Posts Tagged ‘ gay ’

My coming out story

*Disclaimer* – As I wrote this, I realised how many amazing people have played important parts in my life. I don’t mention everyone, but I hope you know how much you mean to me. I’ve also glossed over a few details out of respect. ***

 

It’s kind of a long story.

Let’s start from the beginning.

I was a fairly normal child (I think) – possibly a little more sensitive and little less into sports than other boys my age, but I’d bet that a lot of people feel that way when they’re young. I had a girlfriend or two when I was in primary school, in the way that kids do – again, not an uncommon experience.

I have a really strange memory of the 1997 election. I remember seeing John Major on television and wanting him to win because I thought he was more attractive than Tony Blair – obviously that’s an imperfect description of how I, a seven year old, felt; but that was kind of the gist.

The first person I came out to was my mum (gayyy, right?), when I was about fourteen. Whenever my mum had something important or awkward to discuss with me or my sister she’d wait until we were in the car together, usually on the motorway, so there could be NO ESCAPE. This one time, she just asked me straight out if I was gay, and I said yes, and she said that was fine, and that was that.

School was never really a problem for me. My secondary school was a boys’ grammar, so I was probably fairly sheltered. Shortly after I came out to my mum, I came out to a few close friends of mine. They were all girls, obviously. One of them had been a friend since primary school, and had moved to another country. One of them was a friend at the girls’ school down the road – I lost contact with her years ago, but at the time I think I had a bit of a girl crush on her.

The last was an amazing person who I’m proud to call one of my best friends. The boys’ and girls’ schools used to have joint discos for the year sevens, eights, and nines. They were hilarious – literally all the boys on one side of the hall and all the girls on the other, except for the cool kids (like me, obvs) who hung around outside and had friends at the other school. Around this time, my bestie told  me that one of her friends wanted to ask me out (in a schoolchildy way) and I had to ask her to tell her friend not to, and she asked me why, and I was all like “because I’ll have to say no… because I like guys”, and that was that.

I think it was about a year afterwards that I came out to my sister. My mum and dad are divorced and live separately, and I remember wanting to come out to my sister so that when we were at my mum’s house then everyone in the house would know – that I wouldn’t have to hide anything. Eventually it just felt like it was time. One evening I asked her if I could have a word with her. We went and sat outside on the patio, in the dark. I told her that I had something really important to tell her, but that it was really difficult for me to say, and that if she knew (which I was pretty sure that she did) and she could just tell me that she knew, it would really help me out. She was like “is it that you’re gay?” and I was like “yes” and we hugged and it was awesome.

A year or so later I started sixth form. My school was a boys’ school up until sixth form, when it was mixed. I got to hang around with girls, which was awesome. The friendship groups all shifted around, and I ended up mostly hanging out with this one other guy and three awesome girls who’d come over from other schools. In an amazing coincidence the other guy and one of the other girls also turned out to be gay, and we all kind of came out together. I have this really vivid memory of hanging out in the Westgate Gardens doing that stupid teenage thing where you’re like “would you rather Angelina Jolie or Jennifer Aniston” or whatever, and me and the other guy would keep trying to steer it over to talking about men and the girl keep trying to talk about women. It all happened pretty quickly, really. I forget who came out first, but it wasn’t me. One of the others started, and then the other, and then I was just like “me tooooooo!” but that all worked out really well and the two straight girls were (and are) amazing.

School was generally pretty decent from that point onwards. There were still some jerks – there probably always are – but as we got older they all started minding their own business, which was nice.

After school, I took a gap year. I made some awesome new friends and went gay clubbing for the first time. I guess from that point onwards I was pretty much “out”. When I started university the following year, I started with a fresh slate. By then I’d changed my Facebook “About” section to clarify that I was “Interested in: Men”, so whenever I met a new person I just added them on Facebook and let them figure it out for themselves. It really saved me quite a lot of effort – thanks Facebook! I joined my university’s LGBT society and a local gay choir, and met some MORE amazing people (there are apparently a lot of them).

The last person I had to come out to was my dad.

In my final year of university a situation came up that really made me realise some things. It was time to let my dad know who I was. I didn’t feel right anymore with him not knowing, and so I made the phone call. I think I said something like “I’m not seeing anyone at the moment, but if I was it would probably be a guy”, and he said something like “that’s ok, I love you, but keep an open mind just it case”, so it could have been a lot worse. And that was that, I guess.

If my story says anything it’s that coming out is not a simple process. I started my journey out of the closet almost ten years ago. I only told my dad last year, and I don’t know if he’s told my step-family or any of my extended family on his side.

I’d like to finish with a quick message to anyone out there who might be struggling with coming out:

I know it’s difficult, and I know you might be scared. It’s ok. You are strong enough to do it, and whatever happens when you do, you will not be alone. Whatever you’re going through at the moment, it really does get better.

I made a video about this. It’s somewhere on YouTube. Here. Thanks for reading, and have a great day. x

Julian Brazier on equal marriage

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about why marriage equality matters to me, and I said that I hadn’t written to my MP about it. Well, shortly after I’d posted that piece I decided to bite the bullet and email it to my MP (Mr Julian Brazier) after all, despite the fact that it wouldn’t make a difference.

It didn’t make any difference (shockingly), Mr Brazier still voted against equality, but what can you do? He has a lot of constituents to represent, and some of them are probably glad he voted the way he did. He did send me a reply, though, which arrived earlier today:

Dear Mr Lee,

Thank you for your email on the issue of same-sex marriages and for the very evocative picture you painted – I know that it can be very hard for young people to come to terms with their own sexuality and to deal with the reactions of other people to it. This is a contentious issue, which has aroused very strong emotions on both sides.

I will be frank with you that my disagreement with the issue of same-sex marriage is part of a wider disagreement with the current prevailing socio-political philosophy which cuts across so many areas of our national life. My great-grandfather’s younger brother was gay and tragically committed suicide, before I was born, while a student at Oxford, so I have certainly never  supported any form of persecution of gay people.

Basically my position is that I believe that our modern obsession with rights is deeply mistaken and bad for the long term health of society. I am against persecuting people, not because of any concept of rights (plural) but because it isn’t right. I don’t believe that categorising people by their sexuality is meaningful, not least because some people change their sexual preferences at different stages of their lives. There is also the key question – if people are categorised by sexuality, then what about those who, by choice or nature, have no sex life – are they not people too?

In addition, all the legal advice I have heard is that the practical effect of the legislation will be to expose those who are practising Christians  (and other faiths) to legal action if, for example, they are teachers and choose to teach a traditional Christian view of marriage.

I am sorry if I have disappointed you in this. As an MP, I clearly cannot be in agreement with all of my constituents all of the time – I am elected as a representative, not a delegate – but I am always prepared to listen to alternative opinions and to respect the views of those who disagree with me. I do hope that you will be generous enough to do the same.

It was well meaning, I’m sure, but a million miles from perfect. Here are my concerns, laid out neatly for your viewing pleasure:

  1. “Thank you for your email on the issue of same-sex marriages”
    equal marriage.
  2. “I know that it can be very hard for young people to come to terms with their own sexuality and to deal with the reactions of other people to it.”
    – I’m prepared to give the benefit of the doubt here, but the problem isn’t really “how hard it is for young people to deal with the reactions of other people to their sexuality”, it’s the other people’s reactions in the first place. But whatever.
  3. “I will be frank with you that my disagreement with the issue of same-sex marriage”
    equal marriage –
    “is part of a wider disagreement with the current prevailing socio-political philosophy which cuts across so many areas of our national life.”
    – … wut?
  4. “My great-grandfather’s younger brother was gay and tragically committed suicide”
    – since this is about the suicide of a family member I’m not going to make a big deal out of it, but it is pretty much just the “I have gay friends”/”I met a gay person once”/”my sister’s hairdresser goes to the gym with a gay person” fallacy. It doesn’t actually give you any greater credibility on gay issues.
  5. “so I have certainly never supported any form of persecution of gay people.”
    – that’s just a flat out lie. Have a look at his voting record on gay rights (and, tangentially, the legal recognition of trans* people). Not cool.
  6. “I believe that our modern obsession with rights is deeply mistaken and bad for the long term health of society.”
    – that’s because YOU ALREADY HAVE ALL YOUR RIGHTS.
  7. “I am against persecuting people, not because of any concept of rights (plural) but because it isn’t right.”
    – I kinda get what he’s going for here so I’m prepared to cut him some slack, but even if it made sense it still wouldn’t be an excuse for voting against equality.
  8. “I don’t believe that categorising people by their sexuality is meaningful, not least because some people change their sexual preference at different stages of their lives.”
    – … did he just come out to me? I joke, but seriously a surprisingly enlightened view of sexuality here. The problem, unfortunately, is that this is not a discussion about the ins and outs of categorising people by their sexual orientation. It’s a discussion about whether or not two people who love each other, be they hetero/homo/bisexual, have the right to legally marry each other.
  9. “if people are categorised by sexuality, then what about those who, by choice or nature, have no sex life”
    – props to Mr Brazier for repping the asexual community here. Maybe he’s not as bad as I thought? The problem is that A) people who don’t have sex have a category, asexuality, (if they want it) and B) love is actually about more than sex – people who don’t have sex can still be straight/gay/bi and should still have the option of marriage.
  10. “the practical effect of this legislation will be to expose those who are practising Christians (and other faiths) to legal action if, for example, they are teachers and choose to teach a traditional Christian view of marriage.”
    – Ok, firstly: the practical effect of this legislation will be to allow gay couples to get married. The fact that he prioritises the right to discriminate over the right to be treated equally under the law pretty much says it all. Secondly: I genuinely don’t know what he thinks these teachers will be saying. It’s simple: “According to Christian teachings/the Church of England/(insert faith here), marriage is between a man and a woman. British law also allows same-sex couples to marry.” – was that so hard? School is for facts, Brazier.
  11. “I’m sorry if I have disappointed you in this.”
    – you have, a little, but at least you’re sorry about it.
  12. “As an MP, I clearly cannot be in agreement with all of my constituents all of the time”
    – very true, and IMHO a huge problem in British politics, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.
  13. “I am always prepared to listen to alternative opinions and to respect the views of those who disagree with me. I do hope that you will be generous enough to do the same.”
    – thanks, but it’s not really just an “agree to disagree” situation, is it? If I walked into your house and said “hey, you’re not allowed to marry the person you love. In my opinion it’s not right, and I’d appreciate it if you could respect that.” you’d probably be pretty pissed off. That’s why this is an issue, Brazier. Quit fighting it. You’re on the wrong side of history, and I think you know it.

Well, thank you for reading. Corrections and constructive criticism are always welcome 🙂 or just leave a comment!