‘I was too scared to tell Dad I was gay. I later found out he knew all along’
My mum is as proud of me now as she was when I was 10 and played a milkman in our synagogue revue
All my hair fell out when I was six,
which was a bit alarming. My parents were very supportive, so my childhood was as happy as it could be, in those circumstances. I always felt loved, and there was a lot of laughter in the house. I have memories of going to bed and being woken up because everyone downstairs was laughing. My parents had a very vibrant social life.
I was closest to my mum when I was growing up.
My parents split up when I was 10 and, three years after that, my brother moved in with my dad. So, for a time, it was just me and my mum in the house. Later, when I told her I was gay, she looked for a reason. She asked me: “Did I smother you? Did I make you gay?” This was nearly 20 years ago, when people believed an event could turn you gay. I said no, no, no and not to worry about it. She didn’t smother me at all – she was lovely.
I looked up to my brother.
He was very protective of me. Sometimes, people at school would tease me for being gay. If he found out about it, he would go and have a word, and then it would stop. He looked out for me. We did squabble and bicker – if it was physical, he would win, and if it was verbal, I would win – but it would be over in a minute, and forgotten. He and I share a love of football. As kids, we would go to matches together. Now, I live in Los Angeles but I’ll WhatsApp or call him and we can spend many hours conducting a postmortem of a football match over the phone.
I was 12 when my dad went to prison
for six months, for fraud. It was a shock. It was unusual for a middle-class Jewish child to have a parent in that situation, but I just got on with it. It made me realise that not everyone who goes to prison is a bad person. I knew six months wasn’t for ever and I got to visit him every three or four weeks. The strangest thing was to see him in there looking so different. Dad wore a wig, but he wasn’t allowed it in prison. When I went to see him in prison, it was the first time I’d seen him without it.
I was too scared to tell my dad I was gay.
He died when I was 22 and he was 52. His death came out of the blue and I wished I had told him while he was still alive. Then, four years after he died, I found out from my aunt that he had figured it out for himself – and he was OK with it. Even all that time later, that was a very heartening thing to learn. It resolved a lot of things.
My mum is as proud of me now as she was when I was 10
and played a milkman in our synagogue revue. But she wasn’t convinced I was doing well until I did a Cadbury’s Creme Egg advert. Until then, she was nervous that I might not be able to make a living from acting. That commercial allowed me to put a down-payment on a flat, so she relaxed then. However, my success goes back to that synagogue revue in 1985. As far as she is concerned, that is when my career began.
My grandmother was a refugee from Berlin
who came to England during the second world war. She was a real intellectual, a very intelligent woman. Eventually, she was given British citizenship. Under Hitler, she had been banned from studying to become a doctor, so she became a nurse and married one of her patients – my grandfather, who had had polio and was in a wheelchair. My mum was their only child. I spoke to my grandmother every night for an hour on the phone in the last few years of her life. I was very fond of her. My childhood was spent with her going to classical music concerts and exhibitions. When I was young, I was a little bit scared of her – she was very strict. But as she got older, she mellowed a bit and we were just a great a pair. I miss those conversations to this day.
Little Me: My Life from A-Z by Matt Lucas is published by Canongate, £20.
Matt Lucas and, above, with his mum