By, Craig Baines - Senior Segment Manager & Head of Embrace Site Leads
Did I grow up in a homophobic household and in a homophobic town? I’d like to say no, but in reality, I think I did.
I distinctly remember standing at the side of my mother, washing the dishes at around the age of 12 when Julian Clary appeared on the television (I think the show was called Trick or Treat?). I asked my mum what her response would be if one of her kids was gay and her response to me was that they would be told to move out of the house. Now, this may have been in jest (or not), but that did have an impact on my ability to be myself. This led to me trying to lead a ‘normal’ life, which involved me getting engaged to a woman at the age of 17.
It wasn’t until I was 19 when this fantastic lady sat me down and told me that she thought I might be gay. She was right. I then knew that I had to go through the process of telling my family and my first port of call was my sister. Laughably her response was ‘I have been waiting for you to tell me that since you were a little boy’ to which I responded ‘I wish you’d told me!’ On reflection, it would have made my life easier had she have done and then I wouldn’t have wasted 3 years of someone else’s life trying to be someone I wasn’t.
My sister promised to tell my parents the same day as I wasn’t brave enough to do so and they reacted as I expected – distraught. My brother’s immediate reaction was to tell me that I would never see my niece again (because obviously in his view, being gay was synonymous with being a paedophile). It was my mum who came round first. She came to see me and asked how this could have happened – her exact words were ‘I don’t understand, you never used to play with dolls’. My dad wouldn’t speak to me. My Grandparents said they would disown me. My Grandad specifically told me I was disgusting and that everyone hated gay people.