I just found out homophobia has been living and festering in my family.
I came out to my family and friends 21 years ago at the age of 37 and I believed it wasn't a big deal with anyone in my family. Over the years we’ve had many reunions; Christmas and holidays together, nothing was discussed, no one asked me anything, not even "why did it took so long to come out"? At one time, it was suggested that I was just going through a phase. (Umm, hiding was the phase.)
It turns out I was enjoying a false sense of security. Behind my back, it transpires, all three of my brothers, when they got together, would exchange homophobic comments about me. Apparently it was done in the presence of other family members who have kept it from me all this time. I'm not sure if it escalated when they learned I was HIV-positive, but it may have.
When my oldest brother died of leukemia just over 4 years ago, my Mom said he often wondered what would happen to me and my youngest brother, who has some health issues of his own. For me, this shows he wasn't as homophobic near the end. My other older brother has a really hard time showing his feelings. He has trouble being supportive to anyone, is very opinionated and a stickler for his beliefs. You live the way he thinks is right.
Last month this brother and I got into a heated argument on the phone over the care my sister and I were getting for our mother. He condemned everything we were doing. He had talked to our mother on the phone and felt it was time to put her in a home. This coming from someone who lives an hour and a half from us, only visits her maybe three times a year and only because he has to come back here to see a doctor. Trying to explain anything to him was impossible. His answer to everything was to put her in a home (and throw away the key, was what I was hearing).
This is when the homophobia spewed out of him like a tsunami. He called me every name from the list of slurs - his "other sister, faggot, fucking homo" and on and on. I'm thinking "just let him get it out", I sat there and listened to it, at one point I shouted back, "I've heard all of those, give me something original!"
I’m concerned for my health right now, I just had my bloodwork done, I know it will come back with a lower CD4 count. Stress has never been my friend; it’s the reason my CD4 dropped to the point I had to start treatment after seven and a half years without having to take any medication. The stress of caring for my mother, worrying about all the things that get added to the original problem - I really didn't need this.
I see my doctor near the end of August so I am preparing to hear that my CD4 has gone down., I may even get a call any day now to have the CD4 checked again. Trying to keep the stress down is going to be a struggle when dealing with family over issues of this magnitude, So many things need to be done, and we aren't working as a team.
If it had been someone else, a stranger that I didn't know, it wouldn't have bothered me this much, but to come from someone I had grown up with, someone I had a lot of respect for is very hard to understand or to take.
Last year I made up my mind to eliminate anger from my life, It wasn’t going to rule my life, it gets me nowhere. It was the best decision I’ve ever made; so many good things have happened from it. But when this latest incident happened, it made me weak, I yelled back, I yelled loud, I was angry and I'm still angry. It's all I can do to keep my cool.
On a positive note to homophobia in my family, the new generation, the future of my family, is looking more than promising. My son vowed to raise his children to accept everyone for who they are and treat them the way they want to be treated. I am not the only gay person in my family; I have an aunt who is gay and now there is my son's brother-in-law, uncle to his children.
Recently while playing the NEW game of LIFE with my son and granddaughters, there comes a time on the board you are supposed to get married. When I landed on that spot, I felt a bit awkward about chosing to marry a man, so I chose a woman. When the game was over, while we dismantled the game my seven and nine year old granddaughters asked me why I chose a woman and not a man. I was floored. I wasn't aware of how much they had been taught, how much they already knew.
Last night it was my son's brother-in-law and his partner playing the game with them. When it came time in the game for them to marry they both chose to marry a boy. It just happened, it was all normal. Further into the game you might become a parent. Well, my seven year old granddaughter informs her uncle and his partner that they would have to adopt because it’s the only way they can have a child.. Brilliant, I thought, I felt so much pride at that moment.
So this shows that you can teach your children to love and be accepting or you can teach them to hate. They aren't born to know there is any difference. The only time it’s pointed out to be different is when you teach hate.
In the video below, the child is four years old, singing a homophobic song his father had to have written. At the conclusion of the first verse the father can be heard shouting, "that’s my boy". This child was not born this way.