It can be hard enough being the only gay in the family, but what’s it like when your brother is gay too? Does it mean the coming out process is easier? Or does it make it worse, as you both have to worry about how to tell mum and dad?

We hooked up with two dashing brothers from Rochdale, Kevin Grogan, a 30 year old actor who’s currently on the UK tour of Joseph, and freelance illustrator Tony Fran (he changed his surname after discovering there is another illustrator called Tony Grogan) to tell us about their experience. And as you’ll see in this first of two interviews (tomorrow the guys talk about their secondary careers as drag queens – yes, REALLY!) being gay siblings wasn’t always a bed of roses….

Wow, two gay brothers! First of all, when did you both realise you were gay?

Tony: Is it cliche to say on some level I always knew I was gay, even before knowing what gay was. The only thing I can remember was late one night in high school I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about this guy who was in my class. He wasn’t a bully per say, but he did make fun of me whilst around his friends, but when it was just the two of us he was the sweetest guy and I felt a connection to him and I didn’t know what it was. Then he got a girlfriend and we didn’t spend time alone anymore and I felt sick at night because he was all I could think about. I thought to myself ‘I can’t let people see that this bothers me. I need to pretend I fancy girls whilst at school, but alone in my room I’ll think of him’

Kevin: I was being told I was gay by other children long before I started having feelings for guys. I spent my childhood repressing my feelings because I was scared of failing in life. Back in the mid 90s people weren’t really out and those that were, were not taken seriously. I remember possibly being 11 or 12 and catching a glimpse of a gay sex scene on TV late one night, it might have been Queer As Folk? They were missionary position. Anyway I was trying to figure out how it was possible for two men to have sex that way. It sparked a curiosity in me but I shut it all out until I was 20.

In the second part of this brotherly interview, Kevin and Tony tell us how they fell into the world of drag queens and Tony tells how he helped his boyfriend – The Voice’s Vangelis – overcome his fear of drag queens!

Kevin and Tony

Kevin and Tony

Did you both know the other was gay?

Tony: I absolutely 100% knew my brother was gay. I kept finding stacks of porn everywhere. I just wanted him to tell me himself so he knew it was ok, so I kept trying to say things to prompt him into saying ‘oh by the by, I’m gay’ but he didn’t. One night whilst I was in college I just plucked up the courage and phoned him (well actually my cousin saw me making out with a guy so I kinda felt like I should tell someone before it turns into Chinese whispers). Kevin was living in London at the time. I told him that I was gay and sort of expected him to say it back…but he didn’t. Then there was a little radio silence between the two of us and I got really pissed off with him. Then he got in touch with me but didn’t bring up our last conversation but invited me down to London to stay with him and his ‘friend’ for the weekend. When I arrived we sat down and then he told me he was gay. I thought ‘about bloody time!?’

Tony and Kevin

Tony and Kevin

Was it an easy process for you?

Kevin: Coming out was so terrifying because I thought I would lose everything. I was worried that I would be disowned, that I wouldn’t have a career. It was such a surprise to me that I felt so free after coming out. Being in the theatre industry certainly helped.

Did you have extra confidence because you had each other?

Tony: Erm…as far as I can remember we both weren’t particularly popular growing up, so we couldn’t really rely on each other to have each other’s back. The thing I love the most about Kevin is when we would spend time together we would never discuss our problems, they never mattered when we were together. We were always just creating characters and getting lost in the stories we wrote and just having fun. I feel like when we are together, even now, we escape the world and just do our own thing and it’s fucking awesome.

Kevin: When people discover I’m gay it’s very easy for me to add ‘and my brother is gay too’ and that gets people thinking rather than judging. I always found mentioning him gave me a boost and people get so interested about the fact that there are two of us from the same family. We often joke that we are waiting for our sister to come out next haha.



Was it easy to tell your parents – did you do it separately or did you do it over time?

Tony: I told my sister waaaaay before I told my parents. My dad went down to London to help Kevin move house and I didn’t know he’d told my dad until I came home from college and saw my mum upset. I asked her if she was ok and she told me that Kevin was gay. I was shocked because I didn’t know he was going to tell them. I just thought ‘I can’t let my mum go through this again, it’s now or never so I just blurted it out, whilst my mum was still in shock over Kevin. And – I love you mum but I’m sorry I’m going to have to trash talk you – she said she thought I was attention seeking and sent me to my room without dinner. I spoke to Kevin on the phone and told him what had happened and he told me how he came out.

Kevin: It was hard! Every time there was an opportunity I totally chickened out. I was forced into telling them because I didn’t want them discovering I was living with my boyfriend and them having to deal with the shock of that. I called my mum and told her. The first thing she said was ‘What?!? Are you sure?’ Then she denied it then she got angry and then cried and then she said ‘don’t tell your dad, I’ll tell him’. He came to help us (me and my boyfriend at the time) move apartments the next day and didn’t speak to me at all. Once we had unpacked everything my dad had to get a wardrobe from my boyfriend’s parents house for us. It was only a 20 minute drive away but he was gone for hours. When he came back he told me he’d been talking to my boyfriend’s dad about everything and then he told me he loved me. That was when I knew everything was going to be OK!

How was school?

Tony: School wasn’t an easy time but it taught me an awful lot. I’ve been bullied since as far back as I can remember (I still get bullied now) and it was always because of the way I looked or the way I spoke. My dad taught me from a very early age that you have to stick up for yourself and your beliefs because nobody else is going to do it for you. So I got into a lot of fights at school. I don’t condone violence but I would always try to defend myself (which didn’t always end well). I feel like if I hadn’t stood up for myself I definitely wouldn’t be who I am now. It definitely made me a much stronger a person.

Kevin: I was very good at avoiding getting bullied and beaten up by becoming friends with the bully’s. I had kind of a ring of protection around me. Because I was smart and slight of build I was both useful for doing other people’s homework and non threatening. It wasn’t worth the trouble to pick on me.



Were you both close or did you lead separate lives ?

Tony: I think we lived too completely different lives. I felt like I was always being compared to Kevin because he was older. So I found myself making different choices at times just to be different, even if I truly didn’t want to.

Kevin: We were inseparable until we hit puberty. Once the hormones kicked in we grew apart for such a long time but I wish that never happened. As kids we made our own stories up together. We had dreams of making TV shows and becoming successful together and he was my best friend. Hiding my sexuality from him was the worst decision because deceiving each other and keeping secrets was the start of when we grew apart.

Are you both very different kinds of gay men?

Tony: A lot of people say we look the same, but I disagree completely. I would say we have similar characteristics however, like our mannerisms are pretty similar. And even though we’ve both gone our separate ways and gone off doing totally different things, we appreciate the same things which is great and weird at the same time. We’re both full-time geeks! Playing computer games till the early hours of the morning and reading shit loads of comic books. When we get into a TV series it’s usually the same one and we just have to talk about it with each other because nobody else is interested. And we both LOVE a good cup of tea (being northern) it’s a slight obsession. But I would definitely say Kevin is way more laid back than myself. Kevin is more a live for right now and cross that bridge when you come to it. I on the other hand have to know what bridges I’m going to cross and I’ll add a couple more just incase one bridge collapses.

Kevin: Tony is loud, stubborn and hard to please. He’s such a perfectionist but that makes him so good at what he does. We are both totally different types of gay men. He’s far more flamboyant than I and he’s totally outrageous and unbelievably outspoken but that’s what I love about him. He’s pretty much everything that I’m not which is why we can also fall out. A LOT.


You say you went off and did different things – tell us about that time?

Tony: When Kevin moved to London I stayed up north and lived in Manchester. I got a job in a shopping centre which opened way more doors for me than I ever thought it would and I started building an incredible portfolio of illustration work. I was always driven into making my stories a reality and was spending so much time trying to get in with the right people. Before I knew it I’d received an amazing commission from CBeebies and life was making me feel pretty confident. Me and my boyfriend at the time decided to invest in a bar (he’d always wanted one and I’d always wanted to live abroad) so we moved to Spain and OUT BAR was born. Spain was amazing for a while. I got so toned, had skin like Cleopatra and started experimenting more with my sexuality and my ex and I decided to bring someone else into our relationship. Sadly, that was the end of us. That experience was such a mixture of emotions I still don’t know if it was a good or bad being in a thruple.

Kevin: I moved away to Blackpool in 2003 and then to the London School of Musical Theatre and London has been my base ever since. We had spent the best part of 10 years without really spending any time together. I went off and started working professionally as an actor and I really thought our close relationship days were over because we rarely had any sort of contact. Coming out to him in 2006 was the start of reconnecting but It wasn’t until he had a bad breakup in 2012 that brought us really close again and we’ve been super close again ever since.

In the second part of this brotherly interview, Kevin and Tony tell us how they fell into the world of drag queens and Tony tells how he helped his boyfriend – The Voice’s Vangelis – overcome his fear of drag queens!