Marc | 18 | Essex, England | Sales Assistant
Before coming out, I looked to R U Coming out for some inspiration and ideas to tell my family and friends. Safe to say that my story isn’t as dramatic as some you may read on here. So I must warn you, this story may look boring in comparison, but could also be seen as a standard experience for a regular guy.
So I guess we have to travel back to when I first knew. I could sit here and write that I’ve known for seven years, which in a way I have, but when you’re 12, going into secondary school and your hormones are all over the shop, you have no idea if that thing between your legs is attracted to guys, girls or your 84 year old Geography teacher. I guess you could say that is why it’s confusing for those early years. You have no idea if you’re the only confused hormonal teenager in your year or if it’s a perfectly normal thing to be going through, but you daren’t say anything in case you are the only one. So as I said, I may have known for the past seven years, but I have only understood for the past three or four. And there’s a massive difference between knowing and understanding.
"I went into secondary school, confused."
That confusion, mixed with trying to find the right social group every day was a massive challenge. I must have gone through about four different social groups, had about 10 different 'girlfriends' and argued with a million teachers just so I didn’t stand out. But if you’re one of the only boys that the popular girls like but the popular boys don’t, you stand out like a sore thumb. So there comes the shitty part. Ironically, being friends with girls and probably having more of a chance with any of them than 90% of the popular boys made me 'gay'! Was it jealousy? Did they actually think I was gay or did they just not understand that not boys are all the same? That’s a question I guess I’ll never get the answer to.
"The daily jibes came, and yeah, initially it had a big effect on me. I became paranoid of what people were saying about me, social anxiety hit a new high. The truth is I probably deserved an Oscar for putting on an act and acting like I didn’t care."
Looking back I could easily have become a shell of myself, a social recluse with zero confidence. But every day I went into school, every day I received some sort of jibe or insult. Some would think it would wear a person down, and I would not be surprised at all if a person did become destroyed as a result, but every day my skin got thicker. At the time I had no idea how I was doing it, but looking back it was all down to my friends. In Year 8 when I was aged 12 or 13 I met two people. At the time I had absolutely no idea how much of an impact they would have on my life, or that they would be the first people to know I was gay. From Year 9, having a great group of friends around me made everything 10 times easier. The jibes and the insults were still there, I suppose having two best friends that were girls didn’t help the situation, but a thick skin and a great set of friends around me, as clichéd as it may sound, helped me find a new level of happiness.
Year 9 was the big year for me. Being 13/14 I’d finally came to an understanding of what I was and why I always felt different. Of course there was no way I was ready to come out quite yet. Would it have made things easier? Would people have been understanding and left me alone? Again, questions I’ll never know the answers to. Did I really want to go through the rest of my education being known as 'the gay one'? Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being gay, and I am proud of it, but it doesn’t define you as a person and I wanted to have my own identity. The next few years got easier, because I knew. I’d never quite understood the meaning of 'knowledge is power' until then. Of course the jibes were still annoying, but every time one was made I’d laugh it off and stopped denying it. I didn’t agree with what they were saying, but I didn’t deny it anymore. I guess in a way I wanted people to catch on, but sadly for me they weren’t quite smart enough. The next few years were relatively boring if I’m honest. Just plodding along, still had my friends around, still had the jibes. Had this become normal? Was this going to be the rest of my life?
"Just thinking about coming out made me feel physically sick. Could I just live the rest of my life like this? At first you think you can. You think because you’ve kept it a secret for so many years you can just wing it for the rest of your life."
Don’t ask me why I thought that would work. I’m laughing at myself writing this just for thinking that! I finally realised that I had to come out at some point. So I made a plan. Take everyone out for dinner, get everyone together and do it then. That didn’t happen. Arrange a day out. That didn’t happen either. So then it builds up inside you. I wondered why I couldn't do it! I was ready!
The truth is I wasn’t ready. So I finished school, got my GCSE’s, started college, took my A Levels and then finished college. All of these big moments in my latter teen years, and throughout them all I was thinking of coming out and why I could not do it.
I don’t think it ever interfered with my GCSE’s or A Levels, but it began to affect me again and my confidence. Once I realised that, I knew it was time. There was no way I could go back five years and become that person again. I turned 18 and kind of started seeing someone. I can’t put a label on what it was but it was nice because I could be myself, and I wanted everyone to know. That's the moment when you know.
"When you care more about your feelings than other people’s opinions, you know you’re ready to come out."
Friday 13th June. Trust me, I didn’t think it was going to be that day for me. I hadn’t planned it at all. I went out with my two best friends shopping like we’d done 100 times before. Did some shopping, bought some lunch and went and sat in the park for a little sunbathing. Then there was one moment, nobody had spoken. To this day I don’t know why or how I said it, but the next words that were said were by me. And I can completely and honestly say it was the best feeling in the world. I’m quite a sarcastic and jokey person, so I didn’t do it in a way where I was sobbing and having a breakdown in the middle of the park. I do remember saying, “to be honest I only told you now because I’m driving us home so if you want a lift you have to get on board'. I simply made a joke about it, to the point where my friends couldn’t work out if I was serious. We talked about it briefly and that was it. Two down, everyone else to go. We went home shortly after that, and I knew I had to tell my parents. It was about 4pm and I had to leave for work at 4:15pm. “I told Daisy and Tiff something today and I can’t not tell you two”.
Again, these words were coming out my mouth and I felt like I had no control but I just knew it was happening. A brief, and I seriously mean brief, conversation later and I was off to work. Was it cowardly to drop a bombshell and run? Probably. However I went to work with the words,'as long as you are happy that’s all that matters to us', going round my head so I was absolutely fine.
"So that was friends told, family told, now to break it to the people at work. I couldn’t believe it. One day I’m shitting myself at the idea of coming out and the next I’m telling every Tom, Dick and Harry I see!"
“There’s something definitely going on between you and Sophie”, an ongoing joke with my friend at work. “Trust me there is nothing there!” “Well then you have to be gay!” “YES!” Well…. That was easy. Another joke later and everyone at work knew.
Speaking of Sophie, I had to tell her! Saturday 14th! Her boyfriend had made a joke, (“has Marc come out yet?”) about a month prior to this. Obviously I denied it, laughed it off and carried on. I picked Sophie up for our standard McDonalds lunch. Two minutes later, “Oh yeah, you can tell Jack I’ve come out now”. Seriously, you would think I’d taken this a little more seriously but I was just throwing jokey comments out left, right and centre. Again, another person who was absolutely fine with it! This was easier than I thought! Then people began to find out. A blessing in disguise really as it meant I didn’t have to tell as many people, however I hadn’t got round to telling everyone I wanted to. That night I was forced to send a text to my two other friends, Daisy and Kim. I know, friends with two people called Daisy. It confuses me as well! I didn’t want them finding out via somebody else, and considering we were going to Zante a month later I didn’t want there to be any awkwardness.
I would NEVER recommend doing it over text. You can’t work out what tone they’ve taken, how they feel and it is the longest wait you’ll ever have. However, another two amazing reactions. From then on it has just been a case of, “Oh you didn’t know? Yeah I’m gay”.
I can honestly say, I couldn’t have asked for better reactions. Oh, and the boys that used to make jibes? One sent me a message telling me he had nothing but respect for me, half of them want to know about my sex life and one begged me to tell him I thought he was attractive. Apparently it’s some sort of compliment for straight guys!
If I had one piece of advice for anyone who is struggling with coming out, it would be don’t push yourself. Coming out should be as natural as it is to be gay. You can sit for hours trying to work out how and when to do it and get yourself in a state. If you’re getting in a state about it, you’re not ready. Just tell yourself you’ll do it one day, just not until you’re ready. You’ll always hear, “You shouldn’t be worried about people’s opinions”. This is true, you shouldn’t be worried, but you will be. Who wouldn’t be?! You just have to remember, the worst scenario you can imagine, is simply that. Something you imagine.
Sorry for rambling! It’s hard to find the right words! If you have any other questions after reading this, feel free to message me. Nobody should go through it alone.
Follow me on Twitter - @marcgress