Hey Au Pairs,
From speaking to many of you on a daily basis, we’ve noticed that a question which comes up regularly is: "should I tell my host family about my sexuality".
Many au pairs are worried that either their host parents won't accept them or that they'll end up living in the closet, worried about their family finding out. Edwina and I recently shared a few thoughts on this topic in our most recent YouTube video.
But, today’s blog is a guest post from Jamie who actually faced the conundrum of whether to tell her host parents she is gay. Here is her experience and a few tips to help you out if you’re also facing this issue.
Make sure to follow Jamie on Instagram and definitely let her know if this post helps you! Thanks again Jamie!
I recently started my Au Pair adventure in a little town in Emilia-Romagna, Italy. It’s a beautiful place with a taste of everything Italian, from the stunning architecture to the incredible food. The lack of tourists means that the English language is hard to come by and because of that, the culture here is still raw and untouched. Combine that with the strong Catholic influence and you will find that the views of most people here are very “old-fashioned” and conservative.
Then there’s me. Arriving here from New Zealand, arguably the most chill country in the world. We legalised gay marriage back in 2013 and the view of the general public is more likely than not, one of acceptance towards LGBT people. I have no interest in living in the closet, and even if I did, my hair cut and “fashion sense” would deny me that chance.
The family I chose to spend this year with were very adamant about me becoming “part of the family” and us building a good relationship. It was one thing about the Au Pair experience that was really important to my host mother, so of course this was a good reason for me to be honest.
I decided to tell them before I arrived so that if they were in anyway unaccepting I had the choice to change the situation. I can’t imagine spending a whole year living with people that are, openly or not, disapproving of my sexuality. Whether I decide to date while I’m here or not, it is still something that makes up my character and being surrounded by hate is not how I want to remember this experience.
I remember the night I sent the facebook message, I was at work and I kept “needing to use the bathroom” every five seconds so I could check my phone and see if they had replied. This is what I had sent:
“I should also tell you that I have a girlfriend here in New Zealand. Not that this changes anything about my trip, but for the sake of honesty and being open I want you to know!”
Super casual, I know. I’m not usually the type of person to share my feelings. When they finally replied I think my heart stopped beating. I’m sure I was legally dead for at least 30 seconds. First of all, they were not surprised, no one ever is. But they did say that it was something that was new to them as their small town didn’t produce many openly LGBT people, but overall they were more concerned about whether or not I was a good person and if I could look after their child.
Since arriving we have had a few conversations about “how I knew I was gay” and also about my exes which was really really cool. When visiting a church in Ponte di Legno my host mother even joked that I shouldn’t go inside or I will burst into flames!
This is my story, but what does this mean for you? Should you tell your host family about your sexuality?
I’d say you need to ask yourself a few questions.
1. How long are you staying?
In my opinion, if you are staying for at least five or six months you need to seriously consider the effect that living in the closet for so long would have on you. I know that I personally couldn’t commit to that.
2. What do you and your new family want to get out of the Au Pair experience?
If you are treating this as a job or a place to stay while you travel the world, then maybe it is not so important. But if friendship and a cultural exchange is your top priority then honesty is truly the best policy.