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Coming out to their families


Barbara said “Feminism provided a smoke screen for coming out, while I made it clear to my family that my politics had changed and I was into Women’s Liberation and goodness knows what else, going through their minds with the associations with bra burners and men haters meant I didn’t have to actually say I was having a relationship with a woman. In my early twenties I came out to my mother but not to my father, initially my mother was shocked and blamed herself, she was in her late seventies, and felt she’d done something wrong, which she thought was to do with Barbara being born out of wedlock in 1954 in Germany; she was in a children’s home for three years as her parents couldn’t live together until they came back to this country and got married. My mother was intent that my father shouldn’t know, in spite of the fact that I’d lived in a series of houses with women, but the crunch came when Bridget and I bought our first house together in the early eighties. My father had met Bridget and got on well with her, until the penny dropped that it was a sexual relationship and he refused to deal with it, he would never visit, and never did until his dying day, he thought it he did he’d be condoning it. Whereas my mother eventually got over the guilt and visited regularly, and got on well with everyone and enjoyed coming up to Birmingham and meeting gay male friends as well.” However Bridget said “She didn’t totally overcome her prejudice, she decided not to invite some of her friends to Barbara’s birthday because Tom was going to be there and he was a stereotypical gay man with body piercings etc. It was going too far, letting other people know”. They recall other people’s experiences coming out as quite mixed, “One would be quite frightened about coming out in different circumstances, and sometimes the most worried ones turned out to be the best, and vice versa, it was terribly difficult to judge.”

Contributed by: Barbara Carter, 53, Bridget Malin, 62

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