A man who was kicked out of his family home for being gay has been reunited with his little sister after 40 years, and the emotional reunion has internet in tears.
Maureen Charlton, from Stockton-on-Tees, spent more than seven years searching for her brother Michael after learning that he was forced to leave the family when she was 14 years old.
The 55-year-old woman learned the truth about Michael from her other older brother Graham after her mother died in 2007 because the mother had banned any mention of him in the family. The siblings had reunited in 2014 thanks to the Long Lost Family team.
However, people across the globe were once again left in tears as the emotional reunion from 2014 was revisited in the ITV’s ‘What Happened Next’, which aired on Monday evening.
‘I can’t cope with #LongLostFamily,’ one viewer wrote with multiple crying emojis.
‘Imagine carrying a baby for 9 months going through all the sickness and the kicks and the flutters to disown your child for being attracted to the same sex. Not a loving bone in her body. Cruel. Poor Maureen and Michael,’ added one.
Another wrote: ‘So sad that Michael’s parents kicked him out cause he was gay but so lovely his sister never gave up on him.’
‘Not welcome in his family because he was gay is heartbreaking. Michael is lovely,’ said another.
The reunion wasn’t easy as the siblings were seeing each other after four decades. Michael said: ‘I didn’t know Maureen anymore.’
Maureen agreed, saying: ‘The Michael I remember was a typical 21-year-old.
‘If I’d walked past him in the street I wouldn’t have recognized him. All those years we’d wasted because people couldn’t be honest.’
Michael still remembers the pain of being rejected by the family. He said: ‘It still hurts to get told I wasn’t welcome in the house anymore, that just shattered me.
‘And it was meant – that was the last time I stepped foot in that house.
‘To suddenly realise that she [Maureen] did care, and she always had done, it was overwhelming. But I didn’t want to get hurt again.’
Maureen who thinks of Michael as her ‘hero’ said: ‘I can understand where he was coming from, but it was hard for me as well – because I lost a brother I adored to bits, and for 40 years I had no idea why, and that was painful.
‘The more me and Michael have got closer, I think it’s healed us both.’
Michael said: ‘I am who I am, I would not alter my life and for Maureen to accept that, that makes a lot of difference, because I don’t feel half as empty, I feel as though I’ve got my family back.
‘I feel like a big brother now. After all these years, I’ve got that feeling back.’
Maureen added: ‘Life wasn’t the same for 40 odd years, it was always as if a piece of me was missing, and now that piece is back. I couldn’t be more happy.’
When their mother died in 2007, Maureen learned the truth from her other brother that Michael was told to leave the family for being gay.
‘I was so mad. You mean to say to me that my brother has been living a separate life from us.’
Maureen said she would have been able to stand by her brother if she’d have been older: ‘He’s gay, so what? That is a pathetic excuse to disown anyone. He was 21 years old and he must have been devastated.’
Watch the emotional reunion here.