Today is National coming out day and we wanted to share with you some coming out stories that have been sent in to us. Coming out can be scary, but there is a wonderful community waiting to welcome you. Here at Derbyshire Friend we can offer you all sorts of support, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Everyone’s coming out is different and there is no rush. There is no wrong or right time. You have to do what feels right for you.
These stories are all anonymous
“I first realised I was gay at a very young age, but I knew that it wasn’t normal to tell people, I would search for anything to do with gays either on tv or in newspapers when I was 13 I told my best friend and he told me he thought he was too, I started to experiment with boys at my school, but nobody used the word gay. I would secretly travel to Sheffield to an independent book shop which had a LGBT section an buy books to read. I officially came out when I was 16 to two of my best friends and from there I became part of the gay scene and eventually met a long term partner, when I first told my dad I told him I was bisexual as I thought that might be easier for him. From then on I have always been Out either in work or my personal life. It was completely freeing to be truly myself and not have to lie, I’m now 40 and have no interest in having people in my life who truly don’t accept who I am. I am a very Proud and happy gay man”
My Coming Out.
I grew up in a very small rural village in East Sussex. In my late teenage years I worked in the village pub where my Dad was the landlord. I knew from about the age of 16 I was attracted to guys and had experienced some sexual encounters. I had a very close but non sexual relationship with a guy called Tony who worked for my Dad. Tony and I were like brothers, he was a couple of years older than me and I idolised him. Tony lived in a caravan at the back of the pub. One particular night after drinking far too much Tony and I went back to the caravan and I believe that the amount we had drunk resulted in me making advances towards Tony, I told him I loved him and I kissed him. The following day Tony went into meltdown and told his Mum about the night before. Margaret, Tony’s Mum came and found me a threatened to tell my Dad that I was “ a dirty queer, that had abused her son”, she would give me one day to tell my Mum and Dad or she would tell the customers in Dad’s pub the following night. The pub was the centre of village life and I was terrified. I went home in tears and told my Mum what had happened and that I was gay, her response was “I’ve known for a long time, what you have done is wrong and we need to sort this all out”. My Mum told my Dad and both of them told my Sister. Dad phoned Margaret and told her how sorry he was for what I had done to Tony and I wouldn’t be working in the pub any more. I felt rejected by all my family and knew that I had to get out of the village, I had to run away because I thought that was the best thing to do. In rather like a fairy story I left Sussex for the bright lights of London. I found work as a chef through a friend from college and I didn’t contact my family for over 7 years. To me their reactions to me being gay were that they were more concerned about how they would have been judged and not about supporting me.
I had a life where I could choose my own friends who became like family. I ended up leaving London and moved to Brighton, I was living the way I wanted and never thought about the family I had lost until one day I got home and there was a letter from the Salvation Army Missing Persons Unit saying that they believed that I was the son of a Mother who had asked them to find her missing son. I didn’t want to see my mum but I did want her to know that I was well and living a life that I wanted. I spoke to a lovely man at the Salvation Army in Brighton who would speak to my mum for me. Again several years passed and I moved to Derby. I felt that my mum needed to know I was doing OK so I wrote to her. Over the next few years we started sending occasional letters, a card at Christmas or a Birthday card but we still didn’t speak to each other. I was in my late 20’s when I finally spoke to my mum and was able to tell her that I was happy and in a relationship with a man. In 1997 I married that man and my mum and dad came to the ceremony. The relationship didn’t last but over the years Mum, Dad and I have rebuilt our lives and resolved and healed the hurt and now at the age of 45 can say that I have parents who love me for being just who I am.
(I’ve changed the names of the people concerned)
“I was born in 1955 when being gay was illegal. At the age of twelve I realised an attraction to other men. In the same year being gay was legalised for men over 21, with the Sexual Offences Amendment Act 1967. Although I can’t remember ever being told that being attracted to men was wrong I knew instinctively not to tell anyone except other gay people. I never had a problem in accepting that I was gay, this may have been because I’d never fitted in or accepted by any of my peers. As a consequence I became a loner, which left me to pursue my attraction to men.
The first time I gave any indication of being gay to anyone who wasn’t gay was when I was about fifteen. I’m not sure how it came about that I was asked if I preferred Graham, who I sat next to at school, or his girlfriend and my answer was I preferred him. I was lucky that stating my preference didn’t cause me problems, this could be because it was my final year at school and I was well built for my age. Although I preferred him to his girlfriend I didn’t fancy him or any of the other boys. I’d found where to meet other gay men and this wasn’t at school.
I never told anyone else that I was gay until the age of 32. My younger brother, Mark, had found the delights of girls and he used to tell me about his girlfriends. I’d just come out of a relationship and could not talk to anyone about this difficult time. Then one day I said that it’s all right for him, he can talk about his relationships. He asked me was this because I was gay? I told him that it was. It was good to talk to someone about the break-up of my relationship and found it very helpful. But within two days he’d told the rest of the family that I was gay. It turned out as no surprise to my sisters who had already guessed. Although I was single at the time I’d lived with a man for 12 years, which might have given them a clue. The only other thing that changed was my mother stopped asking me when I was going to get married and give her some grandchildren.
Now at 60, all the people who are important to me know that I’m gay. I’ve been able to enter into a civil partnership with my partner of 21 years, this gives us the same rights has heterosexual couples. Also now there is an equal age of consent.
Although the situation is a lot better for gay people from when I first realised I was gay, there is still a room for improvement.”
“My coming out story is one that happened in stages. I do not remember a time when I didn’t know I was different. It terrified me. I remember hitting puberty and sobbing because I fancied boys. I didn’t want to. I was so scared of what that meant for me and for my family. I felt wrong and unnatural. I wanted to get married and have kids like everyone told me I would and should, I wanted that I just didn’t see a woman waiting for me at the church when I pictured it. The very first person I came out to was a close friend, we actually came out to each other at the exact same time. She was and continues to be wonderful. I love her and share a bond with her that cannot be broken. Then I came out to other friends at school, eventually I was outed. It was tough and I constantly felt like a zoo exhibit, I was strange and mysterious and everyone wanted a gay best friend. They were interested in me purely for my sexuality and not me. I played the role well, I spent a long time playing a role of a gay man that society and other people expected from me, and I was lost in it. Next was my family, I came out to my Mum first, I was sat on the same sofa and couldn’t find the courage to say the words. I was crying, so I text her, on my trusty Nokia. I love that phone still. She cried, it came out of the clear blue for her, and everything she had imagined for me in that one instant was forever changed. After a while it sunk in and she was wonderful. We are as close as ever to this day. I asked her not to tell anyone for a while, I had to get used to her knowing, unfortunately she did tell her husband and my grandparents. It didn’t go well with my step father, we had a terrible relationship to begin with and when he finally brought it up it was the reaction I had been expecting but until that point hadn’t received, it ended badly even with a guest appearance from the police. My grandparents were OK, now they are great. My Dad is wonderful too. The rest of my family found out some were and still are decidedly not OK with it, so I don’t want them in my life anyway. It wasn’t the best experience, but I wouldn’t change it in a way, it made me the man I am today. And I like that man. It does get better, honestly and completely. Nothing in life is permanent, life now is wonderful. I am happy, honestly and openly me. I do not modify my behaviour any more, there are still struggles but things are changing. Never be ashamed of being who you are. Life is good, there is a wonderful community around waiting for you, LGBT+ people are great at creating their own families unfortunately often due to the fact their own doesn’t fit any more and that is rubbish, but OK. It’s their loss, because you are beautiful and perfect just the way you are.”
Derbyshire Friend would like to thank everyone who shared their stories.