Long Lost Family viewers in tears over siblings separated for 40 years… because the brother was chucked out for being gay

Maureen Charlton, from Stockton-on-Tees, first appeared on the show seven years ago – and was revisited on Long Lost Family: What Happened Next today.

The gran was looking for her brother Michael, who had disappeared from her life 40 years earlier – in 1971 – when she was just 14.

Describing Michael as her "hero" Maureen, who had three brothers, said of her eldest sibling: "Nobody ever mentioned him, it was just 'OK he's gone'."

Maureen said she was told by her mum not to ever mention his name again, adding: "She was just erasing him from her memory.

"I think she was hoping over the years that I would forget I ever had an elder brother."

It wasn't until her mum died in 2007, and the family were discussing the funeral, that her brother Graham revealed why Michael had been disowned.

Maureen told the ITV cameras: "He's gay, so what? That is a pathetic excuse to disown anyone. He was 21 years old and he must have been devastated."

Happily Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell helped to reunite the siblings – after finding Michael living in Brighton – and they've been repairing their relationship for the past seven years.

But the What Happened Next show revealed life after the reunion was "a slow process" for the pair – with Michael admitting: "I didn't know Maureen anymore."

Maureen agreed, adding: "The Michael I remember was a typical 21-year-old.

"If I'd walked past him in the street I wouldn't have recognised him. All those years we'd wasted because people couldn't be honest."

While Michael admitted: "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 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 concluded: "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."

While Maureen said: "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."

This series of Long Lost Family will also feature a man with a life-threatening heart disease, who was saved after reuniting with his birth parents on the show.

 Long Lost Family: What Happened Next is on ITV1 on Mondays at 9pm.

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