True Stories: Gay Memories – Coming Out Of The Closet #LGBTQI #LGBT

One of 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 I was a homosexual.

nips heart wallpaper
Photo by Sydney Troxell on Pexels.com

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 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. This only made me more determined to live my life how I wanted and not the way others wanted me to live it.

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’ of the closet.

Fast forward to today, and being gay is something much of society accepts. Or is it?

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 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.’ 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 am asked who the other guy is that walks our dogs, that I find myself hesitating before saying “he’s 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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213 thoughts on “True Stories: Gay Memories – Coming Out Of The Closet #LGBTQI #LGBT

  1. Hi Hugh,
    You knew I would respond to this post. How could I not? I won’t spoil the story, but my anticipated book three will be my coming out journey. I will say, your story is very similar to my Anthony’s. His family knew before he did and accepted it.

    Again, I don’t know you that well, I certainly do not know the laws in England. For years, when the subject would surface on same sex marriage, Anthony and I would state we weren’t interested. As long as we had legality to own property together, and take care of each other in a case of emergency, the rest didn’t matter. I will now attest, since it is now legal in the U.S., we did marry. First with a civil arrangement and then when Florida made it legal, we were married in our Episcopal church. Being married goes beyond the legality, it is an emotional acceptance of ourselves. It is a commitment that your relationship goes beyond the legal responsibilities. The marriage is now a spiritual commitment and a blessing from God (e.g. Sacrament of Marriage).

    If it is or it becomes legal for same sex couples to marry, I hope John and you will seriously consider it. You will never regret it and it will change your relationship with each other for the better. Marriage truly is a blessing and a communion of love between two people.

    Thank for being brave and sharing this post. God Bless.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Chuck, and congratulations to Anthony and you on your marriage.

      In the U.K (except in Northern Ireland) people of the same sex can now legally get married. John and I had our civil partnership in 2006 and whilst many of our friends have upgraded their civil partnerships to marriage, we decided not to. The reason is because for many years Gay people fought for civil partnerships and the right to declare their love for each other and we didn’t want to leave behind what we had fought so hard for. Many Gay couples have done the same as us and we get the same rights as a married couple do. At the end of the day, it’s a personal choice for two people to make but, whichever way couples decide to go, we all now know that we can bless the love we have regardless of who it is for.

      I wish Anthony and you a very long and very happy marriage.

      Thank you so much for reblogging and sharing my post with your readers. I hope they enjoy reading it as much as you did.

  2. Beautiful post Hugh, for sure some scars from the past will never heal and time to time will bleed. We need to be careful for this bleeding doesn’t kill our present moments, but not much else to do. Your new place is gorgeous, happy you have found a nice community there. Hugs to you my friend!

  3. Your mom sounds terrific! One of my best friends came out to us 30 years ago. None of the four of us thought any less of him, and accepted him fully, he was the same person. His family though? Disowned him. At his funeral, they were all there. I couldn’t stand the hypocrisy of them, grieving for the son they lost, when they were what drove him to leave. I miss him dearly.

    1. Sadly, that is a story I hear all too often, even in today’s world. I can’t imagine what it must be like for somebody who has come out and found they have ended up having no one to turn to. Thank goodness your friend had you and your family.

  4. Back in the early 1980’s was the first time I had encountered anyone gay. Being in the Army, there were quite a few lesbian women amongst us. Once I had got over my fear (for some reason I thought that they would try and ‘convert’ me, which was the way of thinking back then). I realised that there was nothing to be scared of at all! In fact. I ended up going to a gay pub in Southend with them on New Year’ Eve, which was fun. Anyway, it was a small camp with only around 30 women and 100 men, and with 1/4 of the girls being gay, it meant less competition for the guys!
    I think that times have moved on for the better now, and there is no longer such fear and misinformation about being gay. After all love is love, no matter who it is with 🙂

    1. I knew somebody who worked on a building site and when the other guys found out he was gay, they all thought he was going to jump on them. Never crossed their minds that Jamie didn’t fancy any of them. We’ve come a long way now, Judy, and you’re so right in what you say about love. However, there is still some stigma out there. I was even contacted by somebody through my blog a few year’s ago who said he could convert me to a heterosexual. I passed his comment on to WordPress.

        1. He’s long gone, Judy. Never saw him again anywhere on WordPress. I’ve had a few rude comments over the three years I been blogging. If it’s not about my sexually then it’s about my dyslexia. These people do all they can to provoke you; some even hope they’ll get you to delete your own blog. Crossed my mind a few times in the early years but with the help of reading a lot of posts about dealing with trolls, I’ve overcome those worries and now ignore those comments and pass them to WordPress.

  5. It has always fascinated me on what people choose to disapprove. I have always felt what couples do is their own business. Relationships should be of the heart and not of the opinion of others. Good post, Hugh.

  6. A very good post. Thanks for sharing! I told my mom that I liked females in the late 90’s. My mom said that I love you no matter what. I have been a lesbian for 16 years. People should come out more and don’t be worried about what other people think about them.

    1. Very true, Henrietta, but it seems that some people’s faith and culture still prevents them from doing so. We’ve made much progress, but there is still lots to do.
      Thank you for reblogging the post.

  7. I never understood why so many people find it necessary to push their thoughts of a lifestyle or choice onto others. I suppose ignorance and intolerance is at the root of it all, as it is with all forms of discrimination. We lash out at what we don’t understand. It seems to me that it’s much easier and kinder to accept people for who they are and what brings them happiness than it is to waste the effort in hated or intolerance.
    I’m so glad you found acceptance and happiness, Hugh. God bless.

    1. Thanks, George. In the U.K we’re very fortunate to live how we choose to live, although there are still some parts of society who will do what they can to promote hate and intolerance. We’ve still a lot of work to do before love is accepted in its difference forms.
      Thank you for your comments. I appreciate you leaving them.

  8. Reblogged this on A Mindful Journey and commented:
    Part of my mindful journey is accepting everyone for who they are. My friend, Hugh shares his poignant journey about coming out of the closet. This is a must read. ❤

  9. I can imagine that feeling of hesitation when asked “the question”. As if confessing something wrong you did. Of course, you didn’t, but, because you are a minority, you are always wondering what people will think of you and how they would react, probably. It looks very nice where you live, especially to walk a dog!

  10. What a sweet poignant story, Hugh. I am so thankful that you and John live within a society that is welcoming and accepting. I have no idea why people are worried about how other people spend their time behind closed doors. Love is love, no matter who it occurs with. Bravo to you, my friend. You have the best heart and it flows from your words daily. ❤

  11. I cannot even imagine how difficult it must be to know who you are but pretend to be someone else. Then the coming out is a relief on one hand but holds so many new challenges and the potential for real hurting. It may be easier today to be accepted for who we are but still, I have the greatest respect for everyone. Your mom is an amazing woman!!

    1. Thanks, Erika. I miss her so much. I should never have doubted her. At the time, I was going through so much, and comments from certain parts of the family were not at all helpful. They say ‘if only we could turn the clock back’ but on this occasion, I don’t think I would want to.

      1. I can imagine what a rock she must have been for you. Those thoughtless and sometimes serious comments can go so deep at a time when you need all the courage and strength anyway. But as you said, looking back it was the right thing to at least be who you are!

  12. Mom´s know everything! Your mom looks lovely. That is a great picture of the two of you. I hope one day soon people won´t have to worry about “coming out”. It just shouldn´t matter. Great post!

    1. Thanks so much, Darlene. No, it should never matter anymore, but many people still fear to say who they really are. We’ve come a long way over the last 30 years, but still, lots of work still to be done.

  13. Sad this was ever even a concern for you. I think life would be so much easier for us all to just be who we really are without having to worry about “public masks” all the time but the “practical” side of life is when it comes to our professional lives and personal lives intertwine it forces us to decide to keep or discard the mask whether it’s our sexual, political, religious, racial, economic, background, etc. it sure makes it challenging sometimes for us all – just stinks we all have to choose! But that said, least once the mask is lifted you know exactly who you are dealing with 😀.

    1. Back in the 1980s, Gay people were often the subject of police raids at the places they met. I remember my first ever boyfriend saying how terrified he was if somebody saw us inside a gay nightclub. Didn’t strike him to ask himself what that person was also doing in the same place. Only today on the radio, I was listening to a story of a young man who didn’t want to come out because of his religion and faith. He thought his family would all disown him. He had so much courage to tell his story on the radio, yet he couldn’t face his family and tell them. We’ve still a lot of work to do even with the progress we’ve made over the years, although it’s sad to say that I won’t see total acceptance of letting a person love who they want to love in my lifetime. I’ll carry on with my work, though, and helps those that need reassurance and the support to live their lives they way they want to live them.
      Thank you so much for your comments.

      1. Sad too there’s even a term “gay bashing”. I remember sitting both of my kids down (son and daughter) and being sure they understood if they ever decided they were gay that they could tell me and I wouldn’t care as long as whoever they choose was a good person that treated them right. That was very important to me as the world is hard enough without adding the stress of what your parents might think so I wanted that statement made early on in there lives to eliminate that worry if either were, etc. Glad your Mom didn’t care either.

        1. That’s such a wonderful thing you did. If only all parents were the same towards their children. I’m still reading comments from people who are telling me how whole families disowned somebody for being gay. It’s so sad, especially given that coming out to one’s family is one the toughest things somebody can do to.

  14. Whereas being gay or lesbian appears to be much more acceptable compared to (e.g.) 50 years ago, there are always going to be clashes with ignorance. Whereas society is generally more receptive to different races, creeds and colors compared to (e.g.) 50 years ago, we sadly still hear about ignorance. We have made progress towards eliminating unfounded biases of past years, but of course we still have a long way to go before we can announce total acceptance of our differences. I do wonder however that, given a more open view in general to gay and lesbian individuals, whether that same openness is applied to trans-gender individuals? I rather suspect not.

    1. We do. Almost every day on the news I hear about somebody who has been verbally or physically assaulted for being a different colour, speaking a different language, wearing different clothes, being a woman, or not sexually liking somebody of the opposite sex. I agree we have made great progress, but there is still a lot of work to be done. It must be more difficult for somebody who is bisexual as I would expect that some parts of their lives would always have to be hidden. I don’t think I’ve ever known somebody who has said they were bisexual, even though there must be many.
      Thank you so much for your comments.

  15. Moving from NY to the rural Midwest was a shock for us 5 years ago. I constantly get asked at school functions so what does your husband do? Like you, “Well my partner….” Some people get those tight smiles and politely walk away but others stay, talk and want to ask lots of questions. Such is life. 🙂

      1. Most of our questions ate about our children. When they find out we have been together 23 years and our children are 13 and 16 you can see their brains trying to figure it out. 😉

  16. Very nicely expressed that puts it all in historical perspective, and great accompanying photo with your mom. Congratulations on your courage, then and now.

  17. My oldest son’s first girlfriend was a different race than us and someone said, “Well, at least he isn’t gay.” I will always remember this because at the time I was offended by every part of that statement. I informed the person that it didn’t matter to me if he was gay or if his girlfriend had brown skin- that I would always love him and that those things did not matter to me, but his happiness did. Sadly, we live in an area that is not as evolved and accepting as other parts of the US- only it is hidden, which I think makes that prejudice even uglier when it’s exposed.

    The first time Kris came out to me was at the age of 12, as a lesbian. Then it changed to bisexual and then transgender and pansexual and now well…. I guess unofficially we have had many coming outs from this child. 🙂 My feelings remain the same. I love this child and I want them to find happiness and love.

    1. I’ve already had to delete one comment I received on this post, Kat. I guess some people will never accept that two people of the same sex can love each other. Love is the greatest thing we can give to each other and I know you’re doing a great job of that by just reading your blog. I’m sure all your family are very proud to have you in their lives. I know you’ll keep up the brilliant work you do as a mum and grandmother.

      1. I don’t understand the haters but I guess fear and ignorance are powerful motivators. And I really don’t understand the need to strike out at someone especially when you are attacking them for who they are. I try my best to not engage or encourage those people and focus my attention on the people in my life who matter. 🙂

        1. And that’s the best method in dealing with them, Kat. I ignore any comments I get like that, and any further comments I get from them are also deleted. No point in reacting to them, because that’s what they want and they hate being ignored.

  18. I am glad you have generally found acceptance and respect, I understand how it would be difficult to know what to expect from new people or from people who don’t know / might not be as aware and understating as your mom (sorry, mum). Life shouldn’t come with apprehension. Maybe we will see the day when it truly doesn’t.

  19. When I informed my gay daughter that I opposed gay marriage. She said, “that’s okay, dad, you don’t have to pay for the whole thing.”

    That is when my views on the matter changed suddenly.

    All joking aside, we invited my very Catholic, very rural, very conservative in-laws to the wedding and they had a great time.

    1. John and I lived in an apartment block for a few years. When we met the new upstairs neighbours they said “we just had to buy the apartment when we found out two gay men lived below. Having gay neighbours is all the rage.” (Deep sigh here, Annette). 😀

  20. I’d like to believe that most moms would react as yours did, with unconditional love. My family has been aware of several generations of gay relatives, so interesting to think of how hard it must have been in the past. There may still be scars, but so many have healed over the years. Love the significance of the rainbow in your lovely photo, Hugh. 💖 💘 💝

  21. I think years ago people mixed up pedefiles with gay men, threw them all into the same category through ignorance and fear. I will be 74 in a couple of months I had some wonderful gay friends when I was a teen. There were two guys that were my best friends, Billy and Bert. We used to hang out, go shopping together, listen to music, dance and laugh together. Maybe I was ahead of my time. There is nothing to fear but fear its self. So happy you found the man of your dreams. Ain’t love grand. ☺☺☺

    1. It is, Patricia. And who is to say that two people of the same sex should not love each other? We should celebrate love in every form. It’s all around us, but such a shame that some still have to hide it.
      Billy and Bert sound great fun. You must have had a ball. Thanks so much for your comments.

  22. It seems odd looking back on it, but I was brought up in a normal Irish Catholic family, with aunties who were nuns (and avoided, I must admit), many unmarried uncles and aunts, loads of cousins, grandparents, great-grandparents, you know, normal. And our favourite uncles were Patrick and Brian who were a couple. Patrick was never invited to a family gathering without Brian, and they were always spoken about in the same breath, like Anne and Peter, or Norah and George, Paddy and Eileen. We’re talking about the 1960s and 70s here. Nobody ever gave us kids to think that there was something funny about two men living together, or that they should be avoided because they were deviants and could be harmful to growing children. I didn’t know anything about homosexuality, but I did know that couples were formed of two people who cared about one another, end of story.

  23. We are lucky that it is an easier option to ‘come out’ nowadays but I feel for all those who are unable to be themselves without all this additional angst.
    Imagine, in the Indian community the thinking is still probably 50 years behind…
    I am pretty sure of the homosexuality of two members of my family… but I say that not having had it confirmed… they are over 50 and still not able to say it …

  24. What a lovely post. I’ve met people who have regretted not coming out sooner but never met anyone who regretted coming out – if that makes sense. And whilst society accepts I was talking to a customer the other day who asked me how I knew the chef in the kitchen. He’s my husband, I said. She almost keeled over.
    Love the moustache – VERY 80s!!
    JP

    1. Thanks, JP. I laughed when you said that customer almost keeled over, especially given that you’re in London. I’ve had a few of those occasions as well. I’ll have to write another post about those occasions of coming out.
      That was the look of a lot of gay men back in the 1980s. You’re far too young to remember of course. My best wishes to everyone at The Spanish Onion.

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