My Uncle is gay...and my Aunt found out.(long)

I almost put this in the Pit because I am so angry about it, but I want people’s input on what to do. Short version of what happened:

My uncle and aunt have been not happy in their marriage for a while now, she’d been complaining about his not being home, drinking too much (which for her is anything at all), etc. I have always been sympathetic to my uncle, while not condoning eveything he did (more to come later), b/c IMO aunt is a controlling, ice-queen bitch. Uncle is not a bad person, not an alcoholic (despit what she tries to imply) not abusive, etc.

Ok. Mom informs me that Uncle was “arrested for indecency” at a nearby park. “Arrested for indecency” is all I know…not quite sure, but ok, don’t have to draw me a picture. Uncle confesses to Aunt and my Mom that he is gay, has been trying to not hurt his kids, but living in suffering for a long time…but not cheating on Aunt, he says. He wants to separate to be away from her, not to seek out other relationships. Fine, they separate.

Now she is trying to turn the whole family against him (which is not working). “Poor me my whole life has been a lie.” Yes, I do feel bad for her, but also for Uncle, who has obviously not taken this lightly, made all attempts to work something out, but also cannot be expected to deny himself his whole life. Yes, it would have been better if he had never married her, he is responsible for all actions thus far. Keep in mind both are from families not likely to accept homosexuality, esp. Aunt’s side, who have basically condemned him to hell.

Now Uncle is living on his own and helping her and his kids out as much as he ever did before, if not more. This is what is upsetting me: My aunt refuses to tell their 2 kids their father is gay, and told him not to tell them, either. Now keep in mind the WHOLE rest of the family knows. Kids are not little, 14 and 16 years old. (I have suspicions, actually, that the 16 yr old may also be gay, but that’s another story.) Apparently this is such a big shame to her and the family no one may know, not even his kids! This angers me, because obviously they will find out someday…and be even more hurt that everyone in the family knew but them! Yes, this will be tough for them, as they have been brought up to think gay=sin. But isn’t it better to know now than to find out by accident in 2,10,20 years! Also, uncle cannot ever have a public relationship…not even come out to his kids!

I’m very troubled by this, I feel that the kids need to know, but also feel I need to Mind My Own Business. If I tell, I don’t think anyone in my family will support me. But I think it’s hurting them more this way.

What Would You Do?

I feel very bad for what you’re going through. It’s never easy when you know something that you think others should know, too, but which is not your “secret.”

And that’s the bottom line – it’s not your secret to tell. Period.

As much as you may feel that his children have a right to know, it’s not your place to tell them under any circumstances. You may not agree with your aunt’s demands that her children be kept in the dark, but obviously your uncle has agreed to those terms (even if he doesn’t like them, either). He and/or his wife are the ONLY ones who get to decide and the ONLY ones who get to tell their children.

Call your uncle. Tell him you love him and offer him your support. You can even try to persuade him to tell his children himself. But under no circumstances should you be the one to spill the beans.

And lest you think I speak without first-hand knowledge of having to keep family secrets, I had to keep my mother’s terminal cancer a secret from her own mother – a grandmother I was very close with. It broke my heart, but it was the way my mother wanted it and it was her decision to make. I disagreed with it very strongly, but I was not the one dying – she was.

This is a private and personal family matter between your aunt and uncle. Stay out of it.

Shayna said it all. Don’t tell! I agree with you that it’s probably better for his kids to find out now but your uncle needs to be the one to tell them. Don’t get in the middle of it. Good luck!

::sigh:: I know it’s their decision, but I still think it’s wrong. I would be so upset if this happened to me. I just hope my cousins don’t end up hating the whole family for keeping this from them when they do find out. If I found out something like this, I would feel weird around my family from then on, knowing that they knew the whole time and I didn’t. It would make me so angry.

I don’t think it’s my place to tell, but it doesn’t seem like any good can come from this.

My uncle knows I love and support him, maybe that’s all I can do.

Whether any good can come of it or not, please don’t tell anyone. Talk to your aunt and your uncle about your feelings on the issue, certainly. But outing someone, especially to their kids, is not something to be taken on lightly.

I’m happy and proud to be out to the people in my life these days, but I was able to do so when I was ready, at my own pace. It was still a difficult process, but I can only imagine what it would have been like if I’d had to deal with it before I was ready.

I’m sure that when your uncle thinks it’s time to change the status quo, he’ll do so. But that’s his decision.

Your love and support, and your acceptance, are a lot. Keep doing that - I’m sure it means more to your uncle than you realize.

I wish I felt like it was entirely his decision, but I can’t help but feel that it is my Aunt’s decision to keep this secret, and not his, and she is pressuring him. She’s so backwards about it, she keeps bringing it up with all of us, because she thinks it will turn us against him, and now she’s upset b/c we’re not all taking “her side.” We’re supposed to shun him b/c he’s gay. I’m sorry that their marriage is over, it must be hard. I would be upset, too if I found out my husband was gay. But this is how her kids are learning to react to gay people…even their dad. If I knew it was just his decision, that he wasn’t ready to tell his kids, that would be fine, I’m not one to tell people how and when they should come out. I have the feeling Aunt is holding this over his head, and if he comes out he won’t be able to see them. It just pisses me off that she is trying to use this as a weapon against him. This is hard enough, why is she making this the worst possible situation ever?

Sorry, rambling. There is not going to be a good outcome here.

I would suggest talking with your mother. You might tell her how much it bothers you that your aunt keeps on raising the subject of your uncle’s homosexuality. Let her know that you see the inconsistency between your aunt’s insistence that the family keep it a secret, on the one hand, while never giving it a rest, on the other, and that this is hard on you.

She may not be able to give you any good answers, and she may or may not be able to get your aunt to tone it down. But talk to her anyway, if you get along with her at all well.

Tell them.

In most circumstances, it’s not anyone’s else’s business whether a person is gay. But when he has kids, he gives up some of the freedom that non-parents have. Divorce fucks kids up. These kids may well be thinking it’s their fault their parents have split up. The 16-yr-old in particular, if he really is gay, may think disappointment in him is the cause of the split. Hell, maybe he even thinks the father left because he’s ashamed to live with the boy. That’s got to be fixed.

Outing people is usually a terrible thing to do. But that’s because when it’s done, it’s usually done for spite or for ratings. Tell your uncle to stand up for himself. But if he continues his silence, and if that silence is hurting his children, then he’s failing in his duty as a parent. Why is it your job to do his parenting for him? It shouldn’t be, but your other choice is to let the kids go on hurting. Don’t.


No no no no no! Keep your mouth shut-it’s not your place.
Remember, it’s THEIR business, not your’s.

Really, it’s not a good idea to out someone. If they want to come out, they will.

BTW, just curious-is your uncle by blood or by marriage?

Sorry, haven’t responded for a while, been gone this weekend.

He’s my Uncle by blood (my mom’s brother).
I think what I’ll have to do is talk to him or my mom again and get her to talk to him (probably better off me, while she is taking this better than I thought, I think it is taking her some getting used to.)

But I can’t take it upon myself to tell them. Hopefully he’ll stand up for himself and not let her control his life.
Thanks for the input.

I hate that concept – “their business,” “my business.” It exists primarily to salve people’s conscience when they’re too shy or frightened to help people they know need the help. Don’t be Captain Janeway – be Superman.


In most cases I agree, but this isn’t one of them. You’re assuming that the closeted person’s feelings are the most important consideration. But when you have children, you give up the right to have your wishes of paramount importance. Whether the uncle wants to come out or not is irrelevant – the only consideration is what’s best for the children, not the parent. If he’s unhappy with that, he shouldn’t have had the kids in the first place, but it’s too late now.


Velma, can you visit your uncle, and if you can, have you done so already? I don’t know your age, but I’m sure he would love to hear from anyone and everyone in the family. It sounds like your family is still trying to get a handle on the whole issue of homosexuality, and I assume that he’s feeling at least a little lonely as far as the family goes. By all means, visit or call him (this would probably be a really easy way to gain favorite niece status, BTW. :))

Take it easy on your aunt too. It sounds like he may have let her have control of their marriage for a while, or she may have gotten him back in the closet before by being a control freak. The control stuff may be the only way that she knows how to deal with this, and it’s a big thing for her to deal with.

Cliffy, I’m going to take a completely uneducated, non-empirical guess that the kids will soon learn that Dad is gay. Until they find out (or until Dad gets the guts to get a court order to visit), just tell them that Dad loves them (he does, right?) but he isn’t allowed to visit.

Velma, be brave (silly as that may sound.) It’s not your issue, but it will work.

It’s up to your Uncle whether he wants them told or not. It’s up to him to be self-assertive enough to override your Aunt’s attempts at secrecy, if and when he wants them to be told. But he’s probably going through a hell of a lifestyle and emotional upheaval right now, adjusting to being a separated parents, etc etc. He may not just be able to deal with the added upheaval of telling his own kids he’s gay.

I understand the concern for the kids. But they might also find it too hard to take right now. They may be going through enough separation-related suffering without this additional shock. The other thing is - there’s being gay, and there’s getting arrested for indecency. Learning your father is gay is one thing, learning his behaviour has led to police involvement is another. I guess this sort of depends on your local laws and what they consider “indecent” - I’m not trying to make a judgement.

It will become a priority to tell them if they start hearing rumours/gossip or if they start suspecting themselves. Lying to them is not right. However being gay - from what you have said - isn’t necessarily the main reason this marriage split up. The indecency thing is just the trigger. Many gay/straight marriage can and do work, either as open marriages, celibate marriages, marriages of convenience, whatever. So the primary reason they split is that Uncle and Aunt weren’t getting along, not solely because Uncle is gay (though that may obviously in this case be a big part of it).

I think you should talk to your Uncle (via your mother if that’s easier) mainly on the issue of the 16-year-old possibly being gay. If he is, he’ll need family support all the more as he comes to terms with it, particularly given the upbringing and values imposed you say he has had.

Good luck to you all and please post back.

I guess I should clarify, I 'm 24 yrs old and on my own. Re-reading this thread I can see why people might think I’m younger, w/references to mom and all, I only refer to her so much b/c this uncle is her brother. Also, you’re definately right about the rest of the family trying to get a handle on all this, they’re a fairly conservative bunch (they wonder where I came from). You know, one of those “we love each other but let us not speak of it or show open affection” families. I’m so proud of my mom for standing by him, even though I’m sure the whole idea makes her uncomfortable.

I’ve never been buddy-buddy with my Uncle, either, although we have always gotten along, we don’t call each other for lunch, or anything like that. So I’m also a little unsure of how far to push this with him, sudden intrusion may seem like prying. I have e-mailed him to let him know I’m here (and my husband has too) if he wants to talk, and he has talked to my husband about it. I get the feeling he is more embarrassed by the whole situation than anything else, so I don’t want to push it.

Istara , to say the kids will have a hard time with this is an understatement. I’m afraid of what will happen when they find out. They are both very innocent (sheltered) kids. OTOH, I am more afraid of what will happen if they aren’t told the truth and find out some other way. IRT to 16 year old, I don’t think anyone else has even considered he might be gay…those things don’t happen in this family, you know:rolleyes: . If he ever does come out, I’m sure it will be “blamed” on my Uncle for “making him that way.”

The kids know about the “indecency” thing. Actually what they were told is that “your father was unfaithful”, (except he wasn’t having an affair - ??) which to me would raise more questions than it answered. They are told bits and pieces of all kinds of things, but once again, sheltered from “the evil evil world.” I’m sure being told their father is gay would be the absolute worst thing you could tell them, in their eyes. And I know Uncle is ashamed of it. That’s why I thought about telling them for a moment, b/c I want them to hear it from someone who is not condemning gays to hell (aunt) or ashamed (uncle, who will hopefully get more comfortable as time goes on), but from someone who can maybe give them a more real perspective. Unfortunately I can see no way of accomplishing this w/out severely pissing off the rest of my family and embarrassing my uncle, who would have a legit reason to be upset with me for interfering with his kids.

:frowning: no good way out of this, I am afraid.

I think I have to agree with Cliffy on this. The not knowing the facts is probably more harmful than knowing.
The way I look at it, they’re still you’re family so it is your business. Were I in Velma’s position, I would first try to convince Uncle to do the telling himself but if that didn’t work, I’d tell 'em myself.

This isn’t your problem at all. You don’t need to do anything.

And it sounds like your Aunt has nothing to complain about except Uncle finally telling her. After all, she doesn’t want the children to know, she’d probably prefer not to know herself. Maybe you can ask her next time she tries to turn you against your Uncle, what is it she wins if she turns you against your Uncle? A new toaster? A get out of hell free card?

From my perspective, Velma, your being an adult and out on your own changes things a bit - how much is really up to you, though.

When you’re in your parents’ house, your relationship with the rest of your family is, in a sense, part of their relationship with the family. And you really have to respect their authority and judgment while under their roof.

But regardless of what a tough time your aunt is going through, she can’t have it both ways. Either it’s a secret or it’s not. If she’s freely talking about it everywhere she figures she’s owed a sympathetic ear, then she can’t turn around and say no one else has the right to spread the news further.

IOW, you may or may not still feel obligated to keep the news from your cousins, but you shouldn’t feel honor-bound to do so just because your aunt insists.

I agree with you that it would be far better if the kids heard it from a family member before they find out by being taunted about it at school - which is always a possibility, between the way your aunt has been spreading the story, and the reality that the police blotter is a public record. And it would certainly be best for them to find out from a family member who didn’t think being gay was the end of the world.

The only thing on the other side of the equation is how your uncle would feel about your breaking the news. It makes it more awkward that you and he aren’t especially close. But even still, you might should ask him whether he’s planning to tell his kids soon, and if he’s worried about them hearing the news from the gossip mill first. Where you go from there depends on how that conversation goes.

I don’t think you should speak to them. First, because it’s up to your uncle to decide what he want to disclose about him and to whom. Second, because it’s your opinion that not knowing will harm them. Your uncle may think differently. He may be right. I wouldn’t speak with him about your suspicion that his son could be gay too, either. First, you don’t know for sure. Second, once again, if he’s gay, it’s up to him to decide when and to whom he will tell that.

Personnally, I would talk about these issues only with the persons directly concerned. In other word, I would :

1)Say your aunt to shut up once for all, that you’re fed up with her rants and that you’d like her to keep these comments to herself.

2)Speak with your uncle and tell him that in your opinion he should speak with his children and explain the situation to them.

3)If you think that the kid could be gay and could feel bad about it due to his education, family values, etc…Try to create a situation where he could be comfortable about speaking about it with you if he feels so inclined. Find a way to let him know that homosexuality isn’t an issue for you, a pretext to speak about homosexuality with him, etc…Don’t be too upfront with him tough.

Eh, he was cruising a park and got busted. It would rate a fairly big “yuck” from me except that he was in the closet and this may have been the best he thought he could do. Besides which, he probably wouldn’t have been arrested if the public indecency was with a woman, and the family’s response would probably be just a little less over the top.

It’ll work out. Hopefully he will forgive himself. Just don’t let Aunt Whasshername get the whole family (himself included) against him. I’d still keep in touch with him, but I wouldn’t discuss this with him unless he brought it up. At least that’s MHO.

Sorry for misinterpreting your age.