To understand why my ‘coming out’ moment was different to what you would hear from most people, I need to explain the background to the story…
So, our homework for the day was to get our parents to write down what they expected from us when we got older; who and what they wanted us to be, which was to be sealed and not opened until the teacher read them out in class. My mum loved being involved with stuff, and so jumped at the chance of writing down exactly what she expected from me.
Did she want me to be a scientist? A Doctor? A builder? A Banker? Hell…. A bin man? The moment came to find out as the teacher opened mine….
“I have no expectations other than to follow his dreams, his heart, his desires. Whether he is Gay or straight, no matter what career he chooses, who he chooses to be or who he chooses to be with, I will be proud of him, just as I already am!”
I could almost feel the whole room of eyes from the other kids boring holes deep into me in wonder… Is he gay then?
Good question, am I?
Growing up, gay people were never discussed, but I don’t say that in a negative context. In fact quite, the opposite.
We were brought up so liberally minded that we knew gay people were misunderstood, mislabeled in the past, suffers of fate rather than choice, leading harder lives through no fault of their own. We knew gay people were to be admired, and not feared. Thats the real reason that I never felt the need to ‘come out’ to anyone. I never once felt that who I am was any different to who my mum or my dad, or my siblings were. I never once thought ‘Im hiding a huge secret here, this will be a shock, im different to others’.
Well, that was until the moment it was first mentioned by my mum, in a hands free conversation (out of the blue obviously), during lunch hour at work in front of ALL my colleagues. I worked as a health care nurse (of course… didn’t see that one coming…. much) I was busily trying to eat in a quick lunch break, with my work mates, and the mobile rings. I answer it hands free because I was trying to eat, and trying to sort paper work at the same time. The conversation was about me not having been home for a few nights and was everything ok, was I safe etc.
That’s when, for no reason at all, and for the first time ever… ‘it’ was mentioned:
“So when do we get to meet this guy, I’m assuming he is your boyfriend because of how much time you spend there now? If you bring him over it gives me a reason to get my hair done and cook a nice meal!”
Bam! There it was. The first mention between us of me being gay, and my official outing to the world, without any help from myself.
“Mum, can I call you later…?”
“Well, just let me know when you can bring him round and I’ll get my hair done. You know its not an issue don’t you? Its completely nothing to even think about with us, right?!” she replied.
The next day, after a longer telephone conversation where it was discussed without an audience, I went back to my parents to see them face to face for the first time since it was first openly said.
“Why are you crying? You said it was ok?!”
She replied “I feel I must be a bad mother because you couldnt have told me earlier! Ive known all your life, and ive tried to show it doesnt matter to me, to us…. but you couldn’t tell me! I must have handled it wrong!”
My reply was simple…
“No mum, don’t you see… its because you handled it right that I had nothing to tell you. I feel no different to anyone else because of you. You couldn’t have taught me better!”
On my way day stairs, my ex army dad was in the kitchen washing up…
“So…. your mum said you talked…. you’re gay”
“Yeh?” I replied looking at him
The very very short art of silence was broken with the words…
“Here’s twenty quid… buy yourself some cigarettes”
I smiled and took the money… That was instant acceptance in dad speak, right there.
Since then, despite large pockets of the world trying to teach me that who I am isn’t something to be respected or accepted, within my own family its as normal today as it always has been.