The debate about the marriage referendum has made me reflect a lot on my own attitude to gay rights and to being gay myself. Coming to terms with being gay has been a long process for me, but I've been pretty happy in myself for the last couple of years. There was just one small thing that has bothered me consistently in that time, and that was the attitude I have to being open about my sexuality with my extended family. My parents have known for a long time, and all my relatives that I am close to know also, with the exception of my grandmother.
She is a stiff-upper-lip sort of granny, and usually shies away from being openly emotional, so while I am quite close to her in terms of knowing her very well and having spent a lot of time with her (I lived with her for a year when I was 20/21) I've always felt a little bit of distance from her from an emotional point of view. This distance was compounded by the fact that I was most concerned about her finding out I was gay, more than anyone else in the extended family.
I could never figure out if she suspected or not, but I expect from things she has said in the past that she didn't. She doesn't know any gay people very well (or at least, she thinks she doesn't), and while she'd be quite open-minded and liberal about a lot of things, I have heard her in the past make mildly disparaging comments about gay people. (I always recall with amusement her comment to me when the Netherlands legalized gay marriage: 'I suppose they should be allowed to get married, but as far as adopting children goes, that's a bit queer.')
Lately I came to the realisation that in order to bridge this gap I needed finally to be honest with her and come out to her. It was a hard decision, but it was something I put off for so long and because of the sort of personality she has I couldn't imagine telling her to her face, or even over the phone: the thought terrified me, and I knew that putting her in that situation would make the whole thing much worse for both of us. After reflecting for a while I decided that the best thing to do was write her a detailed letter, telling her why it was I needed to tell her, and why it took me so long to build up the courage to do it. I wrote the letter some days ago and posted it just this afternoon. It still terrifies me a bit every time I think of it but I know I've done the right thing.
Do any of you have any stories about coming out to grannies (or grandads)?