Andre and Ben's story
Adrian became aware of his sexuality when he was a teenager, but found it difficult to know how to start the conversation with his parents.
“I think a lot of that stemmed from my parents’ upbringing as they came from conservative households,” he says.
“As much as my mum wanted to make a space that was more open and inclusive, she probably didn’t have the tools, because she was never given that from her mum.”
Adrian’s mum, Susan, remembers being hesitant to make the first move. “In hindsight, we knew instinctively that he was gay, but that was part of his journey. We didn’t want to approach him with the conversation if he wasn’t ready.”
Adrian says he and his mum ended up in a kind of stalemate. “I wanted them to come to me and speak about it, and they thought that I would come to them.”
Unfortunately, the silence at home didn’t help during some of Adrian’s most vulnerable years.
“I experienced bullying at school around my identity, but I put on a brave face,” Adrian says. “If my parents asked if I was alright, I would always respond, Yes. I built this façade up, but deep down, I was really struggling.”
It wasn’t until Adrian was 20 that he felt safe to come out to his mum. However, the biggest turning point in their relationship came around the time of the marriage equality plebiscite.
“She made a poster in support of marriage equality. It was this first time she took action rather than me coming to her,” Adrian remembers. “It was so symbolic, it was her way of saying, ‘Not only do I accept you, I love you and I support you’.”
Up until that time, Adrian says he had felt more tolerated than accepted by his family. “This poster represented love and affirmation and validation. That growth for our journey meant that we could have so many more conversations, and the dynamic changed.”
“It was like the key to open the door to communication for us,” Susan adds.
It was such an important symbol, Susan framed the poster and gave it to Adrian one year for Christmas. “I remember unwrapping it, and as soon as I realised what it was, my eyes welled up with tears,” he says.
Even Susan’s mum, Adrian’s grandmother, has made strides towards acceptance. “My nan eventually met some of my partners, and did her best to overcome some of her prejudices and her upbringing.”
These days, Adrian feels positive about his familial relationships, and about the future. “I really look forward to seeing how my relationship with my mum continues to grow.”