Tuesday, 3 December 2013

On Coming Out

I was 19. I was busy with boys, after not having a boyfriend up until the age of 18 I was starting to date and explore the world. A good friend of mine who I had known for three years asked me out one day. We had a lovely date, and he held my hand. We went for a walk in the evening light to the park and he kissed me. It was weird. There was no real chemistry between us, our friendship was a good one but there was nothing else there, I thought.

As we sat on a park bench he started talking about his hopes for us. Marriage, good jobs, having children, growing old together, I was like "woah woah woah". This was totally strange, 0-60 in 20 seconds, he'd never really shown interest in me romantically. Anyway, he kissed me goodnight and went home. A couple of days later he came around to my parents house.

"I have something I need to tell you", he said. "It's not you, it's me". I looked at him, his face red, tears in his eyes. "I do really like you, but um....." He paused, "I like boys more".

I smiled and hugged him. I wished him well, I asked about what was happening. He had met a boy but wanted to see if he could make himself be straight. Thankfully he was quick in realising that he had to follow his heart, it could have been a lot worse.

This occasion was the second time this had happened to me, there were was one more occasion too. Young men in Tasmania felt pressured to be something other than who they were. 

You see in the early 1990's in Tasmania being gay was illegal. I remember the rhetoric well. "It isn't illegal to be gay, just anal sex is illegal". "You can be gay, just don't sleep with anyone".

Fortunately law reform happened after much blood, sweat and tears.

When the news about Tom Daley was released yesterday I felt overwhelming sadness that sexual preference is still seen by many as a very. big. deal. I was heartened that a lot of people said "who cares as long as he's happy".

I wish we lived in a world where "coming out" wasn't necessary, that everyone was free to discover their sexuality. Where sports stars felt free to just be themselves. I fear the reaction from the press in this country will impede others from living their lives true to themselves. We are yet to see a Premiership footballer "come out", stigma still looms.

This post from Simon Blake of Brook Charity is a brilliant one and I suggest you read it. 

I hope social media continues to help enable all of us to express ourselves and tell the world about our true selves. And I hope we are ready to support one another and make this easier.


  1. I had to stop and read that twice. I had no idea homosexuality (or having anal sex at least) was illegal until so recently!
    The thing about Tom Daley, I thought it was a bit "who cares" as well, but then I saw a tweet from someone who said that when he was little seeing celebrities coming out made him feel better about being gay.
    That said, it would be nice if nobody gave a crap about anyone's sexuality, celebrity or otherwise.

    1. Yep in Tasmania it was only decriminalised in 1997 after a lengthy series of court battles. It was a really horrible time and in fact a good friend of mine was the last person prosecuted under the law. Fortunately his case was thrown out as the judge considered the actions of the police unreasonable.