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.
It was a Saturday morning like any other Saturday morning. I always got up first because I’m an early bird.
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 went into town to buy an array of snacks for myself for the evening. I still preferred to spend Saturday evenings indoors watching television like I did on Saturday mornings.
My parents thought it unusual for a boy my age to want to stay in on a Saturday evening. At the time, I thought they knew nothing about why I did not want 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 to browse or 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.
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 Chasand 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 that opened 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 to see if anybody 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, 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. When 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.
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