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My Lesbian Mums

What's it like when your mum tells you she's a lesbian? That happened to Jillian 20 years ago. But is it now easier for parents to come out to their children? Jillian finds out.

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challenge. Clive will be here at ten o'clock with a full round-up of the


day's news. It is time for a special programme from newspeak, My Lesbian


Mums. This is the moment


my mums made history, becoming the first lesbians


to marry in Scotland. But it wasn't plain sailing for them


to get down the aisle. Hi, my name's Jillian,


and 20 years ago my mum I was only four at the time,


so it really wasn't such a great deal for me,


but I have learnt from my parents that it might have been a bit more


difficult for some of my siblings. So I'm going to go on a journey


and speak to my brother and two of my elder sisters to see what it's


been like for them. I'd also quite like to find out


what it's like nowadays and if it's easier for parents to come out


to their children. My family is very open,


but there are some things More mummies than


an Egyptian pyramid. I know some found


it hard, but how hard? Society had made me believe that


that was such a bad thing. VOICEOVER: And see if our mums think


they've changed anything. I remember my mum sat me


and my brother down, and she asked People will say to us, "Oh,


it's so easy for gay couples now compared to "what it used to be,


you know, you're totally accepted." VOICEOVER: If, 20 years later,


some parents still struggle coming I don't know any other gay couples


that have a dad that You feel bad cos they were being


bullied because of you, Yeah, or you could have my


new drink - raw, organic, unfiltered cider vinegar,


it's very good for you. VOICEOVER: And this is the house


where our family grew up. My mum moved in here


with Gerrie 17 years ago. With Gerrie came three


big sisters for me. So, here we have some pictures of me


and my brother, Jamie. My favourite one on this


is the picture of us posing up here, because my mum always tried to make


us be all happy He was the only boy


in the house, apart from Rupert So, I think I'm going to start my


journey off by speaking to him. I think it will be quite interesting


to see what it's like from a male perspective in a house


full of women. And I remember, I remember Gerrie


coming over to the house quite a lot, and Elaine being there,


playing football with her in the back garden a lot,


but not really knowing what it was. And then it was when obviously


Mum and Dad split up. "This


is what's happening." I feel like you always find just,


like, the funny side of things. You knew how to just make a joke


of things and not get sad and angry. Always got to look on the bright


side of life, as they say. Like, I remember, what was that


card that you got Mum? Was it for her birthday


or something? Terrible, terrible


joke, when I look back at that. 14-year-old me found it hilarious,


but 28-year-old me, not so much. Something I would tell all my


friends about your yearbook is... More mummies than


an Egyptian pyramid. See, it's just


good to find a joke. I don't think I remember anybody


staring at us I think we just, I mean, we were so oblivious to that


sort of thing, because it Getting a free dinner,


cannae beat it. I don't remember hearing any


whispers or hearing any... There was no, like, all looking


around, "Is anyone watching us?" "Let's go out for dinner, let's not


care what other people think." I also really liked how Mum


and Gerrie just held hands and... I feel like there's not


enough people doing that. If you're expecting me


to hold your hand right now you've No, but I


know what you mean. I think I've started seeing


more people who have come out or whatever,


holding hands, and all Yeah, but back then it


wasn't such a big thing. What would your response be


to people who don't agree with the way that we have


been brought up? Why take the time out


to...sort of chastise Yeah.


I know. I mean, we wouldn't do


that to other people. No.


Definitely not. And we've been very lucky


in the sense that nobody Yeah.


Definitely. Mmm.


But, aye, it's just... There should be more love


in the world, not any more hating. JAMIE LAUGHS




Good boy. VOICEOVER: I think Jamie found it


easier because he had He was confident enough to say


in his first introduction, There are four years


between Jamie and me. Maybe being the youngest


made it easier. Elaine's a really


cool sister to have. She's a singer and


writes her own music. But, being a few years older


than Jamie, she might remember our two families coming


together in more detail than we do. Do you remember your


mum coming out to you? I was sitting in the living room


and there was a card sitting on the couch from Susan to my mum,


saying how much she loved her, Because...


Complete news to me. Like, I would remember exactly


what I was upset about, and it turned out I was,


like, the last person And all her friends


were actually girlfriends, so... I just remember that


day finding out. I remember being in my school


uniform, I remember How old were you?


Erm... I think with you it was probably


a friend thing until she was too scared to tell you.


I was so young. I was just kind of like, "Meh, OK."


I think that's the difference. If you're tiny, you can


tell kids these things. We don't understand


what the difference is. Yeah, they love each other,


that's all we need to know. It's interesting to hear


how different it is for That's just because the society


made me believe that that was such a bad thing,


and that's kind of the last thing I remember about it,


about that discussion. Elaine was a bit upset


when she realised, because she was a little


bit older and... I think it was just


sorting out in her head. I think she felt as though I should


have told her earlier and... So, you can't always


get the timing right. And I do regret that, that I hadn't


told her sooner, more explicitly. we're fine with that now,


but it has taken time to... How do you know when the time


is right for each individual person? But Elaine had more to deal


with than just her mum One of her sisters came out


when she was a teenager. Marie wasn't able to take part


in this documentary. I thought I knew about my sister


being a lesbian before I found out about my mum,


and I was totally fine with that. For some reason it was a bigger deal


because it was my mum, Awful, it was just constantly,


which I've been reminded of, just walking down the halls


and people shouting, "Oh, I would just keep walking,


and it was constant. And I don't think I told anyone


about my mum and Susan, apart from my close friends,


because I got so much abuse Yeah, no, why would you even put


yourself through that? I didn't talk to anybody


about anything. Do you think that's


why you were so shy? Yeah, cos I just feel like I lost


every bit of confidence. ELAINE LAUGHS




Erm... Yeah, I think everything changes


when you leave school. I didn't realise how hard


it was for you, because, like, we were just at different points


in our life back then. It's probably quite good,


though, to show that that's how you actually felt,


like, and it's not No, it wasn't all happy,


but I just find I wish I could talk about things without crying,


because then you can Literally just can't


get it out otherwise. VOICEOVER: Elaine struggled


a lot more than I did, and it's clear there's not one right


way to tell your children. It must have been tough


on our mums though. All five of us were at different


stages of our lives. It was about each of them


individually, and getting time with them and feeling


that the timing was right. For me my fear was that, yeah,


the children would be bullied. My two tell me that they didn't


face anything like that. They really felt totally


accepted and that our family Although Jillian recently told us


that there were some remarks from schoolmates about having


two lesbian mothers. That was news to me,


so I think at the time she probably was protecting us to some extent,


you know, that we didn't You know, although people


will say to us, "Oh, it's so easy for gay couples now


compared to what it used to be, "you know, you're totally


accepted," we are not, Because there are still a lot


of parts of society across the world that, I know it's illegal


in different countries still, or even in this country, you know,


if you belong to a particularly religious group, whatever


background that might be, I'm not pointing the finger at one


or another, that might say And, I mean, I've had some


horrendous stuff on social media... From strangers, yeah,


being called an abomination and other names like that


and I think, "You don't know me, "you don't know us,"


and I have a wonderful family, cos every single one of those kids


are wonderful and are a bonus. They're a gift to society


and to the world, every And one of them, my eldest sister


Anne, is running a successful About to get a taxi to go see Anne,


and I cannot wait to see her. BELLS CHIME


Can't hear you! SHE SCREAMS


SHE LAUGHS So, what do any sisters do


when they've not seen I never lived with her,


because she was at university We rarely talk about the time before


we were just one family, but it's so hot, so time


for some rooftop drinking. I see through them that absolutely


anything is possible. I think it would be different if


people were horrible to me or if... Yeah, if I was bullied because of it


or I felt different, no, because I think I was,


like, 17 or 18, I was at university. It was actually kind of cool


to have lesbian parents. And it was like the whole


time of Friends and Ross. And I was like, "Hey,


my new mum's called Susan too! Yeah, I think


for my mum as well, for having such young children,


I think that would have been You don't know what fears


are in your head and what Because you don't know


legally if you can lose and...


or "Can someone complain?" "What's the school


system going to say?" As much as my grandparents knew,


none of their friends knew, and they were so worried


about what their friends' reaction was going to be,


and I remember my mum sat me and my brother down and she asked


if I was embarrassed by her. And I just, we were both just like,


"Don't be so stupid. I think there's still


a lot to change. I think maybe in another 20 years it


will be completely different again, but I think our mothers have helped


pioneering the change Knowing that our parents have helped


at least one person in this world You look at other people that marry,


and all the younger women and all the gay guys


that they marry, it's just, I think isn't anything, like,


knowing you're not alone? Massive respect for them,


like, to have done Yeah, cos they really


were the first. There was no-one around


them to support them. But then it's a kind of strength


of the relationship, in that they managed it together,


they did it together. A lot of people wouldn't have been


able to survive that, I don't think. So far you know how Jamie,


Elaine and Anne dealt with being I lived with Gerrie for three years


before I realised what a lesbian was, and that not everybody


lived like us. I was sitting on the settee watching


EastEnders with Jillian, and we... The woman who, Pam St


Clement, who was playing And I had honestly never used


the word lesbian with Jillian ever, and we were sitting on the settee,


she was in between Gerrie and I, and she turned to me and said,


"Mummy, sure Pat in EastEnders And she stood, all


this gesticulating... So I launched into a great tale


of how important it is to have people in your life that love


you and to have loving As humanists they conduct


nonreligious ceremonies. And sometimes they meet couples


who face the same challenges SAT NAV: Take exit 22


to merge onto M77... Speaking to my brother


and my sisters has been really eye opening and insightful,


understanding that it's been Me being the youngest


I was obviously so oblivious to how everybody felt,


and obviously some people dealt with it a lot harder than others


did, and I guess I was very lucky in the sense that I didn't


struggle with it at all. Gerrie, my stepmum,


actually married a gay couple not that long ago,


who, by the sounds of things, are struggling an awful


lot more than we were, so we are currently on our way now


to go and visit them and have a chat with them and see what life


is like for them. LAUGHTER


We obviously knew. Yeah, it was fine, I just went too


far on, I didn't take VOICEOVER: The Office


for National Statistics estimates there are 9,000 same-sex couples


in the UK with children to look after, so Tyler


and India aren't alone. At no point we've sat them


down and said, you know, "This is because Daddy wants to be


with a man and, you know, India was quite young


when we first met. So, she's kind of not,


doesn't really remember anything. Tyler was a little older,


but I think much the same, so it's always just been,


you know, that "Daddy's going to live with Conor,"


and we don't really make a big thing We had a lot of questions from them,


you know, and we still do, you know, every now and again,


you know, they come and usually at bedtime, I'll get, "Daddy,


why do you kiss Conor, cos boys aren't


supposed to kiss boys?" And, you know, we get


those kind of comments every now and again,


or, "Daddy, why do you sleep So, there's been a few times


recently where Tyler in particular will, you know,


he'll cry and he'll say, Yeah, you know, cos a lot


of the time I come down the stairs, you know, and I put the brave face


on when I'm with Tyler, Yeah,


it is, you know, like, And I say it in the best way that


I possibly can, but... It's tough.


It's really tough. It's hard.


Really tough. What do you think it will be


like in high school for them? It's probably one of my biggest


worries for the kids, because I don't know any other gay


couples that have a dad that I think back to what it


was like for me growing up at high school and,


you know, kind of, even being gay It will probably be difficult,


because it's kids, isn't it? The worst thing I think would be


if something was happening, we didn't know about it


and you would feel kind of helpless then, or you'd feel bad cos


they were being kind of bullied I think that's the hardest thing,


the guilt, I guess, that you're kind of helpless and you feel that you're


the cause of it as well. It sounds like they've had a really,


really, really tough time, but I just think Adam's so brave


to have done what he's done, and it sounds like their kids are


going to come up absolutely fine. I know they were saying


that they worry a bit about what their kids


are going to be like in high school, From what I saw I just know


that they are going to have the best life and they're going to grow


up so well. I suppose with Adam and Conor,


just like my mums, parents - lesbian, gay or straight -


just want to do what's So, I feel like I've learnt


so much from every single member of my family,


not only myself, but all of my From looking at Elaine, like,


she's obviously struggled so much and she's come out so much better


from this, she's such My brother, I mean,


he's just my brother, he's the most amazing person,


he's just great. And my sister Anne, I feel


like she's taken the amazing qualities of my mother's and just


created this worldwide And for my parents, well,


they just taught me to be who I am and grow up and be the person that


I am today, and I think they've I've just loved every single


minute of this project. I feel like it's been the most


enlightening experience - joyful, emotional, laughter,


all sorts of emotions, Elaine definitely has


struggled through school I think she's actually quite


emotionally traumatised I don't think that was necessarily


about having two mums. No, she said that she never actually


told anyone in school because of how people reacted


to her sister coming out. Just clearly a very


unhappy time for her. Obviously I'm understanding more


about it now, but where she is now, she's amazing and she's


so beautiful and creative. Our biggest fear was


losing our children... But the general consensus


from all the children is that Aw!




That's lovely. It was the


hardest thing I ever did, was to... you know, tell you that


I wasn't going to be living with your dad any more,


you know, it's very hard. Us coming out and being together


is not the way the book was written on life,


but it's our truth and that, as a parent, that was the only


thing that we could do, and give that to all of you,


so even if that was hard


What is it like being told your mum is a lesbian? That happened to Jillian 20 years ago, but have the decades since made it easier for parents to come out to their children? Jillian speaks to her two mums, her brother and two of her step-sisters to discover how they coped with their mums coming out. She also meets a recently married gay couple to ask how their children coped with being told dad is gay.