Coming Out in the 21st Century: A Personal Reflection
I’m still relatively young (20), but I can honestly say that accepting my sexuality was one of the most difficult and perplexing situations I’ve ever had to face. Through the years, I’ve found that reading or watching coming-out stories can really help someone who needs it. I hope this helps.
After my first long-term relationship broke down during my early years of secondary school, I wasn’t particularly upset – and this deeply confused me. I wasn’t sad, but I wasn’t particularly happy either. After this, girls just weren’t that appealing anymore, it was as if puberty started and my brain just stopped seeing girls as romantic interests. I started to get comments from people who undoubtedly noticed my sudden disinterest in girls, “You’re definitely gay”, “I bet you’re gonna be gay when you’re older”; at the time I was offended and never for a second questioned my sexuality.
Over the summer, I found myself watching coming-out videos on YouTube, browsing gay forums, and even sought out some answers from the Yahoo community. Something was changing in me, and this was all an attempt to figure out puberty and why boys seemed more attractive now. I came out as bisexual to my closest friends in a spur of confidence, but as we all know, gossip travels fast in secondary school.
Gradually, as people discovered my sexuality in school, I felt more confident in myself – though, I still hadn’t told my parents, and juggling two personalities quickly became exhausting. At home, I found myself talking in a slightly deeper voice, lying about having a girlfriend, and distancing myself from my parents. It was a façade that I deeply regret. The secrets and constant switching between gay and straight started to take a toll on my mental health; I became extremely detached and felt devastatingly lonely. I thought that coming-out to the school was a step forward, but I was still lying to myself; I wasn’t happy because I wasn’t being honest. I was gay, and I knew it.
The mere thought of telling my parents was daunting, though I had a feeling my mum would understand and still love me, I could not let my dad find out. I knew he always wanted me to be the model-son who played football and shared his interests – but that wasn’t me. After (incorrectly) admitting that I was bisexual to my mum, in floods of tears, I began distancing myself from my dad; we argued constantly about the stupidest of things. I began analysing everything he said and lashing out every time he said something insensitive; I think in my mind I resented him because I assumed he would never understand.
As I got older, and stronger, our arguments became more intense – my mum had to break us up a few times and tensions ran high in the house. It was a constant battle of testosterone. Our last argument was during my first year of college, we fought to the point where we were both in tears. Seeing him shed a tear upset me, I realised that he was capable of being emotional and I felt overwhelming guilt. I was in the wrong; I looked for arguments with him and treated him like he’d been the worst dad in the world. All of this because I was in a constant battle with myself over my sexuality and took out my negative emotions on him.
I told both of my parents the truth after Christmas in 2013, to my surprise they were both supportive, if a little shocked (more so my dad). The fear of being disowned by my parents and kicked out at sixteen-years-old completely clouded my judgement and made me paranoid, scared, and depressed. I look back at this now, as an adult, and realise how puerile it was to worry. I had, and still have, two loving parents and a circle of important people who love and support me.
It’s now 2018. I’m gay but my sexuality doesn’t define who I am; society is still difficult to comprehend but the rights of people like me have come a long way. It’s far from a perfect world, but it’s one hell of a leap forward. We live in a world where there are openly gay politicians, transgender YouTubers, LGBTQ+ celebrities, and many more people are living freely, and I couldn’t be prouder. I used to hate the cliché ‘it gets better’, because you tend to hear it when you’re at your lowest – but I’m saying it now. It does get better; the world is changing, slowly but surely.