Now that it’s been published in attitude magazine (available to buy digitally now. On shelves Wednesday) I can post the article….
Someone once said to me, when I was freshly out, that as a gay man you come out every day. Every new person you meet, every new job you get, every link you ever make; at some point during conversation the question will arise, “So what does your girlfriend do?” Or something similar. You see it’s no ones fault, but unfortunately we have a way to go before society see people as anything but ‘straight until proven gay’. Of course there are exceptions to this, if you fall into a particular stereotype of what is perceived to be gay, it can work in the opposite way.
But that one defining coming out moment? To myself, it was when I was fourteen and started to experiment sexually with men. My experiments had me pretty convinced I was gay, but I also had a few girlfriends to make sure. I didn’t want to make a big proclamation that I was gay, until I was certain. It was a big step to take. With regard to girls, though I loved their company, I never enjoyed the sex. Men were so much better!
It wasn’t until I was seventeen though that I came out to my family. You see, it was when I was seventeen that I fell in love. Head over heels in love. With a man I’ll call John. He was handsome, kind, funny, and I was besotted. He was also twenty-one years older than me. I kept our relationship a secret for a while, but my feelings were so intense that I couldn’t contain it. Also, at the time, a great girl friend of mine started to show an interest in being more than my friend. It came to a head one night when, after a brilliant evening out with her, we went for a kebab. She started to come onto me and in a panic I blurted out that I was gay and in love with a man! After the initial shock, my friend was amazing and very supportive. Amusingly the rest of the patrons cheered my decleration, and arm in arm, my friend and I left. The next day though, because she worked with me, my friends and most of my family, I went back and told them I’d said it just to put her off. It feels cowardly now, but I wasn’t quite ready to be fully honest.
Over the next few months I slowly told my family. My mum first. She was cool with me being gay, after all she was in a relationship with a woman herself, since her marriage to my dad had broken down. Mum was most worried about me seeing an older guy, but trusted my judgement. I was more mature than my seventeen years and had always preferred the company of older people. Once she had met John, her worries faded completely. I remember my middle sister Lorna found out purely by chance. I was on the phone to my boyfriend, in the bathroom at our family home. Our relationship was very tempestuous and, in a state, I remember shouting, “But I love you John!” My sister overheard and ran down to my mum going “Oh my god!!” Mum explained to her that she knew and was cool with it. Lorna gave me a hug and told me she loved me whatever. Bit by bit I told the rest of my family. I was lucky, no one had an issue. We are a very accepting family and I felt very loved. My other sisters Lynda and Lorraine can’t even remember me coming out. It’s just who I was.
By this stage though I was getting confused who knew the truth, who didn’t, and who thought I was just pretending to distract my interested friend. It was at the work Christmas party in 1998 that all the pretence got too much and, in a drunken blur, I stood up in the middle of the restaurant and shouted “Yes, I’m gay!!” I then remember Barbie Girl by Aqua coming onto the stereo. The way I boogied to that must have left no one in any doubt I was telling the whole truth now. I have never looked back since – though I no longer dance.
Inevitably, despite me being so in love, that first, tantalising relationship ended in 2001. It had run its course. It taught me a lot, but I realise it was never meant to last for ever. I’m glad to say we are still friends though.
Now, 16 years later, I am married to a truly wonderful man, who I believe I am meant to be with forever. Together we have 3 amazing children. I couldn’t be happier. I love being gay. I love life. I love my family.