“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
Bernard M. Baruch
Since I started blogging, I’ve received messages from guys who are struggling with their sexuality or generally asking me about how I came out. It’s not particularly something I’ve ever felt the need to speak about, because, well why? But from speaking to others, it became quite clear that not everybody is quite as lucky as I was. So, I think it’s actually quite important to share my coming out story, because it wasn’t followed by negativity or shame.
So here is mine…
Coming out as a gay man is incredibly nerve-wracking. You create awful scenarios in your head, over-think everything and think the worst. Many know their sexual orientation from a young age, I wasn’t quite the same. I think I was in some sort of blissful denial. Of course, I’d had thoughts, but I was so uneducated about what it meant, it somehow didn’t comprehend in my brain – I was young after all. As I got older, ‘gay’ comments were made at school, which never really phased me. Let’s be honest, school is a bastard of a place – it’s eat or be eaten! And I loved my time at school. I never had confidence issues and was quite popular, outspoken and comfortable with myself. Everybody got picked on. I had a sassy mouth and was never shy in returning any abuse.
At 16, I began seeing a girl who I ended up being with for two years – I adored her. She was stunning and two years older than I was. It was towards the end of our relationship that I really knew that I was gay. It was an odd and confusing time. I’d finally realised I was gay, and yet, I was in a relationship with a girl who I felt a lot of love for and had built a foundation with. I remember feeling really trapped and anxious, and I’m very much a person who needs to talk to people when I’m upset. I knew the first person I wanted to tell was my best friend Emily – who is now Queen of the gays. All of her friends are gay and lesbian, she lives for it. We were 17 and on a night out. To give me the courage, I got absolutely hammered (I am not promoting underage drinking, make good choices kids). We stumbled out of the bar to get drunken food, I began to vomit on the street – I’d like to say i’ve become classier with age, but who am I kidding?
“She didn’t judge me for coming to terms with my sexuality whilst being in a relationship with a woman.”
Emily was patting my back, and in-between my gasps for air, I told her that I was gay. Unsurprisingly, as a best friend, she knew. She was incredible and has been throughout our 14-years of friendship. She didn’t judge me for coming to terms with my sexuality whilst being in a relationship with a woman, she just listened. I’ll forever be thankful to her for being the person I wanted to confide in first. It’s not often you make a friendship that lasts a lifetime, but she’s an amazing human being. But thank god she moved to a new house because that night, I vomited on every single one of her neighbour’s flower beds – TEHE?
Being two years older than I was, it was time for my girlfriend to go to university. She had chosen the University of Exeter, which was a long way away from where we lived. I’m so ashamed to admit this, but I felt relief. It was my easy escape from the relationship and the start of being my true self. I always carry guilt when I think of her, (without sounding arrogant) she really liked me. I was at such a confusing stage and was being incredibly selfish, so she ended up getting hurt.
Telling Emily gave me that little bit of confidence, so I knew my sister would be the next person I’d tell. We were at Emily’s aunties 50th birthday. I didn’t feel anxious telling my sister, nobody loves me quite like she does. I was trying to find the right moment to tell her, which somehow ended up being in the disabled toilet. She dropped her drawers and began peeing in front of me – what a perfect moment! We truly were (and still are) gross. She jumped with joy gave me a huge kiss and dragged me to the dance floor to check out guys together. I can’t quite remember if she washed her hands…
“My parents knew I was gay.”
I came out to my parents a little sooner then I’d expected. Not that this was an issue, they’re two of the most liberal people on earth. I’d have just preferred to have done it in my own time. My parents knew I was gay, we would be sat in the living room together and my mum would randomly say they wouldn’t have any issue if my sister was a lesbian and emphasise the importance of being yourself. They’re not the most subtle of parents, but they tried! *eye roll*
We had our sixth form prom and they had a photo-booth, I was in there with a guy having pictures and we kissed. This guy is straight, he’s just one of those guys who just doesn’t care. I had lots of pictures in the booth and I kept them all. The weekend after, I went to visit my sister for the weekend and she received a text from my mum. Mum had been cleaning my room and I’d left these photo-booth pictures on my bed. She looked through the images and saw the picture of me kissing a boy. She messaged my sister to ask if I had left them there on purpose to tell her I was gay. Mother clearly is an over-thinker. I wasn’t ready to tell them yet, so I got really angry at her. We’re both very feisty, which ended up with us both not talking to one another. I arrived home and went straight to my room. Later that day I went downstairs (hunger struck) and my dad was sat watching TV in the kitchen. He asked me if I had a nice weekend with my sister and made small talk. I took a deep breath and said I’m sure mum had told him about the picture. I explained that the guy in the picture is straight, but I wasn’t. His response? “I know, fancy a dominos?”
“For many men, hearing your only son is gay can be difficult to take.”
Dad’s reaction really made me realise how I had over-reacted. He was so unphased by my news – for many men, hearing your only son is gay can be difficult to take. Fast-forward a few hours and dad consumed a few alcoholic beverages and deciding to strike up an emotional heart-to-heart. Unfortunately, this isn’t a rarity. He’s an emotional soul.
The next day, Mum still wasn’t speaking to me due to how I reacted to her seeing the photos on my bed and messaging my sister. She’s stubborn! I sat on the kitchen table whilst she rummaged through the fridge. I told her I’d like to speak with her. She leaned on the kitchen counter in front of me whilst I explained. As I said the words “I’m gay” her expression didn’t change. It was as though she thought I wasn’t finished. She was waiting for me to tell her the bad news. I told her that was all and she replied: “Straight, Gay or Bisexual, I still don’t like ya!” Mother always had a way with words, she’s very loving, Ha!
Once we made up, we had a more in-depth conversation. My mum said something to me that i’ll always remember. She told me she would look at my ex-girlfriend and I and it didn’t look natural, I looked uncomfortable and it just didn’t seem real to her. It wasn’t until she saw me with Craig that she saw me truly happy, comfortable and it looked natural. Both of my parents casual reactions to the words “I’m gay” was refreshing. This is how it should be. Incredible parenting.
So I was now out to Emily, my sister and my parents, and was in my final year of sixth form. I’d never want to come out whilst at school. Walking into the sixth form common room and having everybody go silent and look at you wasn’t my idea of fun. So I waited until I left school.
It’s standard for your friendship group to go on a drunken holiday before everyone separates for university. The majority of our year chose to go to Magaluf, so (obviously hammered, it’s Magaluf) I came out to individual people. A few days after we arrived, the ‘lads’ of the year turned up, who I was never particularly close to. I told them about my sexual orientation and I was blown away by their reaction. They all hugged me and were incredible. I told the guys I was friends with when we arrived home a week later (they chose to go to Malia). They didn’t have any reaction to me being gay, they were just pissed off that I told the other guys first! Sensitive much?
“I was starting a new chapter of my life as the person I was trying so hard to discover.”
After summer, I left home and moved to Nottingham for university, where I was around wonderful people. I was starting a new chapter of my life as the person I was trying so hard to discover. I was finally me, finally completely confident in myself and who I was. But I couldn’t be completely happy until I spoke to one person – my ex-girlfriend. I was shaking as I sent her a message. I apologised for being distant during the end of our relationship, I explained why I cut her out when she left for university and that I was sorry. She messaged me back to tell me that I had nothing to apologise for, we were young and she was glad that I was happy – because that’s all that matters. I cried when I read the words. I felt such relief. She was a great girl and I hope she is happy.
When I came out as gay, I could breathe, I didn’t have to take on this butch persona. I remember I would analysis the way I would walk and I’d talk in a deeper voice (a voice I still do now when nervous, my friends call it my man voice). But now? Honey I mince down the streets of London, wearing the most outlandish get-up!
I’ve experienced very minimal homophobia, which I am thankful for. I’m blessed for the people I have around me. You all know who you are. For those who are struggling with your sexuality and who you are, you’ll get there. It’s a confusing and unsure time, but it’s nothing that time, self-love and love from another being cannot solve. You just need to find your pieces of the puzzle and put them together.
Be completely unapologetic for who you are – love wins.