It’s been a while since I’ve submitted any articles, partly because I’ve been moving and partly because what writing I have been doing seems to be turning into a bit of a beast. A big gay-related beast! I won’t give much away (in fact I’ve given nothing away) but I suspect I may park the beast for the moment and save it for a rainy day.
Last month everyone has been talking about ‘coming out’ and what this means to people. In my mind coming out is a very personal thing and means different things to different people. But what does it mean to be ‘out’ and why is coming out still a thing for the gay community? Are we making a mountain out of a mole hill?
When I was 18 (all those many years ago) I pretty much knew what I was and that girls just held no interest for me at all. However, no matter how good my friends were or how close I felt to them I didn’t feel that while at college I could ‘out myself’ to everyone. I think this was mainly because I was scared of losing the friends I had worked so hard to earn – I wasn’t a very popular kid when I started high school (I looked like Harry Potter). That and of the guys that had declared themselves as gay in my year were, how shall we say, ‘bad examples of gay men’ that didn’t have a nice word to say about anyone.
I remember one occasion when one of them decided to be incredibly bitchy to a friend that had simply and politely said hello to him. Having overheard this I quickly stepped into action and launched a tirade of abuse at said boy reducing him and his ‘posse’ to tears. While this isn’t something I am necessarily proud of I stand by that action as it was one of many incidents where this person had spat poison at the world and spitting poison at the innocent is a step too far.
At the time I felt like I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. My experience of being gay up until that point was two very camp, very bitchy gay guys in my year that had a very close group of friends but other than that was on the outer edges of the school social groups. Do I out myself and declare myself as different to them or just keep shtum as being different doesn’t make a difference?
The moment I left college (literally that afternoon) and after quite a few drinks down the local Wetherspoons I did out myself and the majority of my friends did the usual response stating that they already knew and this was old news. I didn’t know whether to be flattered or not, in my mind I hadn’t given anything away – I was the perfect model of a “straight teenager”. Or so I thought.
It’s only now looking back that actually I remember a few house parties where hands would wander and my crush on two boys in my class (one at a time I might add). The first one was tall, thin and blonde. He was laid back, took everything as cool as you like, and was good with his hands and just yum. I had thought I was discreet but clearly my gawping at him didn’t go un-noticed. That and I used to make up stuff just so he would talk to me. (You can see why me being gay was obvious to people can’t you??).
The other one was a member of my close group of friends. Tall, thin but this one was sporty. Sweet as you like but very teenage male, which kind of made him even hotter. Anywho, when at house parties it was my hands that would go wandering (or a cheeky feel of certain areas).
Given all that I think that I made more of an issue of coming out that I should have done. Clearly I wanted to, and it was abundantly obvious that I was but in my head coming out would end the world and sees me back as the lonely boy I was in the first year of high school.
Coming out to my mum was just as traumatic, but for completely different reasons. At the time I was seeing someone (not quite first love but close) and it had ended abruptly as he was shagging his ex and couldn’t have the spine enough to look me in the eye to tell me. So I was sat at home crying my eyes out and saw fit to dump all this on my mum and seek some motherly comfort. Not the best way to do it, but none the less got it done. Tears were had but no anger or issues and now she thinks it’s wonderful.
My dad on the other hand is another kettle of fish. As with my school mates I strongly suspect that he knows, especially as I’m 26 and have never brought home a girlfriend or even mentioned one. I did agree with myself that once I had moved out from the family home that I would sit him down and tell him as I was then out and standing on my own two feet. If he then chose to have an issue with it I wouldn’t be living under his roof. I doubt he will, but it’s that little voice in the back of the head that says “be careful”.
I am currently out of the family home and still haven’t had ‘the conversation’. I am going steady with someone and he has met my mum and brothers family and technically has met my dad, but not as “Hi Dad, this is the man I love”. I know I should just get it out of the way but something just stops me from doing so. Which isn’t me at all, usually I look people in the eye and tell them how things are. I can’t stand people that shake off their responsibilities, especially if a relationship is coming to an end. But here I am, shying away from doing something that could well be a mole hill and not a mountain…
At work technically speaking I am not “out” but that isn’t through wanting to hide my sexuality that is more to do with that I just don’t discuss such things at work. Some of the people know as I know them outside of the office but on the whole they don’t and actually I’m not fussed if they do or do not know. If that’s lazy state of ‘in the closet’ then fine, I’m being lazy!
In a time where discrimination is still rife I understand the fear people have and why people therefore fear the damage that coming out does. I would however encourage everyone to really think and see if this is truly a mountain or a mole hill? Is the damage real or is the news already out and the damage not what you think? Sometimes it will be, sometimes it won’t.
But always remember to do what feels right for you and what works. Coming out is a personal thing so never feel pressured into doing or not doing anything. No one has the right to force you into coming out, not even a partner.
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.