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LGBT Youth Scotland

LGBT Youth Scotland is the largest youth and community-based organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Scotland. Their website contains information and advice and they have an online 1-2-1 support, youth groups and national projects.

Get in touch
Website: lgbtyouth.org.uk/
Tel: Edinburgh 0131 555 3940, Glasgow 0141 552 7425, Dumfries and Galloway 01387 255058
Email: info@lgbtyouth.org.uk
Online 1-2-1 Support:  www.lgbtyouth.org.uk/yp-online-support

It’s easier once you’ve come out

I didn’t really care for crushes in primary school. Everyone seemed to care about that sort of thing, I just held the opinion that it was stupid. Then in year 6, I began to hold this girl in really high opinion. She was pretty, kind and could sing (this obviously mattered to ten-year-old me). But I just thought it was a deserved appreciation, because of course girls couldn’t get crushes on girls. I never really knew LGBF sexualities were as common as I now know they are. I would say I actually started questioning when I hit high school. I go to an all girls school so I realised that these people were attractive to me. I was suddenly aware that sexualities other than gay and straight existed (mainly thanks to extensive exposure to internet).

I was 13 when I actually started using bisexual to describe myself to myself. It was also around then I began to believe that my parents’ attitudes to LGBT people weren’t exactly positive. I started to talk about sexualities and gay rights more. I read as much as I could, learnt as much as I could. I guess that I’ve probably changed some of my parents opinions.

I started self harming as a distraction

But sometimes my parents would actively say things against gay people (nothing big, just small things that I spun out of control in my head) or my brother would tell me he thought homosexuality was wrong and he thinks it’d be weird to have a gay sister. Having been surrounded by fairly accepting peers at school, I realised that a lot of people still were against it. I started to become sad and worried. I started self harming as a distraction, and that continued for a few months.

Then I saw that my family’s attitudes were changing – they said they’d be fine with their children being gay, as long as they were happy. They spoke out against bigotry in the news. I realised that I had been so insecure about my sexuality and their reaction I failed to notice that damn, they were pretty open minded. I got myself off self harming, and told my best friend that I had realised that I liked girls and I thought I was bisexual. I was happier than I had been in ages.

It became common knowledge and it was fine

At 14 I came out to my class. I say come out, it was completely unplanned and just sort of happened. How it played out was more than a bit weird. A group of classmates around me were talking about how me and my best friend should “totally get together”. A friend of mine (who knew) then said “aren’t you bisexual?” It could have gone either way really. I could have denied it, or I could use this to come out. So I said, “yes”. And that was that. It spread, it became common knowledge and it was fine.

I told my mum soon after, although she didn’t quite believe me. She thought I was too young to have any idea. A few months later I said I was serious, and she told me it wasn’t what she wanted for me, but she wasn’t going to make a fuss because it would be stupid to push me away for something so (comparatively) small. She has since become more accepting than I could ever have hoped.

I try to talk as openly about it as I can

For my dad, I couldn’t pluck up the courage to say anything. I just asked my mum to tell him so he could deal with it without me being involved. He did, and while I don’t think he particularly likes it deep down, he hasn’t said anything negative about LGBT people for a while apart from a slip of the tongue. My brother knows too, mostly because I try to talk as openly about it as I can.

At 15, I started use ‘queer’ now as a label, simply not knowing anymore (I don’t use that now due to issues to do with it being a reclaimed slur). I often felt that I may be gay, as men didn’t actually seem that appealing, but then I’d just end up confused. Now, in my opinion, you can use whatever label you want, or none at all – and if you come out as one thing, you can come out again as another if you realise something later on. I also dated someone at my school now, who was pretty, kind and could sing (which I don’t think matters as much to me anymore), and although we’ve broken up now I am still good friends with her. I’m openly LGB at school. People who know don’t care. I think a lot of things I picked up in what my parents said were minute things that I highlighted and was just the result of paranoia. I don’t worry about it anymore. I’m 16, love girls and am just going with it.

I secretly read books about sexuality in the library toilet

I think I was about 11 years old when I feared the worst, that I might be gay. I was desperate to fit in at school so I told nobody.  I kissed boys like everyone else was but secretly found it traumatic and agonized all the time about how I could avoid having to have sex.  My family were very functional, as long as dinner was on the table at 6 and nobody ever talked about their emotions, that was fine.  My brother managed to hide the fact that he was a heroin addict from my parents because they would do absolutely anything to avoid having to address an emotional issue.

I didn’t want to admit it to myself

I went to live in Brighton and, even there, I still couldn’t face the whole “coming out” thing.  I had lots of gay friends but it wasn’t about anyone else, I didn’t want to admit it to myself.  I used to go to the library and take books about sexuality to the toilet to read them in private, I was too scared to take them home in case the librarian told someone.  As if she cared?  She didn’t even know who  I was!  The next five or six years passed in a haze of university, boyfriends, drugs and alcohol, but surprisingly, despite all this, I got a degree and a masters degree.  However, just after I graduated, the dot com bubble burst and I couldn’t find a job in IT.  I worked in bars with the cool people in Brighton and after we would go out, take ecstasy and drink.  I was miserable, paranoid and exhausted.  After a while I felt really tired and I looked at the people around me, still living the same life as me but in their 40s and I quit my job and threw all my efforts into getting a job in IT.
I got one, in the civil service, barely enough to live on but something, and there I met my ex-civil partner, Sally.  Sally was extremely obviously a lesbian, older than me, didn’t care about social conventions, she didn’t care what anyone though of her, I was fascinated by her.  By then I was so desperate to find an answer to my problems, I threw myself into the relationship with Sally and told everyone who would listen that I was gay, and I mean EVERYONE.  I was so angry, I went looking for conflict wherever I could find it.  The truth is, and it really is, that most people couldn’t have cared less that I was gay but I’d argue with them anyway, no matter how nice they were.  Sally and I had a civil partnership ceremony, all the people from my boring, conservative management consultancy job came to the wedding and I realized the day after that social acceptance of my sexuality was not my problem.  I was my problem.

I started to have uncontrollable panic attacks

Two years later Sally and I split up and entered into a bitter war over our stuff.  Then, the best thing that has ever happened to me happened.  I started to have uncontrollable panic attacks.  I couldn’t work, I couldn’t see friends, I couldn’t see anyone, I couldn’t do anything.  Grudgingly I went to a psychologist, I was lucky, my employer insisted, and paid.  There, I learnt firstly how to control the panic, and then about myself.  I started to heal.  The anger and the paranoia started to leave me, leaving in their place something kinder, something calmer.
I went back to work, just to prove to myself that I could, and then went travelling for a year and a half.  In the last week I met my now boyfriend.  I told him immediately about my sexuality and he was fine with it.  I moved to Argentina and started seeing another psychologist who helped me learn even more about myself, my past and my sexuality.  Now I’m training to be a psychologist myself so I can help people too.  I love my life, I accept myself and others for who they are and now I can enjoy my relationships with people without anger and fear getting in the way.

Just because I’m with a man doesn’t mean I’m “cured”

He’s a great guy but it’s not easy being with a straight man.  I’m also not really a big fan of the term bisexual, when I’m with a man I’m with that man, when I’m with a woman, I’m with that woman.  If it’s relevant to the conversation I tell people, if it isn’t I don’t.  However, if I witness any kind of homophobia I always confront it, just as I would if I witnessed racism or any other kind of prejudice.  I feel it’s my duty to the community but now I try not to do it with anger, I just try to make people think a bit more.  That said, most people don’t feel very strongly one way or the other, most of what is difficult about being gay is accepting yourself.
I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with my boyfriend and two dogs.

I was married when I realised that I was gay

I was born in an Irish Catholic family and my uncle is a Catholic priest with a parish in North Dublin. So it was preached into me from a young age that being homosexual and loving men like you’re ‘meant’ to love women is a sin.

Growing up, I was taught that being gay was wrong and like pretty much all Christians, I would frown upon gays or lesbians.

“I got along better with girls”

I didn’t have many male friends; a common thing in gay guys, we find friends easier in females because we can relate a lot more easily to them. But, I didn’t know that at the time that it was because I was gay.

I didn’t go to high school very much because I was sent to live with my uncle, to go to the school near to where he lived. His home ended up feeling like boarding school cause I hated my uncle. So, instead of going to school, my friends and I spent all day in the city. I didn’t really get caught up in the boyfriend/girlfriend thing in high school because I didn’t really go.

“At 15, I ran away from home”

Instead of going to school, I worked and saved enough to travel. At 15, I ran away from home, met my wife, had some kids and became a chef. I began to hate my wife after a while, so I ended up leaving her. So I moved to London  where I lived above a pub, and it was there that I met Andy.

When we had saved enough and I had got a proper job, we moved into a flat with two girls, so Andy and I became pretty good mates. Then I began to realize that what I felt for my wife wasn’t love, it wasn’t even close because what I felt for Andy was just something amazing that I’d never felt before. I’d been told all of my life that love is when you have a connection with an awesome girl.

“I loved my wife, but only as a best friend.”

I didn’t know that at the time though, because I’d never been in love before. What I’d been feeling for my wife was what I’d assumed to be love because I’d been told all of my life that having some sort of connection with a woman is how it’s supposed to be. But I realized that I was just totally in love with Andy, and luckily, Andy felt the same way.

I told my wife that I had found someone really special in London that made me really happy, and that they were a man not a woman. She went mental at me, left and that was one of the last times that I saw her for a while.

“They tried to pray for me.

I went to my parents to tell them about Andy, but I didn’t tell them at first, I left them and was driving to my uncle’s house to pick my children up, when I realized that I just had to tell them, so I drove all the way back and told them. They just hugged and tried to pray for me. My dad yelled at me and tried to pray for me again although I tried to convince him that it wouldn’t work.

I moved to Australia, and since that move, I’ve been really open about my sexuality. In Melbourne especially, they have a lot of good support for the gay community.