True Stories: Gay Memories – The Day My Life Changed #LGBTQI #LGBT

When I woke up that Saturday morning, little did I know that something I was hiding from view from others was about to have the key put in the ignition and set me off on a journey that was to become the life I was born with.

True Stories: Gay Memories

It was a Saturday morning like any other Saturday morning. I always got up first because I’m an early bird.

After breakfast, I’d sit down and watch Multi-Coloured Swap Shop – a Saturday morning children’s TV show.

The theme to Swap Shop

The fact that I was 17-years-old didn’t put me off from watching it. I loved watching it. It got my weekend off to a perfect start.

Just after midday, I always made my way into town to buy an array of snacks for myself for the evening. Like Saturday mornings, I still preferred to spend Saturday evenings indoors watching television.

My parents thought it unusual for a boy of my age to want to stay in on a Saturday evening. At the time, I thought they knew nothing about the reason for me not wanting to go out. Years later, I discovered my mother had already suspected I was gay.

Whereas boys my age were going out to drink alcohol and date girls, my Saturday evening treat was the snacks (including a small trifle from Marks & Spencer) and Saturday evening television.

I always visited the same shops, either to browse or to buy something. On this particular Saturday, though, something I’d seen on TV that morning made me go into a shop I hardly ever visited.

Chaz and Dave

Scanning the shelves full of newspapers and magazines for the music newspaper I wanted, it soon caught my eye.

On the front was a picture of the singing duo Chas and Dave. I didn’t particularly like their music, but I found both men sexually attractive.

Picking up the newspaper, I flicked through it, pretending not to notice the picture and taking little if any notice of who was around me.

Towards the back of the newspaper, I stumbled upon the advertisement section, and one of the adverts immediately got my attention.

It was a significant point in my life which opened up a door and invited me to step through.

I didn’t personally know any other gay people, yet here was an advert in a music newspaper about a world I belonged to yet knew little of.

Gay?
Then you should read Gay News.
Once fortnightly.
For a copy, send a postal order for (I can’t remember how much) to –

At that moment, a member of staff entered the shop and shouted over to the cashier –

“I see the library is open again, Karen.”

She was referring to me and a few other customers who were all flicking through various newspapers and magazines. I quickly closed the paper and checked around to see if anybody had noticed me reading the advert.

At that point, I wanted to put down the paper and rush out of the shop, but the chance of being in touch with other gay people stopped me from doing so.

I told myself to be brave and quickly walked over to Karen, and nervously placed the newspaper by the cash register. “Got everything you need today?” she asked me as she pushed the keys on the cash register.

Nodding my head, I could feel myself blushing. I thought she knew which advert I’d been reading and was about to stand up and announce ‘This one’s queer!” Of course, that never happened.

As I walked home, my heartbeat raced. I kept looking behind to check if anyone was following me. After all, unlike my straight friends, it was still illegal for me (as a gay man) to have sex with a same-sex partner until I was 21.

Precisely one week later, I waited patiently for the postman to arrive. As soon as my first copy of Gay News came through the letterbox, I rushed downstairs before anybody else got to the post.

I was relieved that the people at Gay News did as they had promised to do in their advertisement. My copy of the paper arrived in a plain brown envelope.

My hands shook as I took the envelope up to my bedroom. Carefully tearing it open, I allowed the life I’d been hiding to start coming out of the closet.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Have you ever had a life-changing moment? Get in touch with me if you’d like to share the details in a guest post.

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Author: Hugh W. Roberts

My name is Hugh. I live in the city of Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom. My blog covers a wide range of subjects, the most popular of which are my blogging tips posts. If you have any questions about blogging or anything else, please contact me by clicking on the 'Contact Hugh' button on the menu bar. Click on the 'Meet Hugh' button on the menu bar to learn more about me and my blog.

52 thoughts

  1. Another enlightening post Hugh, I felt the tension in the shop and also your excitement when the magazine dropped through your door.

    Through reasons of being a ‘quiet lad’ and not wanting to get drunk every Saturday night I also resonated with your weekends sat at home, can’t decide whether I regret them or not.

    But thanks for sharing this glimpse into your young psyche with us,

    Paul

    1. Thanks, Paul.

      I don’t have any regrets about not going out at the weekends. For me, at the time, I’d have ended up in the wrong places and forcing myself to do things I know were not for me. However, I more than made up for it later on in life, especially when (at the age of 24) I moved to London. London made a lot of the dreams I had as a 17-year-old come true.

  2. Like others have said here Hugh, I could certainly feel your angst from that time, you’ve captured it well with your words. A life changing moment but one I’m glad you had the courage to take.

    A life changing moment for me was being involved in a bus accident while on a school excursion in another country at a pivotal age and stage of life. We never know what life has in store for us do we?

    1. We don’t, Debbie. However, we have to take what life puts on our path and deal with it the best way we think we can. We must never forget that life also gives us lots of opportunities that we should never ignore or waste. I’m guilty of the latter but learned quickly when to spot those opportunities.
      I’m sorry to hear about your life-changing moment. It must have been an awful ordeal to have to cope with and still come to terms with.

  3. Hugh, this was a fantastic story. I agree with Geoff, you might have fun writing a memoir. This post is a good example of memoir in fine Hugh style! 🙂 x

    1. Thank you, Debby. Until Geoff mentioned it, I’d never thought about writing a memoir. However, I guess I’ve already started doing it with this post (and one or two others on my blog). I’ll certainly think about putting them into a book.

  4. I enjoy reading about your adolescent years, Hugh. Life-changing events? Where do I start? Because I’m so impulsive, I’ve gotten myself in many situations that end up sending me on a certain, usually exciting, path. 🙂 That’s what my memoir is about…

  5. Oh, Hugh, I can feel your mortification when she said the library was open – and when you imagined she saw the advert you’d been reading. I remember you writing about finally telling your mum and she already knew – I think most mums do. I know I did but I had to wait until my son felt the time was right to tell me. I wonder if it is any easier to come out now? Maybe it depends on where you live – in rural backwaters, probably not.

    1. Yes, I think most mothers do know if a child is gay, Mary. Some fathers may also know, but it’s my experience that fathers tend to not accept it as much as most mothers do. My father broke contact with me after I came out. There was a 30-year gap before we had contact again. He’s never apologised to me for not accepting what I told him, and even now I can sense that there is still some pity that he has a gay son. However, at least we’re now in contact.
      And you’re right in that in some parts of our country there is still a stigma about gay people. That’s why I think most gay people move to the city or large towns to live their lives.
      Thanks so much for your comments.

  6. Your comment about the difference between the ages of consent (my words, not yours) reminds me of an old friend of mine. I didn’t realise he was gay for about 10 years after I met him. But when I did, I started to realise that, having been born in 1918, for 50 years of his life, his innate sexuality was illegal, a fact that has always left me wondering how you’d cope with that. There’s still a way to go, I’m sure, but I feel so grateful that there is much more acceptance and understanding of homosexuality nowadays.

    1. Thanks, Graeme. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like trying to live as a gay person before the sexual offences act was introduced in the UK in 1967. I’ve read what people like Alan Turin were put through in the 1950s and can not believe that is how the UK treated gay men. Of course, in some countries of the world, it’s still illegal to be a gay man. If I was living in one of those countries, I’d be doing as much as I could to get out. Yes, there is still a lot of work to do (even in the UK), but it’s excellent to see how far this country has come in accepting gay people since the day I wrote about in this post.

      1. I think given the extraordinary times you lived through as an out gay male in the 70s and 80s, with aids and the growth of pride it would be a fascinating insight into a culture most of us barely knew. And bloody funny too.

  7. Absolutely wonderful writing and thank you for sharing your story. It is funny how each person’s coming out story is so different and so similar all at the same time.

    1. Thank you very much. I’d love to hear more ‘coming out’ stories. I’m sure many will be sad, but I’m sure there will also be some stories that will make me smile. At least I hope so.

        1. Yes, I had a part-time job at the time. It certainly helped towards those treats, but I was also a saver. I was one of those kids that never spent his pocket money (if I could help it). It used to drive my sister crazy.

        2. Pocket money? You were rich (or posh) hugh lol. One of my sons save all his pennies too and kept up-to-date with his portfolio lol. He’d be found in his room at around the age of 7 totting up his savings, his premium bonds, what was in his piggy bank (always loads) and in his pocket lol.
          When I couldn’t be bothered to go to the cashpoint I’d borrow from him. His friends would go wow when they saw IOU’s for £50+ on the kitchen board 🙂

        3. I recall we got 50pence pocket money a week. Back in the 1970s, that was a lot. I’d stick my 50p into a NatWest savings money box that was in the shape of the Earth. I had to hide the key safely, especially away from my sister, who spent all her pocket money in one go. I also recall opening up a post office savings account. I used to love going there, adding money to my savings, and looking at the total in the book. Unfortunately, one of my parents emptied the account without telling me – but that’s another story, Caz.

  8. Thanks for sharing Hugh, this was really well written, it made me feel the struggle you experienced with your sexuality (along with worries of other people outing you)

    I would really like to take up your offer and share a guest post of a life changing experience, just let me know what I need to do.

    1. Hi James, thanks so much for reading this post. I’m planning on writing a few more.

      I’d be delighted for you to write a guest post. Contact me via the ‘contact Hugh’ button on the menu bar of my blog, and I’ll send you over some details.

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