There’s never a dull moment in this middle aging Queens life, this year marks my 8th anniversary of being out, I am also entering the latter stages of my 30’s as are a number of my friends, its my birthday next week and in the last few years it has moved away from being a celebration of making it around the sun one more time but a time that I reflect on where I came from what I have experienced and then moves on to what I want to do next,
My birthday have always been different to your normal kid because I am not normal, I’m me, my birthdays where always an adventure because my parents gave me and my brother a choice that we can either have a birthday party or do something exciting, and I would rather do something exciting like theme parks or zoo’s and its funny because one of my earliest memories is a train journey to London to go to the zoo, stick with me because my memory doesn’t seem to work like everyone else’s it comes and goes and has very little concern for continuity, but what I remember is opening some presents on the train and I guess you would call them girls toys, but they were what I wanted and my parents loved me and supported me, of cause this was back in the late 80’s Gay was taboo and associated with Aid’s etc. and why would my parents both very heterosexual have any idea that playing with toy’s would be a sign that I might be gay? There just wasn’t enough known for them to think that. What I remember is that I was very happy and had a great day but I also remember that this is possibly the point where I realised that the toys where not “boy toys” and I think that every time I had this memory and the older I got that I interpreted it as something that is embarrassing and something that questioned my masculinity, and it came to the point that it felt like it was a dirty little secret from my past, that I didn’t want anyone to know, just in case they said I was gay, I had created a straight male persona, that shielded me from the world, and if anything questioned that it would shake me to my core. Now when I look back I hold that memory fondly as I wish I had always done rather than worrying about it coming back to haunt me, my parents accepted me for who I was and let me have the toys that I wanted, not what I should have as a boy.
This then jumps we forward a couple of years to another birthday that I remember, and I had some great toys in fact my parents got me the best toy ever (well it felt like that at the time) Teddy Ruxpin he had a hidden pouch for cassettes and he would read along with you to a book this was some top notch tech at the time, but what I remember is being at school and there was a thing that would happen in assembly where anyone who had a birthday did a bit of a show and tell of what their favourite present was, I can’t help but look back on this and think that it was a bit weird, however this was the 80/90’s so weird was normal, any way I digress from the point when it came to my turn instead of picking Teddy Ruxpin which was by far my favourite I picked a Goblin which was a hand puppet type thing that well looked like a goblin, they were popular at the time but I remember the feeling of making my decision in which toy to present and I also remember my mum afterwards asking why I picked the goblin and the answer was that I was afraid that the other children would think less of me if I picked a Teddy bear over something that was clearly a “boys toy”, I can honestly say that it wasn’t a conscious decision because I thought they might think I’m gay but, when I analyse it I think that it was the beginning of me masking that side of me.
Fast forward a few more years and I’m at secondary school and the persona is well and truly being cemented by this point the G word was frequently heard around the playground and used as a derogatory term, and I really did have an irrational fear that someone might call me GAY, and again I remember the feeling, of worry that if someone thought I was gay, was I gay? And if I’m gay then that would be a bad thing, I look back know and I realise that I created a character a bloody good one it seems because it didn’t go too far away from the truth but it was far enough that no one would have thought I was gay, I learned what a straight man should say and I became good at emulating how a straight man should act and so outwardly I did this and for a long time I believed it myself, I believed it so much that I got married and I think that was the breaking point for my discovery of my Gay identity I had only ever had 2 sexually active relationships with women and I’m sure the first one would tell you it was awful I was awkward didn’t know what I was doing and paranoid that the condom would split the thought that I could have accidentally got this person pregnant was mortifying because I didn’t want to ruin her life, thankfully I didn’t, and the second my ex-wife well it was better but not great, I mean at least I was considerate and wanted her to have the best experience I could provide but in all honesty if she had not taken the lead I would not have done, and even then I still believed that I was straight I made most of the right noises and did most of the right things to keep up appearances, even to this day I honestly did not know I was definitely Gay in fact I had tricked myself so well that I believed that every man had the same feelings and that it was a choice to either follow them, experiment or deny them and so I denied them, I wouldn’t let the idea that I wasn’t a straight man take a hold in my brain, I was in so much denial. Then before I knew it, I had a house, mortgage and a wife. And this was the turning point in my epiphany that I might not be straight, because the feelings about wanting to try sex with a man had not gone away as I thought they would and so at the age of 25 I made a decision which I will regret for a little while and then come to embrace and be grateful for I had my first sex with a guy, I always had the idea that once I tried I wouldn’t like it or want to do it again sort of get it out of my system except that wasn’t the case it just opened up the flood gates, I battled with it for a few years I even though that I might be Bi-sexual because I liked men and I had a wife, but as I have discovered having a wife doesn’t mean you are straight, fast forward to being 30 and I have had lots of ups and downs by this point but I have definitely had sex with enough men to know that I’m not straight and definitely not bi either I battled with the demons and left my wife we had drifted apart over the last five years and I honestly think that even if I wasn’t gay, that would have happened anyway but who knows maybe not.
I have left my wife, but I still hadn’t decided to come out that decision would come out for a whole other reason, the weekend my marriage ended was also one of the reasons I started writing this blog today, my Mum, quick recap for those of you that might not know but my mum died in 2015 from metastatic breast cancer it had spread to pretty much every part of her body and was a very traumatic time for myself and family to go through. But let rewind to 2013, I had turned 30 decided that the marriage was over and ended the marriage which was mutual, I even moved out of the family home and let her have it (regrets this years later, but that’s another story) I moved out pretty quickly and the reason for this was because I thought I could now live a life of sex and debauchery with men that didn’t matter but I kind of thought that I would keep it a secret till my dying days however it wasn’t my dying days that made me come out but rather it was my mum’s, she had breast cancer and it came back we found out that weekend, I split from my wife on the Saturday and by the Monday I was crying in the office at work because my mum called me to tell me the cancer had come back and it wasn’t going to ever go away because it had come back next to her spine to close to operate on, so this led to me having a total melt down at work, and me driving back to Grimsby to be with my mum and dad. Everything was going well we hugged and cried and hugged some more then my dad went to bed and my mum opened up more we have a super close relationship we literally would talk about everything and anything, and this night my mum bared her sole about her fear of not dying but of what would be left behind if she did die, and she opened up about how she worried about my dad and how he would cope and I instantly put her at ease and said that I would be there for him and so would be my brother, I had no doubt about that at all and I said if I had to I would move back to be with him if needed, that never happened but if he had not coped I would have done it without even having to think about it. So, in this raw emotionally charged conversation I felt like if I didn’t tell my mum there and then why my marriage had ended and why I didn’t want to do anything about it was because and I’ll remember this for ever I said “I think I’m gay… no…no… I Am GAY” and there were tears from me and my mum put me at ease instantly she said why did you think I would not accept you, her best friends’ son was gay, she had gay work colleagues/friends. I didn’t know why at the time but again in retrospect I know now that it was not because I was gay, but it was because I had lied, that I had hidden a big part of who I am for so long, and it wasn’t easy and clean sailing by any means and living so far away from my family didn’t help either because it led to misunderstandings, but we got through them in the end which is all that matters.
There is much more to my story but I’m going to get back to the point of today’s musing, my Birthday, there had become a bit of an unwritten ritual that I would do and every year I would go and visit my parents and because my dad would be at work, I would spend the day with my mum and this is why birthdays are no long about celebrating it is also a time of sadness because I don’t get to see my mum, and so the ritual has to change and even after 5 years I’m not sure what the new ritual is other than feeling very sad that I don’t get to see my mum or give her a hug, and chat the day away with a nice cake and a cup of tea. It’s the small things you miss and most of the time you can learn to handle it but for me this year will be harder because not only do I not get to see my mum, but I also can’t see any of my family, my dad and his partner (who is great, and I love), my brother and sister-in-law and my nephews,
Or my (in-law) family and now that Sean works at a school where he can’t take time off inside term time it will be a very different day, very different indeed, this year I will have a lay-in and maybe treat myself to something nice for lunch and raise a glass to my mum, and to times that will be better and get to hug my family and friends.