Young Irish queer person opens up about the struggle of growing up in a homophobic family

Originally published in GCN’s Youth Issue 2019 359, this story details the effects of growing up gay in a homophobic family.

Coming out in a homophobic family - Close-up of a young POC with a pink X on their mouth

A young person, who decided to remain anonymous, speaks to GCN about the struggle of not being able to come out to their homophobic family and how their friends helped them feel accepted.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve had to come out to someone at some point. And if you haven’t, that’s okay. The thing about being gay, we constantly must come out when we meet new people. Another thing about being gay is not being able to come out.

My friends and very few people in my family know that I’m bi. Even fewer know that I’m non-binary. The only people who know about my sexuality and gender are the people I trust. But the thing is – you should trust your family.

So how come so many of us are terrified of telling our parents about who we are? One thing my mum always says to me is to come to her when I’m having any troubles. I don’t though, not about this. I love my parents, I do, but they are so blatantly homophobic. Being around them triggers me so much.

Being around my parents’ toxicity makes me feel like I can’t be myself. I don’t feel comfortable around them because they are so negative. I’ve sat down and had conversations with myself about coming out to them.

Then I think about what they would do if I ever did come out to them. It makes me so scared. Every time they hear something on the news about anything LGBT+, they fill up with so much hate for them; for us; for me. It makes me feel terrible about myself.

I was brought up Christian, so when I started to realise I was gay, I was filled with so much internalised homophobia and self-loathing. Not being able to trust my parents, who claim to love me, it just fills me with so much isolation. It’s who they are, strictly Christian, and black. Anything that strays from their views of ‘normal’ is unacceptable.

Through all this pain and difficulty, I still find myself smiling and laughing. That’s all thanks to the friends I’m surrounded by.

I’m lucky enough to have my friends accept me in ways my family wouldn’t. They are there for me through everything; when I can’t deal with being with my family, when I’ve had my heart broken, everything.

My friends are the family I chose. Yes, that’s a cliché line, but it’s true. I love them so much. They never judge me, but they are honest with me. They never hurt me, and they won’t mislead me.

Another great thing that stemmed from having such amazing friends was the youth group I joined. Every week, they’d try to get me to go to the group. I put it off for ages because I was afraid to meet new people. But everyone I’ve met there has been amazing. They’re part of my family.

This is how I feel about not being able to come out in a very homophobic family and atmosphere. If this is something you can relate to, know you’re not alone.

If you’re lucky enough not to have experienced this, I envy you. I hope you appreciate it.

In the end, we’re not alone if we have friends who appreciate and accept us.

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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