Janet J’s Story

“The day started out normally enough. Glyn, 19, was home from University for the weekend. He was due to leave on the Sunday afternoon, so we went out for an early pub lunch. My husband and I both had our mouths full of roast beef when, in a quiet voice, Glyn broke the silence with “I’ve got something to tell you – I’m gay”. Now, some parents say they already had their suspicions, but not us, not an inkling. The thoughts rushed through my head: what had we done to cause this, had I mothered him too much: was this a passing phase? Glyn assured us that he’d known since his early teens that he was gay, and that he was sure it was just the way he was born. After all, his older brother was brought up in the same way and he was straight. Then the worries set in: surely he’d be dead with AIDs before the year was out; if not that, then he’d get beaten up every time he went out. He’d always be sad and lonely, and would be discriminated against in every aspect of life.

Glyn had obviously thought about our likely reactions and tried to allay our fears, but as soon as we’d left him at the station, the tears flowed. It felt a bit like bereavement, a grieving for the life I’d had planned for him: the happy and successful life, the daughter­in­law, the grandchildren. When we got home, my husband (much calmer than me!) suggested we sit down and write a list of ‘what could be worse’. That soon put things into perspective. We thought of other young people we knew who were suffering from mental or life­threatening illnesses, or who were into a life of alcohol, drug abuse or crime – and just being gay suddenly didn’t look so bad.

Like many women, I needed to talk – a lot! I was fortunate to have friends I could turn to but, best of all, I found FFLAG ­ Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gay Men. It was wonderful to talk to someone who knew just how I felt. Once I’d come to terms with Glyn’s sexuality, I decided to help establish the first helpline and support group in Wales, and it’s been wonderful to have been able to help so many other mums and dads over the years to realise that their child’s sexuality is only a small part of their life, and that they are still the same dearly loved child they always were.
We say that being gay is just like being left­handed – a bit unusual, a bit inconvenient at times, but in general not a major problem. And Glyn – he’s been with his lovely partner for nine years now, they’ve bought a house together, he has a successful career and lots of friends. It’s all good now!”