My coming out came in two stages, first in my social life and then to family.
It was Spring 1999 and I had been involved with guys from the closet for about 4 years – back then Robbie Williams was actually popular and people really wanted the Spice Girls to reform - I was on holiday in unglamours Corfu (when I was supposed to be studying for University exams). I was just with one other friend and we spent the holiday drinking and dancing in the nightime, and sunbathing and playing in the surf (could that sound more gay) during the day.
I think one of the reasons I came out to him was that there was no way he would think I would fancy him – he is lovely, but not the prettiest man in the world.
Essentially, he was questioning me about an affair I had been involved in that had lasted sometime that I had been rather coy about. I don't know why, (I was drunk) but I just told him that it was with another man. He reacted amazingly - laughed and asked for all the details. To him it was not a big deal.
It felt like a huge weight had come off my shoulders and I couldn't wait to start coming out to other friends. It was a slow process, but one I become very comfortable with. Over the next few months I would pull people aside and tell them the news. I only got positive reactions which was fantastic. One friend sent me a lovely card that I treasure to this day. I look about on this period with very happy memories. I received such positive affirmation from my friends that meant I felt really good about who I was – maybe for the first time in my life. I finally felt free to actually be myself and I often wondered why I waited so long.
The process of coming out to my family was less smooth. However, it is important to note that I see the two separately. After all, you live your life with your friends and I was at University when I came out to them and moved out of home again very quickly after finishing University.
It was a few years later that the process of coming out to my family began. By that time I was very comfortable with who I was and I had a long term boyfriend. I can't remember what happened exactly, but I was on the phone to my brother whilst at work and I just came out with it – I think he was pissing me off and I wanted to piss him off. Anyway, this was a few weeks before Christmas and he seemed to take it well. I asked him not to tell Mum as she would not react well as it was my choice when I told her.
A few months past, it was late February or early March and I took a trip home for the weekend. I had been out with friends on Sunday morning and turned up at mum's house for Sunday lunch to be greeted with with steely glares from my mum and brother. Mum proceeded to inform me that my brother has told her everything (apparently he called the Samaritans and everything before telling her) and promptly told me she wanted nothing to do with me and kicked me out. As I left my brother had the cheek to give me a hug and tell me everything would be ok!
Fast forward 15 months and I had not spoken to my mum or brother once (my wonderful Aunt though came to see me a few times). I was effectively cut off from my family and if I am honest, I cut myself off too. I was not interested in being treated in such a way. Little by little, my mum started talking – just a few phone calls. It came to a head in July. I hated where I was living, hated my job, hated a lot of things – including my exclusion from my family. I called my Mum and broke down on the phone and asked to come home and start again. My mum and brother came to rescue me within one hour and took me home. I went to live with my brother (they live in the same town) and started to rebuild my life.
Now over 6 years later my mum and I have a relationship that is better than ever. We understand who we both are. She needed time to come to terms with things and she has learnt many lessons. I am very very proud of her. She happily tells people she has three sons (myself, my brother and my partner) and is incredibly supportive. It took us a while to get there, but we did. And that is the important thing.
Ultimately, the coming out process never really ends, each time you go somewhere new, like a job for example, you will find yourself coming out. Although it is not really coming out, it is just you being you and talking about your life. However, nothing replaces the thrill of the first time. It is so special and will always be am important part of who you are. Sound familiar?
Best coming out song – I'm Coming Out (unreleased Chic edit) – Diana Ross
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