Monday, 31 July 2017

Gay Britannia

Gale's parents on their wedding day

The novelist Patrick Gale talked about his father in a recent interview. His father, a prison Governor always slept in a separate bedroom from his mother and when he was in his early twenties Gale found out the reason for this was the fact his mother found out that her husband had embarked on a love affair with another man before her marriage.
The secret was never talked about, and two lives were shattered because of it. A wife bitter and lonely and  feeling second best to her husband's best man who lived a lie as most gay men did in the middle years of the twentieth century!
A tv drama based on the story of Gale's parents, Man in an Orange Shirt airs tonight as part of the BBC's Gay Britannia season

I came out when I was in a relationship with a closseted man.
It was a terribly conflicted time for me as I was torn between kind of respecting his " need" to be hidden and private with the overwhelming feeling of not wanting to be some way ashamed ( albeit by proxy) by being publicly gay.

The relationship was shit anyway, so it wasn't hard for me to eventually walk away from it, but I still look back with incredible sadness on the fact that my boyfriend then found it necessary to wear a wedding ring at work in order to look straight in front of a  boss who was a virtual stranger when I wanted to hold my head up and look at everyone in the eye

When I eventually came out, I did so to everyone I knew with the only exception of my mother. I spared myself that experience, not because I was in anyway ashamed or worried;  I just could not be bothered going through the drama , guilt trips and subsequent angst that would have ensued from an elderly lady with massive psychological problems all of her own.

With everyone else, I simply shared the truth.
And although, it was, at times, somewhat stressful.

I never had a problem with any of them.


111 comments:

  1. Which says heaps about the great people that you know.

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  2. In Britain these modern times seem far better for gay people to inhabit than days of yore. In that sense, these are much better times.

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  3. I'm so glad that those bad old days are over. Not that there isn't still progress to be made, but the world has changed significantly, for the better.

    My gay friends are some of the bravest people I know. Even in our more enlightened times, it's not an easy road to walk.

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  4. The times they are a 'changing...slowly...... Maybe some day we will live in a world with no 'labels'.

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  5. I figured when I brought the same man home for Christmas 3 years in a row, my parents would figure it out, I never told them, but they knew. I did tell my father when we were getting married. The real surprise was my middle brother, who when told we were getting married (after 23 years together) said, "you mean David is gay?"

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    1. When the time is right, it is right........!

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    2. I didn't know david was gay! ;-)
      I loves the penguin and his sweet bear!

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  6. Thank you for sharing that part of your story.

    I'm a bit stuck on the idea of being married to a gay man. How awful.

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    1. I think in Gale's mother's case it was dreadfully damaging

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  7. Your mother, as you have conveyed before, may have been many things. I don't think "stupid" ranks among them.

    U

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    1. In latter years self obsessed ursula would be my description

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  8. One day I will come out as being a gay, but it seems everyone seems to know already. I can't understand my young attitude to being gay and thinking who cares? R cared and when we first lived together in his one bedroom flat, he convinced me to pay half for a sofa bed, where I for public appearance slept. A year or so later we went to the interstate capital of Adelaide and I insisted, to the horror of the accommodation owners, that they make up the two single beds into a double bed. Now I struggle to make sure we have a bed each. How the world has changed. Unless you mother is an exception, Mother Knows.

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    1. I was in no way judging the choices of people , Then I was judging my partner and trying to balance my needs and what i would accept from a partner and what i would not....
      As in anything in this life each to their own Andrew....

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    2. And i honestly think that my mother didnt really know. She was a drinker as many of you know and in drink it never surfaced on her radar

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    3. Trust me, Mothers know stuff!!!

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  9. Apropos of nothing, reminded me of you, and as an aside: It's just come to my attention that Jeanne Moreau has died. Ever seen "Jim et Jules" (Francois Truffaut)?

    U

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  10. What a shame that anyone would have to feel guilty or embarrassed about their sexuality. Things have changed for the better; however, nowadays people seem to be judged on their appearance, resulting in all sorts of issues. Why can't we just accept people for who they are?

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    1. I was careful about chosing my last sentence val....I said I never had any problem with the people i came out to.

      They may well of had a problem with me though

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    2. I take your point, John, but I think it's a pity that gay people have to "come out" or are "outed" by others. Why should anyone have to do that just because they are homosexual? I don't see that anyone's sexuality is anyone else's business. Or maybe that's just me being totally unrealistic!

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    3. I misunderstood your last sentence.I took it to mean that nobody batted an eyelid when you came out to them !!

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    4. No I said that i didnt have a bad reaction... Whether they were there or not

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  11. I also saw this interview with Gale and Stephen Fry, not knowing much about him (Gale, that is). Must get round to reading one of his books while I've still got time - especially as they have the full-hearted approval of 'a brain the size of Kent'!

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  12. I'm glad you survived your mother and thrived John. She sounds a bit like mine. A grandchild wants to come out of the closet but is worried out my mothers reaction. Honestly she doesn't deserve the patience we bestow on her. I've had enough of judgemental people having too much option about other people's lives. The ghastly Trump in particular.

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    1. I think she would have been ok with my gayness in her own way... She was just self obsessed

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  13. In my coming out process, I made decisions just as you did. I have had friends over the years, including work colleagues, who were very out socially but always said "No one knows" at work. Of course, EVERYONE knew at work and whispered about it, which was even worse. I tried to be supportive but, every so often, one of the friends would expect me to go back in the closet in a social situation for them. I would be kind and understanding, but I would tell them I wasn't going to feel or act ashamed for them and the friendships petered out. What a horrible way for people to have to live in those earlier times.

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    1. Yes , i felt that I couldnt be in a relationship which one half was hidden and ashamed of " us"

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  14. As a sheltered girl from North Carolina, my gay world introduction could not have been better .. I stayed in a big beautiful "guest house" upon arrival, everyone had private rooms and bath but it was a fabulous huge house. And who was my neighbor ? Mark .. the first gay friend I ever had. He was also a hairdresser and kind .. in San Francisco in the late 60s .. that was sometimes hard to maintain.
    Then I moved to NYC and a few days after arriving, I met my husband .. a hairdresser ... whose boss was a flamboyant, queen.
    He also became my sons godmother .... he kept telling the baby that he was his Fairy Godmother ... my son and daughter both have the best of attitudes about gay people.
    "What's gay people"?

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    1. Children seem to be quite wise.
      A very long time ago, my then
      five year old daughter ask me
      why does Uncle Rudy live with
      Frankie?
      I said "Because they love each other."
      She said "Oh.......cool."

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    2. Yes the affable despots' girls just chat about The Prof and I as nothing interesting

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  15. I know that I have said something similar before - "On the day that the Irish Republic voted for marriage equality, even the air seemed so much brighter and lighter. As if a great weight had been lifted off everyone." Yet there is still further work to be accomplished:for there are so many variations in peoples' sexuality and gender that hopefully one day we will all be accepted as being unique individuals and I believe/hope that the day is drawing closer.

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    1. Yes i have probably bored you all silly with this kind of story before..... Nice put comment heron

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  16. Thank goodness times have changed. Maybe you should have lived in Brighton all those years ago, no-one gave a damn about who was what!

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  17. It seems to me that you were born with an innate sense of yourself and also, a very reliable bullshit detector. Both have served you well but I am quite certain that there were times which were very difficult for you and I look at you with a lot of admiration for the way in which you have lived your life and continue to do so.

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    1. It took come practice to get here my friend x

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  18. Back in the 80s, I was a friend's beard at his brother's wedding. He was as gay as they come, he designed and hand sewed the bride's huge fairytale wedding dress ffs! But he was convinced his family didn't know he was gay. By the look on his mother's face when I rocked up....I swear she was praying he would be....

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    1. I had to look up beard on the Urban Dictionary. Not an everyday expression in rural England.

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    2. I thought it was a typo

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    3. LOL I was a beard once .. to a gay couple .. they each kept calling me The Wife. It had everyone falling over laughing , even the waitress ..

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  19. Mostly, times have changed, for the better.
    Daughter is gay and so far not so much trouble. Some snubs here and there and strange looks. Some family on father's side, the X included, are horrified ! He does not talk to her and she has chosen not to talk to him.
    I am sure she does not tell me everything. She gets, I think, strange look for her, light pink hair and a small piercing in her eyebrow, which I am very envious of. So cute !
    Daughter went to Mill's University that is in and borders Oakland. At that time many black men were beating and raping Gay Women. I lived with a knot in my stomach for 4 years.
    My side of the family and our Japanese family just love her as it should be.
    I feel the most heartache for the wife in this story. To be blindsided like this on her wedding day, with the husband lover being the best man, that is awful. A huge slap in the face.
    I understand his need to live his life but not knowing the whole story, he destroyed hers with his lie. So very sad for them both.

    cheers, parsnip

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  20. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have been brought up in a working class home by parents who were the most egalitarian and least prejudice people I have ever known. They were working class, born just before the war and brought up on different sides of Manchester. My mother in a catholic household by lovely, kind parents and my father in a very poor Jewish household with a father strict to the point of brutality. My own parents'attitudes to everyone were passed on to my siblings and I and as a result we have been lucky enough to have led open lives full of experiences and friendships with types of people and almost completely devoid of prejudice. We were brought up to be prejudiced in one way only and that was towards people who were 'not nice or kind'. Thank goodness times have changed but still so many people around the world are treated badly simply for being who they are.

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    1. Goodness and kindness breeds goodness and kindness x

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  21. it's just a damn shame that anyone feels they have to hide their sexuality, who they are, from the judgement of society and by that I mean religious attitudes.

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  22. I think this is very sad for both the mother and the father in this story. As you say, two lives shattered.

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    1. Yes .....even then very little was known about sex , the sex act let alone about sexuality issues.....we are enlightened so much now....some would say too much

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  23. (In a perfect world)...Why should anyone have to declare who they are attracted to? I've never had to say I'm a heterosexual.... it's nobody's business.

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    1. I have second cousins who always need to tell me they're gay or lesbian. I respond with, "Well, I'm just plain old heterosexual." Perhaps I should wear a t-shirt that says so. Why should I care who loves whom, or who has sex with whom? Nobody cares who I do the nasty with. Jan, you are right.

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    2. Younhave to see it in the cntext of being ABLE to share your sexuality. For a gay man or woman, this was impossible only amfew years ago

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  24. I have two kind and loving daughters. Both are successful in their chosen fields. Both are incredibly funny and care about the world and the people in it. I couldn't be more proud of them. One is married to the man of her dreams, the other is engaged to the lady of her dreams. What's not to like? x

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    1. How fantastic! And happy

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  25. i remember when a relative came out; it was on a family camping trip. R. was sitting with around the 12 of us by the fire one evening. Everyone had known for a decade or more he was gay. He cleared his throat, and made the announcement. His dad, a fine man, waited a moment and said "Well, that's not going to get you out of doing the dishes tonight."

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    1. A nice story mike

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    2. What a great response.

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  26. Nobody cares. I think it is gay people who think we care but we don't. Nobody in my life has ever given a damn about it.

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    1. Good point, Rachel. You could have put it more disarmingly but essentially you are right. Obviously, at the time John came "out", there may have still been a lot of tut tutting. Now? Now nothing. One of my nephews appears to be transgender? Does anyone in the family bat so much as an eyelid? No. Though I wish they would take a little bit more interest in what can only be described as a very disoriented young man. Disoriented not because of disapproval of others, disoriented as to his identity.

      One thing that I'd welcome to be explained to me is "gay parade". Do heteros or rabbits parade their sexuality? Not as far as I can make out.

      U

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    2. I once said in a comment on my own blog that the world does not revolve around a gay pride march. I think it fell on stony ground.

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    3. I came out a good while,ago , things have changes so much even in 25 years

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    4. Gay pride is about the struggle to be seen and acceptd more than just pride in your sexuality , the gay sexuality of today.
      It is easy to forget that homosexuality was ILLEGAL ! ILLEGAL,!!!!!!! only a few years ago! Thats why Pride was and Is so important

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    5. It is not difficult for me to forget. I moved to London in 1969 and the man I lived with used to point out "homosexuals" to me in the street. The pill was new too. I don't forget. But it is not important, it is important to live in the moment you are in.

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    6. We must not forget those that walked the more difficuly of paths just before us though

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    7. This once again, makes me think of the community of gay men that I was lovingly a part of and my husband and children too .. my daughter was so excited, we were going to the beach to see the Queens .. they hovered, cosseted and spoiled the children and their guests rotten.. I have no bad gay men or women stories.
      How sad that so many people must have so many bad straight people stories :(

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    8. Yes but most of them were having plenty of fun John.

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    9. Secretly for the most part, in fear too for many!

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    10. Goodness me it was only 1986 when the law was reformed in NZ and men were allowed to love men. I was an adult then and while I was actively campaigning then for the law to change, as it did, we can never take anything for granted. Look at Trump's attempts to discriminate against transgender soldiers. It's a slippery slope.

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  27. A friends nephew now 20 something came out on Facebook. My friend called to tell me and I told her we had guessed a few years back. "why didnt you tell me " she asked. I said I might have got it wrong- my gaydar has been known to have an off day. Hes fine and the family are ok with it too.

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    1. Hope he had loads of likes

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  28. To be knowingly gay and marry someone who isn't is very cruel and selfish. I understand that it must have been difficult in those times but he really should have just stayed a bachelor.

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    1. He may have thought being married would make a difference and help him be straight. I think a lot of gay men in those days believed a good woman could "cure" them.

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    2. Simone , i think things were much more complicated then with denial and shame and naivety playing much bigger roles in men who didnt just hide behind marriage but hoped marriage would cure them

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    3. Yes Steve and John I do understand things were different at the time but I still wouldn't marry a person if my feelings for them weren't genuine, gay or otherwise.

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    4. Not everyone had your strength and honesty simone xx

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  29. I think there must be many marriages similar to the one you mention which is sad all round for both parties and any children.

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    1. I knew of one who carried on regardless after the husband had been outed by a blackmailer

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  30. My two male gay friends are so terribly precious to me, they are the only ones I can take fashion criticism from, 'hmm, yellow isn't quite your colour my darling' etc and as the late, great Sue Townsend said 'gay men have an extra furnishing gene'. So true.

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    1. Mine used to be too. I miss them dreadfully.

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    2. Nana, have you been back in touch with either one at all?

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    3. No but I have seen one of them while out driving, bumped into his father in supermarket and had a nice chat with no mention of his son and last week, inadvertently sent a What's App message meant for someone else to the other one, with no response. They know where I am.

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  31. I'm going to look for that show. Interesting! I completely identify with your reasons for wanting to come out and be open -- I faced the same issues in the mid-'80s and took the same path. (I didn't have a love affair to help spur me on, though, sadly!)

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    1. I guess each of us have our own reasons and timings which suit...

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  32. I have met Patrick Gale and he is such a lovely man. Very charming and handsome too.

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    1. Wonderful. Its usually bel ami here who meets the famous

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    2. Met....that's all long ago and far away now.

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  33. The play is on my list of things to watch tonight John.
    My grand son is transgender and came out at the age of fourteen from a girl to a lesbian. She suffered terribly and was badly bullied throughout her teenage years. Now he has become a boy and is much happier but the awful years have taken its toll and he is only just beginning to be happy. I feel greatly for him.

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    1. Inthink it will be an interesting watch......i hqve recorded it

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  34. Ah, I went through the same thing with Miss Chef not wanting to come out to her family, primarily because of her mother's religious beliefs. It caused one of our few serious arguments, me feeling she needed to be honest in her life, etc. But with women it's easier to concoct the "roommate" story, and we constructed our life that way vis a vis her family.

    Now, while her mother passed without Miss Chef ever coming out to her, we found out later that she had figured out our relationship in the end. The friend who told Miss Chef this made it sound as if, while a bit resigned, she was happy that her daughter was happy. And indeed, she genuinely liked me, even when she must have known. It's sad that she and Miss Chef couldn't have that conversation between themselves while her mom was still alive though.

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    1. A case of lack of exposure getting in the way of reality xx

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    2. We should always remember mistakes in history vividly, otherwise we may repeat them. Legally or morally telling someone who they can love or be attracted to is a huge mistake I hope we never repeate!

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  35. I hope your poor ex-partner found a way to live with himself more comfortably.
    And am so glad that timeshave chanded and are still changing (albeit too slowly for my impatient self).

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    1. I was going to write i hope so too...but he was a cunt and i dont really care

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    2. Sorry John ... but that response follows the time and place post of the other day...excellent choice of words!!

      Jo in Auckland, NZ

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    3. That was wrong of me say jo, on reflection. At the time he was not kind to me nor to himslf for that matter, but its been nearly twenty years and things have passed...i wish him well now...things past

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  36. I will search to see if we can get this in Canada....at any point in time. Would love to see it.

    Like you, John, I never had any intention of telling my parents....particularly my mother. She too had enough psychological problems of her own. I didn't need nor was I seeking their approval.
    I did tell my 8 siblings....all were fine as figured as much. One male sib cried his eyes out and to this day I can't figure out why.
    I did finally tell my Dad (mom had died) the day after my marriage to Ron. He said: 'I know. And remember I do watch 'The Ellen Show' every day!!

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    1. Jimbo, my brother cried too! Go figure!

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  37. Gay Britannia, a season of programming marking the 50th anniversary of The Sexual Offences Act 1967, which partially decriminalised gay sex.
    ลาลีกา

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  38. Love is a gift and not a gender. Something to celebrate and treasure. Not a thing to be judged.

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    1. Such beautiful words, and so true x

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  39. My 82 year old uncle (he died 2 months ago) was gay although not a proper gay according to his sisters. One of my aunts watched man in an orange shirt last night which was a huge step for her. His many nephew and nieces never had a problem but he was always guarded from the many years of having to hide.

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  40. My cousin Peter never had a girlfriend, I was the only one in our small family that he confided in. His short life was troubled, he never had a meaningful loving relationship, just some old titled gent who used him as a rent boy. It suited his mother not to know, she kept him for herself! A sad short unfulfilled life. I was happy to be able to be there for him in a nonjudgmental and loving way.

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  41. The Man in the Orange Shirt was very moving indeed and beautifully done. I cried at the end. ( James Mcardle is also very attractive!)

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  42. I wish that more people, gay or straight, could just be open and be who they are and get on with it like you do John. It would be so much easier for all of us wouldn't it. Hopefully that time will come!

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  43. It's bizarre now to remember that at one time virtually every gay man was in the closet for fear of negative reactions, gay-bashing, prosecution etc. Only popular celebs could get away with telling the truth, and even then it tended to be nudge-nudge wink-wink rather than a frank admission.

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  44. I watched it and cried.So many lives ruined, because of closed minds 😣

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  45. Or with any of us.

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  46. Gay Britannia, a season of programming marking the 50th anniversary of The Sexual Offences Act 1967, which partially decriminalised gay sex.
    ตารางคะแนนพรีเมียร์ลีก

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  47. I have 'Man in an Orange Shirt' recorded on our Freesat box. I need to sit down and have a good watch. There have been some brilliant programmes in this season on TV about gay issues. I watched 'Pride' on Sunday night ... probably the best film I've seen in ages, and the first in ages to make me cry. When the credits rolled and the information came up about what had happened to the characters since the march it was just so poignant and moving.

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  48. i really likes your blog and You have shared the whole concept really well. and Very beautifully soulful read! thanks for sharing.
    บอลพรุ่งนี้

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  49. Know coming out, even 20 years or so ago, not always easy for some. I unexpectedly had three friends, at different times, cone out to me, coincidentally all in one year, unrelated to each other. I was told they chose me to be the first to tell because they thought I would be accepting and that they could trust me not to tell others as they wanted to do so in their own time and way -- plus I expect they were gageing my reaction. Each already was in a relationship, no gay one before, and either were or had been married women. Tragically years later, one friend ceased to exist -- not sure what all caused her to allow her life to collapse as was shocked when her Dtr called me from where they were living then on opposite coast. Life is complicated.

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    1. Agreed joared. But what is right for one is not right and true for another.....each to their own i guess but when clossetted behaviours impart on others ........

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