I come from a home where there were very traditional roles, or at least, they were clearly defined. Mum sorted the house out (cooking, cleaning, ironing, finances etc.), as well as having a part time job when my brother and I were older. My dad went off to work everyday and repaired everything around the home.
These roles haven’t changed much for my parents, with mum retiring a few years ago and dad still going off to bring home the bacon.
My parents have also been married for 33 years. They tied the knot within nine months of meeting, mum in traditional white, and dad with a moustache to rival Ned Flanders.
They bought a lovely three bed detached house, which they still live in now. They then went on to have my brother and I, with two years between us.
Although you could say they’re traditional, they certainly aren’t close minded or judgmental. My brother got to the ripe old age of 24 before he finally told me he was gay (I always knew) and even then, I told them for him. When this information was all new and shiny to my parents, my mum took it upon herself to let my brother know about every gay celebrity out there, and my dad took it upon himself to ease off with the casual gay slurs (‘camp as a row of pink tents’ etc.).
After 26 years, almost 27, I’ve actually admitted to myself that I’m not as straight as I thought. I’ve always had boyfriends and always appeared to be ‘boy mad’, but even at high school, I was bullied for people thinking I was a lesbian; I’ve probably kissed more women than I have men; and if I’m being brutally honest, I’ve never really looked at a man and felt the attraction that I feel when I look at a woman (sorry past-boyfriends).
When I turned round to my mum and dad on Skype the other week and told them I was seeing someone from rugby, they asked who it was, and I said ‘well, she’s called *****’ and my mum’s exact words were: ‘I knew it, I knew it! Well, what are you then? Bisexual, lesbian, pansexual, or just experimenting?’
One – how on earth does my 55 year old mother know what pansexual means?! And two – for her to turn round and ask if I’m ‘experimenting’ completely invalidates the fact that I got up the courage up to tell them in the first place. But I’ll let her off, because she’s my mum and she won’t have meant anything by it.
None of my friends have been surprised. When I turned round to my brother and said I was seeing someone, he said ‘Is it a woman?’ before I even had chance to say anything else. For some reason, everyone else knew it, but regretted to inform me. But here I am, 26 years old, and just embracing the fact that it’s okay to like anyone, regardless of gender, and not really worry about a label for it.
So when I titled this article ‘Coming out at twenty six’, I didn’t really know if that was the right way to put it.
Since I started writing this, there have been a few developments. I actually have a girlfriend now (!!!) and my parents are trying to adapt to the concept of me being with a woman. After a very heated / emotional Skype call on Father’s Day, it appears that although my parents want me to be happy, they’re struggling with their own thoughts and feelings about the whole situation and, to be honest, there’s not much I can actually do about that.
My mum’s words were that I’ve ‘completely blindsided her’ because I’ve had ‘so many boyfriends’ (honestly, it’s not been that many, four long-term ones maybe. She’s always exaggerated) and that I’ve shown ‘no interest’ in women. But I’ve purposely over-compensated; it was difficult enough for my brother to come out and my parents don’t deal well with stress, so I suppose I’ve kind of just… left it.
But this isn’t me. I don’t care what people think; but that’s different when it comes to my parents because they’re not just ‘people’, but my mum and dad. If it was up to me (which, actually, it is) I would be covered in tattoos. However, I only have three because I fear disappointing my mum further. When I got my first one, she turned around and said ‘why can’t you have a nice, normal life?’ Well, to be honest, why would I want a nice, ‘normal’ life? I had a very nice, ‘normal’ childhood, which I’m entirely thankful for, of course, but I’m an adult. I want excitement and adventure and ‘no ragrets’.
Part of me feels that my parents would be happier and less stressed if I found a nice, sensible man, got married, had babies, and stopped playing rugby. I’ve also been fiercely feminist for the past five years, which has sometimes caused a few rifts. But as a feminist, I want the choice of not getting married and not having children. My parents have been aware for years that I’ve got zero maternal instincts and I can only just about look after Ralph (my Syrian hamster). Babies just aren’t on the agenda and probably won’t ever be.
I don’t want anyone to think less of my parents or think that they’re homophobic or anything like that – they most certainly aren’t. I think my point in this article is that I always constantly tell myself it doesn’t matter what people think and if it makes me happy, I should just do it, but I never apply this to my parents. So I’m going to make sure they’re both okay and try not to stress them out too much, but at the same time, I’m not going to hide who I am and I’m certainly not going to stop myself from doing something just because it might upset them.
I also got another tattoo last week. Sorry mum.
*** Since writing this, my mum and dad have fully embraced the idea of me having a girlfriend. They’ve actually met her – my dad continuously asks about her tattoos now and ‘really likes the arrangement of them on her arm’. My mum said she was ‘really easy to talk to’.