(Content Warning: Mentioned Homophobia)
Am I not your niece anymore?
It was as if in the span of two short seconds I had suddenly been possessed by some ungodly, vile, dyke demon. And it was such an awkward moment. Let me fill you in …
So, it was my Dad’s 62nd birthday BBQ.
Uncle Phil was shorter than the average male, with deep brown eyes and caramel brown hair. Sometimes I wondered whether we were really related, partly because of my blonde hair and blue eyes, partly because of our drastic differences. Ryan was a carbon copy of Phil, and Megan, with her hazel eyes and round face, looked more like her mother, who was no longer in the picture. We were having a normal, average family get-together. Nothing enjoyable in my eyes.
My Mum asked the group, ‘Do you guys watch Gogglebox?’
Megan beamed with excitement over the mention of the reality TV show.
‘Yes! I love that show!’
Okay, so good feedback already. I myself enjoyed the show, which was about other Australian families watching TV shows and giving their opinions on them. Our family had grown fond of the gay couple in the show who Mum had actually chatted to and taken photos with at an event for a historic house.
Then my Uncle voiced his opinion on the show. This is where it became awkward.
‘Nah, I won’t watch it. I can’t stand those fags’.
Yes, it did go quite silent at that moment, as you might expect. My family weren’t necessarily homophobic, but they weren’t in a hurry to protest the statement.
Megan said, ‘Dad, you can’t say fags, they’re part of the LGBT community.’
It was Phil’s turn again.
‘I don’t care, they’re still fags. It’s not right.’
Horrible, right? I thought so. I was an Allen’s mixed bag of emotions. I was angry, upset, and mostly embarrassed that I couldn’t hide the expression on my face, which was all of these things.
‘What’s that look for? Are you one of them?’
I felt myself go red at my Uncle’s interrogation. I wasn’t sure if I should cry or walk away.
You see, for years before this moment I had been struggling with my sexuality. A lot of talks with myself left me unsure, and mostly scared. I would say I’m still having these feelings now, as I move into adulthood. I thought I could label myself bi-sexual, but then I fell hard for someone who was neither. This threw me completely, and I felt weird giving myself a label, so I tried to stop thinking about it.
‘Would it be a problem if I was?’ I asked him.
My extended family looked at me with surprise. My immediate family minded their business, tending to the BBQ, looking at their empty plates. I know they’ve known for a while now. And I’ve hinted and said things that prove their suspicions. I think I’m avoiding a ‘coming-out’ scenario, as I’m still not sure if I should label myself anything without being completely sure that’s what I am.
‘No, of course it’s not a problem.’
The way he didn’t look at me… of course it was a problem. I felt like a problem, just for uttering a sentence in defence of myself, and my many LGBTQI+ friends.
I wonder what he thinks when my name is mentioned now? It’s been months since that ordeal and I haven’t heard a word from him. Does he think about it at all? Has my gay agenda perverted his rights as a straight man? He probably thinks it’s a phase.
Written and Submitted by Molly Herd.