Gay Pride was not born out of a need to celebrate being gay, but instead our right to exist without prosecution. So maybe instead of wondering why there isn’t a Straight Pride month or movement, straight people should be thankful they don’t need one.
— L.Z. Granderson, “Why isn’t there Straight Pride month”
So this post is going to be mainly about my experiences coming out and discovering myself. I’m going to give some background into Section 28 in a moment. Remember to feel free to join the comments below if you wish.
I am actually writing this on my phone while I’m on holiday. I was supposed to finish this last week but I didn’t manage to finish in time. I don’t know whether I’ll publish this from my phone while I’m here or whether I’ll do it when I get home. So I’m sorry for any mistakes in advance.
Grab your favourite iced coffee and let’s begin.
So Section 28 was part of the Local Government Act 1988, it prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities. Thankfully this was repealed in 2000 in Scotland (on my 1st birthday) and 2003 in England & Wales (I was 4 at the time).
Luckily this law wasn’t in place while I was in school, however the affects of the law can still be seen today in the LGBTQ+ community.
I included this in this post because, despite the law being in the last years, it was still in place during my childhood. Section 28 has shaped the community into what it is today and also has shaped the way the community is perceived by the greater population. I would expect, should the law have never been in place, that the UK would be a more inclusive place than it currently is. However, that could just be wishful thinking.
Okay, so there isn’t a huge amount to say for my primary school experience. I mean, who really knows who they are in primary?
It was pretty painless, it wasn’t until year 6 that I was called “gay” for the first time. I had never heard the word before and didn’t know the meaning behind it, I’m pretty sure that the other student didn’t know the meaning either.
So in my Junior school, we did sex ed in years 5 & 6. Although these were basic “your body is changing” lessons. Unfortunately, they didn’t say “your body is changing, and you are going to question every interaction you ever had” because that’s exactly what I did a few short years after.
Quite literally actually, when I was first trying to figure out what my label should be I looked at my primary school interactions. From my feelings for my best friend from primary to my “girlfriends” in primary. Guess who I felt a stronger connection with? You’d be correct if you said my male best friend.
Obviously it was quite literally only who I had a stronger connection with, who I really felt like I should have dated. There wasn’t anything much stronger there because of how young we were but it still came back to me in everything single identity crisis I’ve had so far. That’s saying something because I have had quite a few.
So this section will cover my first two years (7 & 8) of secondary education when I was 11-13.
So in my secondary school we had something called an “Anti-bullying squad”, these were students that were trained to deal with issues surrounding bullying. We were rated one of the best schools due to the low levels of bullying, however I’m unsure of how many incidents actually went reported.
As every secondary school in England, we also had the “Some people are blank. Get over it!” signs from Stonewall. I don’t believe that these made any difference whatsoever. I still received homophobic comments and such regardless.
Okay so we’ve already touched on some of my secondary education but now queue the start of my identity crises. So I started noticing boys more in around year 9 but I tried to ignore it the best that I could. I wasn’t quite sure how my parents would handle it. I had a pretty good guess that my father would attack me for it and then disown me. My mother never really expressed her views so I didn’t know how she would handle it. I mean, I could still like girls. Right?
At the age of 14, I had my first and only proper girlfriend. I don’t exactly know what to really say about this. It lasted over two months (somehow my longest relationship) and it ended because her friend said that I had been flirting with her in PE. Obviously that wasn’t the case at all. We are fine now but don’t really have much contact but there was a while where we were yo-yoing between being friends and hating each other.
Shortly after that relationship was my first coming out. I had come out as bi, and my ex knew and was fine with it. I figured that if I was bi, I could just like women and not disappoint my family. Then queue up my first relationship with a man. I do mean man, I was 14 and he was 34. I’d definitely not recommend doing that at all, it ended with the police at my house after the school was informed. Oops. I’m not going to go much into detail about that at all. Not that I can give many details, I can’t remember much between that time and shortly after. I managed to block a lot of it out. It was all online, which I suppose is better than in person.
At 15, I had my first boyfriend that I actually met in person. He lasted about two months. Sometime between the ‘incident’ and this boyfriend I had realised that I could never be with a girl so came out as gay. Anyway back to this boyfriend, he was 14 and in the year below me at the other secondary school in my area. They were kind of our rival school and we both had bad nicknames for the other school because of this. He broke up with me and gave the reason of “we didn’t have the same sort of feelings for each other”. Which is partially true, he kept asking me if I would do certain things with him. This started my next identity crisis.
Was I asexual? I know now that no I’m not, or at least not completely. My asexual label was kind of short lived because then I switched to demisexual/demihomosexual.
I had to come out to my mother a grand total of 4 times, the first I was on the park and was getting attacked by a group of students from a lower year group to me. They had stolen my phone and texted my mother from it coming out to her. The message that I received back was “I always knew”, at the time I hated that reply. What if my father also knew? Was I being that obvious? Anyway, I sent her a text back saying “piss off”. Not exactly the best reaction but she let it go when she saw that my clothes had been ripped somehow. Although, she wanted to know exactly what had happened when I really didn’t want to talk about it. The second time was after she caught me watching something. The third and fourth times were really just her checking that I hadn’t changed my mind. In a couple of them she was blaming the person from the ‘incident’ for turning me.
So for the benefit of anyone reading from somewhere other than the UK. We start college when we leave school, which is at 16 years old. Depending upon what grades you receive in your GCSEs depends on what level you start at. You can go to 6th form as an alternative.
So I did manage to get into another relationship in my first year of college but it only lasted a week. They then realised that they were straight afterwards.
Shortly after this relationship I decided that I didn’t like labels, or coming out each time I decided that I was something different from before. I decided to tell a couple of my friends this. One of them was perfectly okay with this, the other who identified as bi was not. His reasoning was that labels help us make sense of the world and helps us decide who to date. The friend who was perfectly fine with it then agreed with him.
I kept going by as gay, even though I never really felt a connection with the label and it was causing an internal struggle with my Identity every time I found an exception. I have never felt that any label was “close enough” to how I feel.
I started working after a year at college as an apprentice. My workplace has never really been good with inclusivity and I didn’t want anyone to know my sexuality. This was due to the fact that one of my uncles from my father’s side of the family was the director of this company. The entirety of his family are very homophobic.
The other apprentice that they had hired was doing the same level college course as me and on the same days, so I felt like it was best for him to know the situation so that I didn’t get cast out of the family.
A year after I started working there, I found out that pretty much all of my colleagues had figured out that I wasn’t straight and I had been branded by them as gay. One of them had even said to me “it isn’t exactly like you are trying to keep it a secret” but I was. I didn’t want any of them to know. I started to panic, what if my uncle found out? Although, even to this point I’m unsure as to whether he knows.
To my surprise, everyone was fine with my sexuality. One of my colleagues throws words around that people would consider to be homophobic towards me but I did actually say that it was okay for her to do that. It doesn’t bother me at all for her to do it even though it would make some people uncomfortable.
I have actually started to question my gender in the past year or so, which is where the issues at work start to come in. Not that they know, the only person that I have really told is a friend in Canada.
Since starting to question another part of my identity, I decided that the best way to continue for me and my mental health is not to label myself. It is far too restrictive for me to be me. I’ve started explaining to people that “Soy yo” or “I am me” and not elaborating on it.
So now comes my final words! I hope that you have all enjoyed my ramblings and identity crises. I know I touched on a tough subject but didn’t go into detail to lessen the impact on people who have been through a similar thing. Remember that help is always available if you need it.
I wanted this to be a brief overview so far, I may do future posts about things in general but won’t be touching on the ‘incident’ again at all.
So one thing that I have learned is that you can change your label as many times as you like and it doesn’t diminish your journey. If someone questions why you have changed your label so many times and cannot understand it, they are probably not worth your time. Your identity is a complex subject to put a label on, if you want to put a label on it. For some people, like me, a label is just not a good way to go.
Until next time!