Coming Out: Becoming The Man I Am

13/10/2010 at 9:19 pm (Gay)


In light of Coming Out Day just past, and the It Gets Better Campaign (which highlights the continuing, disturbing incidences of suicide among young gay men and women), I got to thinking about my own experiences of the last 10 years. It has been over a decade since I came out myself.

For anyone that knew me before I decided to do this, they would tell you I was a very different person. While I can still be awkward and a little uncomfortable around new people sometimes, I was truly crippled with shyness. It would take an absolute skinful of drink to relax, and then I would always be on guard not to let any of my hidden personality slip.

I suppose it’s no different to any other awkward young man or woman. But I knew what the problem was, and I was so terrified that I was not “right”. My parents were from small towns – well, had come from villages really – and the perception of homosexuality was pretty much a perversion. I hasten to add, my mum has been extremely supportive of me (after the initial shock of coming out over breakfast), as is the rest of my family.

Fear of being different haunted me, but instead of going out to pull women to deflect any suggestion that I might be gay, I didn’t do anything. I shut down. I had made a new circle of friends, and they were beginning to ask why I didn’t seem to want to meet someone special or settle down.

I was 26 and had experienced no intimacy with anyone.

Eventually the pressure had got too much. I started to find that I was making even less sense than usual. I was losing focus and fearing for my mental health. It was time to tell someone. So one night, my friend Carl and I went for a drink at the local Chicago Rock Café. It was our dive of choice, and they did some good offers on drinks. That’s my excuse for going, anyway.

So we were chatting, getting on fine, and I finally had enough (Dutch) courage to say what I had to say. “Carl, I need to tell you something…”

It was like the scene in Batman where Michael Keaton’s mouthing, “I’m Batman” before revealing his identity to Kim Basinger. I’d rehearsed the word and it was still hard to say, even on my own. It got stuck. “I… I…”

“You’re not going to tell me you’re gay, are you?” Carl said, slicing through my nervousness.

“Well, yes. Yes, I am.”

“Oh, okay. Wasn’t expecting that.”

And it was fine. I realised I needed the loo quite badly, and when I returned the bar was playing a succession of songs including YMCA, Tainted Love and Dancing Queen. I still can’t be sure that Carl didn’t put the DJ up to it.

So I told each of my friends in turn. As I did so, my confidence grew. I seemed to become a more complete person. It was my biggest fear to be found out, and I was stealing that power away from whichever demon possessed it.

I do realise I’m lucky. I have friends that are strong of character themselves, secure in their own personalities. I wasn’t judged, I was still Pete, but a less sketchy version. There are people out there that aren’t so lucky, and it’s so difficult if you feel there’s nowhere to turn. I felt that, and had no idea how people would react, or if I’d lose everyone that mattered to me.

It’s not my place to give advice, but I would say to anyone that is really struggling to come to terms with being gay, lesbian or bisexual, please tell someone. Take that pressure off yourself in some way. You have to know that you’re not the only one. I am a gay man and I am happy with the life I lead and the friends and family I have. Being gay is not a disability and it is not a perversion.

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7 Comments

  1. lankyguy said,

    Thanks for sharing this, it’s much appreciated. The more people who talk the better off we all are.

  2. Originalsteve said,

    A beautiful post!

    It’s great that you can share your story, more people should.

    Well Done Mr!

  3. Andy said,

    Are you gay????

  4. What’s the point of purple? Spirit Day explained « peacockpete's adventures in the modern world said,

    […] feel that this is a companion piece to my post about coming out, as LGBT issues seem to be becoming even more prevalent in my […]

  5. Novo said,

    Brilliant post; thanks. Really strikes a chord with my own experience- family from small rural town with their own unconscious homophobia. The feeling of being different, the awkwardness in company, fearing that if I relax my true personality will show and that I’ll be ‘found out’ So I just shut down but it is through reading blogs such as yours that I gain confidence to share my sexuality with a ‘select few’. Once again thank you!

    • peacockpete said,

      Thank you very, very much. That does mean an awful lot to me, and you found parallels in our experiences. I’m pleased that this has helped a bit. It’s great to know you have a few people that you can come out to. Thank you for your comment.

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