Coming out gay as an adult
I was sorted, wasn’t I? I had a good job, as a teacher – had done for several years – and I had my first home, a flatmate, numerous DIY jobs under my belt. But no partner. I didn’t think it was an issue – and it wasn’t. I’d had girlfriends and flings, but hadn’t really questioned why these hadn’t led to much.
The first sign of things changing? A funny, fuzzy buzz I couldn’t put my finger on. He would come into my classroom after school, in free periods. He’d chat, and now, thinking back, it made me feel something special, something unlike anything I had felt before. He wanted me to have his number apparently – this I heard on the department grapevine. Such knowledge, to me, was time limited. On a late spring Friday afternoon, I needed to make the next step, and I planned to call him over the weekend.
Thinking back, I had probably always had some sort of same sex attraction. Did it stem from my formative years, of playing with dolls and tottering around in my mum’s high heels, saying I was like Lady Di? Maybe. But maybe not. What I knew, though, at thirty-years-old, a grown man with a house and a career, was that something had switched, changed, converted. And it felt good.
At first, there was a sense of rebellion; of staying out late, waking bleary-eyed with red-raw lips. I remember a year group photo, of the school nurse teasing me, how I’d been ‘kissing the girls’, making me blush. If only she knew – but I didn’t care. I wanted it to continue, to grow, to flourish into something beautiful and rich. It felt illicit, but that was part of the excitement, the allure.
I loved telling people – some people. It felt risky, not knowing how they’d respond, not that it mattered. Sitting down with my best friend for a ‘coming out’ moment felt … what did it feel? Special, is what, like being pumped full of teetering-on-perfection emotions. What I loved more than anything was spending time with this man. Nothing else mattered. I drove to his house. We explored each other, visited windswept clifftops, kissed in full view of dog-walking pensioners. Everything else fell into place – the insurmountable suddenly felt easy.
It wasn’t all laughter and joy. My dad didn’t want others to know – ‘What would they think?’ my mum said. I know this would have been a generational thing and not spiteful homophobia – but, you know what: I didn’t care. I loved what had happened to me, how I had followed my instinct and jumped in at the deep end. I may have floundered, struggled, and I might not have been able to touch my feet on the bottom. But no matter.
Coming out as a gay man in my third decade was one of the best things that has happened to me. I know it isn’t simple for many people – in fact, it can be incredibly challenging, for a number of reasons. But, on that Friday afternoon way back when, I went with my heart and acted with head, and I have never looked back.