Coming Out: The Receiving End

16/01/2011 at 3:10 am (Gay)


Out of the blue, I received a message on Facebook from a friend I’ve known for years. I hadn’t seen him for a while and was looking forward to a really good catch up.

I sat in the pub, idly tweeting, when a rather drunk chap came and sat opposite me. Extending the hand of friendship, I told him I didn’t mind a brief chat until my friend arrived. As I did so, he walked in.

Drunk Chap looked at my mate, and gave a grin, and kept asking him about working out and the like. At one point, he turned to my friend and started to come out with stuff like live and let live, and what people do behind closed doors is their own business. Being incredibly astute, I realised what he was getting at.

“Oh no,” I corrected, “I’m gay, but he’s not.”

Drunk Guy looked at me incredulously, and sort of went away.

We both had a laugh, and then my mate said, “I am though.”

“What?” said I.

“I am.”

I really wasn’t getting it. “What? You mean… Nah. What? No way!” or words to that effect, as my brain span out a bit.

Then I realised what it feels like when you’ve no idea a person’s gay, then they come out to you. Especially when you’ve known that person for so long. Suddenly they’re almost someone completely different.

Now that sounds as though by coming out you’re going to be perceived as an entirely different person. That’s not what I mean. I was shocked and surprised. This had come completely left field at me. I mean, my gaydar doesn’t work anyway, but this was a massive revelation.

I tend to assume people are straight, although I’ve met a few that really give me the impression they might not be. This was totally unexpected. I’ve always been very fond of him as a friend, and as I’ve said, I’ve known him a good number of years.

Never before have we had such a great evening talking. It was brilliant to catch up with an old friend in a new way. One thing I did notice is how much more confident, self deprecating and easy to talk to he was. My friends say the same about me after I came out (except perhaps the self deprecating part).

It’s been so long since I’ve been out, I’d forgotten about the little stories that are told. We talked about replacing the “he” in a sentence for “she”. A classic misdirection tactic. It had me fooled! I do wonder if it’s believed gay people say these things for some kind of sexual espionage (“sneaky gays”). We do these things through an inherent fear of not being accepted.

I suppose coming out does make for a different person after all: there’s nothing more liberating than not worrying about saying the wrong thing.

It’s almost as though he’d taken the wrapper off his personality. I came away with a new found respect for him. Even in these more ‘enlightened’ times, coming out is still a bloody scary thing to do.

If you want to read my Coming Out story, go here.

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5 Comments

  1. Mel said,

    A lovely piece of writing, I have no idea what you must feel before coming out but it must be a relief when you do as you can be “you” not the perception of you.
    My uncle is gay so we were brought up with and Uncle & Aunt & an Uncle & Uncle, its never been an issue though I gather that for my Uncles in the 60s it was quite a big thing when they got together.
    It may well be the way we were brought up but I fail to understand peoples intolerance of their fellow human beings. I live in a village in Leicesterhire and like in many other small communities some of my best mates are chronic homophobics- tho with a certain double standard (2 women is ok). I dont know but I put it down to their own insecurity and ignorance. Good for you and for your mate – all power to you ! 🙂

    • peacockpete said,

      Thank you, Mel! I have the impression that parochial environments are always tougher for minorities of any kind. A broader population centre implies more variety and more outlet. And you can only experience that once you’re honest to yourself, which can be the hardest part.

  2. Dave Wood said,

    Very true, Pete. I’ve been out for a decade to friends and family but I still find that I subsitute “partner” for “boyfriend” and “they” instead of “he” when I’m talking with clients.

    It’s very difficult to build relationships and friendships if you’re protecting so many secrets. On the odd occasions that I’ve found myself outed amongst friends and colleagues it’s always been such a huge relief afterwards.

    • peacockpete said,

      I’m sure I lapse into that pattern in professional environments too. I think it’s an inherent censorship of supposed hostility from an external party as opposed to any real negativity. Saying that, it’s hard to shake off the feeling of, “can’t be too careful.”

  3. peacockpete said,

    Oh dear. I’ve accidentally “liked” my own post. Embarrassing!

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