So by this time I’m out… out to my friends, my immediate family, I’m in an oddly detached relationship with a girl I’ve never met who’s presently on the other side of the world. I’m just finishing my first year in the sixth form and taken my end of year exams. It’s an odd year as we return to school after the exams for about a month before we actually break for summer.
This wasn’t a good time for me, my parents wanted to talk to me, I wanted to avoid them. My mum didn’t understand and had sought counselling to try to wrap her head around it. One day I made the mistake of saving conversations that I had with Dani on msn to our family computer, that was probably the most awkward confrontation ever, getting home from school to find both my parents pouring over a shall we say, very private, conversation. I might not have actually slept with another woman yet, or even kissed another woman but I’d certainly talked this out, plenty of times. To think that my parents had read it all and that they weren’t embarrassed enough to hide what they had done and let it go unnoticed, like they would have done if I were straight. I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me whole.
The thing is although I was only just nearly 17 I wasn’t stupid, I had my head on straight about the whole meeting someone from the internet thing, I wasn’t about to run halfway across the world for a girl I’d never met in person before. Sure it was nice to fantasise about when I thought that Dani was truly the only person I could talk to or the only one who would understand, yet I always knew the likelihood of us ever actually meeting up was well, slim to none. My parents worried incessantly about me running off to try to be with my online lover, nothing I could do or say would make them worry less.
So I’d forced my mum into counselling, now in the UK that’s a big deal, we’re not like those expressive American’s that can’t have a feeling without sharing it with a professional to figure out what it all means… or that’s what the sitcoms lead us to believe.
To say I didn’t think much of her counsellor was an understatement, I’m hoping something got lost in translation between what the counsellor said to my mum and then what my mum relayed to me in the heat of an argument. It was the worst argument we ever had or will likely ever have again as long as we live.
We had been arguing a lot over anything and everything, mostly because I wouldn’t give them answers to questions about my sexuality. I knew the answers wouldn’t be enough even if I did have them. I stuck to that argument like glue. One day my mum initiated the conversation again, I think maybe she thought she had a breakthrough with her counsellor and wanted to share it with me, but her words instead were like a red rag to a bull:
“I don’t understand your lifestyle, but I guess I just have to accept that it happens. Just like my counsellor said, sometimes we don’t understand these things, it’s like paedophiles, some people just are even if we can’t understand it.”
I hit the roof! Thinking that my mum of all people could form what she thinks is a rational comparison between me and a paedophile was the biggest insult I ever could have heard. The shouting match that followed was intense, insult after insult hurled at my mum in an effort to even the score, it was a big score to settle. I even pulled the unforgivable I hate you, which any child who has ever uttered this to their loving parents will know the gut-wrenching guilt that usually follows.
In my teenage rebellion the one thing in that moment I certainly wasn’t conscious of was that it took me nearly 17 years to realise and come to terms with the person that I am, to feel comfortable with my own sexuality. Why was I expecting my parents to be OK with it immediately?
I don’t know if she still saw her counsellor after that, I don’t even remember talking with her about anything of significance for a long time after. I didn’t confide in her anymore and I became a stranger in my own home, it was the easiest way to handle the disappointment I felt toward my parents.
I watched a film recently that resonated with me about coming out to your family, it’s called ‘The Truth About Jane’ although in the film Jane’s mum seems to come to terms with it all in record time, I think in the end it took my mum nearly three years to truly accept that I’m gay.
While I was fighting this battle with my parents relentlessly over the summer, something else was going on in my life. Dani and I were growing apart, maybe due to interferences, distance or just life, the fact was that we weren’t close anymore. We stayed in touch but there was nothing romantic about it, just comfortable. I also happened to bump into an old friend / boyfriend one day while hanging out in town, his name was Peter. We had a bit of a catch up and he confessed that he was gay, which made me laugh and say ‘me too’ before he could be offended. It was great to know that I wasn’t ‘the only gay in the village’ we talked about meeting up sometime, but made no plans.
It wasn’t until about a month later when I bumped into Peter again that everything was going to change. We were browsing through shops in our tiny town centre chatting away, when out of the blue Peter asks ‘What do you think of Katy?’ and I replied who? Katy was one of Paul’s best friends, for three years we had all been in the same class at school but I had never heard anyone call her that, I knew her as Kaitlin, and she had a reputation that preceded her for being unpleasant. When I realised who he was talking about, not wishing to cause offence, I simply said ‘I don’t really know her, why?’
It seemed to me that Peter had a motive, Katy was a lesbian (she claimed to be bisexual at the time) and I was openly gay, therefore we must get together. I didn’t for one minute think that I would ever go out with someone like Katy, but I desperately wanted to broaden my circle of gay friends… Peter was offering just that.