Putting up walls

James remembers coming out to his dad and the stages their relationship went through afterwards.

Duration 03:44


Photo by Immanuel Giel (Wikimedia Commons).


And, you know, I can't remember much else about the conversation, but that was coming out to my mum. I think she... I don't know if she asked – or if I asked – if she would tell my dad. Which she did. And then I had about a week's silence, I think – silent treatment from my dad. So my relationship with my parents generally at that point was, and still is, a little bit, I suppose... We don't really talk about our feelings and things. We're a North Yorkshire farming family. You don't talk about your feelings. You don't talk about being gay.

And so, yeah, my dad gave me silent treatment for about a week, and then... He builds dry stone walls and he took me out... For some reason, a week after my mum had told him, he took me out dry stone walling with him, which I don't think I'd done before with him. And I thought, ah, he's just going to kill me in the woods somewhere and just leave me somewhere and [laughs] no one'll ever see me again. But what happened was we... I'd started helping him with the walling, and we just started talking about anything other than me being gay. I don't think we touched on it at all, but we just started talking, and everything seemed to be OK after that.

We still never had a conversation about it, me and my dad. The first time me and my dad had a conversation was when the second guy... Yeah, the first guy was an infatuation. The second guy, I fell in love with... [long pause] Yeah, when he broke up with me, I was devastated, and I was just in tears, and, erm, yeah, my parents knew why. At this point I was 18 or 19. Yeah, I was a mess, and my mum didn't want to leave me on my own at home because she was going off for the day or something, and I don't know what was going on. She didn't want to leave me alone. I don't know if she thought I was going to hurt myself. I wasn't. I was just emotionally... [sighs] broken. But she had the bright idea of sending me off with my dad, who was going out for the day to see one of his cousins. I can't remember why. But this was another situation where I'm in the car with one of my parents having an awkward conversation. It always seems to happen in the car because it's trapped and there's nowhere to go. Which I kind of appreciate in some way.

And yeah, I was crying in the, erm [laughs] passenger seat with my dad, which again... You don't talk about feelings. You definitely don't cry with your parents. Erm. Yeah. I was a mess and he was trying to reassure me. He said, 'Oh, why don't you try dating girls?' [laughs] which I... Yeah! I don't know how I reacted to it, but that was the only... the first conversation we ever had about me being gay. And I tried to get that across to him that I wasn't going to be dating girls. And this was going to be me.