True Stories: Gay Memories – Meeting Another Gay Person For The First Time #LGBTQI #LGBT

At 17-years-old, I had no idea if I’d ever encountered another gay person. I probably had, but I lived during times when being out and gay could put your life in danger.

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Gay Memories

I had my suspicions about who I thought was gay, such as the bus driver who lived on the next street. Even though his bus wasn’t going in the direction I wanted, I’d ride around on it so I could see him and hoped he’d notice me.

There was one way I thought would guarantee me meeting gay people, but it meant breaking the law – a law I thought was stupid. What was wrong with a 17-year-old lad answering an advert in Gay News?

South Wales area – a genuine, nice guy in his early 40s, looking to meet other guys who haven’t come out yet. Maybe we could help each other? Write to Richard at Box 223D, Gay News, London…

Richard remained on my mind for a few weeks after reading the advert. Like me, he hadn’t ‘come out’ as gay. But unlike me, he was over the age of consent, 21, when sleeping with someone of the same sex was not illegal.

The constant bragging about which girls he had slept with from Michael, my best friend, eventually persuaded me to put pen to paper and respond to Richard’s advert. While Michael could sleep with as many girls as he wanted, I thought it unfair that it was illegal for me to meet and sleep with other guys.

I can’t remember what I said in my letter to Richard, but I lied about my age. I had to; otherwise, he may not respond. Or he could have reported me to the police. Fortunately, his advert did not mention sending a photo, so I didn’t have to prove I was 21.

It took me a week to post my reply. Every time I approached the postbox at the bottom of the street, police sirens would sound in my head.

The thought of Richard having my home address and turning up unannounced also terrified me. But the more Michael bragged about who he had slept with and questioned why I was still a virgin, the more courage I got. Finally, I posted the letter after convincing myself that I’d run away to London if Richard turned up. I’d be safe with so many other gay people living there.

A month later, not only had I not had a reply from Richard, but I’d also placed an advert in the lonelyhearts column of Gay News.

21-year-old gay guy looking to make new friends and meet his first boyfriend. Currently living in South Wales, but looking to live and work in London. Age/looks unimportant, but please send a photo. Write to Rob at Box D867, Gay News, London…

Two weeks after my advert appeared, I came home from work to find my mother holding an envelope.

“It’s for you. Whose handwriting is this? I don’t recognise it,” she examined.

Terrified that she was about to tear the letter open, I snatched it off her and ran upstairs, shouting that I’d got a new pen-pal. Fortunately, my mother knew that I had pen-pals and liked to write letters, although she had failed to notice that the stamp on the envelope was British, not foreign.

I was trembling at the thought that my mother could have forced me to come out of the closet had she opened the letter. I’d convinced myself that if the family found out I was gay, I’d be homeless.

Studying the envelope closely, I was too scared to open it and placed it in the same place I’d hid my copies of Gay News – under the carpet under my bed.

Two weeks later, as I climbed into the passenger seat of a car, I was greeted with the words ‘Hi, I’m Richard. I’m a little nervous, but it’s finally good to meet you, Hugh.”

I was meeting who I thought was the first gay person in my life.

But the following day, I would be threatened again with coming out of the closet.

“Who’s car did I see you getting into yesterday?” asked Michael.

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

It was a Saturday like any other Saturday, but this one was the day my life changed forever.

A true story from Hugh.

Who was the first gay person you met?

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True Stories: Gay Memories – Going To A Gay Bar For The First Time #LGBTQI #LGBT

As a gay man, you may be surprised to hear that one of the biggest hurdles I faced was going into a gay bar for the first time.

Image showing rain on windscreen of a car on a Saturday night with blurry lights in the distance
True Stories – Going To A Gay Bar For The First Time

At 17-years-old, I was in awe of my straight mates. They’d been wandering into bars and nightclubs for the last year with the only threat of getting asked for age identification.

At 17-years-old, my straight mates were not only getting drunk most Friday and Saturday nights but were boasting about sleeping around with members of the opposite sex without any worry. Whether they’d slept with many of those they mentioned was open to debate.

At 17-years-old, it was against the law for me to sleep with a person of the same sex. If I boasted about it, I could get myself into trouble. The law stated that, for my safety, sex remained on hold until I reached 21.

Of course, I overlooked that particular part of the law. Like any red-blooded male at 17, my hormones made my brain think of little else but wanting to (putting it mildly) get laid.

By the time I reached my 19th birthday, I already had what I had considered a boyfriend. He was over the age of 21 and thought I was too.

On one particular, wet Saturday evening, I found myself sitting in my boyfriend’s car. Holding hands with him, we listened to the patter of the rain on the roof as we watched the raindrops splatter on the windscreen. For weeks, we’d both built up the courage to go to a gay bar for the first time.

The bar was out of town and miles from where we lived. However, neither of us wanted to get out of the car and walk up the steps to the bar. Instead, we both sat there trying our best to peer through the spattering of rain, trying to make out the figures going into the bar.

“It’s nice and warm in here,” I said.

“Yeah, too wet to go outside,” responded my boyfriend.

For the next half an hour, we made an excuse after an excuse as to why we should stay in the car. Even though curiosity ran through our minds of what was on the other side of the doors to the gay bar, our bodies remained fixed to seats while we continued peering at figures entering and exiting the bar.

“What if we bump into somebody in there who recognises us?” asked my boyfriend. “If there’s somebody in there from work, I could end up getting beaten up or sacked.”

Not only did those words cut me in half, but I began to worry that if the police raided the bar, my boyfriend and I would be in serious trouble because of my age.

Although at 19-years-old, it wasn’t against the law for me to go into a bar, I questioned if it was against the law for me to hold hands with another man in a public place.

Terrified of the consequences of entering a world where people would have welcomed and accepted us for who we were, we drove off and went home. Hiding who we were and how we lived our lives seemed a much safer option.

It would be months later when I talked about that night again.

“If somebody you worked with had been in that bar, wouldn’t they have been as terrified as we were at being spotted?” I asked.

“I never thought of that,” came the reply. “But it’s still a risk, isn’t it?”

Six years later, as I made my way on a coach to a new life, I left behind a boyfriend who had been secretly sleeping with another man he worked with.

Have you ever been terrified to do something or go somewhere for the first time? Please share the details in the comments section or, even better, contact me about submitting your story as a guest post.

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