Parent's StoriesJacob's Mum
He was always different - I have four sons. He didn't fit in as a small boy - he never seemed to make friends and was picked on at school. At home he was the kindest most loving child. He always wanted to please. He loved dressing up - at nursery his favourite outfit was a green tulle skirt and purple high heel!
He would never change his core personality to fit in - I am who I am - like it or lump it.
I remember his 'coming out' as a gradual process around the age of 13 probably. I found that he had been looking at frankly gay porn on my lap top. I think I was more concerned about the content of what he had been looking at than its implications.
I did discuss with him the dangers of the internet particularly when he started visiting gay chat rooms When he came to talk to me about being gay he had posted some sort of announcement on 'My Space' on the computer and he came to tell me. I think my initial response was don't label yourself as anything yet - give it time and just be yourself.
I was hoping it was just a phase that he was going through but on reflection that is an expression of my own difficulties accepting and understanding homosexual relationships. I acknowledge that from a heterosexual standpoint there is always going to be a 'I don't understand this and so I am frightened and repelled by it' reaction.
I feel that I was safe in my own sexuality and that Jacob's coming out has made me challenge a lot of my own prejudice around the subject.
Fortunately Jacob and I have no difficulty owning up to our feelings and sharing them honestly. I think it is just as important for Jacob to understand my feelings as it is for me to respect his.
Jacob has always known that we love him and that we are proud of him. Even if I am concerned about his being gay it is only because of my perception that gay people meet a lot of prejudice from an alien world where being different is always a problem.
At around the same time as Jacob started to express his feelings about being gay he started to make a lot of friends at school. They were mostly heterosexual girls who enjoyed his 'safe non-sexual' friendship. Their mothers were very happy with Jacob's 6 ft 4 presence in their daughters' lives.
He became a much happier more confident person, which was very gratifying as I had been very concerned about his peer isolation as a younger child. I am sure that this was because he was increasingly confident about who he is and why being different is OK. It seems that his own peer group have a ready acceptance of being gay, which is absent in the generation above.
I am sure Jacob will say that I have put him under pressure to conform. I find an acceptance of his being gay is not a problem, but acknowledge that I find overt being 'camp' or 'cross dressing' or other outward expressions of being gay as difficult.
I suspect I am just a deeply rooted middle class conventional person who would be equally challenged by tattoos and body piercing. I am well aware that people are often judged by their appearance, particularly in the field of employment.
My hopes for Jacob are the same as those for my other sons. I want him to be in a happy stable relationship. I want him to stay away from drug abuse and other dangerous habits - smoking being top of my list of nags at the moment.
I hope he finds happiness in his career and am concerned that being gay should not impact on whatever path through life he chooses.
The fact that Jacob is gay has been well accepted by the most surprising people. Both of his Grandmas who are 78 and 84 were neither surprised nor upset. He has always been close to them and they love him all the more for his vulnerability.
My father takes the same stance as me, which is a realistic - don't shove it down our throats. We have not discussed it with Jacob's paternal grandfather because he is unlikely to accept it and will be very upset. As a rather frail octogenarian we feel it is best avoided and Jacob has no problem with that.
Jacobs's two older brothers who are 30 and 28 have been very supportive, the eldest son, Tom, is a police officer. Jacob was assaulted at a party - it was an anti-gay attack. Tom has talked very carefully to Jacob about the implications of homophobic crime. Joseph is the coolest guy on the planet and accepts everyone anyway.
The biggest problem I am having is with Zac , Jacob's younger brother. He is 15 and Jacob's complete opposite. He likes sport and war games and girls. He wears very conventional clothes and has short hair. He openly expresses his distaste for homosexuality - he tells me he finds it abnormal and disgusting. I try to get him to see the person that is Jacob and not to dwell on whom he chooses to have relationships with but he is relentless in his rejection. I suspect it is partly because he has been teased at school for having a gay brother. I anticipate that as Zac matures he will cope with it better. I think their relationship may well improve when Jacob leaves for university, I remember the older boys hating each other at similar ages.
It is a danger that one blames everything on the gay thing when actually that is the excuse rather than the cause.
I have found it helpful to write my reactions down in this way. I love my wonderful great big tall Jacob. He is flamboyant and articulate. He is loved by everyone who meets him. I have not always made it easy for him to be himself but he knows that I try and that when I fail it is my problem not his.
I think the group in Halifax has been exceptionally helpful in allowing him to explore some of the issues being gay throws up.