Rose has been concerned about the relationship between parents and their gay children for some time and in the course of her campaigning activities has met several people in this situation.
“At first I put an ad in the local paper”, she says, “and got a number of replies. However, when I invited them to get together I got no response. And moreover, nearly all the letters I received more or less asked me to recommend a cure – you know, send the pills by return.”
A few months ago she was invited to talk about her project on Woman’s Hour and this produced some response from all over the country and she has now been able to call a meeting.
Obviously, in its very earliest stages the group will have to be local (though a mother travelled from Leicester for the first meeting). And the prime emphasis will be on helping those individual parents who turn up to come to terms with the homosexuality of their sons and daughters. “Many of them have no idea what homosexuality is really like,” Rose says, “and have all the usual prejudices.” So education of parents for starters.
But it doesn’t take much thought to realise the truly immense potential of such a group. Adjusted parents lead to adjusted families and, confidence gained, the way is wide open for some valuable political action. “After all, a crowd of parents lobbying parliament for law reform isn’t going to go unnoticed,” is the way Rose puts it.
This may be a little in the future just now, but before that will come a voice in Parent-Teacher Associations and thus pressure from another, and responsible direction for better and fuller sex education in schools.
As the group becomes established and well-known, its presence may well encourage other gay men and women to tell their parents. For if the individual gay person has tremendous problems related to coming out, so does his or her parents. The revelation tends initially to provoke shame and possibly disgust. And if not this, then bewilderment and fear, also a sense of failure as parents. If these feelings can be eradicated, put into perspective, then maybe mothers and fathers can begin to play a pretty impressive role in the cause of homosexual liberation.
Rose would like to hear from the parents of gay people and is already thinking of the reverse situation – the straight children of gay parents. Write to her at 16 Honey Road, Catford, SE 6.