"Growing up in a school in an area where school robberies, fights and occasionally knife crime would take place, coming out was the last thing on my list."
I never had the courage, support or encouragement to be anything other than what people thought I was – a heterosexual teenage boy – and with frequent jokes about the way I walked/talked at the time, as well as the company I kept (usually girls and sometimes the other effeminate/smaller boys) it was apparent that I was safer hidden away. That who I was would be too much of a burden on my school experience. So I stayed hidden.
I don’t recall there ever being anything in school that I could relate to in regards to my sexual orientation. Nothing that taught me about who I was, and how to ‘deal’ with it, so I found myself living a lie, and very often falling so deep into this lie that I almost started believing it. Denying who I was just so I could stay somewhat popular, and taken seriously.
And to be honest, I can’t imagine anything would’ve made my experience any easier – however, a school that acknowledged this struggle would have been a great place to start. I yearned for a support unit, someone/something to turn to; as I couldn’t even speak to my family… at least I felt I couldn’t at the time.
So I turned to the Internet. Although full of so much information – I found myself engulfed in an over-sexualised community that probably wasn’t designed for someone my age. Having nowhere to go, and no one to turn to, I spiralled into an inevitable depression, which led me to dislike who I was. In fact, I didn’t know who I was.
College life wasn’t very different in regards to acceptance, but I was certainly a lot more confident and independent, so I gradually came out to people close to me. Responses greatly differed, with some friends completely disappearing, some who used the opportunity to spread rumours and others – albeit very few - who stuck by, resulting in friendships that still flourish today.