Nick | 39 | Software Developer/Writer | London, England
I was what you could call a late developer. I had a slightly tough time at school, bullied by people (who are actually gay now) for apparently being gay myself. However, I was a very diligent scholar and really came into my own when I was at sixth form and university. I considered myself kind of asexual until I graduated and started my career. This was mainly because I didn’t really want to explore a side of myself that I knew had been dormant for a long time. In my mid-20s, after a Miss World party at my friend’s house where I was apparently withdrawn, my pal Louise said she thought it was time I started exploring my sexuality. I decided to bite the bullet and asked a female colleague out on a date and we ended up getting intimate.
"The event itself was a disaster, as she had candles lit everywhere in the bedroom and my jeans caught fire at one stage! That walk home of shame was particularly embarrassing with singe marks on my jeans!"
Immediately afterwards, I knew that this just didn’t feel right for me and fortunately she ignored all my attempts to get in touch with her after our liaison, until she called me up drunk one night months later and I just joked, “You made me gay!” and hung up.
The sudden death of my Aunty Pat was a big catalyst in me wanting to be more true to myself and I started to go out to gay bars and clubs on my own in Newcastle. Initially, I found this terrifying, as everyone around me seemed to be so confident and comfortable and I was usually stood in a corner on my own drinking vodka far too fast. After a few false starts, I found a solid group of friends and plucked up the courage one night to tell my Mam that I was gay. I arrived home in the wee hours of one Thursday morning to find her watching Prisoner Cell Block H and working her way through a pack of Berkeley Menthol cigarettes. I sat down and said that I had something to tell her to which she replied, “Ugh, it better not be money!” I just said, “Mam, I’m gay!”
A second passed and she said, “I’ll tell your Dad.” I didn’t want her to, so I agreed to tell him the next day. When I told him, he left the room and walked upstairs without saying a word. He came straight back down and said, “You’re my son, I love you, but I want you to take care of yourself and you know what I’m talking about!” My brother was a little off with me for a few weeks, but following an incident where I was followed by a man from a bar quite late one night, he proved himself by coming to pick me up and told me that he felt that he had to protect me more now. My sister just exclaimed, “Like that’s news!”
A couple of weeks later, I was out with my best friend Caroline (that's her in the picture with me) and a few of our friends and we were dancing in some god awful pick up joint in Newcastle and she said to me that she didn’t understand why I hadn’t found a nice woman to settle down with and that she wanted me to be happy. When we got back to her house, I opened up my heart to her and she started to cry and I just thought for a split second I had misjudged our decades of friendship.
"She told me she was crying because she was happy that I was being honest to myself."
Her husband woke me up the next morning with a cup of coffee and just said, “Morning, gay boy!” in a jovial way.
After my first relationship went sour after six months, I was really upset and my Dad said to me, “Nick, I just don’t understand” and I replied, “Dad, I don’t want to have to explain again that I’m gay, please just accept it!” I had totally underestimated him as he said, “No, son! I don’t understand how two men can be in a relationship as men are selfish b*****ds!”
I’ve been very lucky to have such an understanding family and wonderful friends and it breaks my heart when people find the courage to come out and then are marginalised. It’s even more important that people in the public eye continue to come out to give us more role models and inspire us to be true to ourselves.
"The biggest deal for me was to come out to myself and realise that being gay was something I should embrace and not shy away from. I knew deep in my heart that my family wouldn’t react badly and now Ma Smith is desperate for me to find my significant other, who she still believes is Will Young."
You can follow Nick on Twitter @peripatenic