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Sunday 4 December 2016

Ask Rosanna: 'I came out as gay but my folks are shocked and upset'

Rosanna Davison
Rosanna Davison

Parents not accepting a child's sexuality, an awkward new relationship, and anger at the death of parents

Q: The recent Yes vote gave me the courage to tell my parents that I am gay. To be honest, I didn't expect it to come as any great surprise to them, but they were devastated and we haven't had anything other than a stilted conversation about the weather since.

When I did tell them they were shocked and then unbelievably upset, and it's clear that it will take them time to come around, but I'm just so hurt by their reaction I don't know if I can even face them.

Thankfully, I live on campus so I only see them on visits home, but I actually think had I told them I had some awful illness, it would have been more welcome news.

A: I'm really sorry to hear that you experienced this unexpected reaction from your parents. It must be even more of a shock to you considering the amazing developments for equality in this country over the past few months.

But each family is different, and your parents need some time to allow this to register. You did absolutely the right thing by coming out to them, but they must have had no idea and are likely very traditional people.

They're still your parents and still love you more than anything though, so my advice is to give them a little bit of time to come to terms with it before you bring up the subject with them.

Wait until you're alone together with them and the time is right to talk about it. They possibly need some reassurance that you're still exactly the same person, that this is the way you were born and that it won't change your relationship with them. Honest discussion and openness should help to build up a mutual understanding and strengthen your relationship with them.

Q: I've met this really interesting man but we're incredibly awkward with one another. I think we are both just so used to our own space, and in spite of the very normal desire to make a connection with a person that feels like 'home' in a way that bricks and mortar cannot, we just seem to be drifting.

Without any momentum this fledgling romance will fade, but I find it impossible to do anything other than let it play its course because you can't force these things.

Although I do sometimes wonder if I am simply destined to end up alone.

A: Sometimes in life a person can come in, make a big impact, and then you lose contact again. Often, it's a case of the right person at the wrong time.

In your case, it seems that you have enjoyed the company of this man but cannot maintain the relationship as normal.

Start by really thinking about why you're so awkward with one another, and if there's any way that you can make your time together more natural and relaxing.

Perhaps change up your routine and meet up somewhere different. A walk together in the countryside can be a great way to relax and enjoy each other's company.

But if it's really not working, then my advice is to allow it run its course and at some stage in the future, it may be the right time to reconnect again.

There's no point pushing what is unlikely to happen and risk getting hurt.

Q: I'm in my 70s and cared for my parents until they both passed away in recent years.

It was a full-time job and there really wasn't time to develop myself as a person or my own interests or indeed hobbies of any kind.

Before becoming a full-time carer, I worked as an office administrator.

My mother cared for her own mother until she passed so she didn't see anything wrong with the whole scenario, but I came to resent it.

I kept quiet until the bitter end, but now I have nothing except anger. I'm in good health and do not want to spend my days bitter, sad and regretful.

I guess I'm looking for suggestions on where to start because I have no circle of friends and no real qualifications?

A: I wouldn't consider you old in your 70s, and if you're in good health, then there's no reason why you can't enjoy an active and good quality of life.

If I were you, I would start by connecting with friends that you my have lost contact with in the process of caring for your parents.

Perhaps those you worked with during your time as an administrator or even old school friends.

I'd imagine they'd be thrilled to hear from you, and having friends to meet with can help to give you a boost of renewed positivity.

Think about joining a local club or group, such as a book club, to have a subject to keep focused on. If feasible, plan to take some time to travel, broaden your horizons and visit a country and culture that you have never seen.

Change up your routine, think outside the ordinary and aim to experience as much as you can of life. Make a list of things you would like to do or see that was not realistic when you were a carer

This will really help to give you a new lease of life and reduce the bitterness and resentment you hold.

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