Being a gay parent

Published on : 1/1/19
  • Growing up in a very rural part of Wales, with religion playing a huge part of my strict father’s life, from a young age I’d always struggled with my sexuality. Throughout my early teens I led a double life, suppressing who I really was and hiding behind a facade. If you tell a lie long enough you start to believe it, right?!

    This blog was created by Nia Jordan, business liaison manager for Sodexo UK & Ireland and co-chair of the Sodexo UK & Ireland Pride employee network

    When I hit my late teens I entered into a relationship with a man and my daughter was born shortly after my 18th birthday. The relationship wasn’t to last and when she was just 14 months old we separated.

    I focused on being a good parent but sure enough those old familiar feelings began to emerge again, stronger and more prevalent than ever before. I was fortunate that my neighbour; a close friend who was a strong woman comfortable in her own skin and with being an openly gay woman was there to support me.

    Finally I had that role model I so desperately needed, someone who could identify with some of the similarities I had experienced. Someone to talk to…. I wasn’t alone any more.

    I leaped out of the closet with both legs and I’ve never looked back.

    Although when I came out my mum was very accepting of me and has now fully embraced her only daughter being a gay woman, I recall a conversation with her in those really early days where she asked for my ‘situation’ not to affect my daughter. By this of course she meant that my being gay could possibly somehow influence who my daughter choose to love at a later stage in her life.

    I know Mum didn’t say this out of abhorrence but because of ignorance, something which over the years she’s realised is not possible.

    Who my daughter loves is irrelevant of my sexual orientation. Just as my sexual orientation was not influenced by the love my parents showed me when I was growing up.

    I’d be lying of course if I said that being a gay single parent hasn’t had its challenges over the years.

    The confused glares from people when I’d drop into the conversation that I had a daughter and get the same standard response ‘you’re gay but you’ve got a child?’.  I’ve lost count of the number of times I would then have to explain my story in an attempt for them to understand or validate me as a legitimate parent.

    Since my daughter was very young, I have always tried to ‘normalise’ being gay. Our environment taught us otherwise but this became an embedded part of her childhood. She was taught that love is love regardless of sex, race, creed or religion, and she was surrounded by people who were accepting and who embraced this way of thinking rather than challenged it.

    However, that’s not to say that everyone took this same stance. Name-calling in the street when I walked with her became a regular part of our lives in Wales.

    I wanted more for us and shortly after my daughter turned five, we moved to London to begin a new life. Even after this move I remember getting a call from the school to come and collect her one day as she’d been verbally and physically bullied in the school playground as a result of my sexuality.

    Nobody is born to hate, this behavior is learnt.

    Throughout the years my daughter has encountered many more attacks of abuse and in high school she attempted to hide it from me as a means of protecting me. Needless to say, through this period she has always remained proud of who I am and has never wanted or considered hiding this from anyone she met.

    My daughter’s recently turned 18 and she amazes me every day with her strength, honesty and acceptance of other people and their situations.

    I am left in no doubt that my approach in raising her has allowed her the freedom to not only express who she is but given her the ability to not form judgments on others. More importantly I am very proud that this beautiful young lady has grown up to be one of the most open-minded and outspoken people I know. She will always fight for what is right and will often speak up when it is not.

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