I’d always been a tomboy. I grew up with 5 brothers and 1 sister (I’m also the youngest), and my dad was all about ‘the sports’ so we’d often be playing football, rugby, and quite a bit of cricket.
When I reached secondary school I really started to notice my feelings towards girls. I’d experienced these feelings before but I hadn’t known what they were, how to identify them.
I grew up in a really dodgy part of Yorkshire in England. It wasn’t a place one would ever identify as a ‘safe space’. It always felt like the whole town was… stuck. There wasn’t any art or culture, no diversity, and there certainly weren’t any (out) gay people. At least none that I can remember.
There wasn’t much to do in my town so as teenagers, me and my friends would end up drinking on the streets. I would only ever talk about my feelings when I was drunk and NEVER with anyone else, only ever to myself. I’d sit there and say “you’re not a lesbian. You’re not a lesbian!”
I did NOT want to stand out, I didn’t want to be different. When I was 14, a girl in the year below me had been outed and her life was made a living hell. No way was I going to do that to myself. So I kept telling myself that I wasn’t gay, that I’d meet the perfect boy and all those feelings would melt away thanks to his chiselled jaw and amazing magical penis.
Anyways, eventually I got out of that town and at 18 went to University. On my very first day, the very first person I spoke to was a super smiley friendly girl named Rachel. We immediately clicked and became instant best friends. But uh-oh, those pesky feelings were bubbling up again!
I ramped up my efforts to find the magical penis that drives off any lesbian tendencies. Personally, I found it pretty gross. And rather boring.
After about 4 months mine and Rachel’s friendship blossomed into something else. And it was MIND BLOWING! The first time we were together it was like my whole body was suddenly awake. Every touch, every sensation was just utterly amazing (I’m being super gushy, sorry). I was DEFINITELY a lesbian.
It wasn’t easy sailing though. Rachel and I had quite a few ups and downs in the beginning. I’d finally accepted my feelings to myself and to Rachel, but my fear of people finding out I was gay was still firmly in place. That fear meant that I, at times, ended up hurting Rach. She wasn’t out either but she handled everything with a great deal more grace and elegance than I ever did.
Over time, as our fledgling romance deepened, we found the courage to come out to our friends. They were very loving and supportive which was a huge relief. I was terrified my best friend from home would be horrified and disown me, but her reaction was so far from it! Which is also silly because I’d known her since we were 6 years old, she was never going to push me away! But I suppose that’s why the fear intensifies when having to tell the most important people in your life – the idea of losing someone you love that much is a hard thing to shake off.
Rachel came out to her parents after about 6 months. Again, they were very accepting and welcomed me with open arms. When Rach was back home and I’d go to stay with them, not having to hide our relationship was such a weight off. We were even allowed to sleep in the same bed… Get in!! 😀
My coming out to my mum took just a little bit longer. Rach and I had been together almost a year. It was Christmas in the second year of uni and Rach was going back to her parents and I to mine. My brother came to pick me up and saw me saying a very soppy goodbye to my ‘best friend’. Over the 20 minute car journey he finally asked me “are you two a couple?”. The word “yes” sat in my throat for what felt like a lifetime. I eventually managed to push it out and then waited for the repercussions…
The smile on my brother’s face was the most relieving thing in the whole wide world. We talked, we laughed, I *nearly* cried (I’m not very good with emotions). Problem was, now my brother knew, it meant I had to tell my mum.
My mum is a very intelligent woman with some interesting views, shall we say. She had gay friends when I was in my teens, but she always called them ‘queers’ and not in the positive way. In a nutshell, I was sh*tting it.
I spent the whole of the two week Christmas break hovering, trying to blurt out “I’m a giant lesbian!”. I almost said it after watching ‘Bend Is Like Beckham’ after the whole confusion where Keira Knightley’s mum thinks she’s a lesbian. I took a deep breath, had the words ready, and said “right, I’m off to bed then”. Fail.
The last morning before going home I went and sat on my mum’s bed to talk to her. I still couldn’t do it. My mum threw me a lifeline though – “is there something you want to tell me? I feel like you’ve been hovering”. I got under her duvet, covered my face, heart pounding through my chest, lump in my throat, “me and Rach are an item”. Head between legs, fingers in ears, wait for the eruption…
“I know. I heard you call her ‘sweetheart’ on the phone. I didn’t ask because I wanted you to tell me in your own time”. And just like that, my mum knew I was gay and my world didn’t end. I even got a call from my gran telling me I was still the same person, and “we talk to ’em (gay people) don’t we!” She was trying to be sweet so I let that go.
My mum took it well initially but still had her own struggles with me coming out, mainly because she had plans for me to have a strapping young husband to do her DIY. She got there in the end though.
Rachel and I have now been together for 16 years and our 12th Wedding anniversary is in May. We have a 6 year old son and live a very happy ‘out’ existence. That smiley girl, the very first person a shy me spoke to at Uni, became the love of my life.
Apologies for the huge essay.
Final note though – if I’ve learned anything in my 34 years, it’s love who you love and live your best life for you.
Stay kind beautiful people.