It’s a cold rainy night in London. One of those wet colds that gets deep into your bones. TC is patrolling in SOHO, his ear pressed to his iPhone, his connection to me. London is looking different, already he’s seen someone puking in the street, pissing in a corner and a black cab sprays him with gutter water. Welcome to London, some sights the guidebooks haven’t pointed out.
TC comes from a family of Caribbean descent. An like so many cultures close to the equator, the extended family is your castle walls. His father has 9 brothers and sisters. Almost all managed to escape their 3rd world country to Canada, the promised land. Each married had kids, who had kids. Thus the network is quite extensive but everyone, no matter their rank, is at least a cousin or auntie. The network is over 100 strong and factor in “close friends” and a family party has 200 invitees. A good wedding will have 500 or more.
It’s comforting. TC can show up at any one’s house, at any hour, for any reason, and the door will be open. The tribe protects their own. But the tribe doesn’t understand gay. It’s wrong. It’s against god. It’s against the family. Despite this, statistics have played a factor. TC is well aware that a number of family members are gay.
There’s the older one, a Sous Chef at a casino in Vegas, he got married, but he plays around on the side. The younger one, blatantly gay, a drama queen, a younger version of TC and then there’s the silent ones, no girlfriend, not queenie, you’re just left wondering where they get their kicks.
This extended family accepts Chris, the hairdresser, the one who went to theatrical school, no girlfriend, he’s clearly a bit off. The word ‘gay’ is never mentioned, hushed rumours circulate tsunami speed amongst the old ladies about his latest activities. His parents are constantly embarrassed as two toned questions are asked about their son.
TC imagines that a nice Caribbean boy, near his age, might be tolerated by the extended family, so long as they didn’t over do the queer piece. I use the word “might” liberally. You can imagine the consequences of some older white dude, 23 years his senior showing up as his “boyfriend” / “partner”. It would be Carnival time.
It is not easy for my tiger. I will say as a business executive, trying to please so many people is close to impossible, so don’t bother trying. Do what you think it right. But this isn’t a business decision, it’s family.
TC doesn’t have any kids. Most gays don’t. But as a parent let me tell you, in plain text, your parents will love you no matter who you are or what you do. My two teenage boys are quite the challenge, I get furious with them, angry, beyond upset, I say things I don’t really mean, and I wish I hadn’t said. I will make mistakes. But I never stop loving them. I won’t stop trying. I will also hope for them the best and should that sunshine not appear, try and protect them from the rains that follow.
TC doesn’t recognize the support behind him. He strives for acceptance, but yet it will never come.