I came out a little less then a year ago when I was thirteen, about a month after I worked out that I wasn’t straight. I’ve always been open minded and so I didn’t freak out or worry about my future, because I knew that it was natural. I knew that I wouldn’t allow people to bully me. I was secure in myself and that really helped me. The only reason why it took me a month was because I wanted to do it right. I wanted to come out to my family first, then my best friends and then organise a time when I could get all- well most of my friends in one place at one time and I did. It also needed extra organisation because one of my other friends wanted to come out at the same time. Support from friends makes a big difference. Did my friends reject me? No. Did everyone in the hallways stop, stare and whisper? No. Has it lead to horrible depression-inducing bullying? No. I know that my story is pretty unique but not all coming out stories are bad. I guess what I’m saying is the saying “it gets better” is a brilliant saying but sometimes “it” isn’t bad to start with. Be happy with yourself.
I had always felt different. It’s such a cliché, I know, but I just KNEW there was something staring me right in the face – I just didn’t know what I was looking for. I was upset a lot of the time for a reason I didn’t understand, but now I can see how blindingly obvious it was: I wasn’t a girl, but everyone kept calling me one.
I felt so wrong and alone.
PE was always difficult. I would loathe every second of the girls’ changing rooms, always leaving them in a bad mood or with tears brimming. The worst part about it was that no one, not even me, understood. We’re raised in binaries, as either male or female depending on what you were born with, and this is reinforced so heavily in our society that transgender or gender variant youth can feel so cut-off and isolated from the rest of the world. I hated my long hair. I hated the feminine school uniform trousers. I hated how people called me “she” or “dear” or “young lady”. I felt so wrong and alone.
It was probably in Year 9 when I first typed “I feel like a boy” into a search engine, and the results confused me. There was a whole universe of genders out there that I’d never heard of. I thought you could only be a girl or a boy, and that for me to be a boy, I had to like girls (which I didn’t!) – I couldn’t have been more wrong. I learnt about non-binary, two-spirit, genderfluid, to name but a few, and I also learnt that to be transgender there is no requirement for your sexuality. So, a person of any gender can have any sexuality. It was an eye-opening experience.
I was so desperate for me to make my mind up
I spent a lot of time after my internet discoveries thinking. I would go to secluded places at school and think. Think about the label I should use for my gender, about the label I should use for my sexuality. I was in a phase of confusion, which was honestly one of the most agonising times of my life. I hated seeing everyone so happy with their identity around me, so happy to be divided into male or female, when I was so desperate for me to make my mind up about this thing that’s deemed so important in our culture. I’d wake up one day and announce: “I’m a boy! I’m definitely male – I’ve finally decided!” only to then realise within a few hours that I was in fact genderless again, or sometimes even female. I would venture to YouTube and watch trans videos which definitely helped, but it drained me: they all seemed so sure in themselves, talking about how they’d always played with boys and action figures. Although I considered myself masculine, I didn’t really do those things, and that seemed to contradict what I was feeling at the time.
I came out to my parents as being confused about my gender, and to my luck, they were 100% accepting. We tried different names and pronouns at home – one day I was Liam, the next I was Phoenix – but nothing quite felt right and this made me more confused. “They” pronouns made me feel awkward, and “he” pronouns felt sort of forced.
I just had to accept that my identity would take time
This continued for a long time and it took me equally as long to realise: I was trying too hard to label myself. I was forcing feelings and thoughts before allowing them to surface naturally, and I was smothering my femininity because I felt it contradicted the male identity I wanted to have. I finally realised that I just had to accept that my identity would take time and I slowly began to embrace every part of myself. I accepted that I was sometimes feminine, sometimes masculine, and although I wasn’t happy about it, I accepted that I might always be genderfluid. And that’s okay.
It’s true what they say: things do get better. Feelings take time to understand. It was the summer of 2014 when I came out publicly after years of confusion and waiting for my feelings to settle – and since then, I haven’t looked back. I waited until I was certain that this was what I wanted, and coming out over the summer was just perfect for me. Some days I’m feminine, other days I’m masculine, and I like men – but I am male. This is me, and although it took a while to get here, I’ve finally found myself.
Take your time
So, if there’s any moral to learn from my story, I guess it would be this: take your time. Don’t rush so much to give yourself a label, because sometimes, it takes feelings a while to settle, and are often far too complicated to define by a single word. But, most important of all: don’t try to suppress parts of yourself because society dictates that you should feel a certain way. This is something I wish I’d realised soon.
Now that I’ve learnt this, I am me, and I couldn’t be happier.
When I was 17, I was in higher education and I realised that my focus on female
teachers and a few fellow students was indeed infatuation and desire.
All it took was a university club night that was full of lesbians for everything to click into place. My friend who I went there with turned out to be just a clubbing friend and when I came out she lost interest me. But never mind, my world had opened and for a year I had a secret night life agenda where I met some great and carefree lesbians, who gave me the courage to come out.
She would support me through whatever I needed
The most difficult thing to get my head around was telling my mother – we were really close and I didn’t want this to be a problem or affect how close she was to me. She laughed when I told her, as we sat having a coffee. I think she was shocked, but then she took my hand and told me it didn’t matter and that she would support me through whatever I needed.
Luckily, we are still as close as we were and she loves telling people about me, leaving my sexuality as a last detail because, why do you need to describe someone’s sexuality when telling another person about their life, interests and successes? It’s definitely not how I define myself. Yes I have a partner, she is also female, but what about the fact that I’m a teacher, I’ve spent the last ten years travelling, learning languages and doing the things I love. Surely that defines me more?
Around my mid-twenties I hit a hard patch
Maybe it doesn’t and don’t get me wrong, I’m an out and proud lesbian. People ask so I tell them I’ve never dated a guy and I’ve always been attracted to girls. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable saying stuff like that, now that I’m nearly 30 and still having to bring it up in conversation with my employer or a new colleague. In fact, around about my mid-twenties I hit a hard patch where I felt myself going red when it came up in conversation. This was so different from when I was 18. I would just say it when I met people and have a ‘just deal with it’ chip on my shoulder. But now, successful in my life, feeling like being gay has had very little impact on the rest of my life, I see the things I’ve achieved in my life as equally important.
Yes, I have achieved telling my best friends, at the time, a group of 8 popular, very attractive heterosexual 18 year old girls. Luckily, my fears that they would shun me or think I was attracted to them were all proved to be wrong. They are still my best friends. But aside from that I’ve also just led a normal life, the same way a straight person would hope to. I went to university, I’ve travelled and lived abroad for the past 6 years, I have had a few long term relationships, I’ve worked my way up the career ladder, I’ve had fun. It’s all possible.
Your sexuality doesn’t define you
If you’re comfortable with yourself and let others see that your sexuality doesn’t define you, that it’s just an extra bit of information on a need-to-know bases, like if you like sugar in your coffee, then others will relax and see you for a whole person and not just a gay one. If someone is weird with you after you’ve mentioned it, take it as their own personal issues. You’ve done nothing wrong. You are no more intimidating than the mail man who just asked you to sign for a package. Who knows, maybe he was gay too. Who cares! The only person who needs to know about what you do behind closed doors is your significant other half.
I’m two and half years into my relationship and we plan to start a family in 2016. Be strong and true to yourself and you can have the life you always dreamt of.
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.
My mum came with me, not because I felt that I needed her there, but because I thought it would be useful for her. She has a lot of questions, as I do, and I wanted to give her the opportunity to ask them. The appointment went well, the ideal outcome as far as I’m concerned: I’m walking through reception with a prescription for Testim gel clutched in my hand. These little tubes of magic will allow the world to see me in the same light as I see myself.
These little tubes of magic are going to change everything for me.
A friend of mine told me not long ago that I never seem happy when I get what I want, but things are never really that straight forward are they? These little tubes of magic are going to change everything for me. Don’t get me wrong I want that change so badly I could burst, but gains come with losses, and the great landscape of the unknown lies right out in front of me, and I certainly don’t have a map. I know how the world needs me to be as a ‘woman’. How people want me to behave and how habitually I take up those roles. But I don’t know how to be a man, and I certainly don’t know how to be a good man.
The future is laid out with far more questions than answers, and there aren’t that many people to ask anyway. I have many caring supportive people beside me, but I still feel like I’m going at this alone. As much as I may feel like a thirteen year old, I’m not. I’m a thirty two year old with a job, responsibilities, and friends who are miles away from puberty. Yet I’m about to have mood swings, acne, and god knows what else.
Can I really step into the vast unknown with no stabilisers and no control?
It’s the anger I fear, how my emotions may change. Will I turn into my father? Will I become someone I have tried so hard to separate myself from? Can I really do this? Can I really step into the vast unknown with no stabilisers and no control? I’m overcome with the need to hide away, to take myself away from the world, to feel safe.
Its takes a few days to cash in my prescription: Testim gel is not the most commonly requested product, and it has to be ordered in. When I arrive at the pharmacy to pick up my little tubes of magic I’m yet again accompanied by tears. ‘Happy tears’, I tell the person who asks me if I have used said product before. ‘I’ve been waiting a long long time for that little box’ I continue ‘Today is a good day’. They pass me my box as I am consumed by more and more tears. I walk through the shopping centre with pride, joy, and a sense of adventure. I can face the challenges that are coming, I have more strength than I realise, I just need to harness it. As I continue to walk through the shopping centre I realise how close I’m holding my box to my chest. ‘My box….my little tubes of magic…my future.’
I am honoured by the knowledge and privilege that this is not a journey that I embark on alone.
I have to wait till the next morning to apply it, that’s the instructions I have been given. I feel giddy and high, I can feel my heart beat strong in my chest. I attend for uni classes and various people there know how much of a significant day this is for me. We break for coffee and my friends mark this turning point with me. ‘I have a man bag for you’ my friend tells me. ‘Full of manly things’. I am honoured with Mens Health magazine, Yorkie chocolate, Lynx body spray, tobacco sauce. I am honoured by the knowledge and privilege that this is not a journey that I embark on alone. I have comrades and companions who are ready to get on this ship with me. Who will sail alongside me, guide me through the dark storms and help me find my way again if I have navigated off course along the way.
I realised I was gay when I was about 21 and kissed my male roommate whilst drunk. Although not attracted to him, I did start to contemplate the idea of kissing guys more and more. This lead to me starting to talk to more gay guys and becoming comfortable around them, knowing that inside I may be the same. A few months from that first kiss I came to terms that I could be gay, or at least bi. A few years after, I told my friend – the one who I initially kissed – that I thought I was gay. He was incredibly supportive and told me about coming out.
I’m yet to tell my parents and I’m scared of what they might think or do
This year (2015), I went to Edinburgh for New Year’s Eve with my closest family member (a cousin of the same age), his girlfriend (a close friend) and another close friend from University. I decided to tell them when we were there because I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I told myself that when we were in a coffee shop I would just come out with it. I was scared as hell and could feel my heart pumping out my chess. I told them “Guys, I have something important to say. I’m gay,” and to my relief they were all okay with it, as I had expected and hoped. I’m yet to tell my parents and I’m scared of what they might think and do, especially given their Catholic background.
There is more acceptance now than you might think
One piece of advice I will say is that although fear and terror will overcome you, don’t let them win. There is more acceptance now than you might think. It will get better. Not just for you but for all in your position. So when and if you decide to come out, raise that flag high and represent the LGBT community because without struggle there can be no progress.
I always knew I was gay. I pretended I wasn’t until I was 14, but I always knew. I enjoyed behaving like the girls and not having to conform. I was confident in myself and enjoyed the attention of being different. At 14 or 15, I came out properly to my parents and any friends that didn’t already know and was immediately filled with excitement and a sense of freedom.
I couldn’t talk to my parents or teachers because I was embarrassed
I had always known that I fancied boys and wanted more than anything to have a boyfriend, who I could kiss and hold, be with and who would love me. I was terrified of sex. I didn’t know anything about it! The little I did know about gay sex scared the life out of me and I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. What made this even more difficult was that when I came out some people presumed that I knew everything that gay men did, both in and out of the bedroom. I found this difficult and didn’t have anyone to talk to about it. I couldn’t talk to my parents or teachers because I was embarrassed and my friends knew even less than me so they weren’t going to be helpful. Obviously the internet exists now to chat to other gay teens but that presents its own problems as well.
As I’ve got older I have realised that everyone felt like this for a while. Yes, gay teens have much less information and support but the truth is a lot of young people are scared of sex. Very few people know what they want or what they like when they are young. I realised this doesn’t make you any less gay or less valid in your feelings or your desires. I became scared of physical relationships, even though I wanted them, as I was worried I would be rejected for not knowing how to have sex and this subsequently stopped me exploring my sexuality for years.
Coming out doesn’t happen overnight
Now, I have realised the importance of being proud in your sexuality and your decisions and to never feel the need to be pressured into anything that you’re not comfortable with. Coming out doesn’t happen overnight. Just because you have told people you fancy boys, doesn’t mean you don’t still have questions and confusions about what having a same-sex relationship might mean. The most important thing is is that you do what makes you happy and comfortable and trust that others will be accepting of this.
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.
At 14 I knew I was not like the other girls. I ran around and played sports and games with the boys but I was more attracted to girls. I didn’t even know the word lesbian until I was 15 when my mother demanded to know if I was one. Of course, I denied it.
‘The church was not friendly towards homosexuals’
We belonged to a very conservative church. Any socialising I did was through the church youth groups. The church was not friendly towards homosexuals, and was even protesting against the legalising it in New Zealand.
The dictionary at school was not much help, and in my little conservative suburban world, the chapters on homosexuality were cut from our text books (this was in the 1980s), and there was no one I could turn to.
‘I started to read a lot’
I kept my sexuality buried for a long time – but I started to read a lot, and became a good theology student. Through reading people like Bishop Shelbey Spong and Dominic Crossan (which are heavy theology reads), I came to understand that the debate wasn’t as simple as my church had made out.
I then moved out of home at 20, found a new congregation that were more positive towards difference. I continued to throw myself into my degree and theology, and I dealt with the grief of my grandmother passing away.
Then I fell for someone, head over heels in love. It didn’t work out – but it did confirm the feelings I had felt at 14. She didn’t make me feel dumb for loving her, so I felt I could start to come out.
‘Good things take time’
Coming out to myself had taken almost ten years, and it took me almost another ten years to come out as genderqueer.
Telling my friends was easy, they were all supportive and encouraging, both within the church and my secular friends. Most of them had thought I was gay for a long time and put my non-dating down to my shyness.
Coming out to my family was more problematic as my mother and brother still attend the church I grew up in. One afternoon (on my 25th Birthday after watching the rugby) I told my mum and dad that I was gay. My dad was so positive, he turned and said “that’s the bravest thing I’ve ever seen you do”. My mother wasn’t quite so positive, and for the next couple of weeks my dad mediated the conversation and helped mum through understanding that it wasn’t me changing – it was me showing who I was.
How does this end? My mother has told most of the church that I am gay. This hasn’t had any repercussions; she still holds a position of responsibility. The relationship with my dad became much stronger he has been an incredibly positive unconditional supporter. I kept my faith for a long time. Moving to another country I still study theology in my spare time and occasionally try and find a congregation I fit in with.
I realized that I was at least somewhat gay aged five, when I got a crush on my female teacher. She was about fifty and was covered in wrinkles, but I thought that she was beautiful and I was obsessed with her. I wrote her name in my notebooks, I thought about her all day, I smiled whenever I was in her presence. It didn’t take me long to search for ‘girl crushes’ on the internet and find out what I thought I was – bisexual.
They called me in to lecture me about how I was greedy and disgusting
Aged eleven, I decided to come out to my best friends.
“Please, don’t tell anyone else, I don’t think people will be very nice…”
Twenty minutes later, insults were spilling out at me all through the corridors. “Faggot.” “Carpet muncher.” “Lesbo.”
It only took another hour for my House Office to find out, and they called me in to lecture me about how I was greedy and disgusting, and how I deserved to be bullied for my sexuality. It took a week before I tried to kill myself for the first time.
Over the two years after that, the bullying intensified. I lost many friends, and every day I was treated horribly – followed home, beaten up, even sent death threats, all for being gay. Privately, though, it began to affect me less. At thirteen, I got my first girlfriend. We lasted over a year, and our relationship gave me a lot of joy. While I did try to kill myself again, the attempts grew less frequent and I had my last one aged fourteen.
Some of my family were not accepting, but other members were loving
Now, at fifteen, I’m okay. Since a whole bunch of other girls have come out, people have been forced to be more accepting, the teachers who picked on me aged eleven have left the school. Some of my family were not accepting, but other members were loving and accepted me. I’ve also had another couple of girlfriends.
I’m okay. You will be too, I promise.