I had one of those rare chats on the phone to my father.

He has the most raspy of voices these days. His 60 a day habit, mixed with the cancer he had in his throat has significantly changed the sound of him. 
People had always seen my father as the Darth Vader figure of the story...If only they could hear him now,  too...
And if only the way my father was, could have been that black and white. 
He greets me with a very affectionate ‘Hello my boy’.

My father was in prison when he heard about my books.

It seemed that within hours of my family and the Gypsy community finding out about them, that they were already doing their rounds throughout the jail. Not being able to read, the man my father was sharing a cell with read ‘Gypsy Boy’ to him.

Much of the adventure and scandal that was read to him was nothing new. A few surprises I’m sure. The only thing that leaped to mind when I heard someone was reading it for him, was that he was going to find out that I was Gay. though, I think he may have already known. 
I think parents do know these things…with every side glance as we grow, somewhere lurking in the back of their minds, between repression and denial, is the knowledge that they are indeed the parent of a gay child.

My mother has told me before that she always knew. In fact, she used to shout at me from the trailer door across the camp- ‘Stop walking like Liza Minnelli!’ I guess I’ve always walked like I had two fake hips. (very attractive!)

Jokes aside, my community flat-out does not accept homosexuality in their culture, and there is no moving on that, whatsoever. Sadly, old opinions still stand very strong amongst Gypsies, and that is just the way of it. Gay People in my community have very limited choices. They can either live their whole lives in the closet, with the ‘is he isn’t he’ rumour that gets the crap beaten out of them every day, or they are forced to leave and never come back. 
My father did his very best to beat it out of me for many years. 
But no matter how much he tried to, or what he did to kill it...he failed. 
And I failed him for not being able to change. When I was fifteen, I left home, and I never returned.

All these years later, I still find life on the outside very strange. It’s very odd to be a part of a race, and then its suddenly chopped away from you. Kinda like the Little Mermaid getting her legs, but being really shit at walking on them.

A lot of years have passed since I left, and I am very lucky to have a relationship with my family again, at least by odd phone calls and my annual pre Christmas visit.

My mother always worries about my calling, in case she’s not there to grab the phone from my father when he answers. It’s very clear that she tries her best to keep my chats with him short and sweet. But this time she wasn’t around to grab the phone. I have never felt the need to come out to may father. Firstly, because, he knew I was gay before I did. And secondly because I know how much it hurts him...Not because he is ashamed of it, but because in his old way of thinking, he thinks the way he treated me, made me this way.

‘Hows me grandson?’ he says with a throaty chuckle. He calls my dog Brian, his Grandson.

‘He’s really well Ta, how are you?’

‘I’m Good’ he said. ‘Don’t worry about me- listen, your mum’s not here, but I just want to tell you… I love you. You wont forget that will you?’

It seems that without the death scene and ritual burning, me and my father have actually had our fair share of Luke and Vader moments. Believe me, I never thought it would ever end up this way.

Coming out to your family is not easy. They are your blood, and their opinions matter more than anyone else in the world. and it is no walk in the park. sometimes being Gay comes with a lot of sacrifices. And some people may never be able to accept it...But you cannot help who you are. 
And if those that matter truly love you, then that will always prevail over an ancient opinion.

Give them time. But in the meantime, look after yourself. 
You cant live your life trying to appease others, when all they want, is for you to be whatever their version of normal is. You cannot change whats in your bones, and it is THEM, who have to learn, and see that. and if just being yourself, and a person who loves them isn't good enough...

Take care of you.

Mikey xx



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