Meeting up with the boys last night really got me thinking today. Both Tom and Monty have come out as adults, in the past couple of years more or less. It has had me thinking about my own journey towards coming out, and about what it would have been like to have come out when I was older rather than when I did.
It sort of freaks me out to think that I come out 28 years ago. That's a whole mature adult person's life ago. (Oy, cue midlife crisis!) I was 15, it was 1979, and I still remember sitting on the floor at a friend's house telling him. Making him aware that there was a larger part of me that he didn't know. 15 years of age! I'm surprised I did it to be honest. It speaks volumes on how supported I felt by my really great friendships.
I still remember the fear of rejection, the thinking that I knew he would take it well but that given that it's such a polarising issue, that there was still that fear that he wouldn't react as well as I hoped. As it turns out he reacted better than I thought, giving me a hug and a (non-sexual) kiss that told me it made no difference at all. In fact it bought us closer together. All my school friends took it well in fact. The distance that time has given it makes me sort of look back at us all and marvel at how mature we were. Oh, we certainly weren't perfect and I remember some friends asking some really dumb questions and some of the other kids at school giving me shit about it, calling me a fairy etc.
But that also triggers memories of finding out that one of the guys on the fringes of our group of friends, a big handsome, quiet young guy called Tim, apparently threatened to hit some kids that were talking crap about me behind my back. A similar situation happened a few years later at a party, when the boyfriends of two of my female friends, two guys I didn't even know that well, stood up for me after some other guys started talking smack about me when I left the room. Sometimes people surprise you in a good way.
I'm so grateful to have gotten much of that process out of the way when I was young. It wasn't all plain sailing by any means, and the maturity of doing it later might have helped ease some of those bumps. Maybe have helped to have not felt every little slight or setback so intensely. However, the flipside of that is that you sort of feel bulletproof when you're young.
The reality is though that you don't really get to come out just once. Ok, that's done, now let's all just move on shall we? It's a process that continues as long as people assume you are straight. I'm very at ease with being gay, and I think I give off lots of signals that I am. A method that cuts through some of the assumptions straight off the bat, and hopefully avoids the need for That Conversation. Still, it's a conversation that sometimes needs to be had.
I think I've gotten better at it. I would certainly hope so, I've had 28 years of practice!