Posts

What would you do if your child was gay?

Most of the people asked said they would love their children regardless of their sexual orientation, and would try to understand.

A woman from Austria said: “You can’t do anything about it, because it’s not a decision he makes. He was born with this kind of orientation, so the only thing you can do is accept and support him.”

An Irish couple said: “I’d like to understand how he feels, it’s still your child. I would wish that he could find happiness whether he’s gay or straight. We’ve passed the gay law, gay people can marry now in our country. I’m very proud of that.”

Despite the majority showing acceptance, a few people had less positive views on the potential of a gay child.

A woman from the United Arab Emirates said: “I will kill him,” while a man off-screen said: “It’s against the natural law.”

LISTEN: UK Man Loses Entire Family After He Comes Out As Gay

the-gay-uk-logo

 

By The Gay UK, Oct 26 2015 08:43AM

A caller to a radio station talks about how he lost everything when he came out as gay to his Jehovah Witnesses family.

CREDIT: lofilolo / depositphotos.com | FILE PHOTO

CREDIT: lofilolo / depositphotos.com | FILE PHOTO

A caller to LBC spoke about how he lost everything within 24 hours after he came out to his parents. The man called James, spoke about how his entire family “disowned” him because of their religious beliefs. He and his family are Jehovah Witnesses.

James’s heart wrenching call also revealed that he hasn’t spoken to his mother in 4 years after he came out to her. Whilst he was recovering in a psychiatric hospital she phoned him one night to ask if he was gay.
ALSO LISTEN: Gay Man Talks About ‘Shock’ Cure Given By 1970’s NHS
After he said that he was gay, his mother said, “Well I’ll always love you, but, if you ever have a boyfriend, you know we can never see you again and you will be disowned.”

He said that although he still lives in the same town as his family, if they see him about, they stop whatever they are doing and walk away.

Watch these five people make a powerful point about family

This heart-warming video proves family is family, whether you’re gay or straight

Connor describes what family means to him

Photo: YouTube

 

 

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘family’?

Perhaps it’s your parents laughing and squabbling on a car journey, or maybe it’s the kids you’re planning in the future.

Five willing volunteers, Ricardo, Jan, Connor, Yvonne and Danielle, were asked to explain what ‘family’ means to them, revealing the beautifully individual ways their parents have shaped their lives, and what this means for their future relationships.

After sharing their dreams for their weddings and children, it came as a shock to many viewers that – spoiler alert – all five video stars are gay.

By exploring their everyday experiences of family life, the video hopes to prove to critics of same-sex marriage and adoption that a loving family, in whatever form it takes, is something to be celebrated – and, surprisingly enough, has little to do with a person’s sexual orientation.

‘I think a happy family is the kind of family that creates individuals, that are independent as well,’ explained Yvonne.

‘Kids that can be strong and can be very energetic, very out there, but they know they can have that place they can always go back to.’

Many viewers appear to have been shocked by the plot twist at the end of the video.

One commenter, Megan Tomlinson, posted: ‘So glad I liked this video before I knew the ending, made me feel extra happy.’

‘Bit of a shock at the end. Excellent video,’ said another, Conor O’Flaherty.

The video, produced by Irish YouTube channel Facts, comes ahead of the country’s referendum on same-sex marriage, taking place on 22 May.

Watch the video here:

My boyfriend killed himself because his family couldn’t accept that he was gay

Nazim Mahmood jumped to his death from a balcony seven months ago after coming out to his parents. His partner of 13 years, Matthew Ogston, talks to Sarfraz Manzoor

Matthew Ogston Nazeem Mahmood
Nazim Mahmood and Matthew Ogston in Iceland in 2008.

Sarfraz Manzoor
Saturday 21 March 2015 05.59 GMT Last modified on Monday 23 March 2015 15.32 GMT
In the spring of last year, Matthew Ogston and Nazim Mahmood moved into their dream home. The apartment, on the top floor of a mansion block in north-west London, offered stunning panoramic views of London. Nazim was a doctor who ran three London clinics, Matthew a web designer.

The life Nazim enjoyed seemed a world away from the working-class traditional Muslim community in which he had been raised. It was that world – conservative and closed – that he had left behind for a new life. In their first week in the flat, the two men stood on the balcony as London glittered in front of them. Matthew looked at Nazim and said, “Darling, I think we’ve finally made it.” They both smiled. Four months later, Nazim jumped off the edge of that same balcony to his death. He was 34.

Nazim was 21 when he met Matthew in November 2001. Matthew was at a gay nightclub in Birmingham, when Nazim approached with the words, “Excuse me, may I sit here?” Something about Nazim’s shy demeanour appealed to Matthew. They started talking. “There was an instant connection,” he recalls.

We are in the living room of the apartment. It is more than seven months since Nazim’s death but the condolence cards are still on display. This is the first time Matthew has agreed to talk openly, and during the hours we talk, words tumble and tears flow. It was only minutes after first meeting him that Nazim had said to Matthew: “I’m a Muslim, is that going to be a problem?”

Matthew Ogston

Matthew Ogston Facebook Twitter Pinterest
Matthew and Nazim with their dog Charlie in 2007.
The two were soon inseparable. Matthew was working as a web designer and Nazim was a medical student. Their families did not know they were gay. After a year they bought a house. It had two bedrooms so their families might assume they were just housemates. “We used to have to keep the window blinds in our front room closed so no one would see us,” says Matthew. “When we walked down the street we made sure there was some distance between us just in case a family member of his spotted us together.”

They grew tired of looking over their shoulders and wanted to stop hiding, so when Nazim was offered a job at a London hospital in 2004 they seized the opportunity to move to the capital. They would be far from their families, in a city where they knew no one and could fashion a new life together. “In London we felt free,” Matthew says. “We didn’t have to worry about bumping into our parents.”

They made friends and created a social world that reflected the people they were. Of necessity, this new life was founded on sadness and deceptions. Nazim was leading a double life: his family had barely met Matthew and thought he was merely an investor in their son’s flat. On the rare occasions they visited London, Matthew had to spend the night in a bed and breakfast. “We had to ‘de-gay’ the house,” says Matthew. “That meant putting pictures of Kylie into the cupboard, Cher too – and any photo or memento that suggested a relationship had to go.”

Nazim didn’t like to talk about his family. He had left Birmingham and felt that to talk about pain or sadness or guilt would have infected the new life they had created in London – he was resigned to playing the dutiful Muslim boy to his family in Birmingham when, in fact, he was a happily gay man in London.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of their first meeting, Matthew and Nazim threw a party at a London club. Nazim was now a GP as well as running his own business – three London clinics that offered Botox treatments – and Matthew was doing well working for a software company. During the party, Matthew asked the DJ to lower the music. He led Nazim into the DJ booth, got down on one knee and proposed. “He looked at me and his face was just lit up,” says Matthew.

The following year, Matthew came out to his parents, who were loving and accepting of both of them, but for Nazim, whose family were culturally conservative Muslims, the only strategy was to keep the solid borderlines between the old life in Birmingham and the new life in London.

On the last Saturday of July 2014, Nazim and Matthew drove north to Birmingham. It was a strange time: a close friend had died and they had to be back in London on the Monday for his memorial service. It was also the weekend of Eid, the Muslim festival.

When he arrived, Nazim’s family were annoyed that he was late for the Eid celebrations and planned to leave early for the memorial. Things were said – Matthew does not know what, exactly – that left Nazim distraught. “I am a good person,” Nazim said, weeping. “Why can’t people accept me for who I am?”

“Is it because you like men?” his mother had asked him, out of the blue. And Nazim, who had spent years hiding and pretending, to protect his relationship with Matthew, did something he had never expected to do: on the spur of the moment, he told them everything.

Matthew Ogston

Matthew and Nazim at a friend’s wedding in 2005.
Nazim was in a state of shock as he drove back to London. It emerged at the inquest in December 2014 that he had told his mother he was gay and had been in a relationship with a man for 13 years, and planned to marry him. Her response was to tell Nazim to consult a psychiatrist with a view to being “cured”.

The coroner, Mary Hassell, ruled that Nazeem killed himself. She said: “It seems incredible that a young man with so much going for him could have taken his own life. But what I’ve heard is that he had one great sadness which was the difficulty his family had in accepting his sexuality.”

Nazim had never planned to reveal his sexuality and found it hard to process his mother’s extreme reaction.

The couple went to the service for their dead friend that evening and a second ceremony the following day, but Matthew recalls Nazim being distant, but trying to put on a brave face. On Tuesday evening, Nazim helped with paperwork for the new job Matthew would start the following morning and then they retired to bed.

In the office next day, Matthew got a text from his sister, saying simply “call me now”. It was early evening on Wednesday 30 July. He rang her and was told to go home immediately; she would not say why. It couldn’t be Nazim – they had talked at lunchtime and Nazim had called again at just after 3pm and then twice after 5pm, but it was Matthew’s first day in a new office and he had been too busy in meetings to take the calls, though he had tried to call Nazim back. Had there been a bomb scare at the flat?

As he left West Hampstead station Matthew began to run. “It was like I was running for my life,” he recalls.

As he speaks, he is clutching himself tightly, right hand gripping his biceps. “I was pushing people out of the way and as I came round the corner I saw flashing blue lights and police cordon tape, then I saw this red blanket on the floor covering something up.”

He began to scream. He was bundled into a police car as friends started to show up, faces grey with shock.

A TV interview with Matthew about the problems faced by many Asian men in coming out to their families.
Matthew arrived at Handsworth cemetery early on the day of Nazim’s funeral. In the aftermath of the death, Matthew had met Nazim’s family but the encounters were tense and uncomfortable. It appears that they did not want to have to deal with what they considered the shame of having had a gay son, and a gay son with a non-Muslim lover. Out of respect for Nazim’s mother’s plea not to make a scene at Nazim’s burial, Matthew agreed not to ask for a major role at the funeral, which was due to take place at 3.30pm.

With less than half an hour to go, nobody else had arrived and Matthew began to worry. In the distance he could see a burial taking place. “I went over and asked one of the officials where Nazim was being buried,” he said. “She said, ‘I’m really sorry – they have already buried him.’”

He ran out and saw Nazim’s family pouring dirt on to the coffin. “I was so angry,” Matthew tells me, tears streaming down his face, “I could not move. My arms and legs were just clenched. I felt completely betrayed.”

Nazim’s family had apparently given him the wrong time for the funeral.

He returned to London feeling desperately low. “I wanted to end it all,” he says quietly. “Follow Naz and leap off the balcony.”

His friends ensured he always had at least three people with him round the clock. “Every time I tried to get to the edge of the balcony, my friends would stop me. I couldn’t find a reason to stay alive.”

Then, in his distress, Matthew recalls: “I heard Naz’s voice.”

He is convinced that Nazim spoke to him, telling him to set up a foundation to help other young gay men and women driven to depression because of religious homophobia. He had a reason to go on at last.

The Naz and Matt Foundation was announced at a special service held in London for Nazim, two weeks after his funeral. The service featured contributions from a gay Muslim, gay Hindu, a gay vicar, a trainee Rabbi and a lesbian interfaith minister. Matthew has been seeing a psychotherapist but he doubts any counsellor can help to liberate him from the questions that haunt him. “I don’t have answers to the questions I have and I can’t find peace of mind because there are no answers.”

Who does Matthew blame for Nazim’s death? “I blame a community that is so closed minded to allow these bigoted views that make families believe that their honour is more important than loving their children,” he says. “The respect and honour of the family is more important than the happiness of the children they gave birth to. How sick is that?”

The purpose of the Naz and Matt Foundation is to confront and challenge these views. Matthew says the foundation has given him a reason to stay alive but he is still finding it hard to come to terms with Nazim’s death. “I am on medication for sleep and anxiety,” he says. “I can’t face going to sleep because I know I will have to wake up and face more sadness, because he’s not there.”

Nazim is gone but in the home they shared he is everywhere. A large painting of him rests against one wall, photographs arranged around the room. The condolence cards read “With deepest sympathy”, and “So sorry for your loss” and so on.

We have talked for more than five hours and Matthew looks emotionally exhausted as I prepare to leave. A digital picture frame has settled on an image from the party where Matthew proposed to Nazim. They were engaged for three years but didn’t marry. “I have applied to have my name changed by deed poll to the name I would have adopted when we got married,” he says.

Why didn’t they get married? “Naz said it would not feel right to marry without being able to invite his mother,” says Matthew. “He wanted the unconditional love of his mum – that was all he had ever wanted: love and acceptance.”

nazandmattfoundation.org

@sarfrazmanzoor

Samaritans: 08457 909090 (24-hour national helpline)

 

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/mar/21/my-boyfriend-killed-himself-because-his-family-couldnt-accept-that-he-was-gay

DIY Funerals – all the rage from 'Soaps' to Co. Down

Reprinted from The Irish Times dated January 15, 2014

 

Written by:  Richard O’Leary

 

Viewers of Coronation Street have been intrigued by Roy Cropper’s plans for a “DIY” funeral for his terminally ill wife Hayley. Roy was seen searching on the internet for “do it yourself” funerals, and Hayley suggested they wouldn’t even need an undertaker. In the fictional world of Corrie, anything is possible, but is a DIY funeral a realistic option?

Last year I had to ask myself this same question. During the summer my partner of 25 years, Mervyn Kingston, was told he was terminally ill with bone cancer and had only weeks to live. Unlike Coronation Street’s Roy, who was initially reluctant to discuss funeral planning with his wife Hayley, I was fortunate that Mervyn openly discussed the subject with me. He told me of his wish for a DIY funeral, or as we preferred to call it, a “direct-it-yourself” funeral.

We both liked the idea of a simple, “not-for-profit” funeral consistent with our non-consumerist values. We were attracted by the possibility of increasing the contribution of our close friends and family to one of life’s main events, while minimising the involvement of strangers and professional funeral service providers. Furthermore, I retained a memory of my grandmother’s funeral in Co Cork. Granny was laid out at home by a neighbour who had known her for decades. She was waked in her own home. Those who knew her well transported her to the church for a simple funeral service.

Mervyn dictated instructions to me from his bed, as I typed up a list of all the tasks we could envisage being part of the funeral. We were fortunate that Mervyn had been a Church of Ireland clergyman until his retirement in 2007, meaning that he was well aware of the tasks involved. However, even without this experience, most people would be capable of drawing up the to-do list. I then contacted likely volunteers among our close friends and family, inviting them to carry out post-death tasks – transport, pall-bearing, flowers, catering.
Registering a death


First I familiarised myself with the legal requirement to register a death. There is no cost in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland for registering a death. The only cost is for copies of death certificates (information on registration can be found atgroireland.ie or nidirect.gov.uk). Then we both prepared the draft death notice for later submission to The Irish Times. Even in the age of the internet, a newspaper death notice is an indispensable way of informing the wider community, especially older contacts, of a death.

Hayley in Coronation Street said, “I don’t want to waste good money on oak caskets and brass handles”. However, the alternative isn’t necessarily Roy’s self-assembly cardboard coffin. We sourced a sturdy and attractive wooden coffin for £420 (about €510) from a local undertaker in Co Down.

Although we had been told that some undertakers might be reluctant to sell a coffin on its own as part of an “a la carte” service without the full funeral package, that was not our experience. Our local undertaker was friendly and accommodating, advising us that this coffin from their brochure could be purchased with a simple phone call when required.

We knew we would need help when it came to preparing the body, and it appears that the days when this skill was available in the local community are gone. We made inquiries among district nurses, care workers and clergy as to who might be able to prepare the corpse. All our inquiries drew a blank. Fortunately, in advance of the death we agreed with the undertaking firm that sold us the coffin that it would prepare the corpse as well. We did not request embalming. The charge for the basic preparation was £75.

We had a preference for a church service for the funeral, so we advised in advance the relevant clergy of the expected death. I typed the service sheet in advance – including the hymns – ready to be photocopied once the date of death was inserted. We also had a preference for burial rather than cremation. We already had a family grave in a graveyard. I contacted the gravedigger.
Best-made plans 


“No man knoweth the day or the hour” (Matthew 24:36). Even the best-made plans for an impending death will need to be altered. Here is how it panned out for us.

Mervyn died peacefully at home with me by his side on Friday, August 2nd, at 6.20pm. We kept his body at home that night at a cool temperature. The following morning I phoned the funeral service to complete the purchase of the coffin and requested that the funeral service collect the corpse to prepare it before it was returned to our home.

I contacted the church and the clergyman to agree the date and time of the church service. I informed the gravedigger to ensure his availability on the same day. Normally an undertaker would attend to these tasks. Once these details were confirmed, the finalised death notice was emailed to The Irish Times and I alerted my list of volunteers that they should begin their tasks – providing the vehicles, flowers, photocopying of service sheets and catering.

The day before the funeral, a volunteer collected the death certificate from the GP’s surgery and registered the death at the registrar’s office. This must be done before the funeral can take place. We waked Mervyn at home that evening. We made one room in our house available for viewing of the coffin. Fortunately we remembered to choose a room into which a 6ft coffin could easily be carried. It felt right that mourners could say goodbyes to Mervyn and offer support to me in our own home.

On the morning of the funeral, instead of a black hearse, Mervyn’s close friend Percy used his estate car to transport the coffin to the church. A beautiful spray of flowers prepared by a friend from Mervyn’s favourite garden adorned the coffin. Six pre-arranged friends acted as pall-bearers. Instead of the unfamiliarity of a chauffeur-driven black limousine, I was driven by a close friend in his saloon car. After the church service, instead of going to a hotel, home-made refreshments were prepared and served by volunteers in the adjacent church hall.

 

Transported by friends
A smaller group of mourners drove to the graveyard. As I sat in the saloon car following the estate car containing Mervyn’s coffin, my sister remarked to me “how comforting it is that a dear friend of Mervyn’s is bearing his body to the graveyard”. At the cemetery one of the volunteers brought straps to assist the pall-bearers to lower the coffin into the open grave. This highlights the number of small tasks and items that can easily be forgotten and need to be included on the to-do list for your DIY funeral.

DIY funerals are not for everyone. There are many tasks to be undertaken at an emotional time in a short period. An anticipated death makes it easier, and detailed planning is essential. It requires the availability of reliable volunteers. Nevertheless, as our experience shows, a DIY funeral is achievable.

It is certainly more economical – a basic cost €600 (coffin plus preparation of corpse) compared with the typical funeral service’s basic package of €2,500. This difference is mainly accounted for by the saving on administration, personnel time and transport costs, which in our case were borne by volunteers.

Typically, there are additional expenses such as costs of newspaper death notices and the grave – the latter can sometimes be considerable.

We donated our savings from our DIY funeral to our favoured charity. However, as important as the economic advantage is, the personal satisfaction of directing it yourself is immeasurable. It felt more like my granny’s traditional funeral.

The contribution of family members and close friends, instead of strangers, transformed a very sad occasion into an unexpectedly positive experience.

 

Further reading (Inclusion is not a recommendation of any particular organisation or company):

  1. Natural Death Centre
  2. Funeral Inspirations
  3. The Funeral Helper

NIGRA Wishes Everyone a Merry Gay Christmas

 

The members and followers of NIGRA wish everyone a wonderful, and safe Christmas.  Be safe, and remember to look after others when you can.