Hywel | 23 | London, England | Sales
Ok, so I bravely sit here on a Monday night attempting to recite my ‘coming out’ story. Brave, I say, because it is subject that, for my own mind was by no means an easy one.
So, like most people who have provided their versions on this site, I have known for a very long time that I was ‘not like other guys’. I guess when I was younger, embarrassingly, took interest in rather feminine activities. If I say ‘Barbie’ then you probably get the picture. I was always closer to girls growing up.
Even at the age of around seven or eight, in the school playground at break time I would never be one of the guys kicking a ball around or pretending to be a wrestler and kicking the living sh*t out of a fellow pupil in a play-fight. I was always consciously aware of the fact that I was slightly different, sometimes uncomfortably aware. I went to a co-education senior school, which I assume was probably in my best interests from my parent’s point-of-view, having already gauged my interest in female friendship. Throughout my school life it was always a constant battle to try and fit in.
I was always very sociable and always found it easy to make friends, of both sexes. At the age of about thirteen I started to realise that the differences I experienced when I was young probably meant that I was interested in guys in a different way to ‘the norm’. As the school years went on I was becoming more and more sociable and I guess more popular and increasingly. I tried to hide my sexuality, at times convincing myself that I was bisexual and that it was just a phase. I hated it. Obviously, this really hindered my schoolwork. I was attending a results driven school that needed me as a statistic for their untarnished history of academic performance. Concentrating so hard on building up a public persona that is going against who I actually was could have only been a distraction from doing my best at school.
"I went out with girls. I went to parties etc, always ‘getting off with’ girls and never letting on that I had any feelings towards the same sex."
This carried on into Sixth Form College, where my social life grew even more, essentially pushing my true self further and further into a dark corner of my mind. At the same time, I had managed to meet a girl through a friend. She became my girlfriend. This relationship continued throughout college. I failed my first year of college, having to move onto another one, still with the same girlfriend. I didn’t even manage to complete the two years at this new place, still with the same girlfriend. Again, I put this down to a number of things, but the overriding factor must have been that I was still not admitting to anybody who I really was, how I really felt.
At the age of seventeen I had a series of small restaurant, retail and admin jobs that I could not seem to hold down, again because on the outside all I really cared about was my ‘straight’ social life that had to be held onto. I was still with my girlfriend, who by this point I was falling in love with, but love in a way that was love for her, not a physical and sexual attraction, or a feeling of being ‘in love’.
I guess you probably get the general idea of how I was feeling and my mental state. The relationship carried on for over five years, by which point I was twenty one. At this point I was working as an estate-agent, had managed to acquire some drive in the work place/ business world and had gained some confidence from my manager and older colleagues about how to be an adult and how to deal with real-life issues. I was still in huge doubt about who I was. With the various elements of working seventy hour weeks, combined with keeping up straight boy appearances, and the increasing seriousness of my relationship meant that I needed to change something. It was getting too much for me.
In 2010 at the age of twenty one, I quit my job, and immediately felt some relief of stress. I had a month off before starting my next job that I managed to find. My girlfriend at this point had graduated and was doing a six month travelling stint around the globe. I started my first day at the new workplace, and immediately realised that this could be a chance to paint myself on a brand new canvas.
After my first day at work, although it was constantly on my mind, I was not aware of the sequence of actions that I was to take place later on that night. At around 11pm, I was on msn messenger to my girlfriend, who had noticed that I had been distant. By this point I had to be upfront with her. As she placed numerous guesses as to what was wrong, I ended up typing ‘the words’, which probably took a good ten minutes before I could physically even press the keys. “I’m Gay”. I had never told anyone before, except one guy from my college who I had met up with a month before this point and had ended up ‘getting off with’, which was in reality another catalyst for typing these words into the msn chat window.
Having typed these words, a phone call from my girlfriend from overseas immediately followed. There were a lot of tears involved in the next half an hour, I said in so many words everything I could, barely being able to breathe at what I was telling the girl that had fallen in love with me over the past half-decade. Having ended the most horrible phone call of my life, still shaking I went downstairs to go and smoke in my back garden. I lived with my parents and my dad came out to join me, terrible habit I know, but at this time health factors certainly didn’t enter my mind. I was in a state of shock, and my dad blissfully unaware at the conversation I had just had was asking me something else. He noticed that I was unable to even focus on the question he had just asked me, which soon prompted me into tears, with just one look from him into my eyes. He said, “Is everything OK with your girlfriend?” to which I muttered out “No, we’ve broken up”. When asked why, I just had to spit out the truth at this stage, “because I’m gay”. There it was; I had done it. My mum was told by my dad shortly afterwards.
This was all brushed over, and they seemed to convey no real emotion beyond initial support at the brave move I had just made in telling people. My sister, my mum and dad were extremely supportive of the whole thing, and even my friends who pretty much all found out within a few months of the whole incident. I didn’t officially confirm my sexuality to people at my workplace until a good few months into the job, as everything was falling into place slowly but surely. I guess from such repression of a large aspect of my personality unfolded into a series of constant going out and socialising even further as ‘my true self’, also dramatic weight-loss.
"Two years on, at the age of 23, I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that everything would work out OK, as the feeling I had for the first year after coming out was incredible and I felt completely supported."
I felt like a different person, even though I was just being me, and my friends and family on the whole completely accept it. I do believe that as an individual I am constantly still trying to figure out who I am, and still to this day sometimes find it hard to fully admit that I am happy with who I am, but I have to keep looking back and realising that things can only get better than they were. I don’t believe that as a gay person I ever really stop coming out in this current society. As relaxed and as cosmopolitan London is, society still likes to tick you in a box. As a gay person you will always have to eventually let your sexuality play a part in your career, friendships and experiences, no matter how flamboyantly or mildly you choose to do so."
Follow Hywel on Twitter - @HKennedy1988