'There's no such thing as gay men'
Alexia talks about her Jewish background and the negative views of her family towards homosexuality and her own marriage to a woman.
TRANSCRIPTI mean, so basically, I kind of grew up with my grandma and grandpa and my mum in one house. My grandma and grandpa were Jewish and quite religious. And my mum, I was living with my mum as well because my mum was a single parent. And basically nobody ever talked about relig – sorry, sexuality. But, they kind of – my grandma used to say like really odd things like, ‘there’s no such thing as gay men, I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it -’, and she didn’t even believe men cried and she didn’t believe certain things and so it just wasn’t talked about, yeah.
INTERVIEWER: What kind of age were you when you came out?
AR: So I came out at 21. I - it was really funny because I only came out because I met a woman that I kind of started going out with and so I had to tell them straight away kind of - this is my girlfriend and then I had to explain that I’m attracted to women. But it just happened so quick, I had to come out because I went into a relationship.
INTERVIEWER: How did your family respond to it?
AR: I think my mum was like a bit taken aback and she was not really – at first she was like, ‘oh, what do you want to go with her for?’ You should be with a man’ and staying stuff like, you know, ‘people your age have boyfriends’ and, you know, ‘have children and settle down’ and ‘don’t be stupid Alexia, don’t throw your life away’, and just saying things, derogatory things.
INTERVIEWER: And how did that make you feel? And did it affect your relationship with her, or your relationship with your family?
AR: I think it’s – it’s kind of affected my relationship with my mum because like even when I said to my mum that I was engaged to my girlfriend, she was like to me, ‘she’s just your friend, she’s only ever going to be your friend’ and she just wouldn’t accept it. So ever since it’s really affected our relationship because I just feel like she doesn’t accept my sexuality so therefore she doesn’t accept a big part of me.
INTERVIEWER: How did you meet your girlfriend? This girlfriend? Are you still with her?
AR: No, not any more, we got divorced. But we together for, we were married for two years and altogether for three years. So, yeah, it wasn’t very long but I don’t regret it. We met at a lesbian prom actually and that was in London in Kings Cross in a nightclub, so yeah.
INTERVIEWER: That’s cool. Yeah, how did your family respond to the actual wedding? Did many of them go? What was the kind of -
AR: Well the day before – actually the day before and the day I got married I got a homophobic text from my uncle, which was my mum’s sister’s husband, and he was like, ‘if you get married to a woman you’re going to go to hell because it’s not accepted in your religion and you need to be sure of what you’re doing Alexia before you put your family through this.’ And that was actually like, he sent me a text then and on the day before I got married. And on my wedding day he was texting me again and saying, ‘if you get married you’re not going to be part of the family any more’ and just being like really, really threatening and, ‘you do know that this is a sin’.
INTERVIEWER: That’s horrible, I’m sorry.
AR: Oh it was awful because it shouldn’t happen on your wedding day that you get a text like that.
INTERVIEWER: Yeah definitely. How does or how did your sexuality affect your understanding of like being Jewish?
AR: I don’t know, like, I don’t think my sexuality is really as much of a problem as I think because to be honest there’s a Jewish gay group, or LGBT group, that meets in London once a month and I try and go up there for that. But I live in Leeds so it does take up quite a while. The thing is I don’t think there’s a much of a divide in the religion. I don’t think there is as much homophobia as you’d think, I think there’s actually a lot of people who say, you know, ‘my son’s gay’ and ‘my daughter’s a lesbian’, and you know I understand, I think there’s quite a lot of Jewish people who do understand. I just think the one’s that are more homophobic are kind of getting more, more -
AR: Yeah, attention. Whereas there are people who are, you know, trying to understand or who do get it.