Perhaps, for you, the time has arrived when you feel you need to talk to someone about a very private and difficult aspect of your life. It makes no difference how old – or young – you are. It also makes little difference if you are male or female. If you are attracted to members of the same sex, you will understand just how important this is to you and to those around you, because it is quite possible you are’ gay’. It can be extremely frightening! However, seek peace in the understanding that you have done nothing wrong; you are not “abnormal” and you are certainly not alone!
Probably your biggest fear is how your friends and family will react, if you decide to tell them about this most sensitive and private part of your life.
As you read this text, I want you to imagine me stretching out my hand for you in friendship. Grasp it firmly and enjoy the strength it will give you, for I want you to have all the support, friendship and encouragement possible. Any decent, caring and reasonable human being will support and love you for what you are about to do.
It never ceases to amaze and frustrate me – as well as my friends and family – why it is that something so natural and so ordinary should evoke such paranoia, stupidity and fear in what are normally rational, intelligent people! Doesn’t the world have bigger problems to worry about, than how or with whom people make love?
Your dilemma, then – at whatever point in your life you find yourself – is whether, when and how to “come out” to those who matter to you or even, perhaps, those who don’t!
From a male perspective, I have always found women to be more accepting of my sexuality than men. I suspect the reverse is the case from a female perspective, though. It is usually those who fear the most, who protest the most! It confuses me why people fear being touched by a member of the same gender. Undoubtedly, men are the worst when it comes to this; they are so caught up in their masculinity and ego, they don’t realise that something as innocent as a hug or a pat on the back, is not going to change their sexuality; it just might, though, change the way they feel about themselves!
It is also deeply distressing to me that, in a most difficult time for you, you are forced to consider the delicate feelings of others, when, quite frankly, they ought to be considering you. If you are considering “coming out”, it is you who need the understanding and support; it is your difficult decision and it is you who so desperately deserve the friendship and respect of those around you. However, because so many have been poisoned by the “gutter press” and other “institutions”, it is you who find yourself having to be sensitive to others’ feelings and needs. This is totally wrong.
Before you consider making this bold step, it might be worthwhile gaining some support from someone you know will understand. The mere fact that you are reading this article shows that CALM is an organisation that cares, accepts and understands. I know; they asked me to write to you and they have given me “free reign” to write about my sexuality and experiences. I wish CALM had been around when I first “came out”. Most GPs will understand and support you (if they don’t, they shouldn’t be a GP, in my opinion). There are numerous gay charities and organisations and even The Samaritans are extremely understanding and non-judgemental. However, if you are alone and feel isolated; if you find yourself afraid or if you just don’t know, don’t give up. You are not alone; I am here for you!
Deep within you, there is a huge store of emotion; fear, shame, doubt, anguish, anger, disgust, concern or maybe even love. These are things gay people have to suffer, because, even in this enlightened age, there is too much prejudice and misunderstanding.
Only you can choose how, when, where and to whom you wish to “come out”. You may be forced into your decision, or you may be able to consider it for a while. There isn’t really a right or a wrong way to tell someone. You will have a feeling for the person(s) you intend to tell, prior to doing so. If they are family, you will probably have lived with them for many years and you will have developed an understanding of their manners and prejudices (if any). They should understand that just knowing about your sexuality, isn’t going to change the person you are. After you have “come out”, you will still be the same person you were beforehand and would be deeply hypocritical of anyone to shun you, when previously they had accepted you.
I was 19 when I “came out” to someone. I didn’t feel that I could tell my family at the time, because of difficulties we had as a family. I had met a young man whom I trusted and liked a great deal. I was isolated, afraid and very confused. I had held my secret for so long and I knew that my life would not be able to hold any happiness for me, if I continued to live a lie. He was kind to me and understood what I said to him, without feeling it necessary to hurt me.
Eventually, I found the courage to tell my mum, who didn’t disown or rebuke me. I know it wasn’t easy for her, but she did her best to understand. The remainder of my family were all informed and, quite frankly, although it was a difficult time for all of us, I truly do not regret what I did. At least I have not had to endure a loveless marriage, with the possible complication of children.
I have met men and women of different ages, who have also had to make that difficult decision and summon the courage to change their lives. Society has changed a great deal since I “came out” and it has become easier to be accepted for the whole human being that you are. It is definitely worthwhile being allowed to live a whole, complete and enjoyable life.
If you consider the opposite (ie that you remain “closeted”), the future can never be as fulfilling as you would like it to be. You will never be able to express your emotions to the person you love most in the world. You will constantly have to “cool” your feelings in front of others and you will also have to answer awkward questions about why you aren’t married or “courting”. Of course, it isn’t anybody’s business but yours, but you know what people can be like – especially on the subject of relationships!
Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking you can be “cured”, either! It’s rubbish. The so-called “therapies” are evil and a complete waste of time, turning you from a happy individual, into a sad and unaccepted automaton, only conforming to the delicate whims of those who lack compassion and understanding. Besides, what’s wrong with a little diversity in life? It would be dull, were we all the same! Rejoice in who and what you are and don’t be ashamed of it.