I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been asked, by people I barely know (we’re talking friends of friends and the like), what it was like to ‘come out’ to my family and friends.
My answer really depends on the tone in which the question was asked, more often than not I reply with ‘Well, how did it go when you told your parents you were straight?’ This normally leads to people staring at me with a bewildered look on their face while I try not to laugh. Although one guy did say that he hadn’t gotten around to breaking it to them yet
Seriously though, I know I had it easy with the whole ‘coming out’ thing, it really wasn’t a big deal for those around me.
I don’t actually recall the moment I realised I was gay, I assume on some level I’ve always known. Yes, there was a guy in my life at one point but obviously it ended and I will be eternally grateful to him for the way he acted that day and everyday since.
It was 2005 and I was standing in the kitchen, in the early hours of the morning, when my Dad and brother came in from the pub. We were having a chat when my Dad mentioned something about feeling old because he’d just found out that someone I was friends with growing up was pregnant. He was going on about remembering her being a child herself when my brother turned around and said; ‘Sure it could be worse, Paula could be the pregnant one’.
Quick as lightening I replied, ‘Well that’s not gonna happen since I’m gay’. My Dad just looked at me and said ‘Sure I knew that anyway’ and gave me a hug whilst my brother just said ‘Oh’.
And that ladies and gentlemen was that, I’d ‘outed’ myself to my family and within five minutes we were talking about something else entirely.
With friends, it was a case of it being mentioned, where relevant, in conversation and they may or may not have shared my revelation with others. At no point did I make a big speech or anything like that.
Telling my Mam was similar story, in that I didn’t make a big song and dance about. My relationship with my Mam is much more fraught than the one I have with my Dad. When my parents split my Dad fought long and hard to get full custody of us and after many years and a lot of hard work he won. My reason for telling you this is to explain the gap in time between telling my Dad and then telling my Mam.
It was Easter 2008 and we were having a conversation about her job, she was actually visiting me in hospital, when she mentioned something about a guy she worked with being gay. I just said, ‘You know I’m gay too, right?’. To which she replied, ‘Yes’ and yet again there was no drama involved.
The reason I’m writing about any of this tonight, well technically it’s morning, is that I’ve spent the day talking to a friend who ‘came out’ over Christmas only it didn’t go too well and his family are still acting weird with him.
I take for granted just how accepting my family and friends are and I’m really only reminded of how different things could’ve been when the ‘coming out’ process doesn’t go as well for those around me.
I want to thank them, from the bottom of heart, for accepting me the way I am and never once suggesting that I was simply going through a phase.