I had an interesting evening yesterday.
Chris and I were away over the weekend at some engagements with his family, so I hadn’t spoken to my Mum for a couple of days (sweet relief). I got home last night and she rang me almost immediately, and I knew as soon as I saw her number on the caller display that it wasn’t going to be because something nice had happened.
Regular readers of this blog may know who my Horrible Grandad is. He’s my Dad’s Dad anyway, who I don’t see very often, and who I don’t regard as a particularly nice person. He also doesn’t know that I am gay and happily married to a boy. Or rather, he didn’t.
Some kind person has apparently found photographs of my civil partnership ceremony on the internet, printed them out, and given them to my Grandad. Why anyone would want to do that I really cannot fathom – beyond wanting to cause trouble for me, or for my Dad. Either way, it really wasn’t a very nice thing for them to do.
My Grandad was apparently furious when my Dad went up for one of his regular Saturday night visits and proceeded to have a massive go at him for not having told him. His view is that he is “the head of the family and has a right to know”. Well first of all, fuck off are you the head of the family you cantankerous old goat, and second of all no you don’t have any right at all to know who or what I enjoy doing in my bedroom.
My poor Dad was obviously taken completely unawares, but couldn’t deny it by that point, and could only say that he hadn’t told him because I’d instructed him not to because I didn’t want to upset him. Not that I give two fucks about upsetting my Grandad, but yes that was probably the right thing to say given the circumstances.
There really aren’t that many people in the world who could have done this, or who would have wanted to. Hardly anyone knows both me and my Grandad and would have any reason to want maliciously to out me to him. I can only think that it was either one of my cousins, or my aunt (their mother), or my uncle (my Dad’s brother), or some combination of those people.
We don’t get on hugely well with that side of family, but I haven’t actually seen most of them for years. I don’t think I’ve seen my cousins since my Gran died about 15 years ago, and I’ve only seen my aunt and uncle maybe once or twice in that time. My brother and my Dad have seen them occasionally, but I’ve missed a couple of occasions where I would have seen them, and those have been few and far between. My Dad obviously speaks to his brother sometimes, especially when my Grandad isn’t well.
Before my Gran died we used to see them quite often, and ostensibly we got on fine. They’ve never done anything bad to me, and I’ve never done anything bad to them – we just weren’t hugely close. But at some point in the past we failed to go to my Aunty Sue’s 50th birthday party (that’s the aunt in question), and this was perceived as a huge slight. That was AGES ago, I can’t even remember if it was before or after my Gran died. But anyway, they took that badly, and I think Sue blamed my Mum for us not going, and we have never been forgiven since. I’ve definitely seen my Aunty Sue more recently than that at a party, and everything was fine and friendly, but without my Gran holding us together the two halves of the family drifted quickly apart.
It must have been one of them that did this though, it really must have been, because there just isn’t anyone else who would care, and who would risk giving my Grandad a heart attack just to create problems for us.
I feel very bad for my Dad, because he’s the one who got it in the neck, and that isn’t fair. My parents asked me several times to tell my Grandad about the gayness, because they found it awkward having either to lie or to feign ignorance if he enquired after my love life or anything like that. I always refused, because I don’t like him, and I didn’t want him to know.
When I was about 12 or so, I had to sit through my Grandad and my uncle having a conversation where my Grandad described how proud he was “never to have had one in the family”. I knew what he was talking about, and I knew what I was at that age. So at that point I resolved I would never tell him, not because I didn’t want to disappoint him, but because I felt that if that was his attitude then he didn’t deserve to know me. And I stuck to that decision for 18 years even though I knew it was unfair on my parents to make them lie.
After my Gran died he became quite old and quite frail very quickly, and so I suppose I was just waiting for him to die. It was never worth telling him, because he might not have been with us for very long – that was my thinking. He’s hung on though, for 15 long years, and now it’s all come out anyway.
I spoke to my Dad after I had spoken to my Mum and I apologised for putting him in that position. My Dad is never cross with me anyway, not ever, so he of course said not to worry about it, bless him.
I had a little bit of a think about it after I had spoken to them, and in the end I decided the only reasonable thing I could do was ring my Grandad and speak to him. He’d expect it (he expects a lot of things), and I had to divert attention away from my Dad and make clear that him not being told was my decision not Dad’s. It also seemed the only adult thing to do – otherwise what was I going to do? Never speak to him again? Pretend nothing had happened next time I saw him? I had no choice really.
So I rang him, and to my shame he was very good about it with me. I told him I was ringing to apologise for not having told him sooner (although I’m not actually sorry, but whatever) and that it was because I hadn’t wanted to upset him (also untrue). He said that it was good of me to ring, and that the most important thing for him was that I am happy. That’s obviously a really nice thing for him to say, and is not at all the reaction I had expected from him, and it made me feel that yes I could have told him before and it would probably have been OK. But that’s the hard thing – you never KNOW how someone will react until it’s too late, and then it’s too late to take it back. So I know why I didn’t tell him, even if it now transpires that I probably could have done.
He didn’t seem to want to talk for long, but he often doesn’t on the phone and he’ll just say OK bye and hang up when he’s had enough. Which is what he did more or less, but he was generally very kind to me and not mean at all. I suppose I knew that if he had been horrible to me I could just never have spoken to him again, and that emboldened me to make the phone call, but he wasn’t and it was fine. I hope he’ll now leave off my Dad a bit about it.
My brother is apparently furious that someone has been so malicious, but personally I really don’t feel that bothered about it now. I hardly see my Grandad, and I never see my cousins. That they know I’m gay now doesn’t affect my life directly. My Grandad seems to be OK about it more or less (aside from not being told), and so in some ways they’ve done me a favour. If I get all irate about it, all I’m doing is letting them win by upsetting me. So no, I don’t really care all that much.
It may be awkward if and when my Grandad dies and I have to see that side of the family again at the funeral. Part of the reason I didn’t want them to know was that I couldn’t stand the thought of them looking down on me for being gay when really they have nothing, NOTHING they can look down on me about. Their family is a mess, my uncle has run my Grandad’s business into the ground, and my cousins are fuck ups. They really shouldn’t be looking down on me for anything, but they might for this, and I find that prospect annoying. I’m not going to worry about that too much though – my Grandad is apparently immortal, so I’ll only concern myself with seeing them once it happens.
And even though they may try, they can’t actually make me feel bad about being gay – no more than they can about me being male, or being white. I know what I am, I love what I am, I have a great life and I enjoy myself living it. So they can try to stir up trouble all they want, but in the end they can’t touch me.