I’m gay. This has become a pretty solid part of my identity, especially over the last two years. That is not to say that being gay makes up all that I am, but my homosexuality does make up an integral part of my identity. ‘Something I’ve been figuring out and am continuing to do.
A lot of LGBT+ people can relate to the idea of being confused about one’s identity, and I’m no stranger to the trials and tribulations of that. Over the years, I’ve been figuring myself out and trying to find who I am ever since I realised I was gay. 12-year-old Catholic me realised that my fictitious wife was merely a thought, and that my true desires lay with the men on those underpants packages in that aisle in Sainsbury’s.
I joke, but figuring out I was gay was “hard to swallow” and that was multiplied by my religious upbringing. It took years for me to come out the other side and realise that what I was, was okay. Despite hating myself, wanting to hide, and fearing the worst, I eventually came to terms with myself. But the next step was trying to find out what that meant and who I was. This journey started with my coming out, a long story. A year long, to be precise.
I first came out to a group of friends. It was very emotional. They didn’t care, but for me it was a release. Over the next few months I slowly came out to more friends until mostly everyone I cared about at school knew. Word started to get round and eventually I was outed to my sister. This person decided to use my sexuality against her and I was just caught in the crossfire. After I got through that it was time for university, where I really started to realise my identity.
I started university shy and held back. I had my first fling with a boy and it taught me to express myself. It taught me to be who I want and that sometimes those things can hurt, but that pain is worth being yourself. I started experimenting with nail varnish and started to act more naturally, by being more feminine. For years I’d played the “straight” guy. When I realised the nail varnish was fun I used it less, saving it for times when I felt like it. My identity became a kind of game, I’d try things and whether they felt right or not they taught me something.
Coming out to my parents was emotional, but it made me realise that being scared just holds you back and there’s no time for that. I made the decision then that I’d face everything head first.
After that, I grew more confident, I made more friends, a large majority being LGBT+. I was afraid of being myself and still being rejected because if someone didn’t like my true self there was nothing to hide behind. So I started playing into stereotypes, I became the typical feminine gay and acted in ways I knew people expected me to act. I slowly started falling back into a closet of sorts. I’m not saying being extremely feminine is bad, but for me it wasn’t who I was and I hid behind a stereotype because being myself was scary again.
Since realising this, I’ve tried my hardest to be open and real. My identity is complex and I know that, but by being myself I find out more about my identity each day.
I may not be 100% sure of who I am yet, but I am sure that I will be one day.