“The first time I met another gay person I broke out in a cold sweat.”

October 10, 2011

in Articles, Personal

This article was originally written for a private zine about coming out experiences, and has now been published on LiberateYourself.co.uk.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt

...this is quite nice.

You know, I was writing my CV today and as I was looking it over, I realised it was quite, um, gay. “Coordinator, LGBT WikiProject”, “Delegate, NUS LGBT Conference”, “Bi rep, UMSU LGBT”. I spent a brief moment thinking that maybe, maybe it would be a bad idea to go around announcing my sexuality to any potential employer looking. Our society’s pretty down with people like me, but there’s still plenty of homophobia going around. So I thought about it for a second. And then I thought, “Yeah, fuck them”, and kept gaying up my CV. It’s like the Graham Norton of CVs now.

Because what’s my life worth if I can’t actually live it? I’ve done my time in the closet. I had my lightbulb moment when I was 14 when I fell for my best friend – she was mildly homophobic, I was in an all girls’ school where I was bullied quite a lot. I subsequently spent three miserable years trying to hide that fact from her and everyone else. I knew I was one of millions of LGBT people, I knew that teenager-falls-for-same-sex-best-friend is nothing new, but that’s really all besides the point when you’re the only one you know, you know? The first time I met another gay person I broke out in a cold sweat. The first time I came out on a message board, I realised a friend had once used the same message board, freaked out and spammed fifty other forums so that one post wouldn’t show up on my account if she had happened to look at it. Sometimes, I literally struggled to breathe.

Harvey Milk Memorial Bench

'If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.' - Harvey Milk

But, “it gets better”. Someone outed me in my final year at school and I felt so relieved. I went to university and walked past the LGBT stall with my flatmate and went over to sign up. She wanted to know why. I told her. Another step. I came out to my mother six months later on MSN. By that point, what with all the pride flags and flamboyant companions, she wasn’t really surprised. Slowly, I stopped finding going out on the scene freaky (and then I stopped going totally, clearly it was just a phase I was going through). I am who I am. You are who you are. And that’s just fine.

These days, I wear a tie when I feel like it, I come out to strangers on my doorstep and my mother finds it a bit weird when she meets one of my straight friends. And I love my life. That’s not to say that there aren’t downs. I get shouted at from time to time when I’m dressing down in a nice set of shirtsleeves and braces. Every so often, I have to watch one of my friends get disowned by their families for the crime of existing. I have to have conversations more than I would like with people who think I’m a sinner because I think female genitalia are quite snazzy.

Topless woman with gloves.

Google would punish my SEO if I showed you actually naked women, but this is just as to the point.

One of my friends said to me once that they didn’t want to go to Pride again because they felt like they were just walking down a street for other people to stare, that there was nothing to be proud about. I replied that that’s exactly why we march, not for ourselves but for the people watching us. Who knows how many of them are nursing a secret and want to be where we can be? You’d be surprised.

I guess the reason that I have such a gay CV is because I have it lucky. I only spent three years terrified someone would find me out, I’ve never been beaten up, and if I want to talk to a gay I can walk next door and say hello to my flatmates. I *can* walk down the high street of Manchester once a year, baring an obscene placard about who I want and what I want to do with them, and be cheered for it. Compared to most other LGBT people in history, and indeed, most of the world today, I’m lucky. Really, really lucky. And I want to try and spread that luck around if I can.

So if someone’s going to be put off by my CV? Fuck them. But if anyone else has a job going for gay CVs, let me know. :)

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