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Letter from Brussels: With Blinkers On

by De Ket in Columns & Opinions , 01 september 2015

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

Dear Neighbors to the North, I thought it was a thing of the past until I was corrected by an article on the news site of the BBC. How women after ten, twenty years of marriage find out that their husband is gay. Unfortunately there are still men who prefer to get married instead of confronting and upsetting the family, even in Western Europe.

Some weeks ago at a private party in one of the most conservative and catholic provinces in our country, I was baffled several times. Even though all those present were in total agreement that homosexuality should not be a problem, it appeared that all the heterosexuals (both men and women) had no relatives who are gay or lesbian (a statistic impossibility), while some homosexuals at the party reluctantly admitted that no one in their family knew they were gay. At least not officially. Because granny might have a heart attack if she found out. Those were his exact words. The other gay man, also not out of the closet officially, was told by his employer to “wait until he was fifty and had landed that promotion” before making it public. Another same-sex couple, both nearly fifty and together for eighteen years, was still not cohabiting, and their families had never met. They also feared a “sudden death in the family.”

The choice to come out of the closet of course remains a very personal choice, in which everyone has to decide for themselves what needs to be done when. Pressuring someone or force someone to out themselves is totally wrong. I would never do that, but I do frown when the specious argument is the health of certain family members.

Just like in the story of the British women in the BBC article, the key question remains why these women, or at least someone in the family, did not see it coming. Often, a small detail or incident is enough to find out whether the partner or this family member would rather sleep with someone of the same sex.

The disappointed women in the article resented the fact that once their husbands came out, they were showered with congratulations “for his brave decision,” leaving the wives behind, alone and orphaned. There is a parallel with the family here as well. Having had the courage to tell the “painful” news to the family, the family embraces the role of the victim, making them the main victim of homosexuality, and not the gay man or lesbian who has to live with a series of prejudices and discrimination for the rest of his life.

I do not feel very sorry for those sad ex-wives and those families. Not for nothing “walk around with one’s eyes shut” is a very correct expression. Turning a blind eye is part of the human psyche, in some parts of the world more than in others. “I knew it” is something one hears a lot after someone comes out.

In these modern times that stress the emancipation of women, this emancipation and assertiveness seems to stop after having said “yes” to a man she is surely very fond of, but ignoring the voice in her head wondering if he is gay. And for the thousandth time. These family members should muster up the courage to stop embracing the role of the victim and start the conversation. But obviously that is still too much to ask, so as they make their bed, they have to lie on it.

Yours sincerely,

De Ket



In the New Issue of Gay News, 322, June 2018

Antwerp, June 30, 2018

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