I said, “No,” while turning bright red.
He said, “It’s ok, I know loads of gay people.”
I looked at him and he stopped talking. I just wasn’t ready for that and my look must have said that.
One Saturday, I was talking way with a guy when I asked him what his plans were for the weekend. He told me his plans for the day and then muttered under his breath so I was the only one to hear, “I’m going to The George tonight with friends”.
Feeling a lot more comfortable in my own skin and aware that he had shared something important with me, I acknowledged it and we had a chat in code so neither he nor I would feel under the spotlight as there were a few people around. It was a surprising feeling of freedom!
A few years later, a long-term customer was in with me and we were chatting away. There was no one else in the shop when he asked if my partner was male or female. This guy is straight, married, 20 years older than me, and someone I like so I answered honestly. He’s interested in gay rights or the lack of, we have some interesting conversations.
I haven’t come out at work to my customers per se but I have been honest with anyone who asked once I learnt to be comfortable with myself. The rumours have gone around and you know you’ve reached the point when there is no need to come out when 2 teenaged boys walk by the open door saying, “I’m not going in there, she’s a lesbian.”
I had wondered how to tell my parents that I was gay. I had conversations with myself in my mind about how I was going to do it, what I would say, where I would tell them. I had gone over so many scenarios that I had driven myself mad! I wrote my concerns over and over in a diary that I hid in my bedroom. What would they say, how would they feel, would they accept me for who I am?
There was an argument going on in the sitting room. I was in my bedroom, staying well out-of-the-way as it was between my mother and my brother. They have a very close relationship and i don’t recall them ever having such a serious disagreement!
My brother was very heated over something and eventually stormed out of the sitting room. He came up to my room, sat on the bed and told me what was happening.
His friend Mark wanted him to go to The George, a gay bar in the city. My brother had no problem with that and he had mentioned it to our Mam. Well she freaked out!
There was no way he was going to a gay bar, why would he want to go there, there will be dirty old men crawling all over him, it wouldn’t be a good environment to be in, etc, etc. He really wanted to be supportive to his friend and even though he was 18, an adult and legally allowed to drink, he wanted Mam to understand why he was doing this. He asked me to speak to Mam and try to explain to her.
I headed down to the sitting room, Mam was sitting watching TV. I asked her why she had a problem with Bob going to the George. She told me that she didn’t want gay old men leaching all over him. I tried to explain that it wasn’t like that, that it was just like any other pub except with a gay twist, that they weren’t going to see him as fresh meat! So we started arguing about it. Then the unexpected happened.
“Why do you care? You’re not gay, are you?”
I could tell by her face that as soon as she said those words, she knew what the answer was.
I answered her with silence, just looking at her.
Damn it, it wasn’t meant to happen this way, in the middle of an argument over my brother! I sat there looking at my mother with tears streaming down her face, not knowing what to say. Everything that I had planned in my head had just been thrown out of the window in a split second.
I got up, went outside for a cigarette and left my mother in tears in the sitting room wondering what in the hell had just happened.
Around the time I began my coming out process, one of my teenaged brother’s friends confided in him, telling him that he was gay. When I asked how he felt about that he replied, ” he’s still the same Mark, still the same person!”.
I have never been prouder of my brother. I work with teenagers, and I know how hurtful they can be to each other, how easily the “gay” taunt is used without thought or feeling. Hell they’re teens, that’s the way they are!
I had only told one close friend at this point and I wasn’t ready to tell my family but sometimes you have no control over these things.
A couple of weeks later my brother and I were walking up to the local pub when he turned to me and said, “Mark said he thinks you’re gay.”
Stunned, I just replied ” I am.”
Keeire’s little brother is still pretty cool.
Today we have a coming out story from another Irish woman, who came out many years ago and is now married with cats & dog.
Coming out to myself was much easier than coming out to those I love. I had dealt with things fairly quickly but dragged my heels when it came to telling the people in my life. My worst nightmare was telling someone and have that person turn their back on me because of my sexuality.
I had reached the point were I needed to tell someone. I decided to come out to a very close friend first, a friend who I knew I could trust and who I hoped would help me on my journey. I chose someone who had been one of my best friends for years and who still is one of my best friends. Someone I loved and respected. Someone who is one of those people that everyone should have in their lives. I knew she would stand beside me, hold my hand, tell me to keep my head up and just be there for me 100%.
I chose Amy.
Once I decided this I needed to get it over with quickly before I changed my mind, so I asked Amy if she would like to go to see a football match that was being played in the next town over. Neither of us had any interest in the football match but it would give us the time to be alone to chat.
I collected her the following evening and we drove in silence to the game. I parked up, turned the engine off and swung around in my seat so I was facing her. For the next 10 minutes we spoke about everything except what I really wanted to talk about. Then the uncontrollable tears….
When Amy grabbed my hand and asked me if I was pregnant, my tears turned to laughter!
“No! I’m gay.”
“Oh. Is that all? Well give me a hug and lets go for a drink and celebrate!”
And we did just that!
Amy was my strength, my shoulder to cry on and she gave me the kick in the ass that I needed in order to get my new life on track. Amy is also the reason why I was in the George (gay bar in Dublin) that night, the night I discovered love at first sight does exist.