Coming Out Of The Closet #LGBT

One the biggest regrets of my life is that I never sat down with my Mother and told her that I’m gay. I chose, instead, the easy option of writing to her and telling her that her oldest son was a homosexual.

Facing Mum for the first time, after writing that letter, I was very nervous as I travelled to where she lived. I hesitated several times before walking up to the front door, ringing the doorbell, and announcing my arrival. What a shock I got when she came towards me with open arms and, as she gave me one of her wonderful hugs, hearing her whisper the words “I always knew you were gay, I don’t know why it took you so long to tell me.”

Mum & Hugh
Me and mum. Taken sometime in the 1980s, just after I had told her I was gay.

Not all my family were like mum, though. Some told me they were having difficulty in accepting what I was because it wasn’t the sort of thing that happened to men in the area we came from. Hurtful words, but I already knew that the best thing I could do was to keep away from those who were upset by the life I was given and to allow them to live their lives as they wanted. Over the years, I regained contact with some of those family members and, thankfully, have the changing face of society to thank for bringing us back together.

The fact that, in the past, there had been a few other men in the family who had never married, never seemed to raise any suspicions that the family had gay people as a part of it. It may have been talked about, but never while I was in the room. I don’t know if any of those men ever came out, probably not, but it must have been difficult for those that were gay, at the time they lived, and this only made me more determined to live my life how I wanted.

Moving to work and live in London, in 1986, was one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made. Although the city acted as a wall which seemed to protect gay people, I was still finding it difficult to come out. It was a strange situation because the first two jobs I took in London were in industries where other openly gay people were employees. When I took my next job, which would last 23-years, it took me six years to come out, and that was only when I heard the words “Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?” Of course, nobody cared that I was gay, yet for all those years I had been terrified what some of my work colleagues would think about me had I come out on my first day.

Fast forward to today, and being gay is something much of society accepts. When we moved to our current home in South Wales, both my partner and I were a little hesitant that people would accept us. There are fewer people down here than where we had lived for over 30 years. We were coming back to that place I’d been told that ‘being gay didn’t happen to men’. We couldn’t have been more wrong. People have been so welcoming, and we’re as part of the community as anyone else. Strange, though, that every now and again when I meet somebody for the first time and they ask me who the other guy was, walking our dog Toby, the other day, that I find myself hesitating before saying “that was John, my partner.”

Maybe some of the scars from our past never heal?

Rainbow over Swansea
Swansea Bay. A 5-minute walk from our new home.

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200 thoughts

  1. I love how you write about “the life you were given”. I am not gay, but that’s not a choice either. People forget sexuality isn’t a choice. And kudos to your mum and her reaction! Loved it 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a wonderful post, Hugh! It must have been such a hard thing to tell your mum. I can’t imagine having to go through that. Or having to live a lie and pretend all your life that you are something you’re not. When my husband’s brother came out and told his parents, who were devoutly Catholic, his Dad didn’t even speak to him for two years. That was a long time ago, and they are reconciled, but even so, He has never mentioned a partner or introduced one to the family in all the time I have known my husband. Thats about 16 years now, nearly 17. So sad. I just can’t imagine why it would matter. I love my sons no matter what, so long as they’re happy and live good lives. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m sure it will help a lot of other young men who might be in a similar position. Xxx

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    1. I hesitated to tell her many times, Ali. Then she goes and tells me that she always knew and asked why it had taken me so long to tell her. I wasn’t expecting a response like that but, at the time, coming out to friends and family was very rarely talked about. Not that I’m saying it’s easier to do these days because it saddens me when I read and hear of people who are bullied or who are cut off by family because of who they are. It’s hard to put my finger on but there’s still that element of fear in me when somebody asks me who John is. Of course, I should not worry about it at all, but there are still people out there (as I’ve discovered just from writing and publishing this post) who will tell you that you should be ashamed, beg for forgiveness, and even say they help convert you. 😳

      Thanks so much for your comments. I hope your husband’s brother will one day share his love for another person with you all.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Such a shame that there is still that tiny bit of doubt. Its nobody’s business but yours, after all. And how does it bother or even affect anyone else? I never understand such negativity and rudeness. I can’t believe that you had such a response to this post, Hugh. Some people are just evil, and it’s usually the religious ones, I’m afraid. But you are strong. And you have a lot of support. Xxx

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  3. A lovely and heartfelt post, Hugh. I can imagine that it was very difficult coming out then. Even in the current modern days I don’t think it is that easy. I remember when a friend of ours first told us, as a group of friends, that he was gay. He was so worried. I also had guessed years before. I think some of us are more attuned to people than others. Glad you have such a wonderful Mom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comments, Robbie. It was difficult back then, but nothing compared to the days before homosexually was decriminalised in the U.K. I can’t imagine what it must have been like back in those days. However, we’ve made huge strides over the last 50 years, but there is still a lot to be done.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I think most parents are intuitive enough to know if their kids are gay or not. Personally, I don’t understand the fuss. Gays don’t cost extra money or interfere with others’ lives, so why does this matter? As Thomas Jefferson once famously said, “That which does not rob my purse, nor break my leg, is of no concern to me”. Even here in the USA, which is a fairly traditional/conservative nation and in no hurry to bust any social mores, being gay is no longer thought of as a big deal.

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    1. That’s great to hear, Chris. However, only this week, I’ve heard several stories of people (mainly young) who have been bullied, both physically and via social media, shortly after they came out. One 17-year old girl actually took her own life because of the bullying she was receiving through her social media feeds and at school. I’ve also had to forward a few comments onto WordPress because of the threats I’ve received for writing and publishing this post. Thank goodness these events do not occur as often as they did, but there are still people out there who will incite hatred because of something they fear and do not want to accept.
      Thank you for your comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It must have been tough back in the 80s; much tougher than now. Yet even now there are some horrendous things said. I had the misfortune to be in a particular church for a short while, until a lovely gay man was told he couldn’t sing in the choir on account of his sexuality. Even now I get angry at such a statement. Best wishes to you both.

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    1. Thank you, Denzil, and am so sorry to hear that story of the church choir. It must have been devastating for that gay man. I hope he went on to another church where he was accepted as a human being who just wanted to sing.

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  6. I loved reading your Mum’s reaction when she hugged you – wonderful! I remember when my brother came out. He was 19 when he came out, but I’d thought that he might be gay from when he was about 12-13 years’ old. He text me, not to say “I’m gay”, but that he was pleased I liked his ‘partner’ who he had previously introduced as his friend. I remember crying with happiness and dancing round the room. I was so happy that my brother was now able to be open about his sexuality. My Mum had said he’d worried about being rejected but I think he got from my reaction that I was over the moon for him. I hope you’re enjoying life with John in Wales 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Jo. Yes, we’re having a wonderful life here in Wales. The community is very embracing and people treat us like any other couple.

      Thank you for sharing your story about your brother. I also knew from a young age that I was gay, but it took me a long time to accept it. Then, of course, I faced coming out of the closet, which is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Thank goodness my mum was there for me. Many people, even in today’s world, get rejected by their whole family, which must be devastating.

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      1. I wrote this about my mother last year after Mother’s Day. It is going to be published in an anthology this spring called ‘These Summer Months’ as part of the Adult Orphan Project. There was a prior book published called ‘These Winter Months’ with essays about adults dealing with the loss of parents. I hope if you read this you’ll find some comfort on this difficult day. http://www.shallowreflections.com/dear-mom-having-a-wonderful-time-wish-you-were-here/

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  7. Your Mother sounds amazing. My uncle is gay but he didn’t come out until his late forties (after marriage and kids) and some of the family didn’t take it well, but I’m delighted that he is being true to himself finally

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  8. Your reflection reminds me that coming out is never truly complete. One is always in the process of coming out at new jobs, new locations, daily interactions. Hopefully, each loving acceptance can overshadow lingering societal prejudices. I’m happy for you that your community has been welcoming! ❤

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  9. What a wonderful post (and wonderful story). I love how positively your mother reacted, especially given the time. I also love that you and your partner have found a welcoming community in your new home.

    Regarding hesitating before identifying your partner. . . perhaps it’s a case of old scars, perhaps not. Even in an accepting world, heterosexuals outnumber homosexuals 9 to 1, so being gay is always going to be different. Every time we identify our partners to strangers, we’re coming out. Sure, it’s a lot easier these days, but it’s still divulging a lot more about yourself than saying ‘That’s my wife’ if you were straight.

    Thanks for a lovely read.

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    1. Thank you so much, Greg.

      I think you’re right. Those scars may be old, but they are still evident. Caution often crosses my mind before answering questions about ‘a partner’. I don’t think those scars ever heal, although they do get better with time.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I wonder why I often hear about people being worried about the people ‘in the neighborhood’. When I came out I was worried about friends and family as well, but I never cared about my neighbors/people in the town. To me they are strangers and if they have a problem with me, it is their problem – not mine 🙂

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    1. Thanks for your comments Ben. I think for many, including me, we worried what family and friends would say. However, we know our family and friends and will probably know how they are going to react. With strangers, it’s different and one never knows how that person will react. In today’s world it is more about being their problem and not ours, but many gay people who have not come out still find it a very difficult situation to face. When I wrote this post I was hoping that my words would help a few of those who have not come out yet. We should never fear about telling people who we are, but often the scars of the past can affect us in what we want to say.

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      1. I agree with you. Only thing I would add is that it’s not necessary to tell anyone. I wouldn’t tell a stranger and would advice anyone starting to come out that they just tell the people they’re comfortable with. The rest will follow and fall in place I guess.

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      2. I agree, we don’t need to tell people if they don’t ask, but I have been in situations where somebody will ask me “who was the other guy walking your dog”? That is when I sometimes hesitate before giving an answer and then, later, ask myself why I hesitated.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I love how your mother just walked towards you with a warm welcome and saying she always knew’ that’s an amazing feeling and I do get where your coming from when you hesitate to answer some of the questions people ask you about your sexuality and such. It can be hard but it was harder confessing to your mother and I assume as well for family members’
    ~Danny🌹

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    1. Very true, Danny. That was back in the 1980s and it was far more difficult ‘coming out’ back then for many gay people. I know that even today some struggle to ‘come out’ but hopefully we are fast approaching an entire world where it doesn’t matter what your sexual orientation is. Still lots of work to be done, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Beautiful post. I can’t believe how different things are back then to now. I am always in awe of someone who was gone through the judgements that were attached to being gay. You’ve made this world a safer place for us to come out and thanks to that coming out now is a different story all together. Thank you for sharing your story💖

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    1. You’re welcome and thank you for your comments.

      I agree that ‘coming out’ is much easier to do these days. However, from the comments I’ve received, it’s not the case for everyone. There’s still a lot of work to be done, and by sharing our thoughts as Gay people, we help those who are still in the closet. I still sometimes hesitate telling people, but I think that’s because of the scars I got when I took those first steps in coming out back in the 1980s. They went very deep and sometimes still float to the surface. Together, we can certainly make a big difference. 🌈

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s a daunting time for everyone as you don’t know if the world will accept you. But by sharing stories like yours, you’re showing to generations to come that it is possible!

        I ‘came out’ 3 years ago, but until last month I didn’t really embrace myself and the moment I fully accepted myself, I haven’t looked back & reading stories like yours helps knowing I’m not alone in this battle!

        We will defiantly make a difference and fly our flag high 😊🏳️‍🌈

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      2. It’s very reassuring to hear how my post is helping many LGBTQ people, especially those that have only recently ‘come out.’ I remember calling ‘Gay Switchboard’ for the first time and was not able to bring myself to talk to the person at the other end of the phone. Fortunately, I plucked up the courage to call them back a few weeks later. They told me about a newspaper called ‘Gay Times.’ I had to hide the paper under the carpet in my bedroom, but it opened up a new gateway for me.

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  13. Thanks for sharing. I am about to post my story of growing up gay in the South in the US. I was looking around at how others have dealt with these topics. Thank you for your honesty!

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    1. Hi Allen. Thanks so much for reading this post and for following my blog.
      I’ll be over to check out your blog later. I look forward to reading your work and that post you’re going to write.
      Have a great weekend.
      Hugh

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  14. Thank you for this post Hugh. You are correct, some of the scars never heal. I still don’t feel safe holding my partner’s hand in public and I live in San Francisco. Let’s hope there are no scars for the generations to will follow us.

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  15. When my friend Val told me that she was gay, she then said. I fully understand if you don’t want to be my friend anymore. I could have cried. I just hugged her and never said that I had known all along. She later told me that she had dreaded telling me… Poor love, I can’t even begin to imagine what difference it should make to anyone else about a persons sexuality. We are who we are.. warts and all.

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  16. Wonderful account of coming out. I’m always glad to hear stories where parents have already guessed and are affirming. My Mom screamed “It’s not my fault” when I told her. My parents had serious personality flaws, so I just learned to move on towards people who accept me.

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    1. Thanks so much, Brian. I believe that these days most parents will already have guessed. It’s when they don’t want to accept what can not be changed that the problems can start. It took my Father over 25 years to accept but pleased to say that that the struggle he had with it finally came to an end. It’s just such a shame of all the lost time it took up.

      Liked by 1 person

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