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Sunday, 26 March 2017

Growing up Gay: My Story Part 2

Coming out of the closet: the task every gay man and woman has to go through at some point in their lives. I am no exception to this rule, but it sure took me a long time to do it. As you read in Part 1 here, I bottled up my feelings about my sexuality for a long time so you can probably guess I didn't find coming out an easy task to do. Here's how it went down.

So throughout secondary school I bottled everything up and tried to forget I was a gay man, but it was in college when this changed. Being surrounded by other likeminded gay men and women opened me up to a new world and gave me a sort of comfort. It reminded me of who I was and I couldn't pretend anymore. Sure it took me a few weeks, even months before I was comfortable enough to say to myself "I'm Liam Havard and I'm gay" but I got there in the end. If it wasn't for going to college I don't think I would have found the confidence to admit this to myself. Being around new open minded and unique people with similar sexualities changed me for the better. I was more comfortable with who I was which goes to show I needed was to be around other LGBT people to make me feel more like myself. But it's not all black and white; yes I felt a lot better, heck even normal but I can't say for 100% that I loved myself like I should have. I still pondered upon the idea that I was different and not the norm and that didn't sit well with me. I've never enjoyed being different but it's who I was and am, but being around like-minded people made me feel that little bit better. I think I'll always feel different but time heals all.

But back to how I came out. It all started from hearing the college gossip every few weeks about how other people came out of the closet when I thought to myself, that could be me one day. I listened to all of the stories specifically focusing on how these people did it and how good they felt after coming out, it was like I was taking notes for when I did my huge show stopper. I didn't plan when I was going to do it, but hearing these stories gave me some confidence. I knew I wanted to come out to friends first though. My thought process was friends come and go so if they didn't like who I was I could make new friends, but family - well you've only got one lot of them. It still would have sucked to lose friends though.

So it was at the end of college over 6 years ago when I plucked up the courage to tell my friends or at least my best friend, Lisa. I called her over one day at one of the common rooms. I was panicking with my heart racing and my hands getting clammy. After a few deep breaths...I hesitated and kept saying to her "Oh nothing. It's nothing" trying to distract myself from the topic. That was until she just said, "Tell me" and then I blurted it out. The pause before she said anything after what I told her was the longest pause in the world, but it turned out she was happy and couldn't have been prouder. Nor could I. I finally did it, I told someone my deep dark secret and it was like a weight instantly dropped off my shoulders. All that fear I had was let go of because my friend was there for me. It was a surreal moment, who would have thought I would ever have the confidence to not only admit this sexuality to myself but to my friends? It was the scariest and most empowering thing I have ever done. Lisa was there for me and it was the greatest feeling and as for everyone else, I told them individually in a similar way over coming days and weeks and they were just as accepting. But this was just a stepping stone, a rehearsal perhaps for when I came out to my family.

My mum was the person I was most scared of telling. I guess that's common for every LGBT person, after all it's your parent you don't want to lose them. I'm especially close to my mum, yes a momma's boy you could say which is why it was more intimidating. I wanted her support and blessing, but all I thought was am I going to get it? So here's how it went.

It was very spontaneous. I used to say everyday I would tell her until one day I FINALLY meant it and did it. I just woke up one day and felt ready. It was around 4-5 years ago when I told her. It may not be a surprise to know I was on Google all day searching for how to do it though. Literally all day. So after gathering my information from online, I got myself ready for the big evening whilst she was in work. I did this two years after telling my friends as I needed to find a whole lot of courage. Two years of preparation done I heard my mum's car pull up outside as she arrived back home as I laid in my bedroom. That's when my heart started pumping and yes, the clammy hands returned with vengeance. I went downstairs from my bedroom where I was prepping to make her a cup of tea. As she walked into the house she knew something was up because I never make her cups of tea (bad child) so her first sentence was "What's wrong?" and I replied with "Nothing". So we went to sit in the living room together to watch the soaps, her favourite pastime and sat in complete silence. Yes that's right, I said nothing for a t-total of three hours even though she tried speaking to me at times. I had zero courage to tell her and I didn't know what to do. I prepped myself for this I should have known how to do it, but the words just wouldn't come out. She knew something was up because normally I would be moaning about her shit choice of TV.

During these torturous three hours I was texting my friend Lisa who I mentioned earlier in this post, asking her for advice on how to do it and she helped out. She gave me some confidence but it wasn't enough so in the end I asked her to pick me up in her car. This was for two reasons: 1. I was stressed and needed to get out of the house, and 2. She was my getaway car ride in case I told my mum the truth and she didn't like it. Lisa was happy to pick me up, so when she arrived I knew I had to go straight away because the silence between my mum and I was killing me, but as I left my mum to go to the car I hesitated. Why? Because I really wanted to tell her. Heart pumping I finally opened my mouth and said "I needed to speak to you Mum but I've got to go. I really had something to say but don't worry". She immediately got up from the sofa and ran to me as I walked to the front door and said "What? What is it? You're worrying me, tell me". I kept hesitating and could only get the word "I'm" out of my mouth. Thankfully she worked out what I was going to say so outright asked if I was gay crying her eyes out I replied with, yes. I finally admitted it, I went into a state of shock. At this point I probably should have stayed with my mother and talked everything out but Lisa was already outside my house with her car. So instead I ditched my mother so I didn't have to deal with the awkwardness. Awkward why? Well she was crying out of shock for what I told her, not because she didn't love me even though that's what I originally thought. Even though I left my mum, we were both happy we got that out in the open.

All the top questions Google told me my mum would ask were spot on. It's quite funny thinking back how accurate this was:
  • Did I do something wrong?
  • Are you sure this isn't a phase?
  • Are you sure you're gay?
  • Why didn't you tell me sooner?
As for the rest of my family, my mum told my brother who was happy to know and my sister told me that she already knew. Everyone was loving and accepting of me especially my brother who hugged me and said "You can love anyone you want and I wouldn't mind. You could even love an animal and I wouldn't care...oh wait that's weird" but that goes to show he loves me! As for my non immediate family, I've only told my cousin who I live with but I wouldn't lie to my other family if they asked me or if it came up in conversation.

After all of these shenanigans, uni came and I wasn't afraid anymore. I was gay and I was there to stay. If people asked me about my sexuality I would open up about it or if they asked me the kind of girl I liked, I would tell them the truth that I was attracted to men. I had such great support from everybody including some of my friends like Reen, Emma, Saskia and Josie. I was no longer afraid and I was happier with who I was.

So coming out really changed me for the better and gave me the confidence to own who I am. Sure it took me a while to get there, but I did it and it's probably the proudest moment of my life. Cringe? In all honesty I'm quite surprised nobody worked it out when I was a kid since all I did was choreographed dances of Britney Spears music videos #werk. I've come a long way from that insecure unhappy boy to now a very open man who owns his sexuality. I can't lie and say I'm 100% comfortable with it just yet but now I accept it and that's a start to being more comfortable. I strongly believe that anyone who is thinking of coming out should do it because you'll be surprised at the amount of support you'll get, but do it when you feel 100% ready. I'm so grateful for all the love and support I've had from my family and friends and wish the LGBT community had the same.

Do you have any coming out stories? Let me know in the comments below!


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