It's weird isn't it, growing up as a gay child/teenager, because you always know that you just don't quite fit in, but you can never put your finger on why. As a child I was a poluar, happy, pretty little thing who loved ballet more than life itself. I had a million friends and we spent our weekends making up elaborate plays and dances, singing our hearts out to our latest favourite song, and dressing up and playing make believe. My naivety ended as High School began. Thrust into the more adult world of school, where girls and boys were expected to kiss each other and hold hands, and the girls I was friends with began to discuss which boy was the "fittest" and the "best snog", I spent hours wondering why I didn't feel the same towards boys. I pretended to, I became good at that, but instead i threw myself into my school work, and every dance and drama group going. It was here that I first found myself with a great big crush on a girl. Although, at the time, I had no idea what was going on, just that she was the most beautiful and talented girl I had ever seen, and I was desperate for her to notice me. She didn't.
These crushes continued through high school, cleverly disguising themselves as admiration for girls who were super clever, talented or just plain lovely. I just assumed all girls felt like this, and left it at that. Until I was 15 that was, and hormones kicked in, and it hit me like a thunder bolt that when I was watching romantic films, I imagined I was the boy, being kissed by the girl. Women seemed to be on my mind all the time, and they were BEAUTIFUL!!
Being close to my Mum, I told her... "Mum, I'm bisexual, I'm in love with the blonde lady in Casualty". Her response... "Of course you are dear, it's perfectly normal, we all think we fancy women at some point in our lives, but it's just a phase so don't mention it again and forget about it now." That was news I wanted to hear, I'm still normal after all, phew. I thought it best not to mention it to my friends at school, cos like Mum said, it's just a phase, and besides, they were all learning how to give blow jobs and I didn't even know what one was.
At 16 my best friend told me he was gay and that he'd slept with a boy at the weekend. Him telling me this catapulted me into the realisation that I was not alone. Oh my god. And this seemed to be the catalyst to my realisation that yes, I was gay too. I could keep pretending to like the errrm fit boy in my year, or I could just admit to myself that it was ladies I'd liked all along.
Next, my parents found out. How? Well quite simply they read my diary. I could hear them discussing it one day, and decided to confirm it for them, so left them a letter on the kitchen table and went to my cousin's house (why on earth did I think that was a good idea?!) They weren't happy at all, they blamed my best friend, they blamed my other friends, they blamed the TV I'd been watching (Bad Girls anyone?!), they blamed my cousin for liking football (wtf?!), and didn't speak to me for about two months.
During this time I became quite political, and quite vocal about my sexuality. I was so proud of who I was, and I wanted the world to know about it, and that it was OK to be gay. So I went on many marches, I joined gay youth groups, I became an addict on gay youth forums, and started talking to other teens who were having trouble with their sexuality. This new found sense of self was liberating and exciting and I enjoyed being me, finally.
This all changed when I won a scholarship to a private boarding school for my sixth form. One minute I was out and proud, and the next I was expected to take one huge step back into the closet. My parents has warned me that they would kick me out if anyone found out I was gay, and that if this happened my dreams of being a doctor would be scuppered. I worked so damn hard to keep that closet door shut that I didn't make a single friend while I was there. It was a desperately lonely, heart breaking time of my life in which I nearly lost my sanity. But at least I got my A levels eh?!
So fast forward 2 years and I was at Uni, studying medicine. I had slowly started to re-build the confidence in myself that had been destroyed during sixth form, and I began to find myself again. Meeting Sarah was another revelation, she was a beautiful, feminine, funny and inspiring woman who seemed to make my heart complete. She really gave me the confidence to trust myself, to believe that I was worthy of being me, just me, and that yes, I could be girly and feminine, and I could also be gay. Meeting her also gave me the confidence to assess my life and the happiness that I was getting from it. I wasn't happy studying medicine. Honestly, I'd never wanted to be a doctor, but I was capable of it, so had gone down the path people had drawn for me.
It was during an inspiring conversation with her that I decided to go into midwifery instead. So I applied and was accepted (god knows how cos I didn't have a clue what midwives did!) But she gave me the confidence to believe that I was worthy of happiness, and that my self -worth did not have to come from others around me. I love my job because, quite simply, it's about women. Women who have the ability to do something so beautiful and incredible, yet often need someone they can trust by their side, who empowers them to believe they can do anything, even produce a whole tiny baby! Qualifying as a midwife made my journey complete. I had been empowered by the girl of my dreams to follow my hearts desire and find myself, and in turn it means I can work with women to empower them to believe in themselves, to give them the confidence in their abilities not just as mothers, but as women.
I often think about my time at boarding school, it was the lowest point of my life, and wish that I could reach to that person, hold it really tight and say "it's ok, it gets better" cos it really really does. I never dreamed I would find the depth of happiness that my love and life brings. And I never dreamed of being so at peace with who I am that I will happily tell anyone that listens about my love for S, I am so proud of who I am because of her, and the relationship we have, that from the moment I met her I have never been afraid of coming out, through Uni, work placements, work, friends, family and anyone else who will listen knows about us now!
Proud Youth is run by Warwickshire Pride
Registered Charity Number: 1162449
Telephone: 07580 532659