An email from a homophobic bigot

So here we are, slapping ourselves on the back about how Ireland has joined Scotland, England, and Wales in legalising gay marriage. Look at us, telling ourselves that we’re all so progressive and forward looking. But LGBTI people still have to face many challenges and many hurdles. Homophobia is still a big problem. Bigotry is still putting shackles on personal self-determination, it’s still a nasty illness of the body politic. Homophobia is a hatred that remains a stain on our society. It hasn’t gone away. It still blights lives.

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by someone (whose anonymity I will protect) asking me for advice about coming out as gay to his Catholic family. He was worried that his parents and his brother would reject him. He reads this blog and I am the only openly gay person he felt able to contact. It was an honour and a privilege to be approached by him for advice even though I am no therapist or counsellor, and I worry that my advice to him may not have been the best. His story illustrates that sadly homophobia is still an issue in this country. It’s still an issue for the independence movement.

Homophobia is not a specifically Catholic issue, or even a religious one. Bigots will always find some justification for their fear and hatred. We may have legal gay marriage, homophobia may be defined as a hate crime, but there is no room for complacency. There are no laurels to rest upon.

The only way we can achieve true equality for all is to remain eternally vigilant, to challenge homophobia whenever or wherever it occurs. But the victims of homophobia are precisely those who are unable to challenge it, who lack the resources to speak out, who suffer the consequences of the narrow mindedness of others. That makes it all the more vital that those of us who can speak out do so.

All I can do is speak of my own experience. Here is the reply I sent to the request for advice.

My own parents are pretty devout Mass going Catholics too, I came out to them way back in the late 1980s, and they didn’t take it well. My dad didn’t speak to me for seven years. My mum went through a long period of denial – claiming on the one hand that she accepted it and had no problem with it but on the other she didn’t want to know anything about anyone I got involved with – and claiming it was me who had the problem not her. That went on for a couple of years.

It’s all water under the bridge now. But it took a long time. They didn’t really learn to accept the fact I am gay until I had been living with my late partner for a couple of years and they realised that I was happy and contented and holding down a well paying job. My dad only really came round several years after that when I donated sperm for lesbian friends and he realised that unless he got it together he was never going to have a relationship with his granddaughters.

There’s no easy answer or solution here. Partly it depends on how old you are and what your circumstances are – do you still live at home with your parents or have you long since moved out and grown up? If you’re young and still living at home it might be better not to tell them until you’ve got your own place and are no longer dependent on them financially or otherwise. If you are a teenager then you might have to deal with them being convinced it’s a phase that you’re going through – which is a form of denial on their part.

If you’re older it’s easier in the sense that you’re not risking losing the roof over your head if it all goes wrong – and even if it goes well there’s going to be an uncomfortable period of adjustment. Even then you might not want to tell them until such time as you’re involved in a serious relationship. That’s why I finally told my parents – after I met Andy.

Do you have adult siblings? It might be easier to tell a sister (who are generally more sympathetic than brothers) first and elicit her support before tackling your parents. Alternatively if might help to speak to a supportive aunt or uncle first. Ask them to be with you when you tell your parents. It can help to defuse the situation.

However – whatever age you are you need to ensure that you have a good network of supportive friends/relatives before telling people who are important to you, but whom you know are not going to take the news well. That way when or if you do tell your parents, you won’t feel alone and isolated.

Anyway, I hope things work out for you.

all the best

I got a short reply saying that he was going to sound out his friends and family for people who wouldn’t have a problem with him being gay. He said my advice was helpful, and I was glad that in some small way I might have helped.

And that was that, until Sunday evening. I received the following message from the same email account. I’ve copied it verbatim, spelling mistakes and all.

I was gonna post this on youre shitey blog so the world could know what you did to my brother but I don’t wanna give a fag like you my email address so you can creep on me. Luckily [name removed] is too stupid to close his emails.

I just want to tell you that, like all homos who pretend to support independence you need to take a long, hard look at yourself. Your way of life is one that was brought into our country by the paedos at Watemonster, and protected by Tories and Red Tories like they protected all middle class wankers.

When we go independent and the real voice of the Scottish working class rules supreme, people like you will pay for what you have done. I’m only sorry that you’ve made it so my brother has to suffer for it as well.

Saor Alba

I’m still struggling to comprehend what I “did to” his brother, but what I understand all too clearly is that somewhere in Scotland a young man is being abused and possibly threatened because he’s gay and because he approached me for advice. The abuse and threats are coming from a close relative who is supposed to love him unconditionally, who is supposed to love and support him. That’s the reality of life for LGBTI people right here, right now in 2015. The message of a modern tolerant and inclusive Scotland hasn’t reached everyone yet. The monsters of the 1980s are still alive and well.

I thought long and hard about whether to publish this piece. I have not named and shamed the homophobe in order to protect his brother’s anonymity. I don’t want to make things any worse for the guy who contacted me for advice. But on the other hand people who spout bigotry and hatred need to learn that their attitudes are not acceptable in Scotland – irrespective of whether Scotland becomes independent or remains a part of the Union.

I thought about those who will rub their hands with glee at this exposure of bigotry from within the pro-independence camp. But homophobia is no preserve of one side or the other in Scotland’s constitutional debate, and by saying nothing I would be complicit in homophobia myself. The painful truth is that there are still neanderthals who want independence so they can take Scotland back to a mythical past that never existed, people who believe that freedom means the freedom to abuse and to exclude. People who believe that LGBTI Scots are alien intruders, a foreign infection. People whose saor Alba means poor Alba.

Such people do not represent the vast majority of independence supporters. As a movement we have to challenge those offensive and outdated attitudes, we have a duty to speak out and to condemn them. They have no place in Scotland, not now, not in the future, not ever. We stand for freedom, inclusion and equality for all or we stand for nothing. That’s our Scotland.

As I was writing this piece, I received another unpleasant reminder of the realities of discrimination. I got a phone call from the Metropolitan Police Pension Agency, demanding repayment of £870. My late partner Andy was a retired policeman who died on September 3rd last year, and I contacted the Pensions Agency on the 5th to inform them of his death. However it turns out that they had paid his pension for September on the 4th, the day after he died, and now they want me to repay the entire sum.

The rules for Metropolitan police pensions state that a spouse only inherits the pension if they married or had a civil partnership with the police officer while the officer was serving in the police. Although Andy and I had been together for many decades, by the time civil partnerships were introduced, he had long since retired. So I don’t get to inherit his pension. I accept that, even though I had to give up work to care for him in his last years, and when he died I was left without an income, without a job and without any money. That £870 went towards paying the costs of Andy’s funeral.

But what sticks in my craw is that if we had been a married heterosexual couple who had been together the same length of time that Andy and I had been a couple, the Met Police Pensions Agency would currently be paying me a police widowers pension, instead they are pursuing me for money. So even now, all these years later, homophobia and discrimination still affects me.

I am not going to make it easy for them, but I will have to repay the money eventually – the rules are very clear and legally I don’t have a leg to stand on. Morally however, I stand strong, and I’ll continue to resist and challenge homophobia whatever its source.

What makes it easier is that I know I am not alone.

Support and advice:

The LGBT Helpline Scotland, call 0300 123 2523
Open every Tuesday and Wednesday between 12 – 9pm
We provide information and emotional support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families, friends and supporters across Scotland. We are also here to support those questioning or wanting to discuss their sexuality or gender identity.

Equality Network
Equality Network is Scotland’s national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality and human rights charity.

Parents Enquiry Scotland
Parents Enquiry Scotland is a voluntary organization which provides information and support for parents whose sons or daughters have come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. It has been in existence for over 30 years. We offer a range of information leaflets and booklets in addition to our helplines.

LGBT Youth Scotland
LGBT Youth Scotland is the largest youth and community-based organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Scotland. The charity’s mission is to:
“empower lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people and the wider LGBT community so that they are embraced as full members of the Scottish family at home, school and in every community.”

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82 comments on “An email from a homophobic bigot

  1. Bob Duncan says:

    Paul, I think this may have been your most important article to date and I fully support your decision to publish it. It would be quite wrong to self censor in an attempt to obscure the fact that Indy supporters can be as primitive as anyone else. As you imply in the piece, we are campaigning to create a better nation and independence is simply a necessary step. we must never lose sight of this.

    • ElaineS says:

      You did absolutely the right thing Paul, what a disgusting homophobe of a person and he may not have been done for his vile rant at you because you are protecting his brother from any more stress on the issue of being a closet gay in a catholic family but I hope and pray the next time he rants he is arrested for it. This young lad has the misfortune to have a homophobe for a brother and in truth, we can chose our friends but not our families. I think he needs to put himself first, tell his family and if they can’t accept his sexuality then he needs to move on and be free and open and most of all be happy. A good parent may not come round to it right away and space may be needed but they will through the love of their children come to accept it rather than lose their child. Any parent that puts religion before their child, is no parent in my eyes. Many others have sadly had to face up to parents/siblings not being accepting but have found love from their friends and “new” family….that is all people need in the world…Love from good people. I wish the lad all the best for the future, his future, not one to be hidden and made feel ashamed as his family decry gay people as if straight people because of religion are superior beings…… God loves all people, not just the one it seems that many Catholics seem to think only loves hetrosexuals. If the worst comes to the worst and the young lad has no support from his family then moving on and finding a “family” of friends whether gay or straight is what he needs. I am straight but I cut ties from my sister because she wasn’t a nice person to me for years, when I lost my mum I had only my own kids and my sister’s son and family and to me that was more than enough love from people I needed, I don’t miss my sister because she made me feel less than her, I gave so much more to her as a sister than she,me so I had nothing to miss. that was 7 years ago and it hasn’t affected my life her not in it.

  2. To ‘the brother’ :

    You should be loving, caring, protecting, respecting and accepting your brother.

    Your brother opened his heart to you. He trusted you at his most vulnerable time. If you let him down now and throw it back in his face, you will regret it forever.

    The Saor Alba I dream of has no place in it for your prejudice.

    To the brave man who contacted WGD: Good luck and God speed. You are not alone. You are part of us all. You are part of Scotland. I am very proud of you.

    • fynesider2 says:

      Is it not the case that the bigoted brother read his siblings email before he knew his brother was considering ‘coming out’.

      Onywey, I totally agre with your comments Bibbit & wish him all the best.

  3. Whitburnsfinest says:

    What Bob said.

    Also, if the lad who wrote to you looking for help ever gets to read this I have this to say to him:

    I’m truly sorry that your relative chose to act in such an appalling manner. Please don’t give up hope. There are many, many people who will love and support you for who you are. I would urge you to create a secret email address that nobody else knows about, and use that to get back in touch with Paul if need be. Paul also knows my email address, I can help too. You have shown great bravery and courage in reaching out for help. Also, wee online safety tip: clear your browser history and cookies after you finish using your laptop, tablet, phone etc. that way nobody can see where you’ve been online and use that against you.

    Take good care of yourself.

  4. morag says:

    Wow. That is a fantastic piece of writing which should be circulated to illustrate how far as a society we still have to go. Unfortunately there are still people like this on all sides and I really feel for the chap in question who has bared his soul to be kicked in the teeth by someone who is supposed to love him. And kudos to yourself for having the courage to reveal the problems you personally are experiencing. Be sure to remember that the vast majority of us are behind you and want the same equalities as are afforded to the heterosexual community.

  5. daibhidhdeux says:

    I second the above poster.

    No room for any form of bigotry or pig ignorance in a re-independent Scotland. None whatsoever.

    I hope this young person who sought your support blossoms.


  6. Red Squirrel says:

    Oh Paul, I feel so sad reading this. I’m too shocked to be angry & it seems like this person has enough anger for everyone. Thank you for sharing, I naively had no idea this attitude still existed.

    Every human deserves love and respect for the unique and wonderful and amazing individual they are. Anything less has no place in the country we aspire to.

  7. Brian Robertson says:

    It can be tiring facing up to and more importantly facing down homophobia EVERY SINGLE TIME it raises it’s ugly phiz but that’s what we ALL must do. Mair pow’r tae yer elbow Ginge!

  8. abesto says:

    Paul, I’m sickened by that email you received. Your own letter was great, and it was wonderful that you took the time to write to someone who needed an outsider’s guidance at a difficult time.

    I am now concerned for the safety of the young man who wrote to you — his brother’s email contains an implicit threat of hate crime.

    May I suggest that you consider contacting the police hate crime officer for advice? I don’t know whether it is appropriate for you to pass any identifying details to the police, or whether any police intervention would handled with the necessary discretion. But I’m pretty sure that the police will have encountered this sort of threat before, and they may be able to talk you through possible courses of action.

  9. macart763 says:

    Well said Paul.

    We stand for inclusion and equality or we stand for nothing worth having. I don’t recall there being a clause in the becoming a parent contract which says we stop loving our kids if they decide they are gay. Whichever life choice my children make in the future, so long as they are happy, will be just peachy with me.

    So many truly vile people out there in the world visiting acts of war, inhuman cruelty, murder, torture (physical and mental) and some folk choose to hate others over how they form relationships.

    Just grim.

  10. scotsgeoff says:

    “I don’t care if you’re black, white, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, short, tall, fat, skinny, rich or poor. If you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you. Simple as that.”

    ― Eminem

  11. James Cassidy says:

    That the abuser draped himself in the cloak of civic nationalism to perpetrate the abuse is breathtaking. Brush yourself down, free yourself from any despondency that might edge its way into your psyche, best foot forward and do what you always do — but you know that anyway!

    • Abusers tend to cloak themselves in some disguise of respectability, be it religion, or a political/moral/status garb. The British Establishment is proof of that.
      Then you get this rat, using a faux ‘protective instinct’ for his very brother as a cover for his own malice and bigotry. Shame on you mister, whoever you are, you’re lower than a snake’s bollocks!
      Good luck with resolving the pension issue with the Met, Paul. I know you have to pay up in the end but make them work for it!

  12. Eck says:

    We’ll done for standing up to the evil mindsets that exist within our society and writing this article.

    Society needs gifted writers such as yourself to stand up and say what needs to be said.

    You did the right thing and should be admired for doing so.

  13. david says:

    What Bob said. Without gender equality we are not free.

  14. jimnarlene says:

    A plain fact of life, you can’t discriminate against love, or who a person falls in love with.
    My daughter “came out” when she was 15, I don’t love her any less, she is still my daughter and a wonderful person.
    There is no room for bigotry, anywhere, period.

  15. That kind of bigotry and ignorance is not what this nation is about. What we are working towards is a country where everyone is welcome, equal and loved, and this stupid bigot doesn’t represent anyone but himself. Well done you, be proud and keep going.

  16. Paul says:

    I can’t help but feel the older brother in this has more intrinsic issues beyond mere homophobia. That he thinks you are to blame for what he regards as his bro’s ‘issues’ – hints at a degree of stupidity that is difficult to quantify. We should probably be charitable and hope he was just lashing out at a thing he didn’t understand…

    I have a wee bit of experience in this area and although its no consolation – in this instance: if you had to explain, they’d never understand.

    For what its worth; to the person who emailed you initially – this will pass and things will improve, once you find your feet its all actually really good fun. Unfortunately, there’s no accounting for some folk. While you choose your friends, you don’t get to choose your family – your friends may not know whats going on with you just now but you do – and because of that, you wouldn’t hang around with people who’d have issues with it – even although you’re not out yet.

    Its a curious truism I learned a while ago.

  17. John Thomson says:

    With hope the next generation will not have to go through this, it is a pity that MPs of all parties could not have tackled this through education god knows they hsve had the time. All the best for the future.

  18. Liz S says:

    Every day I read your postings on this website ( also read your articles in ‘The National ‘ ) and I am always in awe at the way you are able to present the truth in such a humorous and factual manner.

    It is the highlight of my day reading your postings.

    It saddens me that such an insightful and talented person such as you should receive such horrible unwarranted abuse .

    You are a legend . Love.. Love ..Love your wit. You should put your postings in a book format….I would definitely buy it as would others.

    Thank you for sharing your talent and exceptional wit through your writing.

  19. Deedee says:

    The brothers reply reads to me like he was snooping on his brothers e-mails not like his brother told him. I just hope the wee laddie is ok and his brother hasn’t taken his anger out on him. What a poor excuse for a caring society we live in. I await the day we live in a tolerant, inclusive anď free Scotland where bigots and homophobes won’t be tolerated but everyone else will. xx

  20. Albawoman says:

    Furious at yourself and the young man being treated with such disrespect. This is not the Scotland I want or intend to live in.

    • Gerald Keogh says:

      This type of treatment is not confined just to Scotland as you should be well aware of. The really sad situation is that it is WORLD WIDE. Everyone has a right to their own way life without any intrusion by others This is my belief as a non gay male person.

  21. Bill Hume says:

    I’ve noticed recently that LGBT has become LGBTI. I know why and I’m happy with the reasoning……but……I want it to become LGBTIS because I’m straight and don’t think I should be excluded!
    Silly? not really. We are all in this struggle together.

    • Bamstick says:

      Agree Bill,
      but I’d amend it to being for anyone who is “different”. I’m not straight, gay, lesbian or whatever. I’m just me.
      I had to stop reading this half way through as I felt it so much. Took a couple of hours before I could come back to it.

      I also agree with Paul, re-families. Avoiding those folk that condemn you can lead to there being only the smallest number of people who you trust and this makes you feel vulnerable and isolated.

      I know that I’m too trusting, time and again I have opened up only to have shight thrown back at me for being “different” or “other thinking”. Time gives more perspective but it never makes it easier.

  22. diabloandco says:

    Kind of safe to assume that the poor lad is ” out ” now – I never did understand that term in relation to any human being.
    So sorry you got the brotherly abuse , there are cretins everywhere but then you know that.

  23. grizzlepuss says:

    Words fail me Paul. Today I feel ashamed for some of those that would dare to say they want what I want…they don’t.

    For what it’s worth, you have many supporters both here in ‘Dug World’ and the wider one out there. Many of us wake up everyday in the 21st century…right by your side.

  24. mary docherty says:

    That was hard reading.. must have been a really hard writing.Peace and strength to you..Cheers !!

  25. arthur thomson says:

    Why did I think all the bigots were on the other side? Maybe I just hoped but now I know differently and I have to try to take that into my understanding. Like everyone else here, I am with you and the young lad who sought your advice. I hope his brother can somehow find the means to understand just how misguided he is.

  26. Mammy says:

    No-one chooses to be ‘Gay’ we are what we are by the genes we are born with just as we cannot choose the colour of our eyes. It is up to ‘us’ to get this message through and I love my son with every fibre of my being just as I love all of my wonderful children . We all have talents to be used for the betterment of others and so we give of ourselves and share our message of love and tolerance. I pray that this young man and anyone who is in this circumstance know there is a big bank of love out there and peace will be theirs one day.

  27. I feel heart sorry for this young man. I hope he finds the support he needs, but clearly won’t get from his brother.

    However, I would like to say: Catholicism is no excuse for bigotry.

    My mum is in her 70s, and, obviously, grew up in a society where homosexuality wasn’t even “legal”. When she went back to work in the 1970s after raising her family, she began to encounter young gay men in the factory where she worked in Edinburgh. Seeing the discrimination and mistreatment they suffered, just for being gay, was, she said, heartbreaking. (Mum will always take the side of the underdog!).

    This was part of an education process that meant, a couple of years ago, when a teenage member of our family told her they were gay, and another young family member started undergoing gender reassignment, she wasn’t fazed by it.

    She said that the first question in the Catechism is:
    “Who made me?
    God made me. God made me in his image”

    My mum takes the view that we are all made in God’s image, and all entitled to respect and acceptance as God’s children.

    As I said already: Catholicism, or any other Christian belief, is no excuse for bigotry. In fact, quite the reverse.

  28. fynesider2 says:

    WGD, re your own problem with the Met…. Surely the use of your late partner’s pension to pay for his funeral is allowable? I’d have a word with a lawyer before handing any monies bac… Possibly a word with one of the National’s or one of iScot’s

  29. Aucheorn says:

    Re the bigot’s comments on the Independence Campaign just proves that those bigots and homophobes are among us in all walks of life, but with our inclusivity and equality we will get the country we wish for. I do feel everyone should accept all people as they are.
    The clear advice that you give can be used in more situations and hopefully with better results.
    More power to our collective elbows.

  30. Rob James says:

    There are few of us who can claim to have no prejudices. It appears to be part of human nature to seek to be “normal” among our contemporaries, or superior to other people or groups.
    Homophobia is only one example. You can add racism, religious discrimination, bullying the fat boy in the playground and many more forms to the list. It will take time for some people to accept the “normality” of the aforementioned targets, but with each passing generation, the old school of thought will gradually be eroded.

  31. sandik100 says:

    Oh dear, that’s sad. Made a wee donation, which I’ve been meaning to do anyway.

  32. Suzanne K says:

    Paul, I have no words that others haven’t already expressed about this heartrending subject. However, I do have info on Andys police pension that may help?
    Civil partners who married after retirement from service, still receive the same benefits as heterosexual couples. The only difference is they only take into account the years of service since 05 April 1988.
    If you need any more info or help in this area, give me a shout.
    Take care sweetheart. x

  33. Robert Louis says:

    A very important piece by you, Paul. It is still a sad fact, that many people, including young people, are still subjected to this kind of moronic anti gay bigotry. Having experienced the same thing myself, it makes me rage with anger, that this persons brother (who should stand by him always), chooses to treat him in such an awful way.

    Scottish independence, is for everybody, straight, gay transgender, white, black, whatever ethnic origins. As Alex Salmond, I believe, often said, ‘it is not where we come from, but where we are going together as a country’.

    Just as the struggle goes on for independence, and freedom from London colonial rule, so too the struggle is still going on for equality for gay people. The only upside, is that things are better now than when I was young, where being in a gay relationship was a criminal offense, but sadly, we still do have some neanderthal, cowardly, pig ignorant, homophobic d*cks around, who invariably pick on people younger and weaker than themselves.

  34. Dave W says:

    When I was in the SSP the closest we came to rucks at the stalls in Aberdeen were during the 2000 Ditch the Clause (28) campaign. I got the impression that there is no such thing as ‘mildly homophobic’- it seemed to me that there were no middle gears in between saying “Yeah, whatever”, and foaming at the mouth and barking “Lock them up forever”.

  35. Maureen says:

    Sad so sad. Well said scotsgeoff. As a mother the most important thing is the happiness of your child, Scotland does not need these homophobic idiots. Bigotry of any kind must be wiped out and have no place in our society,

  36. Rhisiart Gwilym says:

    This lifelong heterosexual says: profound respect, Paul. Keep sluggin’, good brother! Never waver; you couldn’t be more right. The dug, obviously, agrees. But please, don’t insult harmless Neanderthalers…🙂

  37. ronnza says:

    I know what homophobia is. So what is the phobia when a gay person expresses a dislike for a straight persons sexual preference?

  38. Jab says:

    Good article Paul. Our son came out when he was 21, it wasn’t easy for him I guess and it wasn’t easy for us really either. It want really a shock as my wife and I had suspected it. What made it difficult was that being Gay is a difficult or more difficult path than being straight- because of homophobic people like this!
    If I have any advice for Mums and Dads that find themselves in this position is just get on with it, they aren’t different than the son or daughter you always had so just accept it and move on- if you don’t you will simply end up loosing each other and that is just sad!

  39. Giulia Morrell says:

    I just read this, and I don’t even know where to begin! Your loss? Which I didn’t know about. Deepest sympathy! The nasty email? Or the lack of a legally recognised relationship, which means your loss also results in financial difficulty.
    Every part of that is just plain wrong! So all I’m gonna say is, I’m so sorry xxx

  40. fillofficer says:

    brotherly love, typified IMHO. this will probably be the last taboo to be accepted by the ‘normal’ cos at the end of the day that is all that some of them have, unfortunately

  41. Capella says:

    I fear bigots will always exist. What we have to do is ensure that they can’t persecute others. There is so much still to do. Thanks for bringing this to light. I do hope the young person finds friends he can relate to, since his relative is clearly incapable of caring.

  42. Sooz says:

    It’s sad that there are pockets of sexism, homophobia, racism and other “isms’ within the Yes movement, and it always comes as a shock when encountered. There’s a guy I knew who was – and presumably still is – sexist, misogynist, homophobic and racist, yet a staunch supporter of independence, which seemed incongruous since we’re fighting for a fairer, more equal society built on respect and justice. I just couldn’t see how his prejudices fitted in with that, but Paul you’ve put your finger on it. There will be some who see this as another kind of battle – one of isolation, anger, exclusion and division.

    Well, we can’t change people. But we can live the lives we know to be honest and true, inclusive and respectful. That is the face of the civic nationalism that I hold in my heart and that will never change. I’m just so very sorry that the young man who contacted you has to deal with someone in his own family who can’t see or hear that he is still the same person and just as valuable, worthwhile and precious to those who love him, and also that you took stick for giving that young man the love and support he needed. But know this: you are loved and cherished by all of us and many thousands more.

    Glad to see that some posters have useful info on police pensions, and I’ll be throwing some more kibble in the bowl when I get fresh supplies.🙂

    With love XX

  43. Jan Cowan says:

    Paul, I was shocked to read that horrific message from the young man’s brother. I’d no idea people could still display such hatred, for what? Surely people are just people. That sort of reaction makes me feel quite sick, literally. And to think he considers an independent Scotland would approve such behaviour! But you did the right thing in “outing” the bully. I hope he reads your piece and the appalled replies from your readers.
    Colour, creed or whatever means nothing. Warmth, kindliness and concern for others are what matters. Little else counts.
    I do hope that young man keeps in touch with you. He badly needs support.

  44. mogabee says:

    I’ve known people like this “brother” and they are feart. The fear of the unknown. It’s a selfish fear, that others will no longer speak or socialise with him. That he will be judged.

    It’s definitely irrational and desperately sad too. Education is the main answer, though some will never learn.

  45. mixagemme says:

    Well said Mosson. You will have to explain the “I” bit to me, my imagination can’t quite encompass the details, but hey, whatever floats your boat is all right in my book (as long as I don’t have to watch).

  46. liz g says:

    Very moving article Paul
    Another wee heads up to any mums and dads reading.
    After trying to bring up well adjusted bigotry free children.
    Making it clear that I always prioritised how you’re partner treats you rather than who they were.
    My daughter still found it difficult to tell me that she was in a same sex relationship (that’s the bit that hurt cause her partner is lovely and at that stage was just one of the many young people around the house and she knew we all already liked her )
    The point being,if it was so hard for her in that environment to “come out”
    take a minute to think about the absolute courage it would take to do so when you have no idea of the reaction.
    Then make your starting point the courageous child you have before you.

  47. megmerilees says:

    Really good and sensitive response WGD , but the brother is the fright that we have all encountered. I hope that lad knows he has Scotland wide support apart from the usual bams

  48. Tom Rollo says:

    I’m not gay, and fu*k knows how I got on this page, but hey, what a lovely piece of writing that was. It pi**es me off no end that this is still a problem today. FFS we’re all the same…………….

  49. Friendy-Wendy says:

    I’d never normally condone such bigoted bile but I’ve got a hunch that the brother might be quite young, possibly early teens, this reminds me of some of the abuse that my 14 year old son shows me on Facebook, posted by some of his more obnoxious classmates. Sounds like a silly wee boy to me. Not that it makes it OK, of course.

    Your advice was spot on, by the way, you were correct to advise caution.

  50. MoJo says:

    This is what our pathetic newspapers should be covering. Will share it widely to raise awareness.
    There is no place for homophobia and bigotry in modern Scotland.

    To the young gay man, and his troubled brother, who will both likely read this
    You are both in distress in different ways but neither of you are alone in this
    If you cannot talk to each other about how things are, there are many others outside the family who will offer unconditional support if you ask for it…
    To the brother struggling to accept his gay brother’s reality.
    There is no way forward in being consumed by hate and prejudice.
    It causes misery to the hater as well as to those towards whom he/she directs these destructive emotions.
    The hater, like the bully often also dislikes himself and needs to figure out why that is. ( Who bullied or attacked you when you were younger for just being you??) Its time to break that destructive cycle. It serves no one…
    The brother you love, means you no harm, so do not take your own fear and anger out on him – be brave and learn to love and accept…..he is still your brother and always will be.
    if you can make your peace with him you will feel stronger about your own future as well as his.
    Love and courage is all you need.

  51. dennis mclaughlin says:

    Paul,a horror story from modern Scotland.
    i recently contributed to the IndieGogo crowdfunding appeal raised by the Orkney and Shetland Islanders to fight Carmichael in the Scottish Courts,
    This £870 would i’m sure be raised by your readers including myself…you just have to ask..

  52. jimforbes865 says:

    I haven’t read all the comments that have come before mine, but can I just say what an amazing piece of writing this is. Heartfelt, honest, and critical all at the same time. Wonderfull.

  53. Political Tourist says:

    Even the right wing Scottish Tories have a gay leader.
    I seriously worry about anybody that still holds hate in their hearts at this point in the 21st Century.

    • Anne Roberts says:

      What an absolutely brilliant piece from WGD. I always love your stuff but this one really stands out. A wee contribution is on its way. Well done. From a past-middle-aged straight wumman. ✊🏻

  54. Sorry Paul, read your serious serious piece, but havent read all the comments. One thought that has been put before comes to mind, is that there’s really not that much point in gaining independence if we are not going to re-invent how our society should be and that equality in every sense and tolerance and compassion have to be part of it. Anyway its pay day (however small) fur the dug. Long live the Dug! Keep on truckin’!

  55. Fiona says:

    I am glad you wrote this. It is important that we remember that such things never go away, for it is easy to live in your own bubble and to think that it is all progress, and that things are improving steadily. Yet we know that they are not, in many ways. “Othering” of various groups is more acceptable now that it was at some periods in the past and it is not for nothing that we are advised of the need for “eternal vigilance”. The gains in tolerance and kindness that we make are never secure: they can always be reversed, and there are always forces who gain from such reversal.

    At one level it is a question of who is shamed. A decent society is not one in which bigotry does not exist: I think we can hope for that, but perhaps never achieve it. It is one in which bigotry “dare not speak its name”, rather. The resonance there is conscious.

    Sexuality is not a choice, but homophobia is. Race is not a choice, but racism is. Gender is not a choice, but sexism is. And therein lies the justification for shaming the bigot, as I see it. It is no accident that the brother appears to imply that you have “done” something to your original correspondent. I can only presume that he has bought into the narrative which tells him that homosexuality is indeed a choice, and that all right thinking people should take a strong stand against that choice, making it clear that it is not a lifestyle which will be tolerated. Thus will those who are “tempted” realise that they should make a different choice, and all will be well in his world. The very existence of openly gay people is an affront to him, presumably: for by refusing the shame they “normalise” what is, to him, unacceptable. That your original correspondent had no other person to turn to speaks volumes: and that is what you “did”, I think. You live openly and without the shame which keeps his brother “safe” from sin, as he perceives it.

    Yet such people must know that nobody’s sexual orientation is a choice: for they made no choice, nor did I, and nor did you. And nor did paedophiles, though the witch hunt against them is by now almost unchallengeable, even amongst those who promote the rights of LGBTI people, very often.

    Shame has a role in our society, and as someone upthread said, we do not seem to be able to eradicate it. We can, however, direct it. This brother believes in the power and legitimacy of shame: and so he should meet the righteous anger of the rest of us, as the one who should be truly ashamed. I hope he reads this thread and has a think about the fact that it is not the original correspondent that the majority here find despicable: and it is not WGD, either. It is him.

  56. hektorsmum says:

    Never understood why people cannot accept people for who and what they are. What people do in the privacy of their own bedrooms or any where else for that matter is their business not for anyone else.
    I shall tell you a wee story about my Mum who in her late seventies made friends with two guys on holiday in Tenerife, gay, partners and so friendly. Now I never heard my Mum ever say anything bad about gay people in my life nor funnily enough nor did my Dad. My Husband did say his Dad was very anti but he had no idea why. Though I imagine had he lived through to today his attitudes would have changed.
    It was to be hoped that with societies changing attitudes these dinosaurs would have died out but obviously still work to do. I hope the young man you counselled has been brave enough to raise it and that his parents accepted it. Not much else to do other than to throw away the love and respect you gained in being decent parents.
    Not being one, I would like to imagine I would tolerant.

  57. Oneironaut says:

    Excellent article there.
    But sad to see that bigots like that infest even the Independence movement, like some kind of nasty embarrassing rash.
    The whole Yes campaign was something I got involved with in the hope that it would lead to a fairer Scotland where we could tell all the bigots and greedy lying politicians to just get the hell out and stay out.

    People like that spouting their hatred from behind a Yes badge do more harm than good to the campaign, and their dubious definition of “A Free Scotland” is certainly not one I want to live in.

    If the young man who contacted you for advice is still reading this… Don’t give up! There are still good people out there, and they far outnumber the bigots! Don’t be afraid to stand up and be yourself. That’s what “Saor Alba” should really stand for. 🙂

  58. Saor Alba says:

    I am astounded at this hateful message Paul from a person who has lots of issues and is a bigot, with a contemptible regard for his brother.

    I post regularly under the Saor Alba (Free Scotland) pseudonym, as you know, and I am absolutely horrified that he has used this in his mail.

    I may now have to post with a different name. I would not want to be associated with this monster.

  59. YESGUY says:

    The comments say all Paul.

    Thanks again for the sharing though. A reminder we have a way to go yet.

    But there are too many good folk out there who will not stay silent anymore. So i have faith in my fellow Scots. We have always had our bams, but they are a shrinking minority .

    A wee donation from the regulars can rid you of the debt to the Met. Popped a fiver in towards it. Wish it was more.

    To the lad involved, if you reading this Good luck and hope things work out.

  60. Julie says:

    Excellent article.  Glad you decided to write it.

    I find that heterosexual men who are confident in their sexuality are rarely homophobes. Those who display homophobia tend to be insecure in their own sexuality and they are actually attacking their own fears about themselves.  I suspect that the nasty brother could be trying to mask his own homosexuality and his knee jerk reaction is a display of faux masculine aggression to cover himself. Instead it broadcasts his insecurities to the world. Perhaps his fears were heightened when he read his brother’s email and realised that, with a gay brother, he may have to start confronting his own sexuality.

    Paul, you need to speak to a police hate crime specialist. Not necessarily to give them names, but to talk it through.  You  yourself need support to deal with this and talking to them may help you.

    I have concerns for the nice brother. He is probably being taunted by the nasty brother and may have no idea that his email has been accessed or that you got the nasty email. He may even think that you are the source for the info getting out. I feel it would be good to drop him a note to explain, and check he’s ok in case he hasn’t read this article.

  61. vronsky says:

    I’m 65 years old. I think present antagonism to homosexuality is just an extension into this time of diseased attitudes from an earlier time. It used to be simple: all sex was wrong.

    I can remember my father giving me a row (I was aged eight) for wanting to go out to play with a girl. My mother was always quite explicitly horrified at the idea that I might be anywhere near a female.

    Women were dirty, sex was dirty. Being gay now probably feels a bit like being straight back then.

  62. Clicky Steve says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I can’t begin to imagine how hard it must be to not be able to share who you are.

  63. Paul McMahon says:

    Just read through all the responses to the piece and I have to agree that even in this day and age homophobia lurks in every walk of life, although the more it is talked about, discussed and challenged then maybe we can all have the type of inclusive society in a truly free Scotland. WGD I have read a few of your posts and I am more than happy to contribute, wee donation via PayPal, saor Alba

  64. Jamesey Boy says:

    Hi there guys, i’m James, the person who this article is about. i’ve been debating for a while wether or not to post this comment for various reasons, but i’ve decided to go for it- mainly just to say thank you for all of your support, which has given a real silver lining to this really tough time. Getting uncoditional, uncritical support from people i have never met has great. I’m currently living with my older sister, who is a tory and a diehard unionist, but she also wants to express her gratitude to you guys for all the support and also (her words, not mine) “Restoring my faith in humanity by proving that not all cybernats are bastards.” Speaking of family, on the off chance that my parents or my brother are reading this, please get in touch. We all know talking to each other isn’t healthy

  65. janemilne123 says:

    Hi Paul. I’m late coming to this article as I’ve only just stumbled upon it, but it’s never too late to say thank you. Thank you so very much for writing so eloquently, openly and honestly about the homophobia that sadly does very much exist here in Scotland. And, James, I do hope things are very much better for you now. Keep up the good work Paul – it’s people like you who’ll hopefully help us move towards a time where there won’t be any need to ‘come out’ at all.

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