'My sons' huge secret split our family but I have no regrets'

"My sons were bought up in a very Catholic family; we went to mass and attended Catholic Schools."

As parents, we want our kids to grow up feeling safe, find occupations that interest and motivate them and above all be happy.

So, when one and then two announced they were gay, I had thoughts of life being hard enough and wondered if they going to have to deal with a harder life now.

It was my protective parent side that stood up and wanted to protect them from all the evils they may encounter.

Once I settled myself and saw that they were no different from when before they told me I knew that it didn’t make any difference to how I felt about them.

They were my sons, remarkable men in themselves, each with so much to offer their respective communities. So, I deemed they needed me the same as ever, and I would be there for them in every way I could.

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But it doesn’t always work out as evenly as you think it should. My sons were bought up in a very Catholic family; we went to mass and attended Catholic Schools.

My youngest son, to help him socialise, joined a church youth group. It was a good thing for him until he mentioned that he was gay. Immediately he was told that he couldn’t belong to the youth group if he was gay. He never went back.

I was flabbergasted by this until I realised the youth group was run by a ‘right wing fascist’ branch of the Catholic church. He was far better off well away from their brand of evil righteousness.

My older son we always knew was different. He still is. He has become a famous artist; his world sells around the world, and he is constantly working to create works for exhibitions. He also has created some amazing murals in Australia and overseas.

For him, it was a clash with his mother that set him on a path he is yet to recover from. His mother rejected him and told him to leave the family home. My wife and I were divorced by then, and I remember him turning up on my doorstep telling me about what had happened.

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I took him in, and he spent the night. The next day he sorted out a place to stay and got on with his life.

Thankfully he and I have stayed close, we call each other a few times a week, I know I’m often interrupting his work, but he stops if he can, and we have a chat about what he is working on and his future plans.

I remember when I was working and teaching a sexuality course that a boy asked the question of how did I react to my son telling me he was gay. I knew this boy was wrestling with that situation and I hope my answer helped him to tell his parents whom I’m sure were supportive of him.

I joined Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gay Children (PFLAG ). It was good for me to mix with parents who also had gay children. Some of our meetings resulted in parents coming to the meetings with questions dealing with their sons or daughters, and I hope we imparted the notion of care and support for their children in the same way as they cared for and supported their straight children.

There was one lady, in her 70s, who had taken in her gay grandson and was on a huge learning curve and the best mentor her grandson could have hoped for.

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It’s been a great journey for me, I’ve learned a lot, seen a lot and treasure the time I get to spend with my gay sons.

Have you had any experience dealing with your children coming out as gay, or perhaps with your own parents?