Scott | 29 | Essex, England | Legal Officer
Hi there, my name is Scott I’m a 29-year-old legal officer from Essex. I’ve been meaning to write this for some time but with one thing and another it hasn’t happened. But with recent events in Orlando I’ve taken than as a kick up the butt to get it done.
In my mind coming out is a very personal thing and means different things to different people. But what does it mean to be ‘out’ and why is coming out still a thing for the gay community? Are we making a mountain out of a mole hill?
When I was 18 (all those many years ago) I pretty much came to the conclusion what I was (other than a horny teenager) and realised that girls no longer held any interest for me at all. However, no matter how good my friends were or how close I felt to them I didn't feel that while at college I could ‘out myself’ to anyone. I think this was mainly because I was scared of losing the friends I had worked so hard to earn.
"Leading up to college (which was a sixth form attached to a high school) I wasn't a particularly very popular kid when I started high school. This was for various reasons but the biggest being that I looked like a 90s version of Harry Potter."
On top of that, most of the guys that had come out in my year didn't exactly set a good example, not having a nice word to say about anyone. In short, they were bitchy nasty pieces of work that were most likely that way so they could deflect from the fact they were themselves subject to intense bullying.
I remember one occasion when one of them decided to be incredibly bitchy to a friend (one of the few) that had simply and politely said 'hello' to him. Now I should mention this friend is on the Autistic spectrum, therefore back then viewed everyone as his friend. Any-who, having overheard this rude response I quickly stepped into action and launched a tirade of abuse at said rude gay boy reducing him and his ‘posse’ to tears. While this isn’t something I am necessarily proud of, I stand by it. There is never an excuse to attack the innocent.
But I digress. At the time I felt like I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. My experience of being gay up until that point was two very camp, very bitchy gay guys in my year that had a very close group of friends but other than that was on the outer edges of the school social groups. Do I out myself and declare myself as different to them or just keep shtum as being different doesn't make a difference?
The moment I left college (literally that afternoon) and after quite a few drinks down the local student haunt I did indeed out myself. And as if by predictable magic the majority of my friends said that they already knew and this was old news. I didn't know whether to be flattered or not, in my mind I hadn't given anything away – I was the perfect model of a 'straight teenager', or so I thought.
It’s only now looking back that actually I remember a few house parties where hands would wander and my crush on two boys in my class (one at a time I might add). The first one was tall, thin and blonde. He was laid back, took everything as cool as you like, and was good with his hands (don't ask) and just 'yum'. I had thought I was discreet but clearly my gawping at him didn't go unnoticed. We won't mention that I would make up stories just so he would talk to me... (that's not crazy at all right??).
The other one was a member of my close group of friends. Tall, thin but this one was sporty. Sweet as you like but very teenage male, which kind of made him even hotter. The more he did the typical straight teenage boy routine the hotter (in my eyes) he became. Given all that I think I made a mountain out of a mole hill. I clearly wanted, and on some level, trusted my new circle of friends with it, otherwise I would done a much better job of hiding it.
However, coming out to my mum was a different kettle of fish but for completely different reasons. At the time I was young and naive in the ways of men and was indeed seeing someone (not quite first love but close). As things often happen at that age, it ended abruptly as I had discovered that he was still seeing his ex-boyfriend and had chosen to tell me via his best friend (classy right?).
"So as you can imagine I was a little delicate at the time. I was sat at home crying my eyes out and saw fit to dump all this on my mum and seek some motherly comfort. Not the best way to do it, but none the less it got it done."
Sometimes nothing beats an understanding hug from your mother. Tears were had from her but there was no anger or issues and today, as she did then, she thinks it’s wonderful.
My dad on the other hand, is somewhat different. As I did with my school mates, I strongly suspect that he knows, especially as I’m 28 and have never brought home a girlfriend or even mentioned one. However, my partner of two years (from almost two years ago now) did come to my niece's 1st birthday party as a 'new face' and Dad was perfectly accepting.
Me and my mate Sam
I decided that once I had moved out from the family home I would sit him down and tell him as I'd be out then and standing on my own two feet. If he then chose to have an issue with it, I wouldn't be living under his roof. I doubt he will, but it’s that little voice in the back of the head that says 'be careful'.
I am currently out of the family home and still haven’t had ‘the conversation’. I have a great relationship with my father and I know how he operates. He would most likely, or indeed currently, wouldn't care. But to speak about something so personal with him - just that in itself would shut him down as he wouldn't know how to respond. That would change our relationship and I don't want that. So I don't think it’s a gay thing, it's just an 'emotional intelligence' thing.
At work technically speaking I am not 'out', but that isn’t through wanting to hide my sexuality, it's more to do with that the fact that I just don’t discuss such things at work. Some of the people know as I know them outside of the office but on the whole they don’t and actually I’m not fussed if they do or do not know. If that’s lazy state of ‘in the closet’ then fine, I’m being lazy!
In a time where discrimination is still rife I understand the fear people have and why people worry about the damage that coming out might cause. I would however encourage everyone to think carefully about if this is truly a mountain or maybe just a mole hill. Is the damage real or is the news already out there and the damage not what you think? Sometimes it will be, sometimes it won’t.
"But always remember to do what feels right for you and what works. Coming out is a personal thing so never feel pressured into doing or not doing anything. No one has the right to force you into coming out, not even a partner."
Follow Scott on Twitter @i_scotty
Me and my mate Stephen