Monday, 26 May 2014

Monday 26/05/14

Dad,
I always wanted to tell you this, but I've always been really scared. Nothing in the world terrifies me more than what I want to tell you. But I've reached a point where, not only does this ruin our relationship, but it's also making me lead my life unhappily.
You've said to me several times and you said it to me again recently that you don't think I'm open towards you and Mum and that I don't communicate with you enough. I'm afraid there's a main reason for this. It's because I was ashamed about who I am. I was so ashamed that I felt worthless and I felt that I don't deserve happiness.
Now I don't personally feel this shame, because I've come to terms with myself, but I still feel a great shame hiding this from you and Mum; hiding this from you in particular. I'm gay.
I don't know if you ever suspected this or if it even crossed your mind. It doesn't really matter at this point.
This has tortured me for a very long time. I've known ever since I was born. Ever since I remember myself anyway. It's part of the reason why I left Greece when I was 17 years old. Both because I knew there's no tolerance for that sort of thing here, but also because I never wanted to admit it to my family. (This isn't the only reason why I left, of course; I also really enjoy living abroad).
Still, it took me a long time to admit it to myself even after that. Only when I was 25-26 was I able to be honest and to stop lying, both to myself and everyone around me. Thankfully, I was living in London already at that time and nobody seemed that interested, no one reacted negatively.
In any case, I wanted to say that if it took me twenty-five years to accept this, I don't expect you to suddenly be OK with it. (Even though I would really like that).
I understand your background, how you grew up and what you believe in. And you might never be able to accept this. But I don't know, you might do, if you think about it for a while and let some time pass.
In an idea world, this will improve our relationship. I'm still the same person, nothing changes about the [name] that you know. I don't behave differently around the people I know abroad, to all of my friends, and I won't behave differently around my family (if you want for our relationship to continue). I know there's a certain preconception in Greece about how gay people should behave, but this is not based on reality.
I hope that after this, you will still want to be in my life. I hope that after this, you will still love me. This would mean a great deal to me. On the other hand, I expect that you might react negatively .You might want to stop talking to me. You might want never to see me again. You might want to cut me off completely.
I'm prepared for everything. The only thing I'm not prepared for, is to continue being scared, alone, and living with the "shame" of this secret from my parents. That's why I had to tell you. I'm 34 years old and I've accepted myself for around ten years now, and I've grown really tired of having a fake relationship with my family. (And like I said, nobody in the UK or the US has a problem with this, but psychologically I will never be well and I'll never be happy until I tell my parents).
Nothing in the world will make me happier than for you to accept me and continue to love me for who I am. But again, I will understand if you want to have nothing to do with me. I love you always and I'll always be your only son.
Love, [name]

Monday, 19 May 2014

Monday 19/05/14

On Saturday I’ve been in Athens for four earth days, but in Greek time that’s actually two and a half years. Time in Greece drags very much and every day feels a lot longer. This also explains why they all look so much older than they actually are. By the time the average UK or US resident is in his early teens, someone who lives in Greece looks and feels as if they’re at least 32. You can check any Greek high school for evidence of that. Greek people in their early 20s look 45, etc, until they all turn into those little hunchbacked, snow-haired, black-clad caricatures you see on postcards from the Greek islands when they’re 38.

At least on Saturday the main event for which I came over is taking place and this main event is my sister’s wedding. In preparation for this wedding, during the daytime when my sister has her friends over to help her get ready, etc, I am mainly hiding in my bedroom. Then my Dad comes over and he tells me that I have to go out and say hi because otherwise I’m being very rude, and this guy controls all the money, so I do as I’m told. Then I go out and say hi and it’s all very awkward and then I go back in my room pretending that I have to get ready, but I just sit there and refresh Facebook, maybe watch some episodes of New Girl online (I do not enjoy New Girl).

Then eventually we all do get ready and leave and when we get to the church I am reminded that I’m actually best man at this wedding, well, it’s not so much that I’m reminded because I’d forgotten, but I had definitely blocked out the fact. The good news is that the best man at a Greek wedding does not have to make a speech. If that had been the case, it would have been a flat-out no for me. The bad news is that you do have several other ceremonial tasks to perform, but at least you can do those in silence and with a little bit of direction.

One thing that does happen at this wedding is that I get to see a lot of people that I haven’t seen in twenty years or so, and that includes aunts, uncles, long-lost cousins (who now have children of their own), parents’ friends, and people my sister went to school with. At a Greek wedding, once the ceremony is over, the bride, groom, best man and the couple’s parents all stand there next to each other in a line and all 250 guests walk past, shake their hand, congratulate the couple and ask the best man when he’s going to get married if he’s single (which I am) and straight (which they think that I am, because there is simply no alternative in Greece). 249 people asking me when I’m going to get married and telling me that I’m running out of time because I’m 34 is a very uplifting half hour, which in no way makes me feel inadequate, worthless, like I’ve failed in life, and that I will never, ever find happiness, just fucking forget it.

My favourite guest is one of my Mum’s best friends, who has known me all my life and is very, very, like, very rich and has always had a soft spot for me, and the only thing that she says to me is: ‘Do whatever makes you happy; anything that makes you happy’ whilst looking at me intensely in the eyes, and to be quite honest the only thing that’s missing is a wink. Because, you know, she knows. And she wants to let me know that she’s fine with it. I like her.

Then the church bit is over and we go have the reception. I have to point out here that I’m a huge fan of weddings, and wedding receptions, in particular. Wedding receptions are the only occasions where I drink alcohol and that is a fact. Naturally I am an extremely fun wedding guest, because I get drunk very easily and then I take to the dancefloor. If you have an upcoming wedding, please invite me, you will not regret it. Before all this happens though my sister makes a speech and the main focus of the speech is how I traveled all the way from Los Angeles to be there for this, and I really appreciate this very much, because I’m a complete megalomaniac, and why wouldn’t the focus of this wedding shift from the couple to me? Then we eat, drink, get wasted, smile awkwardly a few dozen times while distant relatives I haven’t seen since 1997 continue to put the knife against my throat until I provide specific timings for my own wedding, dance, and go home.

Then next day, my sister, her brand new husband and my parents are having what could be referred as a post-wedding brunch. During this, there is some casual banter about the wedding, what everyone wore, who looked terrible, who got the most drunk, that sort of thing. Then my Dad asks me why I insist on being single and why I’m not married yet and whether I’m intending to grow old alone and miserable. I tell my Dad that, no, I’m not intending to grow old alone and miserable, if I have the choice, but sometimes things are more complicated than we want and we can’t do much about it and I would appreciate it if he didn’t keep pressing on this matter. Then we continue to talk a bit more about the wedding, who was the best dancer, who’s aged badly, who has the most beautiful children, that sort of thing. Then my Dad proposes a toast and this toast includes a lot about me being single and alone and hopefully at some point finding a nice girl to get married to, and then I walk out of the post-wedding brunch and I go back home.

There, I write a six-page coming out letter to my Dad in broken Greek and littered with spelling mistakes and leave it to my sister to give to him when I’m on a plane flying back to LA later this week. I'm 34. I believe some people do this before that age. But I suppose one has to be ready, and for the first time I am.