Let’s start this post off with a simple and obvious statement: I’m gay.
I haven’t always been as comfortable saying that as I am now even though I’ve known for a long time.
I first realised I liked girls and not boys when I was about 7. I seemed to idolise (almost obsess) over girls but I couldn’t figure out why. I thought I was the only person that felt like that and, for a while, I thought I was alone.
Later, someone finally told me what “gay” meant (they’d been batting this word around but no-one would tell me what it meant…) and it felt like such a relief. If there was a word to describe how I felt then surely I wasn’t alone?
Eventually I realised I wasn’t alone. Well not in terms of how I felt but definitely in terms of expressing it.
After an awful day at school I came out to my neighbour. It wasn’t your standard “I’m gay” coming out in fact it was more of a “I REALLY LIKE HER BUT SHE DOESN’T KNOW!” type coming out. But it held the same meaning. She was very accepting which I appreciate so much looking back especially seeing as we were quite young (I was 13 and she was 12). For a while I was happy with just her knowing but I knew that sooner or later I would have to tell my mum.
I didn’t choose the best time. It was late at night and she was engrossed in some crime programme when I stumbled down the stairs, teary and emotionally worn out. I told her and instantly burst into tears. She couldn’t seem to understand why I crying and simply told me that it was fine and that I should get some sleep. That was the beginning of a great support network for me and up until this day she has been nothing but wonderful.
I know that isn’t the case with everyone’s parents so I am ridiculously lucky to have a mum who understands so much. I’ll never underestimate how much of an influence she’s had on making me the happy, confident person that I am today.
Next I told a friend of mine on the way home from school when I was around 15. I cried for ages and she just kept telling me that it was ok. I should have known that she already had an idea that I might have been gay but the relief was immediate and overwhelming. I don’t think I’ve ever properly thanked her for listening to all my girl problem related rants and putting up with my constant whining so she deserves a lot of praise. She has been right by my side throughout some rough sexuality stuff but I know I can count on her.
Almost two years after that I had a splurge of telling people. These coming outs took place at school on sports day, outside my house, outside the toilets at school and on the way to sociology. All of these were so special in their own separate ways as with each one I felt a weight had lifted off my shoulders and I had opened up to another person. I had yet more people walking right beside me as I tried to figure things out. And I love that. I have no idea why I didn’t tell them earlier. These people are the people who, along with all their predecessors, I turn to when I have a problem and ring up when I need to have a good laugh.
But one of the most memorable has to be the coming out that took place on Easter. I had been debating whether or not to tell this girl for some time. I’d been testing the water with the odd joke or two and she reacted fine. But I hadn’t prepared myself for the nausea that I would face when I told her or the reaction that she would give. She was brilliant and has been to this day. We walked around and talked about it and then we sat on a bench near the park and she turned to me and said “You were joking right?” My stomach sank and I felt sicker than ever. Then she laughed and apologised; this is a trend that would follow for years. I would go into more depth about this coming out and what happened after it but needless to say her support and friendship meant a lot to me and still does.
Another memorable coming out was to a girl that I have known since I was 7. I had wanted to tell her for a long time because I felt like I had been living a lie and lying to her but I just couldn’t find the words. A week before I told her I had invited her out to see a film and just as I was about to tell her I bottled it. But, spurred on by my other friends, I took her to one side at lunch and told her. I was petrified not because I thought she would react badly but because I felt like I had let her down by not telling her and I was worried that she’d be offended that I hadn’t told her before. But, once again, the reaction was brilliant. She, like most other people, said she already knew and has been lovely. I can speak to her about absolutely anything and I feel so thankful to have a friend like her.
Finally I had to come out at work.
I told one of my friends on the first day that I met her at work. Then, pretty quickly, I came out to everyone else. It was a great feeling as I didn’t have to hide behind gender neutral nouns and a made up boyfriend.
And that’s it I guess. I’ve know I’ve been extremely lucky and I know I have a great support network around me and I never forget that they’ve made me the person I am today.
Phew, that was long!