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 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?

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

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205 thoughts on “True Stories: Gay Memories – Coming Out Of The Closet #LGBTQI #LGBT

  1. Thank you for re-sharing your story, Hugh (came over via your twitter feed). What a wonderfully honest post, I am so pleased that things worked out in the end with most of your family. It’s a shame people cannot feel comfortable sharing who they are, when the world is such a wonderfully diverse place (and wouldn’t it be so boring if everyone was the same!). I have a son, and I honestly couldn’t give a monkeys if he turns out to be gay, straight, bi or any other sexuality. As long as he’s happy (and still lets me give him one of those wonderful mum-hugs you mentioned), I’ll be happy. Much love, KL ❤

    1. You’re welcome, KL. I’ve enjoyed sharing these stories of my early years.

      Life was much different for gay and bisexual people back then. Today, it’s much accepted in many places, but pockets of society still discriminate against the LGBTQI+ community. And there are still countries where it is against the law to be gay. Some have the death penalty as punishment. There is still a lot of work to be done.

      It took my father over 30 years to accept me as gay. My mother was much more understanding. I was lucky because I’ve seen families disown members of their households for being gay. And it’s sad that it still happens today.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story, Hugh. As the proud mom of a gay woman, her wife and my unbelievably beautiful granddaughter I am happy for you – especially for the support from your mum. I lived in Orlando when the Pulse shooting occurred and saw the pain the LGBTQ experienced. No one should ever be judged for being who they are, let alone targeted. In our country there are pockets of acceptance and pockets of bigotry sadly. I am happy to see the love and support my daughter has. I look forward to the time when we are all just neighbors regardless of the make up of our family.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this post, Maggie.

      There have been significant changes in acceptance of the LGBTIQ community over the last 40 years, but it’s sad that certain groups still can not accept that gay people exist. I was lucky that my mother accepted me for who I am, but it was a different story with my father and other family members. And even though those scars have healed over the years, there is always that thought at the back of my mind of ‘What if?’ whenever I tell anyone that I’m gay.

      I’m delighted to hear that your daughter lives a happy life with her wife and daughter. I’m sure every moment with them is precious.

  3. Hugh, can’t imagine what it must be like to have someone judge you for innate characteristic. To me, sexual orientation is no more significant than hair or skin color. (But of course, racist asshats are all too numerous.) I am glad your mom was so accepting.That is huge! It sounds like your coworkers and neighbors have been great too. I think television has done its part in leading more people to be accepting by discussing it, and by having gay characters in programs. Here in America, in most urban areas, sexual orientation is no longer a major concern. The thing that holds back acceptance in more rural areas is religion. It’s a particularly toxic part of religion here.

    Michelle

    1. Thank you, Michelle.

      Only yesterday, I saw a tweet from a gay man who said he’d be better off dead than alive because his family would not accept that he is gay. It breaks my heart when I read and hear stories like that.

      We’ve come a long way in the last 40 years, but there is still much work to be done.

      Thank you so much for reading my true story and leaving a comment.

      Happy Pride.

  4. Hi Hugh, my son describes himself as pansexual, closer to bisexual than anything. He never really came out, he and I have just talked around the subject for years. He expresses his identity and is more authentic the older he gets and I’m really happy he’s able to live true to himself. My one concern is the reaction of other family members when they find out as there’s a lot who are homophobic unfortunately. I’m incredibly proud of my son and I hope he finds a lovely partner, male female or other! Thankyou for sharing your story, regards Christina

    1. Hi Christina, thank you for sharing the story about your son. When I finally came out to my mother, she told me she’d always knew I was gay. And she was so happy that I was living my true life and not trying to be somebody I wasn’t.

      Unfortunately, I still had to hide my sexuality from some people for many years. Sometimes, I wanted to tell them but felt ashamed. Other times, I tried to tell them but could never find the right words. For 30 years, my father never accepted me being gay and broke contact with me. However, four years ago, I summoned up the encouragement to contact him. I’m so glad I did because we’re now in touch again. What also helped me was being told that if anybody had a problem with my sexuality, then it was their problem, not mine.

      I’m sure your son will find a loving partner, and I hope he lives and loves living his true life. I’m sure he knows that he has your full support which I know will go a long way in helping him on his journey.

  5. What a lovely post – and I love your mother’s reaction. I knew a woman a few years back who was sure her 15 year old son was gay – she was waiting for him to tell her. I wonder if he has yet!

    1. Yes, I wonder, Terri. It’s a lovely story to tell if he has, and another story to tell if he still hasn’t. Even today, many gay people find it difficult to ‘come out.’ Even I still sometimes find myself saying ‘he’s my partner’ when asked ‘who’s was that man I saw you with?’ The scars of the past can still go very deep.

  6. Hi Hugh! I love the honesty of this post. I loved your mom’s reaction when she saw you after the letter. Some traumatic events in out lives are difficult to get over. No one asks to be gay or straight, you’re born and you are what you are. Thanks for sharing. ❤

    1. Thank you, Vashti. I agree with everything you say. There are only certain aspects of our lives where we can make choices. It’s a shame that not everyone sees it like that, but at least today’s world is far more accepting. Still plenty of work to do, though.

  7. Thankfully times are achanging, but I think that for your point about other members of the family is very well made. In some cases it seems to have been a version of the don’t ask don’t tell policy. Thank you for sharing, Hugh.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Olga. I’m very pleased that times have changed. Now we just need to work hard in getting the message across to all those countries in the world where it’s still a crime to fall in love another person of the same sex.

  8. 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.

    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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

    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

  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💖

    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. 🌈

      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 😊🏳️‍🌈

        1. 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.

  13. 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🌹

    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.

  14. 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 🙂

    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.

      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.

        1. 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.

  15. 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.

    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.

  16. 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! ❤

  17. 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

  18. 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.

    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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