There comes a time in a young gay mans life where he reaches the decision to ‘come out’ to his nearest and dearest. Its probably the scariest moment in that young gay mans’ entire life, yet every single gay person does it in some form and deals with it in an entirely different way.
I will never ever forget the first time my mum became ‘aware’ of my sexual persuasion – at the time I was staying with my grandparents on the south coast of England, in Folkestone, and my mum was back home in Nottingham.
She had just started a computer course and thought that while I was away, she would see if she could access her newly set-up hotmail account without my assistance.
At the time (can’t quite remember the exact year – 2001/2, maybe…), I was what you’d call obsessed with a certain boyband called ‘a1’.
I have no idea why I was so obsessed, but I really fancied Mark (bottom-right in the above picture). I was on the fan’s website all the time – posting on the forum’s and things – and one day came across an address to write a letter to Mark himself, directly.
I was so excited I didn’t really know what to do with myself – but I composed a letter in which I expressed my deepest and darkest thoughts and feelings towards him and the band, including the incredibly naive line “If you respond to this letter please don’t mention that I’m gay as my mum doesn’t know and she may open the letter before me”.
I saved this letter on my desktop, entitled “Letter to Mark”. I never sent it but knew it was there, waiting to go. You can guess what happened.
There I was, hundreds of miles away, having a great time on holiday (as much as you CAN be on holiday in Folkestone anyway!), when I received a text from mum.
“Is there something you wanna tell me?”
I thought.. that’s a bit odd! What does she mean? I obviously replied questioning what she was on about, to which she replied:
“Letter to Mark? I opened it. Is there something you wanna tell me?”
And at that moment in my life, I will never ever forget the feeling of anxiety, nervousness, sickness and general shakey-ness I experienced. I felt physically sick and didn’t know what to do with myself.
I feel ashamed that for the next 5 or 6 years I completely denied that I was gay – told mum it was just a phase, ‘I thought I might be but i’m not’, anything I could think of to stop her asking questions about the details that I had written in that letter to Mark. She would have been fine with it, if I was gay, but when you’re that young you just want to close everyone out completely and try and deal with it yourself.
Then, in 2006, I did it.
I’ve said in a previous entry on this blog my intentions and reasoning for coming out in 2006 (well, coming out properly, anyway).
I was about to start work on a production of ‘The Price Is Right’, which would be filmed up in Manchester. I was 6 months into my new career in television (an industry which completely changed my life), and the rest of the guys on the production team were gay.
As I slowly become more and more comfortable with the person I was I thought to myself – “When we go out after work in Manchester, one of the biggest gay capital’s in the UK, all the gay guys will go off in a group together, all the girls will go off in a group together – and I will be left on my own!” This, seriously, was the thought that made me come out.
That evening, on my commute back to Folkestone (in order to work in TV in London I moved in with my grandparents for a while so I could establish myself a bit), I decided to bite the bullet.
Now I guess I chickened out a little bit, as I did it via text – but I seriously could not have spoken out the words over the phone to people. The first person I texted was Tim, the Floor Manager on the show. I shall never forget his response – it was short, sweet, simple and so enveloping with warmth and love – no shock, no awe, just simply “Welcome to the fold”.
This opened the floodgates and I told my mum, aunties, friends and colleagues. Not one person texted back with disgust, shock or distain. My mum, of course after the earlier events in my life, already knew. As did my aunties, which kind of took the shine off the whole thing a little bit – but I guess it was still a lovely feeling.
There were two people I didn’t tell for another year or so, and that was my Grandma and Grandad. I have no idea why, but I just couldn’t bring myself to tell them whilst I was living with them. My Grandma – and I know this sounds weird – was my father figure. Back at home when I was little, my mum would be out at work and my Grandma would always be the one to pick me up from school, I’d spend my school holidays there, and we’d do everything together. I was scared that because of her age she may not have the same reaction as everyone else in my life. I couldn’t have been further from the truth. When I eventually did tell her, she just said “I will always love you no matter what”.
For some reason, writing that line from my Grandma has brought tears to my eyes (she passed away in 2008, aged 68), but she was and always will be one of the loves in my life.
So there’s my coming out story – not particularly exciting or anything – but for anyone out there who may be in the same position as I had been – please do not feel like you are alone, or that when you reveal who you are the people you love will discard you, because nothing could be further from the truth. Being gay is not a choice, you are born with it. You can’t learn it from anyone or be preached to about becoming gay. If someone asks you “How long have you known you were gay?” Simply reply and ask them “How long have you known you were straight?”.
Much Love. xxx