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.