Tell Me About It

I want to move home, but it could be dangerous for us as a gay couple to live there

Tell Me About It: ‘I have a job opportunity I’d like to accept, but it would mean hiding who I am

PROBLEM: I moved to Ireland from a developing country almost a decade ago to work with a large international firm. I have worked very hard, and my career has progressed beyond my initial ambitions. My life as a gay and previously closeted young man has transformed since I came to live here, and I now feel free to be who I want to be.

Four years ago, I met and fell in love with a man almost 10 years younger than me. At the time he had not come out to his friends and family, and I supported him to do this. In fairness, his family most likely always knew that he was gay, and they greeted me into their home as his partner with open arms.

I was recently approached by a senior director at our company who was so impressed with my output during the pandemic that he suggested that I could work remotely almost permanently and that if I wished I could relocate back to my home country, which has recently opened a regional headquarters in the capital city. I never dreamed that an opportunity would arise where I could return home and especially not to my actual village. I have given it a lot of thought, and with my salary I would no longer need to live in a small apartment and could afford a much more substantial home close to my parents, siblings and their children. I really miss them and have always felt sad that I was so far away from them.

I could work from home and easily commute to the capital as and when required. My parents and family are not aware of my sexuality, and I cannot see a time that they would accept this, as it conflicts with their religious beliefs. I also know that in my local community it would be very difficult and possibly dangerous for a gay couple to live together. I have discussed this with my partner, and he is both brave and defiant and still wants to come with me.

do not see this as a possibility: he would have to move away from his family and the lifestyle he is accustomed to; also, he does not speak the language, and very little English is spoken in the region. I know that I could not live as free a life in my home country, but I am confident that my overall quality of life would improve if I was surrounded by family and if I were to live in the idyllic paradise where I grew up. But it would mean hiding who I am and leaving the love of my life behind.

I find this decision difficult.

ADVICE: You have been given a choice that is both an opportunity and a challenge and it is up to you to decide what you want to prioritise in your life. Your desire to go home is very understandable and it is seductive to think of having plenty of money to live comfortably where you grew up. However, you seem to have found freedom and acceptance in the last 10 years here and you might do well to remember what it was like to live without it.

Of course, the only way society changes are when brave people take on the inequalities and prejudices that exist and this may be something that you could consider. Your partner may be naive in thinking that all will work out for you as a couple, but he is willing to take this huge risk to continue to have you in his life. Have you given enough consideration to his view or to the possibility of a transition phase, ie that you live first in the capital city before testing the waters in the village that you grew up in? Your boss is very happy with your work so you could try this out without any major impact on your career if you find that it does not work out. This would also allow time for your partner to adjust to the customs and language that he would need in order to live successfully in the countryside.

Your partner is willing to jump into the unknown for you, can you offer him a limited pilot trial in your home country to match his devotion?

You have given yourself a very either/or decision and perhaps there are more options than you have allowed for. Love requires us to put the other person top of our loyalty lists and if you are to leave him behind you are completely giving up on this relationship. You supported him in telling his family of his sexual orientation and now you are faced with the same disclosure in your own family of origin. This is not to say that it is the same, as your context is far more difficult, yet there is something important about living authentically so that we can have a life worth living.

If one of your nieces or nephews was gay, would you want them to have to leave their country in order to live fully? With your confidence, wealth and world-wide experience, you might be well placed to carve out a life as a successful gay man in your home country. This would need to be done safely and with caution, yet you could trial this possibility for a period of time before making your final decision.Your partner is willing to jump into the unknown for you, can you offer him a limited pilot trial in your home country to match his devotion?