Why can't I accept being gay?

Rejection by parents

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"I felt like Thomas Hitzlsperger"

I am 32 years old, gay and live in Baden-Württemberg. I work in a software company. I've been with my husband (32, teacher at a vocational school) for five and a half years.

I felt like Thomas Hitzlsperger: I didn't really understand that I was gay until I was in my mid-twenties, when I fell in love with my husband. I gradually came out to my friends and then also to my colleagues. The reactions were without exception positive. Still, there is one downer: the attitude and behavior of my parents. The two live in a small town in North Rhine-Westphalia. I am their only child after my brother died as a teenager.

Since I told my parents a good three years ago that I was gay, I have experienced a considerable amount of rejection and incomprehension. I have had to politely decline offers to find a therapist several times. I was told to have a relationship with a woman and have children, whether I was gay or not. After all, I have to ensure the continued existence of the family.

When my father had an operation for an acute bowel disease, my mother began to speculate to me that I was to blame for the disease. She has struggled her whole life for the family and will certainly not give her inheritance "into gay hands". I had no choice but to make it clear that I am not ready to disguise myself in order to chase after my legacy.

Once a year, the majority of my school friends and I meet for a party at my parents' house. My mother cares deeply about the physical well-being of everyone. Nevertheless, these festivals have a stale aftertaste, because above everything hovers the fact that nobody at the "children's table" is allowed to mention my husband or the subject of homosexuality. I am now considering canceling the party in the future or at least allowing it to take place outside of my parents' home.

My husband and I got married in the United States last fall. I didn't tell my parents about it. Sebastian Köster (name changed by the editor)

"I didn't choose that"

I talk about my boyfriend in the same way that a straight man talks about his girlfriend. I still hear very often from strangers: "Oh, you're gay. Don't worry, I have no problem with homosexuals." I usually reply: "Don't worry, I don't have a problem with heterosexuals either." I think as long as that is the case, one has to talk about homosexuality.

It is often said that sexuality is a private matter. I actually agree with that. When I'm out with my boyfriend, we avoid "making out" in public. But even a quick kiss or just holding hands leads to the fact that we have to listen to stupid sayings. Interestingly enough, this happens in Germany, but not in Iceland, my partner's home.

The point here is not to promote the "ideology of the rainbow", but rather that we should all understand and appreciate each other a little better. I don't force anyone to like me, but if someone dislikes me, please don't just because I'm gay. I didn't choose that. Tobias Biedermann

"Everyone in the village knows us"

We are Reinhard, 42, and Frank, 44, from Durbach in Baden. A happy couple for 19 years, far from the city and scene, partnered since 2003 with great sympathy from the family and the rest of the village population. We got to know each other in the church choir and we are active in the Catholic community (although Frank is Protestant). We work as merchants and hygiene specialists, have a house and play sports.

Everyone in town knows us. We have never experienced discrimination or any other disadvantage here because of our lifestyle. The current debate makes us realize how lucky we are. It's just good to live in a country where you don't really have to ask for anything as a gay person. We are so satisfied that we criticize gays.

Let's take the annual CSD party. We are mostly ashamed of the ignorant masses who, from our point of view, demonstrate less for the tolerance and acceptance of our way of life, but rather serve as an image-effective surface for further use in the media. And anyway: why should we demonstrate for tolerance and acceptance when we are already tolerated and accepted? We are now brave enough to confess that we are satisfied with our situation. Today CSDs are more important in Eastern Europe.

A statement like that of Thomas Hitzlsperger brings us much more than any of these events. With less attention, but probably with just as much impact, we have been doing this in our village for years. It was enough to show us. The people here see that there are gays not only in Berlin, Hamburg or Munich, but also next door. They are ordinary neighbors, friends, villagers. Reinhard Danner