I was recently thinking about when I came out. I always told people I came out on facebook to my parents with just “I’m gay’, that isn’t untrue but it was a bit more in depth than just those two words. I actually wrote a massive message to my parents, I was really scared of being rejected by the two people I loved most in the world. I didn’t want to be seen differently to the person I was and still am regardless of my sexual orientation. I just knew I had to tell them because keeping this secret from them was slowly eating me up from the inside. I had told my friends the year before in 2012 and instantly felt a lot better about it; I can’t explain the relief I felt telling someone else my secret and the feeling I felt when they accepted me. As one of friends put it “I’d have been more surprised if you were telling us you were straight to be honest.” Telling my parents was a bit different, if my friends rejected me I could’ve made more but if my parents rejected me I couldn’t.
I have written this because over the last few years I have watched, experienced and heard the abuse, the rejection and the isolation people like me have to put up with. I have watched as politicians debate if people like me are deserving of the same basic human rights as they are. I have listened to heterosexual people tell me that people like me don’t need pride and we are just rubbing it in their faces, ironically the same people ask me what is the point of pride? They don’t think we should have pride but are so ignorant that they can’t even educate themselves before they make such a statement. I have had to listen to questions from people who have asked me “why did you choose to be gay?”. I have sat in a room with a group of heterosexual people as they debate if I should be allowed to marry the person I fall in love with and then be told “you lot can’t expect everything.”I don’t expect everything just the same rights as everyone else. I’ve also been asked to share my experiences of homophobia then been told by a heterosexual lady that I have upset and offended people and that I should edit my answer using less offensive words. You can’t ask for reality and lived experience and then have the audacity to tell the person who has shared their reality and lived experience that their reality and lived experience is too offensive; what you do by doing that is disregard them as a human being.
I wish I didn’t have to come out but until people are just accepted for who they are and we focus less on who someone is having consensual sex with or what is their pants we will need to keep coming out and we will carry on needing pride.
I wanted to be the ‘normal’ guy with the good job and the nice house but mostly I wanted to be the guy with the wife and kids – the so called ‘normal’ guy and I was scared that if I told my parents that I wasn’t going to be that guy they would reject me, after all in my head I thought who would want a gay son? Of course I can still have all that swapping the wife for a husband obviously but at the time my only thought was would my parents want me.
Before I came out, I hated the idea of being attracted to men, I hated the fact that my crush when I was a teenage was Zac Efron from high school musical and I couldn’t say anything to anyone. I hated the fact I was attracted to the boys in school and not the girls. I spent my high school and college years wishing I could be the person I knew I was, but instead I tried everything to try and distract attention away from my own sexuality by saying others were gay. I wished I could be the gay guy I knew I was but I felt I needed to be the so called ‘normal’ guy I knew I actually wasn’t. It sucked.
In 2013 I went to Canada and that was when I met more people like me and by like me, I mean these were gay people my age, having gay people my age around was a massive comfort to me because suddenly I realised there were people like me out there – admittedly that sounds a bit naive of course there were people like me out there! But I had never had a friend who was gay and my age, so by having some, really meant the world to me. While preparing to go to Canada I decided to join a website I had heard about called plenty of fish I created the profile with my hometown down as Vancouver (that way no one in my hometown would know my secret), One of the guys I spoke too, is now one of my best friends in Canada and I love him an awful lot. We started speaking in the October of 2012 and Skyped a few times before I met him in person in January 2013. It was when I started talking to this guy I slowly became more comfortable with my own sexuality. Having someone just to talk too about normal stuff, who was like me was a massive help to me on my journey to accepting that I was gay.
When people ask me about how I came out; I just told them that I just sent my parents a facebook message with “I’m gay” and that was that before changing the subject because I felt silly because I think it is silly that I had to come out. However I did send my parents a facebook message but it was a lot more in depth and I can remember everything from the moment I wrote it and what I was doing and what I was drinking to the moment I saw they had read it to the phone call from my parents and grandma about how much they loved me. When I wrote the message my belly felt like I had been punched not just once but over and over again. I felt sick to the core. I was sitting up the kitchen table at the place where I lived with some chocolate milk I was sitting with this guy who was bizarrely trying to sleep with me by talking about the British Sunday roast, odd way of trying to seduce someone, I know. Anyway I generally thought my parents would be disappointed with me if I confirmed what they probably already knew. Here I was in Canada thousands of miles away from home and I had just come out to my parents on facebook – this wasn’t the way I was meant to have done this but I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to tell them face to face because I don’t like drama and I also didn’t want to see their faces drop when they heard that their oldest son wasn’t going to have the wife and kids I assumed they may have hoped he would.
I looked back at the messages I sent my parents on the 24th March 2013 (25th March 2013 UK time) and even after all these years, reading them back gave me an odd feeling, I haven’t read the messages since the day I sent them and reading them back today felt like I was that nineteen year old who was worried about being a disappointment to my parents all over again. This is some of the message:
‘I’ve been wanting to tell you for ages but never knew how, I told my friends last year but never wanted to disappoint you but you’re gonna find out sooner or later……I have no interest in girls at all, I’m gay. I spent years hating myself because of it but after I told my friends I realised that no one cares really and why should they I’m still the same person after all. I still want to do well in life and still want to have a family. I still want to do you proud and I will. xx’
I have never shared that with anyone; not even my best friends and I guess I worried what they would think and hate the fact I had to come out when if I was into girls I wouldn’t have had too, I always just said I messaged those two words and that was it but I figured that by sharing my story maybe someone else will read it and feel inspired to come out, I was inspired by things I read to come out and inspired by the people I met.
People ask me why I am so obsessed with Canada and I figure its because when I was in Vancouver I was able to be the person I felt I could never have been in the town I was born. I struggled with my identify for a long time, even after I came out I still struggled because all this was so new to me. Nothing will be more scary to me than coming out. It’s a sad reality that coming out to people is not only still a thing but still a thing that scares us and it scares us because of the unknown. Even if you are super confident the people you tell will be accepting, you can never be 100% sure and once you have revealed that bit of information about yourself, you can’t take it back and it’s out of your hands who the person you tell, then tells.
I have come along way since 2013. My coming out wasn’t perfect at all and maybe it could have been different but I’ve come along way since then. I’ve grown as a person since then. I’ve learned a lot of lessons and met a lot of people since I came out, its not always been easy but whatever has happened these last years nothing has been harder than coming out; I can’t wait for the day when people don’t have to come out but until that day comes I hope people realise that coming out takes a lot of courage, the biggest fear for me was being rejected so if someone tells you they are lgbt+ just hug them and tell them its okay. They only want to be accepted for who they are.