|I am 24 years old and I have lived in Brent all my life. There is no particular thought or memory that springs to mind as to when I knew I was gay. It was always there. I guess I could say there was no sudden realisation, no particular suggestion or idea that 'made' me gay; I believe I was born gay.
A good place to begin sharing my experience of growing up gay would be when I was 11 years old. I had recently begun secondary school and definitely knew that I was different from most of the other boys and probably knew this was due to the fact that I was gay and they were straight. I felt that I wasn't equal and that they had a right to treat me differently to them. I did have two good friends, both male, but I didn't feel that I could be discussing this with them. Something just told me it had to be secret. I had no-one to share my secrets with or my feelings with, I was scared of what I was and certainly not ready to accept it or embrace it. I felt totally isolated from everyone, which made me very nervous and depressed.
My personality and character seemed to change almost overnight. I could see it happening. All these feelings took their toll and by the age of the 12 or 13 I was feeling very depressed and self-destructive due to a low self- esteem. I was smoking regularly and experimenting with drugs when I could and never really worried about the consequences. This was also attempt to impress my peers as I was being bullied quite a lot, mainly racists and homophobic comments but frequently violent. This was of course, not invisible and was surely noticed by the teachers in my school but it was basically ignored. One occasion involved a teacher when she found me wandering around after a particular bad experience and had to talk to someone. She excused me from my first class and the next day she gave a lecture to the whole class about not bullying me. Unsurprisingly, a one-off didn't help; I just became more of a target and still had little or no support against the racism and homophobia.
The only things that kept me going were my family and two best friends. My friends were also being bullied by kids in their class, so they understood what I was going through but I could never get information about being gay, or whether there were support groups for people like me. Therefore there was no available source for me to vent my feelings and anxieties. This soon caused stress and panic in me, which (to a lesser extent) I sometimes suffer from even now.
For appearance sake I did have a few girlfriends at school and often. It was nice, but I never felt comfortable or right with them. The relationship would usually break up within a few months. I also had a few brief sexual experiences with boys, often while I was seeing a girl; but that really never occurred to me at the time as I would repress these experiences as soon as they happened. The sexual encounters ended abruptly in my mid-teens due to the extreme amount of guilt it caused me afterwards and wouldn't even talk to these people about how I felt even if they tried. I would tell myself that eventually the feelings would pass if I didn't encourage them.
For years I have feared that I probably had HIV because sex with other men was the main way of contracting it and there was very little sex education at school. The only time I remember when homosexuality was mentioned was in a religious education lesson. We are taught that homosexuality was a mortal sin, equal to murder in the eyes of God. 1 was 14 years old...
Nothing really changed until I was 16 when one of my friends told me he was gay. I was shocked but I also felt so relieved that I almost told him about myself but I wasn't quite ready. I just told him it was a
Okay by me. Within a couple of weeks my other best friends came out. I was dumfounded but this time, I was ready and I told them both that I was gay. I felt like such a weight was off my shoulders. Imagine all those years of secrecy and my two closest friends were gay too! You would probably think that with these revelations things would be better, and you would be right. I felt great to be able to talk to people about how I felt, but it wasn't completely over. The bullying continued but gradually became a lot less frequent but I had a new challenge to face... the gay scene (bars and clubs specifically for gay men and woman usually situated in the city centre).
My older sister inadvertently introduced me to be a gay club when I was 16 years old. I was quite mature for my age and could get into pubs and clubs with no problem. She had a friend who thought he may be gay and she would go to gay clubs with him. Still I hadn't told her I was gay but a few more of my friends knew and we went out as a group one night, my sister, her friends and my friends. We went to the club and I enjoyed myself. I started going regularly with my friend but there was a bad side to it as well. It became obvious to me that any attention we were getting was because we were so young. A couple of my friends got involved in what you could say were abusive relationships. I still wasn't totally comfortable about having sex and didn't get involved with someone until later. My friends inevitably were dumped after a while and we all became stronger and more aware, but I believe that had I known more gay people or had the benefit of an older, more mature person's experiences I would not have made the mistakes I did. It certainly would have been a great help when I was feeling lonely and wanted other people to talk to.
I believe the best way to support young gay men, bisexuals and lesbians is to have organised youth groups for us to go to. They provide information that would otherwise not be available, advice on any problem issues and generally create a safe environment for young people to meet other people like themselves. 1 certainly think that it would have been a great benefit to me as a young person, and if it helps anyone who finds themselves in similar situations it is definitely a worthwhile cause.
|Top of this page||Copyright © 2008-2013 Mosaic Youth