Everyone has their own story, some simpler revolving around key events others, more drawn out. For me, I always knew I was attracted to guys but for whatever reason some part of my brain never accepted this. I grew up in a very accepting family, LGBT words were never used as slurs and a close friend of the family was gay. I was taught it was a normal thing to be but for whatever reason I just never accepted who I was enough to act on it.
Now this isn’t a story about me realising I was gay (maybe that will be another blog post) so let’s we skip forward until about February 2017 when I was 22. I felt convinced I was different by this point but just couldn’t work out why. One night I was leaving my university’s sports Ball walking home myself and feeling a bit down. Something changed that night that allowed me to accept that I wanted to date guys. So, I switched my Tinder settings and never looked back.
I am quite a private person; I like to keep my cards close to my chest, so I didn’t really tell people my news in the traditional way. People found out when they found out when they needed to know. This sounds weird but I did promise myself that I would never lie to anyone (and yes I’m probably guilty of bending the truth a few times over the years).
I think my first friend to know was one of my closest mates at uni. We had gone for a drink after class one day not long after the above mentioned night. We were just sitting chatting and he asked if he could ask me a question, I was like sure. He said two people who were part of a group (including myself) that had been to China the previous summer had said that I had told them one drunken night that I was bi. To this day I have no memory of this, and it is unlikely given I hadn’t even admitted that I wasn’t straight to myself yet. “I don’t remember saying that” I said to him “...but funny you should mention it Jamie because I am actually not straight” He was really happy for me. This small act felt huge for me.
From then on, and I’ll be honest with you, I kinda had fun telling my friends. Like saying things like - Me leaving the kitchen “oh I’m off out on a first date”. Flatmate “oh what’s her name?” “His name” Walks out the door leaving him a bit stunned. I didn’t leave my poor flatmate hanging but I will be honest I like having this news to tell. I liked being finally comfortable with who I am.
My friends are brilliant people and were great about it. Some were probably more surprised than they should have been. Some people probably didn’t find out till a good few months after others simply because I forgot to mention it to them. Now, I’m not saying this is the right way to go about it, but I personally didn’t want it to be a big deal. I mean, in my life and my future it was a big thing, but also, I didn’t want it to be. I was happy with who I was, and this was like an add on.
Then came the anxious one, the family. For whatever reason I didn’t want to tell them that, by the way, I’m gay and now looking to date (and do other things) with guys now. It felt weird. However, I met my boyfriend in summer 2017 and we fairly quickly became a proper couple. This meant, in line with the no lying policy, I would tell them.
I’ll be honest I was probably putting it off. I must have been about Autumn 2017 and I was in Aberdeen with my mum. My aunty was sadly approaching the end stages of MND so the family were down. My mum, her school friend Jackie, Jackie’s partner Pat and myself were out for dinner. I felt like we needed some good news, and me being in a happy relationship was good news. So, in a moment when Jackie was in the toilet and Pat was out for a smoke I dropped the double whammy.
Your son is gay and also has a boyfriend. After years of no updates on the love life/sexuality front, this news from your only son has a big deal. I do think my mum really appreciated the good news at this dark time for our family. She was naturally really happy about it, doing the classic mum thing of wanting to know who this mystery boy was. I’m sure she suspected it all along.
Next, the other side. My parents have been divorced since I was a toddler. My dad has also been with my step-mum Nathalie since before I started school and I have a younger brother and sister. We were all out for dinner, they had come through to see me in Glasgow. I followed the same strategy I did with my mum. ‘I’ve been seeing someone for the past few months, and it is going really well... oh by the way it a guy” During the critical pause in the above sentence some poor waiter brought over our food and was basically in the family for the big reveal. After the meal, walking back to their car, my dad pulled me aside and said he didn’t know if this was a difficult thing for me to tell them, but he was happy for me.
I feel so lucky to have such a supportive group of family and friends. I know some of you reading this don’t. I hope that you do have someone you can be honest with. The words of my old French teacher stick with me more than any of the French she taught us “Honesty is the best Policy”. Miss Mcmurray is right. Thankfully for the most part society doesn’t view being gay in such a way that it did even 10 years ago. We have this on our side, but it is still not fair we in the LGBT+ community have to ‘come out’.
There is still negative stigma and certain expectations of what it means to be part of the LGBT+ community. That you have to act a certain way, like certain things or even do certain jobs. We all know this isn’t true. I’m an engineer who has been working in the steel industry for the past 2 1/2 years, I like football and 90% of my close friends are straight males.
National Coming Out Day for me isn’t about someone having to come out to people on a day, but about raising awareness of challenges that still exist and how terrifying it still can be. Although, it is as good a day as any to start your journey if you are ready.
Life doesn’t stand still; you meet new people and go to new places. I find myself having to ‘come out’ continually. Mostly I do this subtlety by correcting ‘girlfriend’ for ‘boyfriend’ or similar things. I constantly have a fear of what might happen or being treated differently. I’ll be honest with you dear reader, I’m definitely not as honest as I should be.
This is why NCOD and groups like Rainbow Blades are so important. The previous generations of LGBT+ activists made the world infinitely better for us. We should keep this progress going. We must always be honest and unashamed of who we are. Let’s keep breaking down barriers. To quote one of the best musical Made in Dageham (yes gay stereotype I know), “If not now, when!”.
Whether you're lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, be proud of who you are and your support for LGBTQ equality this Coming Out Day!
Every year on National Coming Out Day, we celebrate coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ.) This year, we will mark the 32nd anniversary of National Coming Out Day! – HRC.org