Coming Out Stories: ‘I Heard a Rumour That You’re Gay’
“I heard a rumour that you’re gay”
Those seven words that filled my mind with dread and terror when I was younger. At 15 the sheer thought of anyone figuring out the internal battles of my mind filled me with dread. As I fought to accept who I was, I also heard the voices of senior leaders in my church condemning me to an afterlife of eternal flames and damnation.
My coming out story started several years before I actually plucked up the courage, to be honest with myself and my family. I was bullied at school by a group of boys who seemingly figured out my sexual preference before I had really grasped who I was. They took it upon themselves to remind me and anyone that would listen that I was different. I didn’t align with their view of masculinIty.
I felt so conflicted inside. This led me to a decision that I now deeply regret. I stopped going to school. This decision is something I now wish I thought about a bit harder, as education is the greatest gift.
At the time it felt like the only option I had for mental peace. However, this only lasted for a few months. I would get up and get ready for school as normal. I’d kiss my mum goodbye on the cheek, travel to the school with my sister, walk with her to the gates. I’d watch her go into school then walk straight back out.
I would jump on the tube and ride it to stations I have never been to, just to past the time. I would read books and comics over and over until it was time to head back to school to meet my sister. I did this regularly until one faithful day. On my daily tube journey, I got off the tube at Walthamstow Central. Walking down towards the market, I looked up and saw someone walking towards me with the deepest look of disappointment in their eyes. I could see a tear rolling down their cheek. I walked slowly towards them. It was my mother.
Mother dearest is a highly educated strong woman. She has several qualifications and a degree in social work. She always championed the importance of education in my head since the day I was born. Seeing me bunking off school, when I should of be getting that same education she treasured so highly broke her heart. The only thing I could do was explain the truth.
Having to explain to my mum that people in my school were giving me a hard time because they thought I was gay was one of the most difficult things I have had to do. I had to be honest with her. Being the amazing women she is, she held my hand and said: “don’t worry son”. There was something about the tone of her voice that calmed me. I could tell she really cared. She called the headmaster the next day and organised a programme of extra classes for me to catch up on what I’d missed. She also started a plan of understanding and acceptance. This felt like an unofficial coming out.
Because of this acceptance, I was able to really come to terms quite strongly with who I was and how I wanted to proceed with my life in the way I always hoped and envisaged.
My coming out was less dramatic than others I’d heard about. I told my sisters when I was around 18 and received looks off indifference. They were not phased by it and even they thought I was being dramatic.
My one regret is I never plucked up the courage to tell my dad. I think he knew, but we had an almost gentlemen’s agreement. I didn’t talk about it and he didn’t ask me about girlfriends, done.
The day I officially decided to tell my mother, I remember it was around my 21st birthday. My mum was cooking jerk chicken and mac & cheese for my party. Then it hit me. Most of my friends that were coming were fun beautiful and vibrantly gay. I had the biggest panic attack. I thought to myself: “if you don’t tell mum the situation then the universe is going to explain it for you.” It’s now or never. Just as my mum took out the final batch of freshly cooked jerk chicken from the oven, I closed my eyes and I blurted it out six life-changing words “ Mum I date, guys, not girls”. There you go, done. It was official, I was out.
I’m not sure why I expected dramatics. So many of my friends at the time had difficult experiences of coming out. So I just expected my mother to be another parent who questions their love of their child, But no, she simply looked into my eyes and said: “ I have always known and I will always love you”.
It was a moment of mixed emotions – relief, maybe even a slight disappointment that I didn’t get the dramatics that I was anticipating.
My mum became one of my biggest supporters in life. She fully champions LGBTQ+ equality and is a full ally in her own right. She has loved my boyfriend’s like they were her own son.
I wish the next iPhone update came with a button that allows you to call the past. I would call my 15-year-old self. The me that believed that not going to school was the only way to deal with the torment going through my mind. I would tell him not to worry. That there is no need to fear as Mum will be fine with you being gay. I would tell him that I am going to fully accept my sexuality in the future.
The world has changed a lot since back then. The 2000s have brought us forward so much in regards to LGBTQ+ equality and acceptance. But I know there is a long way to go. My hope is that more and more people questioning who they are will have more stories to tell like mine. I truly appreciate that around the world, being openly LGBTQ+ is not an easy experience.