Letter: Suffering in a society hostile to homosexuals

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The Independent Online
Sir: It was an unfair contest ('Face to face in the homosexual debate', 20 January) between a young gay man, whose honesty and maturity was self-evident, and an out-of-touch Tory rent-a-basics theorist.

I am the father of two young heterosexual men. Although their school sex education was almost as bad as mine in the Sixties, they are aware of the choices available to them in developing caring relationships.

When I was a teenager there was no such climate existing. I had sexual experiences with other young men under 21, knowing that it was taboo, unable to seek advice from my parents or others in authority. In our experimentation some gay boys went out with girls, some straight boys went out with gay boys. Opposite-sex pairing was public, same-sex, secret. Anyone openly gay was ridiculed, some gay boys became queerbashers.

Some of us went on to get married, some didn't. Some of us were gay, some weren't. I was gay, I got married, I had children, I got divorced. Another marriage breakdown, another single-parent family. All the above is equally true for women as well.

Are we really saying we have learnt nothing over the last 30 years? The British Medical Association has changed its view, the psychiatrists have changed theirs, most of Europe has seen the sense in treating its citizens properly, why not us?

Yours equally,

MIKE PENNELL

London, N17

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