Colette’s Story

I have two daughters and they are both gay. I guessed my eldest was gay when she was sixteen although I wasn’t sure until three years later. By then I was used to the idea and pretty relaxed about it. Soon after, my younger daughter came out and it was a complete shock because I had no inkling and, of course, it meant I now had no straight children. I was devastated for a while, in mourning for the daughters I thought I had lost. I was also certain that having two gay children was exceptional.

My husband takes things as they come and didn’t really understand my dejection. It was hard to know where to turn to get help. I didn’t want to broach the subject with my mother or my friends while I was feeling so raw. I worried a lot about how people would react. I trawled the Internet where there was plenty of information for gay people but nothing much for their families and nothing about gay siblings.

Then I found a wonderful support group called Families Together London where I met the mother of two gay boys and the mother of a gay son and a lesbian. Meeting other parents in a similar situation and talking openly about my feelings made an enormous difference. Next I started reading books. One in particular – Invisible Families by Terry Stewart – provided answers to the questions spiralling in my mind. I learned that most families have a gay relation or two, whether they know it or not, and that having two gay children is not exceptional after all. I learned that homosexuality is just another version of normal, that in ancient times no­one worried at all about it, that homophobia is a relatively modern phenomenon and that the word homosexuality didn’t exist until the 19th century. I also learned that these days lesbians can have children and that their children do not suffer at all as a result of having two mothers. On the contrary, US research suggests they are more likely to have good self­esteem than children in heterosexual families.

My daughters are now in their twenties. Both have lovely girlfriends who come to stay and who I enjoy getting to know. Both hope to fall in love, to marry and to have children. And I look forward to getting to know their wives as my daughters in law.

It would be wonderful if all gay people could be matter­of­fact about their sexuality and all straight people could see that it is really neither here nor there, not an issue at all unless we choose to make it one.

I have started a support group in Dorset where I now live. Ricochet has been going since mid­ 2012 and the parents come share their worries in the same way that we did in London at Families Together. Their concerns range from how to tell friends and family to dealing with the homophobia that lingers in the UK and is still rife in so many parts of the world. All of them have told me that their worries evaporate when they talk to others in the same situation.