Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Coming out: the story so far...

Am I ready to use phrases like “moist” and “kitsch” and “fabulous” in day-to-day conversation?


Well, except for fabulous, which I’ve noticed creeping into the lexicon a bit there, girlfriend.

Nevertheless, being with someone I care about meant that I realised it was time to let everyone know that I am gay, and eventually I broke the news that Darren is a man. And that I am too.

I could, I suppose, just put a post here and email everyone I know at once to say “hey, ever wondered why I like Eurovision so much? Check out my blog!”. Instead I decided to tell people face to face, or at least one-to-one, because I think I owe them that. Also nothing will change the fact that I’m shy and couldn’t cope with just leaping out of the closet a-pox-on-the-consequences hand-me-my-BeDazzler.

In terms of the emotional cost, it has been a huge drain; I quite often feel physically shattered at the end of the day, and working up to telling someone, either in person or by email, is quite delicate. Waiting for their reaction is something else. Like waiting for A-level results except if you get less than an ‘A’ grade in any subject you’ll be shot in the head.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there has been a range of reaction.

Firstly there has been the wonderful group of friends who’ve said “we’re happy for you, we’re excited by what’s happening, and we want to be involved in your life”. I’ll never ever forget how good these friends have been. It’s made this one of the most positive experiences of my life.

But I’m sorry to say there have been people who don’t want to know me anymore because of my sexuality. Few of them have talked to me and set out their feelings or explained why they’ve reacted in the way they have, so I suppose there might be more to it than a knee-jerk reaction. I haven’t been been put off moving forward or regretted telling them. Actually, I have had a lot of pride in myself for being open about who I am.

Sadly, one who reacted by not wanting to know me any more was one of the few women I’ve had a serious relationship with. I know she’s not homophobic, but though she was one of the first people I told she now feels she didn’t know me at all. So far my plaintive emails to her have gone unanswered. I’ll miss her friendship the most.

The third group is the friends who accept me, but who’ve been angry or hurt by the fact I haven’t been honest. Some have questioned why I couldn’t tell them before, and felt that we would have or could have been closer if I’d told the truth. These responses did make me think about how hiding myself away from people who care about me was treating them badly as much as I was treating myself badly. And for that I want to say sorry.

The fourth group are the ones who essentially said “yeah, we kind-of guessed about you and your gayness. You fruity old fop, you” and carried on as normal. While that’s mighty fine, I’m kind of annoyed because I thought I was, well, pretty straight acting (maybe a bit camp, but come-on we’re British!). Didn’t you hear me talking about the off-side rule and girls? I was hoping for a bit more shock. You could at least pretend. I mean, is a sharp intake of breath too much to ask…?

So, overall pretty good so far. The next thing? Telling the family. Uh-oh.

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