To start this tale, I guess we need to start at the beginning. So, you can see my upbringing and see why things ended up as they did. A little long, and a little dark, but bear with me.
My father is disabled, he has a rare form of MS that is extremely variable. From days he can walk 20 miles to days he cannot leave bed. He cannot work and hasn’t been able to since his late twenties. It took most of my life time of testing to even find out what was wrong with him. My mother gave up work to care for him, and then me when I was born. They lived in poverty, just trying to survive. Which left a lot of hostility between them. Although my mother remained as his carer, they were never a loving couple in my remembrance. They fought all the time, there was never a lot of love in my home. Most of the family had little to do with us for reasons before my birth I don’t even really know.
From the age of five, I was trained to take care of my father while my mother was not at home. Such as doing the food shopping, or paying bills etc. I knew how to stand on a stool and make tea for him. Make sandwiches and basic things. I could wash clothes by hand when I was a little older. Do basic first aid, I was taught massage for when my father’s legs cramped. I knew what pills to give him and when. My parents decided to tutor my schooling at home, my whole life. So, I had nothing other than school, caring, and my parents. Other than some weekends and some holidays I stayed with my grandparents and had a semi normal life. Mostly, my life was caring for others and being told to stay quiet and not disturb people. IE play in my room silently.
Stories became my life, books that took me away from everything and everyone. Whether they were written, or I wrote them myself. Acting them out with my dolls. Being dyslexic, my father bullied me a lot that I was stupid and could never make it. I must give my mother her due here. She taught me a list of actors I loved who have the same problem as me and told me to not let it limit me. There was some violence towards me from my father in my early teens, which was never believed by either of them until my mother caught him hitting me and they worked out it was a problem with his meds. I was never apologized to. Then from 15 to my early twenties I had horrific bullying from neighbors over many things. From my weight, to my looks, clothes etc. My whole family did because we are different. Goths, pagans, well my mother and me. My father is a Quaker. I was raped by one of these people at 17. I also lost my Nan that year, who was my only real support. She died of cancer, and I gave up living. I already had been suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts from age nine. I started drinking, stealing my parents stash that people gave them and never drank. I was drunk in the house a few times and they never noticed. This is important later, so remember that.
In my twenties I went to college and omg culture shock. Gays hiding away due to bullying, straight girls being sluts over the hot boys, bullying, people. I stood up for some gay people and disabled at college. I didn’t really give a crap what people thought of me. Or what I thought of myself. A boy again raped me, then fell into an eight-year relationship that was abusive. Again, important plot points here. That bad relationship was what changed a lot for me.
Around this time as well, on a training course a woman kept hitting on me and it scared the shit out of me. I didn’t know how to react. In ran off, and later she came back and said sorry, she didn’t realize I wasn’t out yet. I just looked at her like she was crazy. I had heard stories, people knew they were gay at like a really young age, so surely, I would have as well?! So, I couldn’t be gay! Surely? I mean, yes, I looked at boobs sometimes and thought they were pretty. But, doesn’t every girl do that? Without socializing as I grew up, I really didn’t know what was and wasn’t normal. (Now, you see why the back story. I was very sheltered).
My mother had given me the it’s okay to be gay talk so many times growing up, I had ended up shouting at her I am not gay, so fuck off. More than once. So, maybe she knew something although she denied it later.
There was another girl in my life before the long-term ex, a close friend. She also hit on me, but I flatly refused politely saying I wasn’t gay. She was a sexy lady, and I did admit I wished I could be gay for her. Promising if anything changed I would let her know. She would later be one of the first to know.
The eight-year relationship hit me hard, there was much abuse, forced sex and so on. Through much of this time I was drunk or thinking about suicide or even attempting it. I couldn’t escape him; my parents wouldn’t take me back home. They didn’t think I was telling the truth. They told me that is what love is. In the end, I felt like the only way I could escape the situation was a pine box. I made a bet with myself Jan 2012. That, I would give it until my birthday in July and kill myself on that day, my 30th. That gave the universe six months to show me if there was another way. One thing I must firmly say here, I wasn’t suicidal. I didn’t want to die, I just didn’t want to live anymore either. It seemed the perfectly logical thing to do. I had exhausted every other avenue. Yes, even women’s shelters. I had been sofa surfing when it was bad for a while and would be a lot longer as well. Before I finally got out.
I went to a book signing in May 2012, as stupid as that sounds. I stood in line talking to a couple of people who would change my life. Literally. A girl and a guy. We will call them, Abby, and Mark. Not their real names, but that’s not for me to say. We talked for hours waiting to be seen, swapped numbers and I thought that would be it. I had no faith in humanity, and still little now. A few days after the signing, they messaged to ask me to a movie.
That started the only summer of my life I have ever been truly happy. They knew about the home situation I was in. Mark caught my boyfriend hitting me in town and me running off. He took me for a coffee and a long talk where he spelled out slowly, as if to a child. That what was happening was not right, was not my fault, and that I needed to get out. That I had six months to do it myself or he would just take me out himself.
Between him and Abby, I was rarely alone that summer. We went to the movies, shopping or just hung out talking. Usually in a graveyard, writing. Me on my fanfictions, Abby on her drawing and Mark on his lyrics. Mark was always interested in how me and Abby talked and acted together. Oh, I should say that Mark is gay. Very gay, like covered in glitter and more guyliner than Mac sells in a year all over his face. I used to write MM fanfictions, and they challenged me to write one about Tony Stark and Captain America. Where Tony struggles to deal with his love for a man. Oh yes, I think you see what is coming here. Me, I had no clue at all! Honestly, I really didn’t! Or why I was so drawn in to this girl! I look back on it now and think stupid idiot! Lol
Then there was the time they met me from work, and Mark was why aren’t you at Pride? I snapped back A Cause I am working and B because I don’t want to be around gays. Yes, my partner at the time was highly homophobic and it rubbed off. Let’s just skip here and say I was given a ten-minute lecture, ending with if you aren’t part of the solution you are part of the problem. So, decide which side of this war you are on! One that still terrifies me to this day!
That fanfiction I was writing would be the answer to everything. One afternoon, just me and Mark in the graveyard writing. He was talking randomly while I was trying to sort out a tricky plot point, I was only half listening to him and to this day can’t tell you exactly what he said. I was putting everything into this story for Abby, and again not thinking why. I said something like if you are going to say something come out and say it. Big mistake!
“Oh honey, I came out years ago. You should try it. The water is lovely!!!”
Long moments of staring at him posing all dramatically over the church wall looking at me as it sunk in.
“I’m not gay!!!”
“Yes, you are.”
“I AM NOT FUCKING GAY!!”
“I am not, I am not fucking gay. I am not like you. I am normal!!!!” Screaming from me by now.
“I think the lady protests too much!!”
I stormed off, with him laughing his head off behind me. We didn’t speak for days. I worked on this scene about Tony denying to everyone around him his feelings for Steve. Which wrote well and far too easily. Finally, the dumb blond-haired person got an alarm bell. I read the whole chapter over and was huh. Read it again, and again, by the sixth read I was oh shit. Rung Mark and was, erm you know how I said I wasn’t gay?
I might have erm ……. Overstated my straightness.”
I will never forget that scream of pure joy, followed by a rousing rendition of “Kiss the Girl.”
The next time I saw both, I was so nervous. But, he just drew me into a huge hug and said he was proud of me. She made it clear she liked me too, but I was firm and said I’m not gay, I think I might be bi. I can’t be with you, because I gave my boyfriend a chance to fix this. I can’t go back on that. She kissed me and said she respected it and life went on. Although I was often sung that song, or Avenue Q’s ‘If You Were Gay’.
The air turned colder, and the summer started to end. Soon, the hanging out together would end. The summer where I felt loved and respected, accepted would be over. They were the only two who knew, bar one other friend who worried me as she was churchy, but she didn’t care if it wasn’t my ex. My birthday came around, they were there with other friends, my boyfriend, and others. I said to a couple of friends I was thinking of leaving my partner for this girl. They were not friendly over it, or her. They said she was a predator and trying to break us up. There was a huge row that night between me and my partner. Ending with me sleeping in a workshop for days. In the back of a car.
I got hurt a week or so later, fell and twisted my ankle badly. I was off work a while. I rang my partner at work to get him to fetch me and take me to hospital, I was in the middle of a wood right then. I found out he wasn’t at work and hadn’t been all week. Even though he was getting ready and leaving for work every day. I had to ring the girl, walk out of the woods alone, then she got me to the hospital. That was the last straw, as the partner just got funny about us spending time together. Kept demanding if there was something between us, which there wasn’t. I don’t cheat, just because I liked her didn’t mean I would act on it; I had a promise to allow him to fix, and I meant it. At that time, I wasn’t sure if I liked her because I liked her or if it was just because she was being kind to me after so much hate. He followed me all the time, kept saying I was up to something with her.
In the end, the 23rd of September 2012, I booked a hotel room to think about everything. My head felt like it would explode. I got very drunk, and Mark. he sat with me the whole night talking about everything. I must admit, I remember very little of that night. I was far gone by this point. I just remember the feeling I had of being loved, taken care of, and listened to. That was special to me. Next day I went to work as normal and planned to go back to the partners parents’ house (where we were living). I got a call from another friend saying the partner was going crazy looking for me and that he was convinced that I had cheated. That night, when he came home. I already had a bag packed incase things kicked off. He got violent, demanded I apologize for being a cheating whore and begged him to take me back or he would beat me. He raised a hand to me and from somewhere I found the power to speak. I don’t know where, maybe I channeled my inner mark! I pulled out my phone with three 999s on the pad and said either he got out my way or I would call the police. I got out the house unharmed but that was it for me. September the 24th at 5.47pm our relationship ended. I stayed with friends for a while. He kept stalking me, following me, and told everyone I knew I was quote “A filthy fag who slutted with every girl behind his back.” He even told my parents this! Nope, I never got to come out. He brought me out, before I was ready. I needed a few months to get used to the idea. Hell, I wasn’t even sure how I felt or who or what I was right then. I ended up attempting to take my life and blacking out 12 hours of my life due to a break down.
It wasn’t all bad, Mark set up a very romantic date for me and Abby. Candles, and everything. And was ooooh, what happened between you two last night. I was so embarrassed about it all when he found a hickey on my neck, but it wasn’t bad teasing. It was nice, like I finally belonged.
My ex’s stalking cost me the girl, and almost everything I owned, almost everyone I knew and got me disowned by my family. I will never forgive him for that. For cheating me of my coming out. That is a passage every LGBTQ* person should be able to do in their own time, not anyone else’s. I more than likely would have been properly out by the Dec, I just needed to get my head around it all. I was still of the opinion that gay guys are okay, but gay women are against nature. My ex’s words would have long lasting effects, even now I struggle with some of it all.
The next two years were hell, completely and utterly. I hated my gayness, it had cost me everything. And for what? Not like I had even got the girl. I felt like I should have never admitted even to myself what was going on. I drank almost all the time. My only connections to the world were through the odd fb friend, Mark when he was free, and online places like Have A Gay Day. Where I could learn about our history and what problems there were in the world against LGBTQ* people. I really had no idea how bad homophobia was. Mark slowly taught me to open my eyes against hate. 2014 he put me back into am dram theatre, to save my life. Without it I would have just given up and killed myself. Between that and my writing, with a couple of good friends. I started to rebuild my life.
I went to my first Pride and my god did I hate it. I felt so uncomfortable there. I didn’t feel like I belonged at all. I discovered homophobia in the Community, as some treated me as wrong or broken for being bisexual. Even now, I rarely use that term to describe myself because of this. I tend to say, ‘in the community’ or just call myself ‘gay’ or ‘open to interpretation’.
I took what I had learned and started to write a book series about it all. The hate about bisexuals, the craziness of Anti-Gay Churches which pray away your evil and make you straight. After a few people in my life started to say I should go to one and be cured of my filth. I thought I was late to the game and my books wouldn’t help at all. Then Trump came to power and they have become more important than ever. I get a lot of hate for my writing, yet I feel it is important. I try to blend in things that have happened to me, with things that happened to others as well as my research to give those coming out a comfort. An idea they are not alone.
I knew I had changed a lot in 2016, when I went to two Prides. One over my birthday, which was much more relaxing once I was happier in myself to who and what I was. Then I went in the October as well, to Disneyland Paris Pride. A three-day event with over 200 gay people of all parts of the community. A friendly bunch who had me out in the bars until the early hours every night, drinking cocktails and dancing the macarena. Ending on the last night with singing Let it Go on karaoke with the whole 200 plus singing backing vocals for me. That was a hell of a moment in my life. One I hope I never forget.
Then there was the Pulse shooting, that shook me. I remember me and a friend at work taking it in turns around our shift to keep checking the news and see what was going on. He was straight btw. I had friends there, which concerned me. Thankfully they were fine. Two days later a member of staff there made comments when he heard me talking to a female workmate about it all saying he could see why two men kissing had started it all, that’s just wrong. I swung for him! After screaming at him exactly what I thought. I gathered then, I must be okay with who I was.
In fact, how I came out at that work is a funny story. I wasn’t one to say what I was unless people asked. One morning coffee break the office girl walks through, and she was fine. The boys around me are making comments about her ass. I shrugged as I passed over their coffee and said her boobs are better. The room fell silent with everyone staring at me. I was “What! I never said I was straight, you just assumed!”. After that I used to get dragged into the convos about girls every time!
So, now its 2018. In short, it’s been a journey. One I still have a long way to go on. In the last two years I gave away 2 thousand copies of my LGBTQ* fiction. I am on the shortlist for an LGBTQ publisher and have a pitch for my latest book series with them later this year. I am an activist, as best I know how to be for true Equality for all. I go to gay bars often, I try to go to Pride every time I can. I’m learning to be more tolerant of those people I don’t understand and find that most are very open to answering questions to help further knowledge if you are polite.
My parents are still shitty about my sexuality and only want to be around me when I date a man. I have few friends, and struggle with relationships due to trust issues. I still drink too much sometimes when things get bad. I am getting there, slowly. That is the main thing, go at your pace. No one else’s. No one can tell you how long this will take to be your true self. I am certainly a lot happier in myself. A lot more comfortable with my sexuality. I still want to kill myself sometimes, but I fight against it. Trying to keep working on my messages and my books. Yes, I lost a lot in coming out, but I gained a lot as well. If I lost it, then it wasn’t important after all. Hardly anyone has a good coming out story, no matter what they officially tell you. When you do start to come out and question, it is going to be hard. Get yourself one good friend to help you through it, one soul who understands. If you can’t find one, google my website or authors page and message me. No one should ever be alone going through this terrifying time. I left my family behind in the end, to be my true self. Don’t feel guilty if you have to as well. If they can’t love the real you, then they don’t deserve you.
You are NOT wrong for feeling how you do! You are NOT wrong for loving who you do! Love is love.
Good luck, be brave, be you!