I came out to my mum on 2 May 2015. I remember because it was the same day that Princess Charlotte was born. But, more significantly (sorry, Charlotte), I remember sitting in my room with a dull feeling in my stomach, reverberating and ringing with ‘I’m ready’, ‘It’s now or never’. I’d go to get up and go to my mum’s room where she was watching TV but then I’d stop and sigh and turn around. When I got into bed, the vibrations kept happening and pulsing about. I was 18; it had been 7 years since I’d started jerking off to gay porn and it had been enough time for me to know it wasn’t just a phase or fad.
So I stared at the ceiling in my bed, restless. Then I pulled the covers down, got up, and walked with false confidence to my mum’s room.
‘Oh God, you haven’t got someone pregnant have you?’ she asked when I said I needed to tell her something. I nearly laughed. ‘No, mum, I’m gay’. It’d feel like a cliché to use a metaphor about waves of relief washing over me but that’s how it felt. She sighed, with sympathy rather than disappointment, and said ‘You’re still having grandchildren’.
I count myself incredibly lucky with how both my parents responded. Although my mum, in an attempt to reassure me, said it was ‘just like having cancer – you can’t help if you have it or not’, she reassured me that nothing would change. Of course, things do change: I’m not shy about pointing out a really hot guy in front of her, or letting my eyes linger on a guy’s butt just that millisecond longer now. And my dad is forever asking me whether I have any ‘special friends’ at university. Even if euphemism can get tiring sometimes, I think he just wants me to do go forth and, not multiply, but enjoy the possibilities out there for LGBT+ people nowadays.
I definitely built up ‘coming out’ in my head more than I should have. But as a closeted queer person, you often feel like an outsider who’s there just to notice any veiled homophobia in a family conversation and then go and pick it apart for hours and wonder what would’ve happened or been said had they known that you’re actually a raging homosexual, who chokes his monkey multiple times a day to beefy daddies. Your head’s filled with these kind of long sentences.
But you have to feel ready in yourself before you can go about telling people what’s what or how much you want to top your supervisor. I used to be perpetually anxious that I’d get caught out, that someone would force me into telling them why I hadn’t had a girlfriend or why I wasn’t interested in the girl who always had her trousers that little bit too low so you could see the top of her underwear. ‘Coming out’ is in itself a horrific concept; the conceit, metaphor or whatever it is, of shutting yourself up inside some musky wardrobe until you either can’t stand the smell any more, or have found a suitably rainbow-bedecked outfit and discovered a megaphone which you can shout I’M GAY into, is terrifying for anyone. Could you imagine straight people coming out? It wouldn’t surprise me if they started doing it soon, considering how often straight people appropriate LGBT+ slang and habits.
The important thing to remember is not to give a shit. ‘Coming out’ is an incredibly personal thing. You can do it how you want to, when you want to; you don’t even have to do it at all. Another cliché for you: be yourself, and if that involves being a walking wardrobe like something from Beauty and the Beast then so be it. But the sooner you really start being true to who are you, doing the things you like and the people you like, you’ll find that the weight of the bearing that giant wardrobe will get a whole lot easier.