I realised I was gay when I was about eleven. Well, it wasn’t so much that I realised, I already knew – but I finally admitted it to myself around then. I didn’t tell a single person until I left secondary school at the age of 15. School would have been completely unbearable if anyone had found out. It was bad enough as it was. I was also convinced my parents would disown me when they found out. My mum is Catholic and I’d heard her say that being gay was a sin, that it was evil.
I used to self-harm a lot and I smoked a lot of cannabis
I was really, really unhappy as a teenager. It was hard keeping a secret and living in my own head for so many years. I used to self-harm a lot and I smoked a lot of cannabis. I still worked hard at school and eventually I found some good friends who made things easier. I told one of them I was gay when I was 16.
One of them had read my diary
I went to a sixth form college to do my A Levels. Around about then, my sister told me my mum was downstairs crying because she thought I might be gay. Great. It turned out one of them had read my diary and found out I was seeing someone (I’d met and started dating my first girlfriend by this point) and doing God knows what else (Drugs? Smoking? Sex?). It was awful – I knew they knew and we just didn’t talk about it. I moved out as soon as I could, after my last A Level exam. I moved about an hour away from where my girlfriend was studying and I got a series of rubbish jobs that paid enough for rent and eventually for a bit more too. That was when I was 17, and my parents and I didn’t talk about me being gay until I was 21. I brought it up. My parents just didn’t talk about that stuff, I don’t know why. But I had to break the ice. And actually, it was okay. I found it excruciating at first, I still do sometimes. But they didn’t disown me. It turned out my dad really didn’t care and my mum got used to it, I think. She’s met a few girlfriends and liked most of them. I think she’s had to change her mind about what being gay means but we have a great relationship now.
Don’t assume the worst will happen
A few years later I had to come out to my parents again as transgender. It was hard, but I had more resources to talk to them about it. I’ve really had to be the one to push the boundaries and that’s been uncomfortable, but it wasn’t the disaster I always thought it was going to be. So I guess I’d say don’t assume the worst will happen, but make sure you have a plan for if it does. There are loads more organisations that can help now, that you can reach out to. I almost couldn’t imagine being happy when I was a teenager, I was convinced I’d end up killing myself. But actually I am happy – things got so much better, I got through it. I’m doing okay.