For most of the 24 years living on this planet, I have attempted to fit into the stereotypical norm. I grew up in a predominantly white area. I went to a leafy Catholic primary school then my Secondary school was a little rougher around the edges. Possibly due to the majority of students coming from an army background. Being mixed race, gay, thin, into dance and speaking with Received Pronunciation (thanks to my respectable family upbringing) there was a lot to pick on. So when I was teased for being a different colour, I tried to act as white as everyone. When I was called skinny, I came to dislike anyone on the slightly heavier side and became mildly depressed due my scrawny frame. When someone picked on my speaking voice I would try to add words such as “innit” or “yeah” and drop the clipped constants. Bullied for acting camp or gay? I tried hiding again by talking derogatory about girls and going out with them. Looking back, I do not think I acted straight very well. Truthfully I was awful. However, I can say these experiences have shaped me into who I am today. They have also taught me there are things you cannot and should not suppress but embrace about yourself.
Finding out my sexuality took time and it was a battle of acceptance for myself. To truly understand being gay was ok. Then for my family to grasp the idea and let it sink in.
Initially, I thought I could love without gender being an issue. This was me in denial as I knew I liked guys from a young age. But none-the-less I dated a few girls in my teens. Nothing serious until I was 18 and going out with a beautiful English, blonde hair, hazel eye girl. We dated a few months, we spent time together, we kissed and ultimately I could see how much she had fallen for me but I still felt nothing. It was all acting. Of course, my parents thought she was sweet and friends thought it was cute. But I started thinking ” I can’t do this” it felt so wrong leading someone on, to love another who might never reciprocate that love back. What if we got married? Had kids? The idea was tearing me apart so I had to split.Thankfully at that time, I had University as a reason to split. So for a time, I identified as being Asexual.
Now I went to a dance university where 80-90% of the men are gay. I still attempted the “I’m not gay” card. Stupidest idea ever. My personality was stunted. Worried that certain actions would add fuel to the jokes of being a black leather, studded closet case. It took those three years to accept and understand who I was. I was really fortunate my friends were supportive and waited for me to have the confidence to accept a part of me everyone knew I was denying.
Telling my parents was an interesting experience. I told them the day after I went to a South Asian gay discussion group. Meeting others at that event who had confronted their families about being gay, I was so empowered to stop lying to my family after the meeting ended. My Asian mother was amazing. She had been brought up with a strong western influence and participated in a lot of theatre in England she was well aware that being gay was nothing wrong. I was expecting the complete opposite from her. My English father said “Oh dear” and remained silent on the matter. Which was conversantly the opposite of what I was expecting. I imagined, my father who is English, working in London and meeting with characters from all walks of life, would be more open minded to having a gay son. I was annoyed. I did not want my father disowning me or having a broken relationship with him. I had to speak to him often about sexuality, just so he could understand this is me and I could not change. When my partner and I visit my family we still talk about the subject and my father is adjusting. He is accepting me for who I am and we are getting on with life. It was educating him that nothing had changed. Yes, I won’t get married and have children like the majority. But thankfully in this country, I have the option to marry my partner and have kids if I want. Using examples helped as well. It normalised something that was not always present.
Right now I feel fortunate. I’m glad I have the confidence to express my identity if someone questions it. I know I did not have a difficult coming out as others. However, it feels good not to live a lie. You have one life like this, it’s not worth the hassle denying who you are.