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.
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.”
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 a 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, I find myself hesitating before saying “he’s John, my partner.”
Maybe some of the scars from our past never heal?
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201 thoughts on “True Stories: Gay Memories – Coming Out Of The Closet #LGBTQI #LGBT”
I have a son and I cannot imagine rejecting him because of sexual orientation. So glad your Mum embraced the real you, and that you have been able to live your life authentically.
Thank you, Molly. She stood by me at a time I most needed her and when other members of the family rejected who I was. Sadly, she passed away in 2015, but I still think about her every day.
Losing your mother is the worst. I lost mine nearly 10 years ago and I’ll never truly get ‘over it.’
No. It’s Mother’s Day, here in the UK, tomorrow. It’s now a very tough day for me.
Yes, and still very fresh for you. *Hugs*
Thanks you so much.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks for sharing your heart! This is one of the most heartfelt things I’ve read in a long time. What a blessing you are!!
That’s so kind, thank you so very much. Thank you for reading and commenting on the post. I really appreciate it.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
I do, and in more ways than one. If it wasn’t for the support I get here on my blog and throughout the blogging community, I’d never have published that book. 😀
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 🙂
Thank you, Samantha. I’ve had one comment from somebody who said they could convert me. Of course, I ignored it and marked it as spam.
Seriously? That’s… really rude (of them, not you – obviously). Just, wow… Some people. Makes me feel kind of bad for them, because they’re so small-minded.
Biggest hugs to you and John from across the pond, dear Hugh! Thank you for being YOU!! An authentic life is yours, my dear! Cher xo
Thanks very much, Cher. Hope all is well with you in snowy Chicago. ☃️
Thank you, Hugh! All is well, thanks! Snow is packing its bags! *LOL* Cher xo
Wonderful post Hugh and so pleased that you are now in a place both location wise and time when you can openly express your love as a couple. I am afraid that there will always be those who feel they have a right to comment on other people’s business and they are usually unhappy individuals or those who have been indoctrinated over the years. Fabulous mum and now you have all the years stretching ahead of you to make her even prouder as an advocate for others.
Thanks, Sally. I’ll certainly never allow those who condemn and incite hatred towards the LGBT community to be heard. I’ve had some heart-wrenching comments left on this post, and it saddens me to read them. Today, it certainly is easier to express your love for a person of the same sex, but many people still fear coming out to family and friends. It shouldn’t be like that anymore, and I’d support anybody who finds themselves in that dark closet.
Thank you so much for your comments.
Stereotyping people then condemning them because of prejudice always bothers me. If you know how to love, laugh and care, shouldn’t that be enough? x
It should, Sue, but some people will never see it that way. It’s easier now, but I still hear and read frightening and sad stories on the news of people who come out and then face dire consequences because of who they are. I was lucky that my mum stood by me, but many still aren’t as lucky as me. I’ll carry on spreading the love, though.💛
I know. It isn’t just this one issue that attracts that attitude, though. Any kind of ‘different’ creates and attraacts prejudice. I’m glad your Mum was there for you… I know many are still not, though hopefully upcoming generations will find coming out easier. x
Thank you for posting this, Hugh. Much of what I feel has already been said by others. I’m grateful for those brave souls among us who face their fear and do it anyway, for these are the voices who will change the world for the better. Know that you are loved for who you are 💜
Thank you, Tina. I’ve been told by several people that I was brave to write and publish this post. Barve? I don’t think so. I’ve had a few comments I’ve not been able to publish and have had to forward on to WordPress, but you are right with what you say about love. For me, that is what this post is all about, yet some people can still incite hatred out of it. They will never stop me from writing about love.
Thanks so much for your comments, Tina. 💛
Welcome, Hugh. May we always keep our hearts open… 💕
Don’t feel bad about telling your Mum in a letter, Hugh. I’m sure she was just glad that you finally told her.
P.S. I must be the only mother in the world who didn’t know her son was gay. He sent me a letter from summer camp when he was 17. The only bad thing was that I couldn’t talk to him until Visiting Day 🙂
Thanks, Aimer. I’m sure you’re not the only mum who never guessed. Take a friend of mine, Jamie. He’s worked on a construction site as a plumber since he left school and his mother never guessed. It wasn’t until he met his partner on site and brought him home to meet her that she knew. Not the way I would have done it, but at least his mother cried tears of joy that her son had at least met the love of his life.
That’s the important part 🙂
A great post Hugh. I drunkenly fell out of the closet one Christmas Eve to my mother at the age of 20. When I sobered up the next day I couldn’t get back into said closet! It was not the happiest family Christmas Day.
Ps And that was in the so-called swinging 60’s . After a short while family totally fine and supportive.
Oh dear, Helen. Must have been some Christmas. Just goes to show that we should not drink too much alcohol if there’s something we want to announce. Glad to hear the family soon came around, though.
There speaks a voice of understanding😉
I am so glad people are taking this for granted now. Never understood why anyone cared .
We’re getting there, Linda, but, unfortunately, there are still people in our world who choose to incite hate simply because somebody happens to love a different way to what they do. I’ve even had to forward a few comments on to WordPress because of these people. However, I never allow those people to intimidate me.
What a warm and heartfelt post, Hugh. I’m so glad your mother was the powerful woman she was, and so relieved that the world has finally made some strides (finally!) in accepting that we love who we love, and LGBT is just one way of many in which we are diverse. I’m looking forward to the day when no one has to “come out,” when we can just be ourselves. Love is something we need more of in this world. Beautiful post. ❤
Thanks, Diana. I agree with what you say yet, unfortunately, while we’ve made big strides over the last 30 years in accepting Gay people for who they are, there is still a lot of work to be done. It saddens me that people (especially young people) still take their own lives because of the implications of what happens after they came out to family and friends. However, we’ll do all we can to support those people who fear coming out and have to live their lives as somebody else.
Thanks so much for your comments.
I know there is still a ways to go. I live in a community where half of us accepting of people regardless of differences and half are religiously narrow-minded and ruled by fear. Making sure that our LGBT kids feel safe and loved is a top priority.
Exactly, Diana. And you’re so right about fear ruling fear.
I don’t comment on here often, but wanted to comment and say that I think it’s a shame that gay people are afraid to admit what they are. I understand why, since most people aren’t willing to accept them for what they are, but I still think it’s a shame. Especially since, while it’s not something that was discussed openly, due to how socially unacceptable it was considered throughout most of history, it’s not like people being gay is a new concept.
Thank you for your comments, Victoria. I agree it is a shame that gay people still fear coming out to friends, family or people they’ve only just met. Only today, I heard of a 17-year-old school girl who had taken her own life after coming out to some of her school friends. In an interview, her father said that shortly after coming out, she had been physically bullied as well as receiving death threats on her social media feeds. Even in today’s world, it seems some people can still not accept people for who they are. It doesn’t happen often, but I can see why many gay people still fear telling people that they are gay.
That’s so sad… Such a shame.
What a beautiful post. I’m glad your mom was so accepting. I’ve been surprised by how accepting some of my family members are as well when they find out I’m also part of the LGBT community. 🙂
Thank you, Lydia. I think it’s easier now to accept somebody who comes out gay, as much of our society has accepted that gay people do exist. When I first came out, things were different and I can’t imagine what it must have been like during the days when homosexually was considered a crime.
I’m so pleased to hear that some of your family have accepted you for who are you.
Yay you Hugh. I’m so glad to learn your mum was so accepting. And for those who aren’t, just keep walking. There will always be some of those judgmental people around not liking something or someone or other. 🙂 ❤
As I’m still discovering, Debby. However, I don’t react to them. I’ve sent a few comments on to WordPress.
My nephew in High school tells me not only do people come out at the drop of a hat, but being gay/bi/uni etc is considered chic. Who knew we would live to see the day being straight was considered boring?
That happened to us about 20 years ago. We lived in a block of flats, and the new neighbours above us told us that as soon as they heard a gay couple lived in the flat below, that they had to buy the flat. They were a nice couple and even didn’t mind the noise we sometimes made when coming home late or having a party.
My cousin came out to the rest of the cousins during a family reunion then spent the rest of the reunion annoyed that he could have invited his partner and it wouldn’t have been an issue, at least not with our generation. The older generation took a little longer to adjust their thinking, but thankfully not too long.
Good to hear your cousin was accepted as the person he was. I’ve had a few comments on this post where somebody was totally cut off by the whole family. It’s such a shame that it can still happen in the present day.
I loved how gently you explained this like you are still taking care of others feelings more than your own, I so understand what you are talking about. My sister is gay and in her mid 60’s still uncomfortable about being in certain social situations. People are not kind to anyone not like themselves. There are still so many places on the planet that just can’t seem to get that this is normal. It’s not something you choose, it’s just who you are. I am so sorry that so many are so ignorant and you have to deal with it. Our family was not kind either in the beginning. We finally determined that we have an uncle that is gay but rather than be honest, he lives a lie and hurts everyone around him. I’ll take the open, honest approach every time. Thanks for being the brave soul you are. Keep teaching one mind at a time.
Thank you so much for your comments about this post. I agree, there is still a lot of work to be done in getting everyone to accept that being gay is a way of life rather than a choice. I’ve even had one person tell me that he could convert me. Of course, I ignored his comment.
It’s very difficult coming out to one’s family, but can be even more difficult once you have told them. Luckily for me, I had my mum. And, I’m so glad I made the right choice by telling her and the rest of my family so I could then lead the life that was meant for me.
An inspirational and brave post Hugh.
Thanks, Lucy. 😀
Interesting post, Hugh. My son did tell me he was gay – well, he wrote on a bit of paper and passed it to me in the kitchen. My reaction was the same as your mum’s. I had realised a long time before he told me and was always careful not to ask those ‘have you got a girlfriend yet’ questions.
Yes, times are changing, things are improving but he grew up in a small rural town where attitudes change more slowly and it was tougher for him than he let on at times.
Glorious beach for dog walking.
It was very much the same for me when I came out, Mary. Small community and ‘having a gay in the village’ was as if I’d grown two heads and had turned evil. I think many mothers are tuned into their children’s feelings and know much more than children think they know. I’m not so sure when it comes to father’s, but I could be very wrong.
Yes, we live in a beautiful part of Wales. Toby, our dog, loves the beach. Even though I dislike the feel of sand on my skin, I’ve grown to enjoy the beach as well.
Thanks so much for your comments.
❤ Great post Hugh. Things have changed so much, but there still needs to be more, especially here. I want my friends to have the same chances and opportunities re marriage etc as everyone else. That day is coming 🙂
Thanks, Juls. I agree, especially in Northern Ireland where Gay marriage is still not allowed. However, we’ve come a long way on this road and will continue with the work.
Very good and important post Hugh!
Thank you. Sorry to read about your computer problems. I hope it’s all sorted out soon.
I will just have to buy a new one…
A friend of mine died at the end of last year. He was 98. I’d known him for about 20 years, and it was only in the last five or so that I realised he was gay. Only then because I stumbled across some material he’d left lying around. Of course, when I did, a few things seemed to click into place in my mind.
Even so, he never told me he was gay and I never broached the subject with him. As far as I was concerned, that would be his choice to make, not mine. John was a very “proper” person, still insisting on wearing a suit and tie every day, even though he’d been retired for over 30 years. We went on a trip to New York together a few years ago, and the song Englishman in New York could have been written for him, as he walked down Fifth Avenue in a three-piece suit on a blisteringly hot August morning.
What struck me when I realised he was gay, though, was how accepting society is today, and how that must contrast with the larger parts of his own lifetime. Born in 1918, for half of his life, his sexuality was actually illegal, something that must be hard for younger people today to even comprehend. Even after the change in legislation, it was still frowned upon and made fun of for a long time. So it’s no wonder he never formally came out. Things are not perfect yet, Hugh, but they are a damned sight better than they were.
Thanks for sharing your story about John with me, Graeme. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to have been gay back then. I remember watching ‘The Naked Civil Servent’ for the first time and how it didn’t help me in coming to terms with my own sexually. However, as time went on, it stuck with me and gradually began to help me realise that I was not going to change and that I should live my life how I wanted to. I actually moved to London in 1986, not only because I’d fallen in love with the city but because I really felt it was protecting me. I always dreaded leaving the city and I now look back and see just how lucky I was to have spent 27 wonderful years living and working there.
Things are certainly a lot better for gay people now, but there are still times when I can feel threatened because of who I am. Fortunately, it’s rare, but those scars I suffered when I did come out to my family do still sometimes come to the surface because I allow them to. I don’t think they will ever heal, which is why I wrote and shared this post. I hope it helps those who may find themselves in the same position as I found myself 30 years ago.
What a wonderful mum you had, Hugh. I’m glad it’s getting easier, but I think we are still too far behind in accepting things that are a part of normal life. Whomever we choose to love shouldn’t affect anyone else or make them feel uncomfortable. Small minds.
Indeed, Eloise. That’s why I was so lucky to have a mum who accepted me for what I was. I can’t imagine what it must be like for gay people who come out and then find they have nobody to turn to after taking the courage to say who they are. What happens when we make any important decision can so go on to affect the rest of our lives. I was lucky, but many aren’t.
Thanks so much for reading and commenting.
Thanks, Elizabeth. We’re very happy in our new home. It’s a beautiful part of the U.K. Thank you so much for your comments.
I imagine it is a tough decision. Well done for being brave. What about travelling to other less liberal countries, does that present difficulties?
Yes, but common sense tells us not to visit those places where our very lives would be in danger. However, even today, we still get told when booking into a hotel “you know it’s a double room, don’t you?” In one instance the hotel changed the booking from a double to a twin room, but quickly changed it back again when they were happy we had not made a mistake.
I think some wounds run deep. Every now and then something triggers another little bit of healing. I wonder if this is what happened to you. Sometimes I find myself in a similar situation (in my case it has to do with infertility). I have come to recognise it as another layer of releasing. Your new home sounds just perfect. May you all be very happy and blessed there.
Thank you for sharing your story with me. I appreciate your words and wish you the happiness and blessings you have given me.
Thank you Hugh. We have two wonderful sons adopted from overseas. Grown up now. Would not have it any other way – we are so blessed to have them in our lives.