12th October 2011
I came out roughly of my own accord, I think it was sometime in November 2000, but I can't be that precise on the date. It seems a long time ago now. I say 'roughly of my own accord', because as the story will unfold, some might say I was outed.
As a mere technicality, I came out to my internet group of friends a while before this. I remember that a lot more clearly as being a few days before my 13th birthday, or was it my 14th? Anyway.
I found a huge group of other guys, all the same age (apparently(!)) who were all going through the same things.
In the actual process of my coming out in reality, I'd been planning my thoughts on paper, as I knew that the conversation itself would come up soon, and when it did, I'd wanna be ready. I wasn't the best secret-keeper at that age. I told a bunch of "friends" at school, some were supportive, some gave up my truths to the kids who bullied me anyway, and that gave them more ammunition. Anyway.
Writing things down on paper proved to be the catalyst for my eventual coming out. One of my teachers got hold of this notebook. Fuck knows how. Perhaps I'd left it somewhere in a lapse of personal security.
Anyway. She phoned my parents. And told them Everything.
I got back from a youth group, and Dad said "One of your teachers called earlier, and we need to talk". My mind rattled through a bunch of alternative possibilities. Was I in trouble? What on earth had I done that could possibly cause that kind of parent-teacher interaction with such urgency.
We sat down in the lounge, and Mum asked me outright. "Tom, are you gay?". I admitted, and I don't remember a lot after that. I remember crying in her arms, more out of relief than anything else.
Turns out my parents had known all along. As they always seem to do.
My parents and I have a very healthy, open dialogue about my homosexuality. They've met almost all of my boyfriends, they've been out clubbing with me in Birmingham, for my 20th and 21st birthdays.
I only wish that everyone could have such open and accepting parents, but I'm afraid that the truth of the matter is, that not everyone is as accepting and modern-thinking as my folks.
To that end, if you're coming out today, then rest assured, the community will support you, and the organisations that exist will do so too.
Further Reading: My It Gets Better story
The next day, I had an interesting conversation with the headteacher of my school. Apparently the teacher in question had acted outside of school policies, and was pretty severely reprimanded in the coming weeks. I don't begrudge her actions today, but it's certainly not the best way to go about these things.
For help and advice on coming to terms with being gay, you can call the Lesbian & Gay Foundation helpline on 0845 3 30 30 30 (local call rate), between 10am and 10pm or use their online contact form to receive a reply within 72 hours.
Stonewall also offer advice on coming out.
Tom can set ants on fire with a magnifying glass. At night.