Rich | 28 | London, England | Film Investment
Growing up in an Irish Catholic family, I had no idea what ‘gay’ meant. Yet I always knew there was something about me that wasn’t quite the norm. At primary school I commanded a large cohort of girls who served the dual purpose of bodyguards-cum-backing dancers. I never socialised with the boys, nor did it occur to me that I should. I knew I was different, but I wasn’t sure why. The roughest boy in school took exception to this one sunny afternoon and demanded a valid explanation lest he smash my face in. To this day, I have no idea what I said to him but I’m fairly certain it was the greatest speech of my life. He wandered off looking confused as I stood there victorious; convinced I was some kind of ostentatious word-wizard. I was happy to be different.
At high school, I discovered the word gay and immediately understood that it referred to me. Finally, an explanation as to why I found communal showering way more interesting than the football matches that preceded them. I kept this information to myself though and told no one. I wasn’t ashamed and I wasn’t scared, but my school wasn’t the kind of place that would readily accept a gay student. Thankfully, I was never the victim of any homophobic bullying as for some reason my camp humour slotted me into the role of class clown rather than closet case. I had a couple of girlfriends in my early teens but rather than lose our virginities like all our peers were doing, we spent an inordinate amount of time discussing the relative merits of Leonardo Di Caprio vs. Adam Rickitt. It wasn’t until the majority of my school moved to a sixth form college that I met another gay guy. He became my first boyfriend and whilst we kept it a secret at first, word soon got around.
"It wasn’t until the majority of my school moved to a sixth form college that I met another gay guy. He became my first boyfriend and whilst we kept it a secret at first, word soon got around."
Although my sexuality was never under suspicion at high school, my friends weren’t surprised nor did they react negatively. They just nodded their heads as though it had always been the case. Unfortunately, one guy decided he would out me to the entire college by shouting across the huge cafeteria “Rumour has it you’ve been kissing boys, Richard!” I died a little on the inside, but there was no way I was going to give him the satisfaction of embarrassing me. I shouted back, “Correct! Rumour has it you lost your virginity in the Walkabout toilets, Dave!” He sat back down quietly. (In his defence, Walkabout had a deal on Bacardi Breezers that night and the girl in question was pretty hot. Incidentally, he went on to become an MP.)
After that, I was out to everyone. There were a few muttered comments here and there, but I never let them get to me. The only real problem I had was finding the right time to tell my parents. Unfortunately, any hopes of preparing a heartfelt speech were dashed the morning my mum pipped me to the post. Over breakfast, she produced a Valentines Card from my boyfriend (I really should have hidden it better) and asked me outright if I was gay. It was completely out of the blue and I wasn’t prepared, but I didn’t hesitate to tell her the truth.
She cried a lot. She felt betrayed that I hadn’t told her sooner and worried that I’d been quietly suffering for years. I tried to explain that I had always known and had never had a problem with it, but it was hard for her to understand. Once she’d calmed down a bit, she insisted that I tell my dad immediately as she didn’t want to keep it from him. As soon as he came home from work, I told him that my ‘friend’ was actually my boyfriend. He didn’t say a word and walked out of the room. I quietly shuffled off to my bedroom and things were frosty for a few days.
After his brief period of reflection and my mum’s initial outpouring of emotions, they both came around and accepted it blindly. My dad said he had always known and it didn’t matter to him one bit. He loved me for who I was. My mum was just happy she had someone to share all her Clinique products with. They both carried on as though it were the most normal thing in the world. To this day, my dad continues to apologise for the way he reacted as he feels he let me down. Strangely enough, I wasn’t upset by either of their reactions. I knew that it was going to be difficult for them to understand due to their backgrounds, but in my heart I was so confident and happy about my sexuality that I was sure my positivity would help them understand. Thankfully, I was right.
"I couldn’t be more grateful for the love and acceptance
they both continue to show me on a daily basis."
There are many reasons why coming out is an important step in your life, but I think finally being true to yourself is the most rewarding. It’s an incredibly personal experience and different for everyone, but it’s the best thing you will ever do. I know that the fear of rejection can be terrifying, but if you want people to accept you for who you really are then you have to give them the chance. And you never know, the people you are most worried about may surprise you.
Follow Rich on Twitter - @IncrediblyRich
Follow Rich on Twitter - @IncrediblyRich