I’m writing here, not to advise, not to tell you what to do, but to share what I’ve been through and how I coped through what I can safely call the toughest year of my life. Sometimes I feel that my issues haven’t gone away but nevertheless, I feel that I’m in a comfortable enough position to be writing this – why should mental illnesses have a stigma? Would it be such a big deal if I was writing about my recovery after breaking a leg? This is only society’s problem and I’m going to take my first step to changing this.
Last August, I came out to my mother as gay. It was the scariest moment of my life and still is but I was lucky enough to have her support and acceptance. I’d been trying to deny my feelings, block out the thoughts and even tried to make myself feel an attraction to girls. I realise how much of a mistake this was now. Those feelings were never going to go away and despite my efforts, I could never change my sexuality. When you can look into the mirror and say to yourself, ‘I’m gay’, then you’ve accepted yourself which is in my opinion, an even larger deal than coming out to someone else. Because I managed to come out to everyone I know but I still feel uncomfortable whenever I say the word ‘gay’, or whenever I think about my own sexuality. There shouldn’t be a rush to tell someone if you’re not ready. My mum coaxed it out of me and if she didn’t do that, I think I would probably still be in the closet!
That was a massive relief coming out to my mum and I thought that all the depression that I’d been experiencing for half a year would automatically go away. I couldn’t accept myself and when rumours began to spread at school, I would always be worried when I went out in public. I felt that everyone could just look right through me and determine my sexuality and for someone that was so afraid of how my friends would react, and whether or not I would be attacked in public (luckily not so far!), I almost became paranoid.
I came out to my friends in December of that year and almost immediately, the self-consciousness began. I went to the point where I was practising my walk and trying to restrict my hand gestures and change my voice because I felt that they immediately told everyone that I was gay. Because I was still not happy with it, I felt that I had to change myself so I could be happier with myself. By that point, I didn’t have any friends that would really be comfortable if I acted myself so I spent a couple of months like that.
There was nothing that really helped me slowly accept who I was, only time and after a year, I feel that I haven’t really made that much progress, despite what my mum has been telling me. Some nights, I feel almost angry that it was me out of forty people (if the statistics are correct), that had to be gay. I don’t see it as a strength and I still try to distance myself from it. Perhaps I have stopped trying to be more masculine and act more like myself but still, I feel like I am putting on a brave face whenever I leave the safety of my room. Eventually, I’ll feel differently but if I was given a choice, between being gay and straight, then I would undoubtedly choose to be straight. Life would be so much easier for me and I would be so much happier.
I managed to find quite a few people who were more supportive and more accepting of the real me which really helped although I’ve never actually met a gay person my age which is really demoralising and sometimes I feel like there is no-one to relate to and that while other people may have problems that they are trying to overcome, mine is truly unique and a lot of people don’t understand.
Insensitivity at my school as well as the occasional joke and wildly inappropriate remark really make me doubt if life will be easy in a supposedly ‘more accepting’ world. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that, yes, life will be difficult; I will likely be single until I’m at university since I’ve met no-one so far; and that I will always have to deal with people for the rest of my life.
But if I think positively, I am living my own life finally, without having to conform to what society thinks is normal and I know what things will get better. I’m just tired of hearing that ‘It’s bad now, but it will be better in the future’. I have no patience and I simply want to skip forward 4 years into the future and hope that life is easier and more natural, without the false pretences and the fear of being judged every minute.
Nevertheless, I feel that I am one of the luckier ones, having grown up in an accepting household. From my experiences, I have learned that whenever I have a problem, it just makes it that much easier to talk to someone. Whether it be someone you trust or someone online, for example, a Childline counsellor, you don’t have to carry that burden yourself. It helps to surround yourself with people that you feel comfortable around. With some of my new friends, I am much happier and freer in that there’s nothing that I need to be worried about when I’m around them anymore. Finally, actively search for someone that you can relate to. LGBT youth in the UK are remarkably underrepresented and I feel like they don’t have a voice. It forced me to bottle up my problems which I should never have had to do.