Push Projects LGBTQ Youth Support
Registered Charity Number: 1162449
I am extremely lucky to be able to say that in all the times I have come out to family, friends and colleagues I have never really had a bad response from anyone. In fact, the person who struggled with the fact I was a lesbian the most, was myself.
Like most young girls, I had female celeb idols who I wanted to look like, but when I was 9, I was fascinated by a female singer whose music videos I watched on tv. I didn't want to look like her, but I thought she was amazing.
I was a really girly child-I love princesses, barbie, going clothes shopping with my mum, and trying out hairstyles with my friends. I was however, quite adamant about the fact that girls were much better than boys, and loved proving it at any opportunity. In primary school, my view of boys being the inferior species was a popular one-most little girls think boys are horrible, smelly creatures!
When I got to high school, my classmates no longer had this view, and my complete disinterest in boys, along with the realisation I had when i was 13/14 that i liked girls, made me feel completely alienated, alone, and misunderstood. I had two friends who were gay boys, and both quite feminine, which although I finally knew someone else who was gay, they did nothing for my view that gay men were girly, and gay women were masculine.
I suffered quite badly from depression aged 14-19, and instead of finding comfort and acceptance from gay youth groups and forums like other gay teens, I found them promiscuous and stereotypical, and fiercely resented them for reinforcing my view that I didn't fit in with gay teenagers any more than I fitted in with straight teenagers. I did not know any other gay people, and my parents, my dad especially, were quite vocal in their disapproval of homosexuality.
My unintentionally naive view of a lesbian was a woman that wanted to look/act like a man. That was definitely not me. When I was about 14, my favourite show featured a femme lesbian couple amongst it's main characters. It was definitely a revelation to me to see someone who represented two aspects of myself that i never knew could go together before.
When I left school, I had a bizarre, almost double life. Some of my friends knew I was gay, and I had my first girlfriend, a tomboy who was as unsuitable for me as I was for her. I also had a job in a high-end fashion store, which went hand in hand with my love of clothes, hair, makeup, shopping etc. My family most likely gathered I was gay during this time, but never said - we just didn't discuss that type of thing (I remember my dad being horrified when age 14, I knew how a baby was conceived!).
After 18 months, I split up with my girlfriend, and met Laura. It sounds cliche, but on our first date I knew she was the one. She was feminine, intelligent, generous, beautiful, funny, and the most interesting person I have ever met. She also had red hair - just like the girl in the music video I'd loved for 10 years (years later, Laura took me to see the music video girl in concert!).
We became a couple exactly 2 weeks later, and on my 20th birthday I came out to my family. I had no reaction really, my dad left the room and stood alone in the garden until his sister talked him round, but I think after my first miserable relationship, my family was just glad to see me with someone who made me happy.
Laura is now very much part of my family, in fact she gets on with my mum better than I do! I've changed jobs a lot, and although sometimes I've been too scared of younger, openly prejudiced colleagues reactions, most of the time I have been open about my sexuality. I've had a few silly comments such as straight girls asking 'so, do you fancy me then?' and when we got engaged a lot of people asked if we'd both wear dresses, but unless its been behind my back, I've never had negative comments.
At the age of 27, it's only been in the past few years that I've stopped seeing the word 'lesbian' as an insult. Its not the first word I would use to describe myself, but I'm very comfortable with it being a part of who I am.
I have realised how important positive gay role models in the media are - after all, it was a music video that showed me the first woman I was attracted to, and a tv show that showed me you can be girly and gay. I also realised that the thing that makes coming out easiest, is comfort in your own skin, and pride in who you are. Laura, and my relationship with her has given me more pride than anything else ever has, and the possibility of gaining a negative reaction would never cause me to disrespect our relationship, or myself, by hiding it.
Proud Youth is run by Warwickshire Pride
Registered Charity Number: 1162449
Telephone: 07580 532659