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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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Transcript


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

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

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Mums. This is the moment

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my mums made history, becoming the first lesbians

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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to their children. My family is very open,

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but there are some things More mummies than

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an Egyptian pyramid. I know some found

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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new drink - raw, organic, unfiltered cider vinegar,

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

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where our family grew up. My mum moved in here

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with Gerrie 17 years ago. With Gerrie came three

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

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and my brother, Jamie. My favourite one on this

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

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us be all happy He was the only boy

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

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

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

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full of women. And I remember, I remember Gerrie

:02:48.:02:55.

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

:02:56.:03:00.

playing football with her in the back garden a lot,

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

:03:03.:03:06.

Mum and Dad split up. "This

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

:03:09.:03:16.

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

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

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

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card that you got Mum? Was it for her birthday

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or something? Terrible, terrible

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

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

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friends about your yearbook is... More mummies than

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an Egyptian pyramid. See, it's just

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

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

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sort of thing, because it Getting a free dinner,

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cannae beat it. I don't remember hearing any

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

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

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

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

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enough people doing that. If you're expecting me

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

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

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more people who have come out or whatever,

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holding hands, and all Yeah, but back then it

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

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

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been brought up? Why take the time out

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to...sort of chastise Yeah.

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I know. I mean, we wouldn't do

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that to other people. No.

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Definitely not. And we've been very lucky

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in the sense that nobody Yeah.

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Definitely. Mmm.

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

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in the world, not any more hating. JAMIE LAUGHS

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Definitely. JILLIAN LAUGHS

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Good boy. VOICEOVER: I think Jamie found it

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easier because he had He was confident enough to say

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in his first introduction, There are four years

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between Jamie and me. Maybe being the youngest

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made it easier. Elaine's a really

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cool sister to have. She's a singer and

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

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than Jamie, she might remember our two families coming

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

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

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

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saying how much she loved her, Because...

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Complete news to me. Like, I would remember exactly

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

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like, the last person And all her friends

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

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day finding out. I remember being in my school

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uniform, I remember How old were you?

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Erm... I think with you it was probably

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

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

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

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tell kids these things. We don't understand

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

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

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

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made me believe that that was such a bad thing,

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

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about that discussion. Elaine was a bit upset

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when she realised, because she was a little

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bit older and... I think it was just

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

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

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

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

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

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

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with than just her mum One of her sisters came out

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

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in this documentary. I thought I knew about my sister

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being a lesbian before I found out about my mum,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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yourself through that? I didn't talk to anybody

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about anything. Do you think that's

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

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every bit of confidence. ELAINE LAUGHS

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SHE EXHALES THEY LAUGH

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Erm... Yeah, I think everything changes

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

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

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

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

:09:46.:09:47.

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

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

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because then you can Literally just can't

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get it out otherwise. VOICEOVER: Elaine struggled

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

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way to tell your children. It must have been tough

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

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stages of our lives. It was about each of them

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individually, and getting time with them and feeling

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

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

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face anything like that. They really felt totally

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accepted and that our family Although Jillian recently told us

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that there were some remarks from schoolmates about having

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two lesbian mothers. That was news to me,

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

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

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

:10:50.:10:52.

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

:10:53.:10:55.

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

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

:10:59.:11:04.

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

:11:05.:11:07.

if you belong to a particularly religious group, whatever

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

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

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

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being called an abomination and other names like that

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

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

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

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

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

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and I cannot wait to see her. BELLS CHIME

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Can't hear you! SHE SCREAMS

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SHE LAUGHS So, what do any sisters do

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

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

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

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for some rooftop drinking. I see through them that absolutely

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anything is possible. I think it would be different if

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

:12:52.:12:55.

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

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

:12:59.:13:01.

to have lesbian parents. And it was like the whole

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

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

:13:12.:13:17.

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

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

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

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legally if you can lose and...

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

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

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none of their friends knew, and they were so worried

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about what their friends' reaction was going to be,

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

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

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

:13:51.:13:55.

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

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

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pioneering the change Knowing that our parents have helped

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

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and all the younger women and all the gay guys

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

:14:21.:14:22.

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

:14:23.:14:25.

like, to have done Yeah, cos they really

:14:26.:14:30.

were the first. There was no-one around

:14:31.:14:37.

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

:14:38.:14:41.

of the relationship, in that they managed it together,

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

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

:14:47.:14:50.

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

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

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lived like us. I was sitting on the settee watching

:15:07.:15:15.

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

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Clement, who was playing And I had honestly never used

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

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

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

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

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

:15:47.:15:51.

you and to have loving As humanists they conduct

:15:52.:15:53.

nonreligious ceremonies. And sometimes they meet couples

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who face the same challenges SAT NAV: Take exit 22

:15:59.:16:02.

to merge onto M77... Speaking to my brother

:16:03.:16:09.

and my sisters has been really eye opening and insightful,

:16:10.:16:12.

understanding that it's been Me being the youngest

:16:13.:16:13.

I was obviously so oblivious to how everybody felt,

:16:14.:16:19.

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

:16:20.:16:21.

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

:16:22.:16:25.

struggle with it at all. Gerrie, my stepmum,

:16:26.:16:29.

actually married a gay couple not that long ago,

:16:30.:16:31.

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

:16:32.:16:34.

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

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

:16:39.:16:42.

is like for them. LAUGHTER

:16:43.:16:54.

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

:16:55.:17:07.

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

:17:08.:17:14.

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

:17:15.:17:19.

in the UK with children to look after, so Tyler

:17:20.:17:21.

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

:17:22.:17:23.

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

:17:24.:17:27.

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

:17:28.:17:31.

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

:17:32.:17:40.

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

:17:41.:17:48.

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

:17:49.:17:51.

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

:17:52.:17:53.

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

:17:54.:17:56.

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

:17:57.:18:03.

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

:18:04.:18:09.

why do you kiss Conor, cos boys aren't

:18:10.:18:11.

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

:18:12.:18:13.

those kind of comments every now and again,

:18:14.:18:15.

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

:18:16.:18:17.

recently where Tyler in particular will, you know,

:18:18.:18:21.

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

:18:22.:18:23.

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

:18:24.:18:38.

on when I'm with Tyler, Yeah,

:18:39.:18:42.

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

:18:43.:18:46.

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

:18:47.:18:51.

It's really tough. It's hard.

:18:52.:18:54.

Really tough. What do you think it will be

:18:55.:18:55.

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

:18:56.:18:59.

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

:19:00.:19:02.

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

:19:03.:19:05.

was like for me growing up at high school and,

:19:06.:19:12.

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

:19:13.:19:15.

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

:19:16.:19:19.

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

:19:20.:19:22.

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

:19:23.:19:25.

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

:19:26.:19:28.

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

:19:29.:19:34.

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

:19:35.:19:42.

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

:19:43.:19:55.

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

:19:56.:19:58.

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

:19:59.:20:01.

that they worry a bit about what their kids

:20:02.:20:06.

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

:20:07.:20:09.

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

:20:10.:20:13.

up so well. I suppose with Adam and Conor,

:20:14.:20:15.

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

:20:16.:20:23.

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

:20:24.:20:26.

so much from every single member of my family,

:20:27.:20:33.

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

:20:34.:20:36.

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

:20:37.:20:39.

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

:20:40.:20:42.

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

:20:43.:20:44.

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

:20:45.:20:47.

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

:20:48.:20:50.

created this worldwide And for my parents, well,

:20:51.:20:52.

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

:20:53.:20:59.

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

:21:00.:21:03.

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

:21:04.:21:06.

enlightening experience - joyful, emotional, laughter,

:21:07.:21:10.

all sorts of emotions, Elaine definitely has

:21:11.:21:16.

struggled through school I think she's actually quite

:21:17.:21:19.

emotionally traumatised I don't think that was necessarily

:21:20.:21:22.

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

:21:23.:21:29.

told anyone in school because of how people reacted

:21:30.:21:32.

to her sister coming out. Just clearly a very

:21:33.:21:39.

unhappy time for her. Obviously I'm understanding more

:21:40.:21:44.

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

:21:45.:21:48.

so beautiful and creative. Our biggest fear was

:21:49.:21:52.

losing our children... But the general consensus

:21:53.:21:59.

from all the children is that Aw!

:22:00.:22:10.

Aw! THEY LAUGH

:22:11.:22:12.

That's lovely. It was the

:22:13.:22:13.

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

:22:14.:22:23.

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

:22:24.:22:25.

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

:22:26.:22:28.

is not the way the book was written on life,

:22:29.:22:30.

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

:22:31.:22:35.

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

:22:36.:22:39.

so even if that was hard

:22:40.:22:44.

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.