Few know the limits of family tolerance like Ted Kosta. About 15 years ago the Macedonian-born Sydney man told his parents he was gay and introduced them to his partner Anthony.
As Kosta puts it, The shit hit the fan. Then in his 20s, Kosta was ostracised from his largely conservative family.
His father Alexo refused to accept his son and would hurl insults at him at family events. Kosta’s mother kept in contact but was caught in the middle of her husband’s anger.
Homophobia was pretty rampant in our family, because they were all old European and had no understanding or comprehension of what we are, Kosta tells Sydney Star Observer.
Kosta, 42, is the third oldest of 27 first cousins on his mother’s side. Among his youngest cousins was Tony Radevski, a filmmaker who decided to turn his lens on his older relation.
Tony’s at the youngest end. For 10 years I was gone from the family. The older generation know me of course -¦ but for him it was mind-blowing to think -˜who is this person?’
Once he got to know me he realised how ludicrous the whole thing was.
About four years ago Radevski started shooting The Prodigal Son, a documentary about Kosta’s relationship with his parents that screens on SBS TV next week.
The emotional work won the Most Popular Film award at this year’s Flickerfest short film festival, but for its protagonists there was more at stake than public approval.
We did it for two reasons. Firstly it was that [my father and I] could tell each other things that we normally would not say to each other face-to-face, Kosta says.
And secondly it was like therapy for us. We got a lot of stuff out, off our chests.
We didn’t realise how deep it was going to go.
Alexo -“ now in his late 70s -“ also gets a chance to put his views on camera.
Even animals know what is male and what is female, but my son, he doesn’t, Alexo observes at one point in the film.
Later -“ despite a lung cancer diagnosis -“ Alexo vows to fetch his rifle if Ted brings Anthony to visit again.
I hate that other guy so much I could kill him, Alexo blusters.
That would be enough to lose some sons for good, but Ted finds sympathy for a father who is at the tail end of his life.
It’s unresolved [but] I’m ever optimistic, he says.Once upon a time you couldn’t mention Anthony -¦ now you can mention him over and over again without getting a rise. That to me means that he’s come some way forward.
The Prodigal Son screens on SBS TV on Wednesday 3 May at 7:30pm.