Greg | 17 | Canterbury, England
I had my suspicions when I was 12. I was living in New Zealand back then, a relatively open society where people were kind and lovely to gay people. I can still remember drooling over those cute Kiwi boys in the All Blacks rugby team, secretly watching Davey Wavey on YouTube at 3am and just day dreaming about Sam Wallace, a TV presenter.
My mum and I eventually moved back to Singapore (where I was born) because we were going through financial problems. I was thrown back into a conservative, one-track minded country. The population is still generally unwelcoming to the gay community. There's even a law in the Singapore penal code that punishes male homosexuals with a jail term of 2 years, although this is not practiced.
“Section 377A of the Penal Code of Singapore is the main remaining piece of legislation which criminalises sex between mutually consenting adult men. Section 377A ("Outrages on decency") states that:
Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years.”
"By the age of 14 I knew that I was gay."
I never really got a chance to come out to friends at school. I was open with my sexuality on twitter and it was my place to interact with people who were comfortable with theirs and other people's sexuality. I had a long period of absence from school because I had surgery. During that time, a few classmates had managed to follow me on twitter and had discovered that I was gay. It turned out that they hadn't used a proper profile picture and I had unknowingly allowed them to follow me. After recovering, I returned to school and realised that people were talking behind my back, rumours were made and people started to change when they were around me. It had gotten out to the year and then to the whole school. After, I found out that my classmates were planning to do things to me after school hours. I decided to cut ties with people from school and being alone during school hours. I started to test out the water with my mum and I asked her what if I told her I was gay. Her exact words in reply to my question were, “I can accept anything else but I could never accept it if you told me you were gay. Never.” It kept playing on my mind and after she said it I had to shut her out too.
I turned 15 and things weren't getting any better. I couldn't stop worrying about school or my mother and I had developed psychosomatic symptoms which is when the body manifests pains and illnesses when there are no medical issues affecting the body. It started off as headaches then it progressed to vomiting. The vomiting was so severe that it had led to a real medical condition where there was a hole in my oesophagus, about the size of a £2 coin. I was treated for that. The doctors and my mum were extremely concerned and I was offered psychiatric help. I accepted that and had to see a psychologist and a psychiatrist every fortnight. I was then diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and prescribed medication that under normal circumstances wouldn't be prescribed to someone under 18.
One night after a session with my psychologist, my mum and I had an argument about my sexuality where I shouted out very clearly that I was gay. She didn't take it well at all and we didn't speak for weeks. I had contemplated suicide but I was talked out of it by my ex-boyfriend. He suggested I should fly to London to see him for a while. I had permission from my mum to fly and was on my way.
I arrived without a hitch but the day after, my ex boyfriend was arrested for grooming a minor. I was staying with him at the time and the next thing I knew I was in a police car in an unknown place, being interrogated by policemen. I was basically being forced to make a decision between staying for a holiday and going back to Singapore ASAP. They took my phone, laptop, passport and the one I trusted.
I had an infection and had to stay at the Whittington Hospital for 3 nights. It was there that I made my decision to stay in the UK. I couldn’t help but think about my future as a gay teen and adult in a very conservative country, born to a very conservative mother. I just knew that if I were to go back, I’d more than likely contemplate suicide again. That pressure to conform, to please my mum, to pretend, to keep taking medications for my anxiety disorder, to hide who I really am – would be too much for me.
In July 2011, my mum flew to London to persuade me to leave London and go back to her. It was a flat out no from me because I knew the consequences, with the law, family and school. I had tried my absolute best to tell her but she wouldn't listen. I made it clear to her that I am open to her contacting me but I haven't spoken to her since then and it's now August 2012. She blamed Twitter, TV programmes and British teens for me being gay. What a load of bull! Some of my other family members seem to be okay about me being gay, but have still attempted to make me change, which I never intend on doing either now or in the future.
"My aunt, who is a nutritionist, told me that the reason why I
was gay was due to the food that I'd been eating in England."
Another aunt blamed it on Davey Wavey. Major WTFs!
I can still remember London Pride 2011 which was my first ever pride event. It struck me, that I'm actually gay and proud of it, no need to hide it or keep it to myself anymore!
Things have changed. Friends in secondary school here support me fully and I finished year 11 with no big problems. I have close friends, Nick, Ricky, Cameron, Lonie and Aly. I look for support in my friends when I need it, and it’s always there. But I am most grateful for having Nick in my life. Being Canadian, he knows the real meaning of freedom. That boy, only 17 years old himself, has been supporting me and helping me through so much during the toughest periods of my life. We text each other every single day and often into the wee hours, we love each other's company, worry about each other, we're as close as can be! I couldn't ask for a better best friend and I could never bear losing him or not having him in my life for any reason.
Although I am still fighting with the UK Home Office to allow me to have indefinite leave to remain here in the UK, I am happy. I'm lucky to have many close friends who will support me when I do need it. Barnardos and Social Services are both helping me financially, and I have lovely foster parents who have been supporting me for the past year. Oh and of course I have Sully, who allows me to cry on him :')
To anyone reading this and planning on coming out to anyone, the uncertainty of people's reactions will play on your mind a lot. You might lose people close to you, then again you might not. Friends come and go but you'll never know who will stick around and who won't. Don't be too quick to judge. I'm not telling you to leave home at 15 when there is no way out. I did what I did because I hoped that things would get better and it did.
It could be weeks, months, years for people to accept it but all you can do is worry about yourself, consult someone you can trust fully and confide in him/her. Every coming out story is different. Having a support system is important but take your time, you should never be forced to come out. It should revolve around you. Whenever you feel it's the right time, it will be for you. Remember to give time to the people who need it to adjust to what you’re telling them. There's nothing wrong with you no matter what people say. Coming out will make you stronger and prouder in the long run. You'll learn to fight against the odds.
Be who you are. NEVER let anyone dictate who you become, who you love, how you live. I almost made that mistake and I'm glad I could get out of it. I wouldn’t want anyone else to actually make that mistake.
Lots of virtual hugs and kisses, Greg xx
Follow me on Twitter - @arcadeaisle