I first met Peter when both of us had a very happy event in our lives – the birth of our new beautiful daughters; Sarah-Jane (to me and my wife Margaret) and Edel (to Peter and Anne). The two girls were born two days apart in Drogheda Maternity Hospital. There was great excitement and happiness in both families during this time.
Peter was a first cousin of my wife Margaret; I spent time with him and I was very impressed by him, for he was a thoughtful and kind man, a real gentleman in every sense of the word.
He gave me a lift home from the hospital back to Dundalk and I thanked him. He said it was no problem and that maybe I’d be able to do him a favour one day… and here I am, 35 years later, writing a story for his book!
Many years went by before Peter and I met again. Margaret and I had been invited over to his home to have a talk about our children, Sarah-Jane, Edel and Martin, who had all bravely told us they were gay.
We all agreed how proud we were that our children had the courage to tell us, and we understood how very difficult this must have been for them. As all good parents should, we love all of our children unconditionally, but, to be honest, we had fears about their futures. Life can be difficult at the best of times, and being perceived as different could attract discrimination and worse.
Margaret and I had known about Sarah-Jane for longer and so were more comfortable with the situation. Peter and Anne had not had so much time for things to sink in and seemed to have deeper concerns than myself and Margaret. In any case, the main thing I remember about that conversation was how proud we were of our children for following the feelings in their hearts and not being too afraid of not fitting into the so-called “norms” of society.
That meeting with Anne and Peter was more than 10 years ago. Peter and Edel are unfortunately no longer with us. Martin is happy and has a successful career abroad. Sarah-Jane is living a full and meaningful life, after having serious health problems of her own.
Ireland has changed and things are much better compared to the days when I was young. But discrimination and prejudice still exist within some institutions in our society, though fortunately not in the more enlightened ones. I hope these changes for the better continue until homophobia is a thing of the past.
As a father of a gay daughter, I can only say that our lives have been made much richer by having a gay child.
Throughout the years I personally have gained an insight and greater understanding of our world and the diverse world of the gay community. Long live the diversity of life that exists in our natural human world! I just WISH for greater understanding for gay people who do not want to be seen as different because essentially they are not different. They are just the same as the rest of us, trying to live our lives as best we can.