|This is not very representational of my grandparents|
but it's the best the web has to offer! (S)
Not only did I learn a lot from it, but I also hope other closeted LGBT teens can learn from my experience too.
I'm lucky enough to have both my grandparents on both sides of my family and I'm very close to them. This made my coming out more terrifying than I first thought it would be.
On my father's side, my grandparents are Irish and very religious, Catholic, the sorts of grandparents who go to church every Sunday and pray before bed.
On my mother's side, both my grandparents tend to be easily influenced by the media, and although agnostic/atheist, I thought growing up in 1950s Britain could have an effect on their reaction.
As I said above, I'm very close to my grandparents on both sides of the family. We often went to visit my grandparents on my father's side when I was younger, and my grandparents on my mother's side used to visit us for most special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas, weddings of close family members, or during the summer holidays.
However, having moved to France in 2008, and my grandparents not getting any younger, my contact with them has greatly been reduced to phone calls and Skype conferences for the last few years. After coming out to my parents, both insisted I tell my grandparents as soon as possible. I wanted to do it, but it's not the same as coming out to your parents. With little online resources on how to go about doing it, I decided to talk to my mum about the best way to go about coming out to them. My parents put a lot of pressure on me to do it since phone calls between them and their parents had become a little awkward since my coming out. My parents now knew I had had a boyfriend at the time for the last 6 months, and every time they started to ask questions about me they ended up having to lie. I didn't like putting them in that situation.
I came out to my parents in March 2013, and it took me over a month to build up the courage to send an email to my grandparents on my mother's side. I had guessed it would be easier to start with them. In my mind, they were more open-minded than my father's parents. Living in England, they had been exposed to the gay marriage debate in the news and I had guessed that now was a good a time as any to come out to them. Not only that, but my grandfather is known for having recommended Priscilla, Queen of the Desert to my parents on one occasion. Once I had remembered that, laughed about it with my boyfriend, and spoken to my parents about the best way, I finally decided to send them a short, but precise email so as not to make a big deal out of it as I had with my two-page coming out letter to my parents.
Here is the email I sent my grandparents on my mother's side.
I've been meaning to write this email for a while now but I haven’t been able to find the words to write it. After thinking of many ways to put it over the last few weeks I've decided to just say it. I'm gay and I've been in a relationship for over 6 months now. I've known from the age of 11 or 12 but only came out to mum, dad and my sister a few weeks ago. With both of you starting to plan wonderful things for mid-May (for my birthday), I thought I should let you know as soon as possible that I’ll be in Bordeaux for my birthday with my friends and mum and dad, though this doesn’t mean you won’t be able to join us. Instead of you inviting me and me not being able to come, I thought it would be best to let you know I already have plans and I’d like to invite you both here.
I hope you understand that I never chose to be gay any more than you chose to be attracted to people of the opposite sex, that I'm happy, that I love you both very much and I hope this small part of who I am doesn’t change anything between us.
Lots of love,
I finished writing it, and saved it as a draft. I wasn't psychologically prepared for a rejection if I were to get one. After a week, I hit "Send" at 2 o'clock in the morning and thought "Oh my God, I hope I don't regret this". I got as much sleep as I could and woke up the next morning to this reply. Just the fact that I already had a reply in my inbox was a good sign.
My darlingI couldn't help laughing out loud at their reply. Not only was I immensely relieved, but I also found the "we have often admired many gay people" rather amusing!
This makes not a scrap of difference to both of us. All we know is that we love you and that we want you to be fulfilled and happy in your life. You are a sincere and honest person and we have always respected you for that. Our love for you is undiminished. We are pleased you told us and in fact we have often admired many gay people, especially in the arts of course: Leonardo, Oscar Wilde and even Freddie Mercury, heaven forbid!
Perhaps we could come up and see you whilst we are staying at mum and dad's?
In the meantime, hope your exams go well and that you feel more relaxed with regard to your situation and you can now get on with your life.
Lots of Love
Your adoring Grandparents
Three weeks later and after my parents hassling me to come out to my religious grandparents on my father's side so much that my father had offered to out me if I didn't do it fast, I sent the same email to them just six days before my 19th birthday. I had set up a delivery report on the email to see when they read it. It took them an hour to reply after opening the email, whereas it took my mum's parents a speedy 12 minutes.
This was the reply I got from my father's "Irish and very religious, Catholic, sort of grandparents who go to church every Sunday and pray before bed".
Thank you for your email. We imagine it must have been a very difficult decision to take and to write your email. Please be assured that we are open minded and therefore you are just the same grandson to us.
We wish you every happiness in everything you do.
We have booked an hotel in Bordeaux for two nights. If you are in Bordeaux and free we would love to meet you for an hour or so on one of those days. If not we intend spending the following weekend at your mum and dad's and may see you there.
Best wishes on your birthday on Sunday.
Yep. You read it right. This summer, after coming out to all my grandparents, it was time to put them to the test. Would they be as accepting of me as with my boyfriend? They were.
And that, dear readers, is why stereotypes are very silly things indeed!