Bryan | 30 | Reading, UK (Originally from Australia) | Vet
When people ask me when I knew I was gay, which they often do, I give a fairly fuzzy answer. I knew I was attracted to some boys when I was 11 or 12 but I also liked girls so I was very good at telling myself it was just pubescent curiosity rather than the fact I was a raging homosexual. Growing up as a lad on a sheep farm in rural Western Australia, I knew enough to know that being gay wasn’t something to aspire to be. I distinctly remember thinking to myself when I was in grade 7 that if I was gay I would not tell anyone but that I’d get married, have kids and be miserable rather than Come Out.
"As I went through my teenage years I was attracted to girls but at the
back of my mind (or not so far back if I was sitting next to an attractive
guy in school) I would be aware that I found guys hot as well."
I was/am very stereotypically straight acting and so it was easy to pretend I was straight. I went to university and had sex with girls and all was well with my ‘gay suppression mind technique’. However, one day I was downloading straight adult films from the Internet and although the title read something along the lines of ‘Latino B*tches’, when I watched it, it turned out to be a bunch of very naked and very sweaty guys. I had never been so turned on in my life and I realised then that I was lying to myself. I realised that no matter how much straight porn I downloaded, or girls I slept with, I was definitely more attracted to guys than girls.
"From that moment on I began to identify as gay. I went to gay bars and generally ran riot as only a good repressed country gay boy could."
I graduated as a Vet and worked in my home town for a year (while driving two hours to the city every other weekend to get my gay bar fill) before moving over to England to travel before I settled down. After a few months of acting like a little boy in a gay candy shop I found a guy I wanted to have a relationship with and I realised I had to tell my family, my workmates and my friends back home that I was gay. Telling my mum wasn’t easy at all and my memory of it still fills me with awkward butterflies. I called her from the other side of the world and blurted out that I was gay and I had a boyfriend. She seemed marginally surprised and asked me how long I had known to which I replied that I had been bisexual for a few years and now I knew that I was gay. I asked her to tell my dad and then quickly made my excuses and hung up the phone. Not the bravest of coming out stories I know!
I heard back from Mum a few days later. She emailed me and told me that Dad hadn’t taken it too well but didn’t go into details. Mum also said that he didn’t want to talk to me and he didn’t end up talking to me for over 18 months. He went on to experience depression and went to counselling with his local priest over my actions. I always felt that my mum didn’t do enough to get him to talk to me or get him to realise that I was still his son however I don’t think it is really fair to blame her in an awkward situation where father and son won’t speak to each other. I’d be lying if I said I wasn't gutted by his snubbing me, however I can honestly say once I told my parents it was like a huge weight had lifted from my shoulders. Such a cliché, I know, but it is true. Even at the worst times when he would refuse to speak to me on the phone after my grandfather, his dad, died I still was happy I had told my parents. I think it took longer for him to come around as I was overseas and it was easy for him to refuse to talk to me. If I was in Australia, events such as Christmas and birthdays would have forced the issue sooner.
My older sister called me from Australia once she found out and immediately asked me if I was ok. She was worried I was all alone in England dealing with Dad’s refusal to speak to me. She was lovely and I have wonderful memories of how supportive she was. She also said she knew for years I was gay. I told my younger sister over the phone and pre-empted her by saying I had some bad news (not very Rainbow Pride, I know) and that I was gay. Her response was ‘oh ok, so what’s the weather like over in UK at the moment’.
"I can’t say I was expecting that response but she later told me that
as I said it was bad news she was expecting something huge.
She thought I had cancer or HIV and when I said I was gay it
seemed to her like such a non-event she then moved on to more
interesting topics, such as English weather."
She is a very laid back individual so maybe I should have been more prepared for her nonplussed response. Eventually I went back to Western Australia for my sister’s wedding and she eventually managed to convince my father to see me and bury the hatchet somewhere other than in my head. I drove the two hours with my boyfriend to the small country town where my parents lived. I called ahead and asked my mum if Dad was there and if I had to worry about him being physically violent to me. Her reassuring response was, ‘I don’t think so.’ Not the definitive answer I was hoping for.
I told my boyfriend to wait in the town centre and if I wasn’t back in an hour then I maybe in trouble and to call the police. I drove to the house and Dad came out to meet me and acted as if the last 18 months had never happened. He chatted away and filled me in on what was going on and even drove me to the local cemetery to visit my grandfather’s grave by himself. We have never mentioned the fact that I am gay and to be honest I am quite happy to sweep it under the carpet. Whether I will be happy to do that my whole life, I don’t know. I do know that with the exception of my dad I didn’t have a single bad experience telling people I was gay and I have never regretted telling anyone.
"My life has been so much better since Coming Out and
for me it was absolutely the right thing to do."
Follow Bryan on Twitter - @AussieDart
Lisa | 33 | Perth, Australia (Bryan's sister)
I never really gave much thought as to my brother's sexual orientation until we lived together in our university days. I met a few of his friends and noticed his mannerisms (even though he thinks he is a straight looking gay) but when I asked him about it, he just laughed it off.
When he moved to London from Australia and came out shortly after, I wasn't surprised.
Our parents didn't take it too well. Mum cried and Dad didn't talk to Bryan for 18 months. My Mum seemed to "get over it" quite quickly however. I don't think she wanted to lose her son. Dad still has a problem with it but refuses to get any other counselling or help to deal with it.
"At the end of the day, you can't control or be responsible for other people's reactions, as we all have our own beliefs and values about certain issues."
I am not sure what the future holds with their relationship but it is sad that my Dad chooses to see "Gay" rather than see his son. We come from a small country town and it has been hard for Dad to understand or even agree to disagree with Bryan being gay.
In Australia, I think it's harder to come out as a gay man because it's still seen as very much a minority. Gay marriage is not legal (though hotly debated at present) yet gay couples can adopt or have IVF treatment. I am glad my brother has had the courage to come out to our family even though some reactions may have not been as expected. Bryan can truly be himself. He has a great job, a fantastic supportive partner and is not living a lie any more.
A person we know from childhood has chosen not to come out to anyone and has ruined his life and his health by blocking out being gay with drugs and alcohol. He has had a very lonely, unhappy life but obviously feels he can't come out and be true to himself. No one chooses to be straight or gay, you are what are...You have nothing to be ashamed of.