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Gypsy, Gay And Trapped At Home


Dear Mona,

My boyfriend, who is 25 and gay, is not out to his family. He is a gypsy too. His mother does not want him to leave home and says that he can't leave her alone with his father and the youngest son. I have to be careful what I say about this situation as my fella gets very defensive. He has a huge sense of duty towards his family as most gypsies do. I believe he is also completely terrified of being rejected as his mother has made it clear she does not want to know about any of her sons being gay. My fella's dad also used to beat him up. I myself went through a lot for being gay but i am 33 now, and while I am only 8 years older than my fella, it all seems so unfair and utterly stupid that he has to carry this burden.

To make matters worse my fella's younger brother who's 23 is also gay and has tried to come out and admitted to his parents that he is gay but they wont have it, he even moved out and tried living with his boyfriend for a few months but his parents caused so much grief he eventually went home. Both brothers often get very drunk to escape the life they are in. Being gay in the Gypsy world is just not done and is frowned upon.

Deep down I know he knows he should leave home and face up to things, but he thinks his problems are insurmountable as he loves his family. I believe he should live his own life and not feel responsible as he does for his everyone else, so much so in fact that he can hardly function sometimes. It really is should destroying to watch when you love someone as its all so destructive.

We recently went to New York on holiday and he had to lie about that and invent a story of who he was going with. Oddly while we were at Gatwick Airport he saw some gypsies he knew and went white as a sheet. He was terrified and hid in the toilets for as long as he could. Since we got back he as gone on about New York all the time wishing we were back there. I think for once he felt OK.

He is in a awful predicament and I worry about him. Help!

Dear Rom,

Right now your fella's sexuality defies your cultural traditions, his family beliefs and enrages his abusive patriarch. He probably thinks he can either fix his family situation or, at a minimum, protect his mom and brother. That's a text book move in a household led by violence. But rarely can one subvert a violent father and a controlling mother from within. He has to break the cycle by breaking free. You can help him by being his support.

"Ride or die," as they say in classic hip-hop culture. This isn't a street play on Romeo and Juliet, but a testament to the solidity of a relationship. The Urban Dictionary describes the line as a "conjunction of the phrases 'ride it out' and 'die trying.' Basically, no matter what, make a commitment to stay by your man's side. That, my friend, is what love is. And that, my 'mo, is ultimately how you will help free your fella from he terrible family situation.

You can't force him to leave. What you can do, however, is reassure him that by leaving he is not abandoning his family in peril; he's breaking a cycle of control and violence that will continue indefinitely unless someone acts without the strike of a hand. He can't help them unless he helps himself first.

Let him see the possibilities of a better life with you. Use your advanced knowledge of the gypsy culture to help him lead his own life, like you have. Give him practical options of saving his brother and helping his mother that don't involve him physically being in the household. If that means taking him away and then sending for his brother, so be it. Then, together, they can work on their relationship with their mother. Show him an alternate reality of engulfing love and acceptance, free of repercussions and filed with possibilities.

He knows that you already possess the know-how; you've freed yourself. But this is not a situation that can be resolved instantly. He's used to being the glue, the buffer, the sponge for violence. That's a lot of baggage and self-guilt that must be healed.

What I am suggesting is for you to keep planting seeds of a better future for him away from his unstable home. If you can, get him some professional help. Keep taking him on trips far away so he can envision a life where he doesn't have to hide in toilets or be beaten for being gay. And stay by his side; ride or die; together, no matter what, until he can see the end to his terrible family situation.

Yours in love,
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