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Interview 10

Age at interview: 22
Brief Outline: His mother still finds it difficult to come to terms with the fact that he is gay.
Background: Full-time student of Eastern European background. He participates in a gay support group run by the Terrence Higgins Trust.

More about me...

 

Explains that he does not want 'quick unproblematic sex' but a proper relationship.

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Explains that he does not want 'quick unproblematic sex' but a proper relationship.

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Here in England I went to a support group, actually not for any kind of support but to meet people because I was frustrated with the gay scene. After my first relationships I thought that I might not be able to, well I thought that it was full of people who were there for quick and unproblematic sex only. 

And what I want is not, well, surely also sex but I think I would like to have a proper relationship and I thought that the way to get that would be to go to a community where there were other gay youngsters to whom I could talk and discuss my life.

What do you mean by a proper relationship?  Can you tell me more about it?

Well, I suppose my idea of a proper relationship is that it is serious and that you genuinely take care of the other person, not only take care but pay attention to the other person in all respects, and not only for the sex. And that you, for example I want to see my current boyfriend quite often and I want to know how he is. And I suppose it might be my conservative roots striking back, and something like a straight relationship where people might or might not live together but they definitely see a lot of each other and talk and communicate.

Okay, and they do things together?

Yes, and perhaps the caring and the understanding - yes, I find the caring and the understanding the most important part. And when you're in a club the music is so loud that you shout, you have to shout to get heard and you can only dance for a while and look at the other boys, then that's not a very good breeding ground for understanding and for communication other than by looking, touching, feeling, kissing.

 

Explains that telling friends about being gay implies a confirmation of his sexual identity.

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Explains that telling friends about being gay implies a confirmation of his sexual identity.

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Until I went to university, I met new friends and some of them proved extremely understanding unlike my school friends that I knew, they would reject me if I told them I was gay. Then I finally took the step and told my best friend and she was quite surprised, apparently, she saw in a dream that I was gay but she didn't believe it. 

But the most difficult thing about telling other people at first, is not how they would react, but the fact that this was a kind of a confirmation, that I was seriously gay. I had to accept myself and the most important part in telling the others was that I had to accept this and I had to take responsibility for whom I was.  

Yes, and my friends' reactions at university were more like, well he's gay, how interesting, rather than how bad for him or wow, we'll have to come to terms with that now, but some of my friends really had no trouble at all with coming to terms with my being gay.  
 

Evaluates the sexual health literature available to gay people.

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Evaluates the sexual health literature available to gay people.

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But I think that sometimes even the scientists don't quite agree about whether one thing is safe or not. Whether oral sex is safe or not, as long as you don't swallow are very subtle things. And so actually, I received a lot of material and some of it was controversial or some things, I read some things here that in one brochure just contradicted another brochure. 

I have consulted Dutch and English brochures about safe sex. Some said that oral sex without a condom was safe as long as one didn't get any sperm in one's mouth, others that it wasn't. It seems partly to be a matter of approach' some of the advice I've read was strict and prescriptive - 'this is nonsense and you shouldn't do it' and some just characterized the risks and assumed that the reader could make his own choices - 'there is a chance for transmission but it is very small', which almost take it granted that there are some risks that one should just take. 

But it was daunting as I really didn't feel I could judge the sizes of these risks, especially without very concrete information about what  a 'very small risk' means. As far as I can remember, both approaches were present in both countries' brochures.

I think I would turn to the leaders of my youth group because they're quite experienced in such things and are knowledgeable and have their own realistic guidelines. My problem is that some safe sex, there are very few safe sex guidelines but there are some which either are extremely permissive and just warn you that if you do this or if you do that, if you have anal sex without a condom then you might get Aids. And that you should just be aware of this. 

And some, on the other hand, are extremely forbidding that you shouldn't have any sex at all without a condom. No oral sex least at without a condom and that's, it can get unpleasant and it's not good when you are in bed with someone to have to think about safe sex all the time. But I think I would trust my group leaders to have some kind of a workable attitude.
 

Explains that his participation in a gay support group came about because he was disillusioned...

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Explains that his participation in a gay support group came about because he was disillusioned...

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Well, gay life happens, takes place mostly in clubs and in bars and such places where you can, well in bars you can drink and you can chat but in clubs you can't really chat.  You can drink and you can dance and you can look at people and there isn't, I think there is physically not that much of a possibility of getting to know other people. 

And back in [country], which is an extremely conservative country, there is a gay walking group for example. And if you go on a walk with someone then you are together for hours and you get to know the person and you can decide, do I like him, do I not like him, how do I want to relate to him in the future?  

So maybe this, it would be a good idea to introduce something like that here?

Yes, and the other thing I feel about the importance of sex, and sex only in gay people's lives, is that relationships take some trouble. And if you see examples of relationships or if you think that it's normal or even possible to have a romantic gay relationship, then you are much more likely to go for it than if the only thing you see around you are people picking up each other at nightclubs.

I went to a support group, actually not for any kind of support but to meet people because I was frustrated with the gay scene. After my first relationships I thought that I might not be able to, well I thought that it was full of people who were there for quick and unproblematic sex only. And what I want is not, well, surely also sex but I think I would like to have a proper relationship and I thought that the way to get that would be to go to a community where there were other gay youngsters to whom I could talk and discuss my life.
 

Explains that his mother still has trouble with him being gay.

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Explains that his mother still has trouble with him being gay.

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Well, a great shock. She was, at first she thought it was some kind of a silly joke and then she realized that it was not a joke, and then she started crying and then she really didn't know what to do because it had never occurred to her, never having been educated about homosexuality, it never occurred to her that anyone in her close surroundings could be gay. 

And she asked me whether anybody had corrupted me and by that she meant whether I have had sex with an older man which would have been the reason for me to be gay. I told her that I hadn't and then she speculated about what may have gone wrong in my life, that I had too many gay teachers, but I told her I had none that it is nothing to do with that and then, well she was just shocked. She was also shocked that I had a secret from her for so long.  

But actually now her attitude to my coming out has become very ambivalent so now she says that it makes no difference at all that I came out, that it makes no difference to our relationship and once or twice she said something like 'it didn't make her happy that I came out' so one of things that I still have trouble explaining to her is that this, it might not be pleasant to be gay or to have a gay person in the family but one has to accepted all the same.

That I have something important to tell her and that she will be really surprised by this and that probably at first she would be unhappy but, the fact is that I have been in love with boys and not with girls during the last few years. That was how I put it to her.  Because the label homosexual or gay - which is a swear word in [country] wouldn't do.

My stepfather, he didn't find it a problem at all, he found it only a problem because he thought it would be very hard to make my mother come to terms with this. As indeed it did.

'..,well when I came out to my parents their conclusion was that I should go to a psychologist to check that I was all right and I was not mistakenly gay.  
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