Family often looms large for gay men. OutUK's Adrian Gillan has been
talking to gay men about that special relationship some have with their mums. He
also gets a parents-eye view from Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays chief
“Gay sons are a bonus to their mums", asserts Jenny Broughton, National Co-ordinator
of FFLAG (Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays), the proud mother of a lesbian
herself and agony aunt to thousands of anxious mamas and papas over the past decade.
“It’s not pure cliché that gay men are especially close to their mothers,” she
defends. “Maybe it’s because gay men don't always have their own family unit and
so stay closer to the birth family and not least their mother. But I’m not talking
'mummy's boy' here: gay sons are very much their own person.”
“Gay men often come out to mothers before anyone else,” explains Jenny. “Many fear
their father's reaction so only come out to mum which can make it quite hard and
isolating for her."
Sharon Gless played the ultimate accepting mum in the US version of Queer As Folk.
"Of course, mothers often know without you telling. I heard about
a son aged forty six whose mother was desperate for him to come out to her. She’d
known for years and didn't mind a bit but couldn't persuade him!”
“Come out to your mum on Mother's Day?” muses our Jenny finally. “I’ve never heard
anyone do that! Christmas Day: yes. Birthdays and anniversaries: all the time.
But Mother's Day: no!”
“I spent more time with mum since dad was out at work,” says thirty nine year old
Alex from Porthcawl. “When I came home from school she was always there. I talked
to her for at least seven hours a day every day until I was sixteen. So yes, we
got close. I think we emulate the butch-fem aspects of our mothers and can switch
between them. Hence our flexibility: socially, sexually and morally.”
Relates Alex: “I was out to her but she always hoped I'd find the woman she wanted
me to marry. Like: doh! But what the hell would she have done to another woman in
my life? Ah, but she could judge character: we both disliked the same people - intensely.”
“I'd love to take her out to a gay bar or club this Mother’s Day,” says Alex, “but
she is no longer with us. A drunken night at the Exit in Cardiff would have been
fun! She would have pulled the gorgeous men way ahead of me!”
“Mothers tend to offer unconditional love,” says baby-faced twenty seven year old
Robert from Hither Green. “Anyone is going to feel close to someone offering that.
Being born was the last time most gay men were inside a woman and they're happy to
keep it that way."
Robert continues, "It's nice to know there’s someone somewhere in the world
who can keep all your problems at bay with that smile and a cuppa.”
“And,” he says, “I think gay men tend to be particularly close to their mothers
maybe because gay men more readily identify with a straight woman rather than a straight
men and your mum is - unless she’s lesbian or bi - the straight women you've known the longest.”
“I came out to my mum on the phone five years ago,” confides Robert. “I said: ‘I've got
something to ask you.’ To which she replied: ‘I haven't got any money’. I then said: ‘No,
it's not about money. You know I'm gay, don't you?’
And she said: ‘I do now.’ She took
it fine: not as if she hadn't guessed anyway. Though she was worried about the fact
I may suffer homophobic abuse.”
"I came out when I was like four years-old! My Mum said she knew when I was like three."
- Sam Smith
Photo: © pitpony.photography
CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
“Can’t recall ever taking my mum to a gay bar,” he says. “Probably wouldn’t take her
to Central Station or Backstreet but wouldn't think twice about somewhere nice like The Yard.
Don't think she'd react at all apart from to ogle the gorgeous guys. She's not really
the bar type anyway. I have no special plans for Mother’s Day. I’ll phone her up as
usual, and probably send a card - if I can remember.”
FFLAG - Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays - offers support to both parents and children
both during and after the coming out process. They publish a list of helplines, support groups and
publications on www.fflag.org.uk.