Friday, 20 February 2009

Three little words... I am gay

A couple of days ago, a new person started at work. He was joining me in a meeting on Tuesday and so, as I was driving and due to where he lives, it made sense for him to meet me at my house. When we were leaving, the conversation went something like:

Him: "Are you married?"
Me: "Virtually... as good as"
Him: "What does your other half do?"
Me: "Financial services – travelling around a bit"

I then changed the subject.

I had done something that I used to do and had stopped long ago... I dodged the gay topic and purposefully omitted the word “he”. I should, and would normally have said:

Him: "Are you married?"
Me: "Virtually... as good as – but it's a civil partnership for the likes of us"
Him: "What does your other half do?"
Me: "He works in financial services – travelling around a bit."

I would usually have done this, making it easy for them to see the situation and being honest with myself - so why did I not come clean?

As background: I worked on coming out for a long time. I was comfortable with my sexuality and didn't want to live a lie, so I dealt with it – telling friends and family in a well planned assault! It was a huge weight off my shoulders (if you want the full story, I can bore you with it one day). I cant say that I have ever been that confident in life and saying “I am gay” has never been easy, but I dealt with it. So why do I seem to be struggling with those 3 words again? I thought I had got over it.

I was "out" in my last job and had no problems and it made life so much easier. In fact, considering the number of 20something lads I worked with, me being gay was surprisingly never an issue. I was aided by my fellow gay boys JJ and Andrew which made it a bit easier I suppose. I am not your average gay guy - I don't like Kylie (that's Pete's job), I drink beer and I like football. I don't think I am an easy one to spot! Maybe that's part of the problem and I should camp it up a bit!!!

In my defence, I wasn't planning to come out at work - it's a very big organisation and I don't work closely with many people. I haven't needed to come out and with a few homophobic "jokes" at team meetings, I figured that I would avoid the subject for an easy life. My decision appears to have been a mistake as those people I do work with on a regular basis don't know the real me - a lie is a lie.

I've never been good at bringing "it" up in conversation, but recently telling people I am gay seems to be more difficult. Nothing has changed in my life, so why this mental block? I have no intention of going back to the days of living in the closet as being "out" is far far easier to handle (there is a enough crap to deal with being gay and living in the closet is just one extra piece of stress). So, after thinking that I had dealt with coming out long ago, here I am again having to face up to my own inadequacies. I need make a positive change here, so watch this space... I have a plan to sort this!

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  1. Coming out has changed me. It’s weird to say it, but it’s true. My confidence has grown and YOU should try to remember back to when you first came out and how you felt – use those feelings to solve this current situation. But remember no-one is forcing you to come out at work, so don’t feel pressured.

  2. Hi Stephen

    So nice of you to stop by my blog. Thank you for your compliments :)

    Unfortunately coming out is a daily process. There's always someone new to come out to.

    But I have found that confidence makes a world of difference.

    When I first came out in a job, I told people in a shy away, almost as if I was apologizing and saying it at the same time.

    People sense that insecurity and use it against you to be judgmental and critical.

    So in future jobs, I simply said it as if it were no big deal. I was confident and nonchalant about it. By doing it that way, it made them look stupid if they tried to make a big deal about it.

    You almost have to say it like it's an afterthought. "Oh yeah, by the way, I like guys."

    When I did things the old way (being shy and insecure), people had problems with me being gay. But when I approached it with confidence, I never had one problem. And if somebody didn't like it, they never said it to my face.

    I hope that helps. It was very nice of you to ask me for my feedback on your situation. I hope my advice helps!

    (On a sidenote, enjoy playing with your foreskin, you lucky guy! haha)



  3. I have recently come out to my close friends and have accepted the fact that I'm gay. However, I don't feel the need to go around introducing myself and then telling them "I'm gay." If they find out, then cool. As my friend Barry told me when I was first coming out to my friends, being gay is just another part of me. Like I'm asian, I have black hair, I like TV, I'm gay, I have perfect teeth :P But do I need to broadcast EVERY single thing about me to everyone? not really.

    So you're a guy that likes beer and football that also happens to be gay. If it comes up in conversation, then ok, let them know. If it doesn't, then no big deal. And I think in the case of you and your new co-worker, I think it's perfectly fine not to have mentioned the pronoun. You're not lying. You're just not sharing every single detail of your life with him.

    I guess I'm trying to say, don't be so hard on yourself... And sorry if I babbled and didn't make any sense whatsoever.

  4. It wasn’t until I came out that I realised how unhappy I was with myself. I would set deadlines to tell my parents and those deadlines would pass and that would make me feel even worse. I was living a lie and although I thought I was coping, it was a shit situation and depressing. I had a boyfriend who in the end got fed up with having to sneak around because I had to hide the relationship. Coming out was the best thing I have ever done, even knowing that my dad thinks very little of me, it’s his problem.

    You dont need to worry about work as you have done the hard part already.

  5. I know exactly what you mean. I think everyone in our situation does this from time to time. I am not sure it is just a gay issue though. I think you are allowed to have things that sometimes you just don't want to talk about with everyone. Even when they are quite public. I think you are allowed to choose what you say, and you did not lie.

    It can create awkwardness, but thats life. Bryn x

  6. I'm not sure if any of us every truly arrive at "it." The point at which we count ourselves as completely 100% all together. I see myself slip in and out of many things in life....some days being better than others. But in as many ways as I slip "back," I also slip "forward" in many other ways. I'm never embarassed and rarely shy. I'll make a better effort at "I am gay" if you will. Promise.

  7. As a straight I can't talk about coming out but as someone with a real distaste for homophobia I can say I'm tired of battling homophobes online who have no issue with bandying around offensive nonsense.

  8. Daniel - wise words as always. Therefore, you are an honourary gay boy for the day!

  9. Here is the thread where homophobia has been thrown around left right and centre, it stemmed from Pagan Temple suggesting that gay men fancy him (as a straight) and that they are very promiscuous and think that AIDS/HIV was invented by the government to kill homosexuals.

    I'd start at the end and read backwards re: comments.

    135 missives of total bullshit.


  10. That site is pretty heavy going Daniel! But worth a read.

  11. Hello Stephen

    I stumbled across your blog today and i find what you say applying to me as well.

    Like you i am a hard one to spot, untill i was 26 i didnt know what the meaning of fabulous was..
    I like beer, heavy metal music (long hair beards ,beers and flees the whole set)
    I was out with all of my sets of friends even though in my hangouts i always ended up being the only gay in the village.
    I always brought it up when there was a talk about chicks or sex in general.. or whenever my male friends commented on a girls ass i would comment on the hunky waiter even if it shocked them at start they came to terms with it seeign i wasn't shy to make a comment like that, and didnt make a fuss about it.
    And when at work someone made small talk about their girlfriend i would as easily make small talk about my boyfriend.
    But there has been occasions when someone would inquire if i had a girlfriend i would find my self pressed against a wall while trying to utter "I am gay"
    The slight sweaty palms, the shiver in the spine and a set of shaky knees making me feel 16, again coming out for the first time.
    I guess its the everyday brush with other people in the street, the denial of my mother, or the TV homophobes that rekindle that fear of saying "i am gay" to a total stranger.
    Cause those are symptoms of fear.
    And no matter how cool or nonchalant we are about our sexuality we feel there are 3 billion people outhere with a gun pointed at our heads waiting for those 3 words to pull the trigger.
    Or in a lighter/freudian version those 3 words making our mother collapse in tears once more.

  12. I came out when I was still a teen, completely and utterly. I didn't just come out of the closet, I ran head first out of it, with bright neon yellow and orange socks (yes - they were in fashion then!)

    I said to myself back then, I aint never going back in there, and that's the way it's pretty much stayed. With every job, I've coming out in pretty much the same way as you, just by dropping in to conversation that I go out/seeing/dating/canoodling/snogging/shagging a bloke. It's never been an issue. Although, working at an airline, a holiday company and then radio stations and then back to travel, I was the 'only gay in the village' which must have made it easier.

    But, when I went to the States, met up with Matt and checked in to the hotel, the receptionist, told me how well I had bought up my son! I just smiled and laughed, I didn't correct her and inform her that he was not, my son, but my boyfriend. I have no idea why I didn't I just didn't.

    You must do what is right for yourself at work, it's not easy. The way I reason it to myself is, I'm gay, 24/7, I'm not only gay after 5pm and before 9am - or gay only on the weekends, but all the time, and if they don't like it, well tough, we can only change the world one gay at a time.

    Sorry, I've rambled on for so long now that my beard has gone even greyer!

  13. So I haven't read the other comments before mine, sorry if anything sounds repeated.

    But perhaps you're being a little hard on yourself. You shouldn't feel like you have to come out to everyone - it's just one part of you. It's not like you have to reveal every detail to everyone.

    Perhaps you should just come out to people who you're close to. It doesn't sound like you're particularly close to your co-workers or this guy you were talking with, so should it even matter that much? Hard for me to say.

  14. I ran into someone I knew before I came out, someone who was out then and who inspired me to come out myself. When I told him that, he was utterly shocked... But it showed me that we have no idea how much of an impact our actions have on others until much later, if ever.

  15. Same thing for me really - two guys I dont even have contact with now had come out (Christian and Simon) and it really made me consider my position. I did the deed within days!

  16. Hi stephen,

    it isnt a lie when u don't tell strangers all about urself. if u need to feel guilty, feel it only if u think that being gay would make u treat them any differently than if u were heterosexual.

    isn't that logic simple and practical?

    We feel it is our duty to give others clarity about ourselves to the extent the occasion requires, but if what u say just provokes ignorant ideas to come into play, why why do it at all?