Irish student ‘terrified’ to come out as it would ‘destroy’ his homophobic family
A desperate 18-year-old living in Ireland said he is “terrified” to come out as gay while his grandparents are alive because it would “destroy” them.
The closeted teen wrote to a national newspaper seeking advice as the situation is tearing him apart – and his anonymous letter reveals a lot about enduring anti-gay attitudes in the Catholic country.
He told The Mirror: “I’ve always struggled with my sexuality because, growing up in an Irish Catholic family, I’ve been used to hearing homophobic statements if two women or two men were kissing on telly – stuff like, ‘That shouldn’t be allowed’ or, ‘That’s bloody disgusting.’
“I used to think it was dirty; that it was a disgrace that two people of the same gender can be in love.”
The 2015 referendum on same-sex marriage divided many in Ireland and brought the discussion on LGBT+ rights to the fore. For the anonymous letter writer, it revealed his grandparents’ true thoughts on the matter.
“I remember sitting in my grandparents’ house while a cousin was there having a full-blown argument with them over the fact that they were voting ‘no’,” he said.
“My mum and dad haven’t made homophobic comments because I think they know I’m gay and don’t want me to be upset. But I’m terrified! I feel like deep down they’d be really upset if I actually confirmed it.”
As he prepares to go to university in Dublin, he is now debating whether he can come out of the closet without hurting his family.
“I feel like I can’t come out of the closet while my grandparents are alive because it would destroy them,” he explained. “We are a very close-knit family, yet I’m living with this lie.
“It’s having a profound effect on my mental health and I really feel like this is ruining my teenage years. I have fabulous friends who I know wouldn’t tell anyone, yet I’m terrified what the ripple effect will be.”
The Mirror‘s columnist offered some sound advice to the young teen, reminding him that he is free to come out at his own pace. She pointed out that, while his grandparents aren’t exactly supportive, he still has many people in his life who are.
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“You’ve clearly got a cousin who’s understanding and parents who are sensitive, as well as good friends. That’s a fabulous foundation to start from,” she wrote.
“The truth of it is, there will always be people who don’t understand. But you can choose who to come out to and when – maybe start with your cousin and your parents, and see how that goes before telling anyone else.”
She told him: “You deserve to be who you are and live your life as you please without feeling you have to keep your sexuality under wraps,” adding that coming out will probably be easier once he leaves home for uni.
“There will be lots of groups and societies, and an inclusive way of thinking. In the meantime, you’ll find advice and support online from LGBTQ groups. Good luck.”
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