and full story of a case we all need to know about. This may be happening in your home or relationship.
Shrien Dewani Picture courtesy of the Guardian newspaper
Whilst the revelation that Shiren Dewani is a bisexual male who visited gay websites and used gay male escorts but got married perhaps to please his family may not be a surprise to many of us who live in the 21st century and facing the realities of our time; it may have been indeed the rudest shock to his parents and parents in-law. The devastating shock is that a daughter has lost her life and we are not sure whether she knew about her husband’s secret life and married him anyway or paid the price of the secrecy that pervade the lives of many ethnic minority and generally religious families all over the world.
She may have paid the supreme price for our hypocrisy and silence over matters of nature which we cannot control. Sadly, many of us still refuse to acknowledge that we are all unique human beings and our uniqueness is not limited to our gender and physical attributes but extends to our sexuality and must be cherished, respected and celebrated too just as we cherish everything else in life.
Very often due to culture and traditions, we hide a lot of things which concern our children. For instance; in some cultures a child with disability or health challenges like Down syndrome is seen as punishment or curse to his parents or their ancestors who may have offended the gods but failed to appease them. Such a child is usually hidden away and never discussed for fear that the family will be judged as evil or otherwise. Many people in the dark ages had done many things including leaving the children in the forests to starve to death and die alone. Some may have been killed and buried at night before dawn and no one ever remembers them. Yet it was not their fault but one of the many vicissitude of nature way beyond the control of the poor children and their parents. “What still troubles my mind about these attitudes is that people who commit these atrocities at night and in the dark are usually those who profess themselves as highly religious and better than ordinary mortals like me who accept our weaknesses and respect other’s weaknesses and strengths too”.
Recently, I saw a very beautiful South African Albino model strutting her stuff on the telly and looking really confident about herself. In the days gone by and like we still have in some African countries today, she would have been killed or thrown away because she is different. This would have been simply because lack of education and ignorance of the ages played a significant role in such sorry decisions. Thankfully many of these prejudices are rapidly going out of fashion and many people who would have suffered one scourge or another because of such prejudices are living near as normal a life as possible. All thanks to civilisation and campaigns for rights by many people.
Nonetheless, we must be careful not to become too complacent about these things. There remains a few of us who are prejudiced to the core and who would if given the chance behave worse than people in the dark ages. So the struggle must continue until the last of these prejudiced minds accepts that it is wrong to discriminate against anyone for anything no matter how personally offensive they consider it.
This now takes me to one of the last unspeakable “evils” of the 21st century in some civilised and not so civilised parts of the world, the subject of being gay or lesbian in a homophobic world.
Through the ages many gay people have lived and died quietly never discussing or exploring their sexuality and why they were or are different from the majority. Many who dared to discuss and tried to live a normal life faced obstacles ranging from mockery, mental and emotional blackmails including physical attacks/violence. The fear of these attitudes force people who otherwise should be living their lives and celebrating their sexuality just like all of us live double lives where in public eyes they are straight men and women and so to say normal people and then underground where they may be able to live a semi-independent normal lives. Some are forced into loveless relationships and exploited because they cannot easily approach a partner because they do not want anyone to know that they are gay.
A straight man is at liberty to put his hands gloriously and menacingly anywhere he likes on a woman’s body and even violate her sometimes. In most cases he only gets a little telling off and in worse cases a little rap on the wrist if his victim is bold enough to complain. This also applies to a straight lady who can flap her sensual wings and flirt with anything in trousers but no one gives a hoot because she is servicing the needs of some crazy beings who think that it is alright because women are sex sirens whose duty it is to service their lewd dispositions.
Sadly this is not the case for gay, lesbian and bisexual males and females. Once they show signs that they are different from the rest of their peers they must be criticised, teased and avoided. Their parents are disappointed. Most children sensing that disappointment will never discuss their sexuality with their families. They rather live very painful lonely lives while managing to hide their natural instincts and inclinations. The last thing some parents in some cultures would like to hear is that their children may be gay or lesbian. There is therefore little likelihood of marriage let alone grandchildren. Some of their children are so overwhelmed with fear that they end up living and dying very confused people.
What is most concerning is that some parents know the sexuality of their children but believe that once they marry it will all go away. They then go ahead and encourage them to marry or even arrange marriages for them. Some of them have been lucky to meet very loving men and women who understand their predicament and by agreement allowed them to live their lives while they continued with other relationships. Some have not been so lucky because their other halves were possibly disappointed or affronted and exposed them and left or left without leaving a word and their parents lived and died not knowing what had gone on and why they never had grandchildren.
A TRUE STORY
A woman once told me of how her husband (Ben) who lived in the Europe for many years came home and married her (Jane) but did not want to bring her to Europe immediately. He left her at home and paid University fees for her to study up to a Master’s degree. He refused to consummate their as he said that it was inappropriate to do so because of their Christian beliefs. She loved and respected him for his views while dying to consummate their marriage. She was happy that she would have nothing to worry about him womanising. His parents and her parents were not so happy because they expected them to start having children but nonetheless bought into his ideas. His mother spoke about how well she had done bringing up her son with strong Christian values.
Meanwhile on each occasion he visited them at home, he was with a white male (John) who was supposed to be his business partner. He was very loving, caring and protective of her husband and his family adored him. She eventually relocated to Europe to join her husband. He waited another three years to wed her and only did so when she began to complain and say that she wanted to leave as she could not continue without consummating their marriage and having children. His usual excuse was that he knew so many people and wanted a high society wedding which he was saving for at the time. They eventually got married with a few family and friends present but his white business friend John was not invited. She was disappointed and so were members of her family and in-laws from abroad who asked after him and wanted to see him in order to settle any disputes which kept him away from that special day.
Ben claimed that his job required him to travel a lot and so rarely came home. On the various occasions they tried to consummate their marriage he was keen on foreplay but could not consummate their marriage as he always lost erection once they reached the point of conjugal bliss. She was worried and more because he would not seek help. She had everything money can buy but living in agony as she wanted children but could not have them. Her mother in-law and her mum had become worried too and asked questions but she did not say much. They agreed to leave it to God and prayed without ceasing for something that will never happen between the couple. “The usual denial by many of us”
Her husband’s business partner began to appear again after they got married. He would come in choice cars which he let her drive most times. He always went away on business trips with her husband. They would usually come back with very expensive gifts for her.
She was now working and talking to friends at work about her problems. Many suggested many things including seeing a doctor as he might have erectile dysfunction but one elderly West Indian lady called her aside and said “I think that your husband’s problem is more than you know. He may be gay. My son is and had similar problems with the few women he pretended were in his life as camouflages. He tried to deceive me with them until I asked serious questions. His supposed girlfriend then told me that they were having the same problems. I confronted my son. He admitted that he loves men not women. His father was livid and would not think of it. I had no choice than to accept it and support my son but his father won’t. Our marriage broke down. I lost my husband but found a new beautiful son who then became himself and shows me more love than I have ever asked for or known. So confront your husband and set the records straight. He may not be but it is worth asking”
This was the moment the penny dropped and reality dawned. He was on one of his many trips abroad with his business partner. On their return with the usual gifts she refused to speak with him or take the gifts which worried them. His business partner was astounded and left very hurriedly.
She went straight for it and asked “are you gay? Silence! Are you gay? Stone silence! Well, I will have to discuss it with your family and I am leaving”. The mention of his family forced answers out of him. “Yes I am and John is my partner. I am very very sorry and will do whatever you want me to do so long as you keep it away from my family”. He called John who came over and apologised too.
To cut the long story short, agreements were reached. Marriage was never consummated. There are now three sons and one daughter who the three of them are looking after but only Jane knows who their father or fathers may be. The saddest part of this is that the children may never know who their real father or fathers are and the fathers or father themselves many never know that they are the non-consenting surrogate/s of another man’s children. Grandparents are happy visiting regularly and looking after their grandchildren. The big exception is that as the selfish mothers some of us are Ben’s mum suspects that something might be wrong and constantly tells her son that his wife may be having affairs. She pretends that her son is the victim of a wife who is in her Christian beliefs an “adulterer” and her son is just doing business with John. She complains that her son does not seem to mind and wonders what sort of man he is.
My greatest worry is the children finding out about their parentage later in life and turning against their pseudo parents then. Sadly the marriage has broken down for unexplained reasons. John is still in Ben’s life and the children are in private schools paid for by both of them. Wife is still living with the children and living her independent life. They never discussed this issue with either of their parents. So as far as the parents are concerned they have got beautiful grand children from their daughter and son but the only person who knows that they are wrong is Ben’s wife. One of the sons is beginning to suspect something and Jane thinks that he may be gay having showed interest in men. She thinks that Ben and John are influencing his views and wants to stop them visiting but cannot explain why to their son.
The big question then is how many of us are still living in denial and why? How long for and is it time to face the reality and embrace change? Although I stand to be challenged and corrected, homosexuality is an incident of nature not and acquired taste.
The case of Shiren Dewani and his late wife if true is typical example of how ugly things might get and the more reason why as parents we must listen to our children and accept them for who and whatever they are.
We might still be prejudiced about other people’s sexuality and would rather our children are straight but these are matters beyond human powers so it is best to embrace our children.
Pictures courtesy of Bristol Evening Post.