I don’t know if any of you have experienced this but when I came out to my Mum, she said it was the biggest shock. This has always baffled me for many reasons! I mean, I literally grew up in my football kit, attached to a football, wearing baseball caps backwards or in my teenage years, attached to my skateboard with a big chain hanging at my hip. Not trying to be stereotypical here and obviously there are lots of folk who don’t fit the stereotypes but you can’t argue that it doesn’t swing in my favour? She also asked me about four times in the months leading up to me coming out ‘you’re not gay, are you?’ (once at the dinner table in front of my Grandma – awkwaaaard!) This question alone means it was surely on the brain? But it’s understandable…
I was really worried about coming out for a long ole time. I knew my family weren’t going to love it as I’m from a family that are very aware and wary of other people’s opinions and I knew they’d assume the worst. I knew I wouldn’t be thrown out or disowned but I knew they would feel very upset. Looking back now, it really was an awful time and I don’t envy any of you that may be reading this, that are going through it at the moment. We are here for you! There are positives though and we must not forget those. It often brings you much closer to those family / friends in the long run as they really know you and who you are. It also is an amazing thing to go through in terms of building self-confidence and resilience. Looking back at my 29 years of life, that is the standout biggest accomplishment and maker of who I am today, that I can think of. It literally defines the rest of our lives!
Some excellent advice I received before I came out was to not expect the people around us to understand and accept it from the first second of them finding out. I know it’s what we all wish and hope for but realistically, when it took me four years to admit it out loud, why should I expect my family to hide their shock/ emotions from minute 1? It wouldn’t be fair.
This week, I received a message on twitter from someone who expressed feeling ‘lost’. They knew they weren’t straight but weren’t exactly sure what they were and were worried about the impact that this would have on friendships and relationships. It just reminded me how difficult it can be when you just want to have the answers and you want them now! I remember feeling desperate to just fully know who I am, what I want and what I was going to do about it. My key advice was to try and avoid labels if possible. I fully relate to wanting to know exactly where you fit in the world but as I’ve grown up, I’ve realised how unimportant it is. Sexuality really is fluid. I have a friend who labelled themselves as a lesbian in their teens but ended up with a man and another who was married with kids and then came out in their 60s! It isn’t essential to know your ‘label’ at this moment in time as it can all change tomorrow.
For those who are wondering, my mum was great when I came out. She struggled for a few days until we had a good talk. I explained that being gay is something that is natural to you from birth and to be happy in life you should admit it and live it. My sister struggled surprisingly (she is two years older than me). She refused to meet my girlfriend at the time for over a year. One day, we were out for dinner and she spoke about how she disagreed with gay people having children. This (obviously) really upset me and I cried at the dinner table. She also felt real guilt after this chat and hid away for the rest of the evening. The next day, she sent me an article on whatsapp about how gay parents are just as good as straight parents and she admitted that she isn’t always right about everything! She then invited my girlfriend at the time and I over for dinner and she apologised to us both. I instantly forgave her as I know it will have been hard to admit that she was wrong and again – these things are not instant and take time to sink in. She is now incredible and both she and my mum colluded with my fiancé on when and how to propose. It gives me such happiness to know that it was a joint plan and that my family really do give us their ‘blessing’.
No matter where you are on this journey now, I promise you it does get better!