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Gay son reunites with birth dad after 35 years and finds out he’s also gay

Gay son reunites with birth dad after 35 years and finds out he’s also gay

Darren English and his birth dad, who is also gay

My mother was around 17 when I was born in Glasgow in 1982 and my father was roughly the same age.

For the first year of my life, we lived as a family. But the relationship broke down and I moved with my mother to London, where she became pregnant with my brother.

By this point, she was struggling to cope and had developed a strong drug and alcohol addiction, which at times, put my brother and I in dangerous situations.

It was decided that she could not cope and my brother and I were taken into foster care.

This all occurred within the first three years of my life.

We were moved into a variety of foster homes, all with the hope that we may be eventually adopted into a new family.

Because we were two boys, it became difficult to find us adoptive parents who wanted two children. Social services eventually decided to split us up but thankfully, this decision did not result in us losing each other.

During this period, we still had supervised visits to my mother and by the age of about four or five, she had fallen pregnant again with my sister.

During one of these visits, we were taken into a room before meeting our mum and told that this would be the final time we would see her.

Darren with his mom and sister
Darren with his mom and sister. | Photo: supplied

Very little explanation was given, but we had one hour with her to play and take photos.

After this time, they literally took us away and at that age, it was hard to understand why you are not allowed to see your mother again.

This was the last we saw of her, and I remember the pain and tears of being torn away.

100 different foster homes in five years

We continued to move through various foster parents and children’s homes. Some were good, healthy places and others were the type that you read about in the papers today.

We probably entered nearly 100 different homes in five years.

We moved into a Catholic children’s home in the hope that this would be our final chance to be adopted.

In this home, there were eight resident children at a time and began to make friends and express myself as a child more. I would dance and put on stage shows for the other children and perhaps knew at this point I was slightly different.

After a few years, we were told that a woman and a man were interested in being our new parents.

I remember not really understanding what that meant. When you have been passed around a lot as a child, you just think it’s another move into another home.

We met them a few times and eventually began to spend weekends and weeks with them.

Eventually we moved in with them, and their two cats. We began to start a family together.

Darren English as a school kid
Darren English as a school kid. | Photo: supplied

It wasn’t easy, as we both came with a lot of emotional baggage, but our new parents worked extremely hard to ensure that we spoke about our past and were a very open family with the best chance in life we could have.

We were given a second chance, but my birth mum and birth dad were always in my mind.

Younger life then began to settle into holidays, days out and the ‘normal’ family life. I began to make friends at school and felt settled in my life.

Coming to terms with my sexuality

As I began to move into secondary school, the feelings that I was different grew stronger and I struggled a lot with my sexuality.

Desperate to fit in and not be the ‘weird adopted kid’, I had girlfriends. I also joined various groups and did hobbies to try and mask who I really was and fit in.

It didn’t stop any bullying however, and I think the other kids knew I was gay. The theatre, singing and dancing didn’t stop either, and perhaps didn’t help my case – along with my slightly camp demeanour.

I continued to deny it right up until college.

In college, I made a new group of friends that included a fabulous drag queen. We struck up the best friendship and I was instantly introduced to the scene.

I was possessed. I had found my people.

This then moved with me into college. I began to rebel – wearing crop tops and outrageous outfits.

Darren English
Photo: supplied

This was the point, where one evening after many vodkas, I decided to tell my parents.

I sat them down and began to drunkenly explain: ‘Mum and dad – I have something to tell you.’

The stared at me and my Mum replied: ‘Oh god, who’s pregnant?’ This helped to relax the situation as I began to laugh.

Through the tears and laughing, I stated: ‘I’m gay’. They responded with ‘We know, we were waiting for you to say it’.

This made the whole situation a lot easier.

A downward spiral

One night I was using a local phone box, when a group of older ex-students from my school spotted me.

Having drunk a lot, they saw an ideal opportunity to beat me up – head butting me and splitting my head. Leaving a scar that now stays until today.

I was 17.

This only made me stronger, and after some time away from college I came back to silence. Everyone had heard what happened and the bullying stopped because they had nothing more to say.

I left college early and went into the world of work. This brought a constant income in, and I decided to move into the city with four other gay friends.

This was a constant party and I felt again that I had found my group.

I moved with a partner at the time to just outside London, but after some time the relationship fell apart. I refused to admit defeat and move back home so I met friends and found my own place.

This is where my life took a different turn.

I was trying to be independent, but felt very lost. My childhood caught up with me and I felt a lot of rejection and worthlessness.

I began to spiral into alcohol and drugs, inappropriate relationships and full-speed destructive mode. This continued for many many years.

The behavior also caused the loss of many relationships, including one special relationship that woke me up to the fact I couldn’t continue this way.

I went through counseling, hypnotherapy, medication and got things back on track.

By this point I was 29 and I had wasted many years of my life.

‘I think I’ve found someone looking for you’

I managed to secure an excellent job and became more settled in my life. The therapy had worked, my friend network was more secure and the drugs were gone.

I had five years of this steady – sometimes a slight wobble – routine.

Darren English wearing a bow tie
Photo: supplied

I was just heading to bed, when I had a Facebook message from my sister, who had also been taken into care and adopted by a different family.

We had been in contact for quite a few years. She was desperate to find our mother after all these years.

She messaged and said ‘I think I’ve found someone looking for you’ so she sent me a link to a Facebook post from 2015.

It was from a man with the only name I had. He outlined my name, my date of birth and where I had been born.

It appeared this was my lost father.

I jumped out of bed shaking and banged on my housemates door. After only a name, it appeared I had found him.

What the hell do I say to him?

I dropped him a Facebook message stating that I think I was who he was looking for, although three years had passed since he posted it.

He replied instantly and we asked each other a few defining questions to make sure we had the right person.

I called my adopted parents in a state of shock, explaining that I had found my birth dad. They were thrilled and had hundreds of questions.

Over the course of a week, we messaged everyday and I barely slept. I was so excited. I had always wanted to know who he was.

Within a month, my adopted mum and dad had booked flights and a hotel with me, so we could meet him.

‘How many people can say they are out in a gay bar with their gay dad?’

We flew up in February this year to Glasgow.

I hadn’t been in Scotland since I was born and landing suddenly made me feel very strange. Hearing the accent made me think of my mom.

Before our visit to meet him, we had spoken on FaceTime quite a bit. He stated in one message that before we met, I should know that he was gay and he hoped I wasn’t disappointed.

He was stunned when I announced I was gay as well.

We instantly felt comfortable.

We arranged to meet at a restaurant and I was going to go alone and meet him. It was the strongest I’ve ever had to be.

I walked in and went straight over to hug him.

Darren English and his birth father, who is also gay
Darren English and his birth dad on the day they first met. | Photo: supplied

We were both nervous and decided that a drink may settle us both. We continued visiting various places in Glasgow and trying to piece together what had happened over those years.

He had always been looking for me, but never knew I was adopted. He thought he had lost me forever, but always spoke about me with his own family.

Later that day, I went to meet his family – auntie, uncle and cousins.

It was the happiest moment in my life. To finally see where I had come from and my history was in these people.

My auntie and uncle remembered holding me as a baby, and explained I was always talked about in the family. It was so overwhelming to finally have this moment.

After I found my birth dad: ‘I crashed emotionally’

After the meeting, my birth dad and I decided to continue to a local gay bar to discuss meeting the family. This was the point I thought: ‘How many people can say they are out in a gay bar with their gay birth dad?’

I eventually made it back to the hotel to see my adopted mum and dad, to download the day. The few drinks I had only lubricated the situation and I broke down in floods of tears.

It had been a very emotional day.

The next day we all met my birth dad for coffee. He was terrified to meet my adopted mum and dad, but also wanted to thank them for bring me up.

It must have been hard for all of them to meet.

It went extremely well, and felt very comfortable to chat between all of us and piece the missing parts of my life together.

The next day we headed home, and I crashed emotionally. It all hit me and found it hard to cope for a few weeks.

‘I finally feel the missing pieces are together’

We continued to speak and arranged a trip for him to visit me.

He then came down for a few days and met my friends and partner. I remember the pride of being able to show people who my birth dad was.

A lot of people asked if it was easy and how my adopted parents felt.

I knew it had been hard for both fathers to deal with. To me, it felt no different to any family with step parents. I had two families and I loved both.

There was no choosing for me.

Darren's birth dad and Darren
Darren’s birth dad and Darren. | Photo: supplied

After his visit, life slipped into normality. I visited Glasgow again and got to see the home I lived in when I was born.

I came back from my second trip feeling more complete as a person. My pride and confidence has increased because I finally feel the missing pieces are together.

I have an accepting family, an accepting gay birth dad and family and my past, although difficult and painful, had finally turned out pretty perfect.

My next step is that through this journey, my sister managed to find my mother, along with three more brothers.

Having been through it once in finding my birth dad, I feel strong enough to cope with the next chapter.

I know my mom’s story isn’t a good one and her life didn’t improve greatly. But I can hold my head high and be proud of the man I have finally become.

See also:

Gay boy abused by family adopted by gay dads: ‘They saved me with the power of love’

London’s first permanent LGBTI homeless shelter struggles to find a home

This is what it’s like to be a gay child in the care system