(Other titles considered for this post: (1) The Connor who stole Easter, (2) My Easter Rising, (3) The Death of a Closet)
I first told someone I was gay when I was 15, but it didn’t count because that person was a priest in confession. I first told an actual person in 1997, on the day Mary McAleese was inaugurated President of Ireland. I was sixteen. Over the next three or four years, I told everyone. Everyone except my family.
The world I started coming out in was very different to now. I got a variety of responses when I told people I was gay. One of my classmates in school asked me why I wasn’t more ashamed – did I not want to change? Another young guy I told said that he couldn’t possibly approve, given his upbringing and religion. A few years later, when I told a colleague, he immediately asked me if I had AIDS. My favourite response ever was a young Polish man who asked, incredulously “You’re gay? Does that mean you’ve held hands with a man?”
But by far the most common response was “Don’t worry. I won’t tell anyone.”
In the fifteen years since I started coming out, this has changed completely. When I told the boys I live with that I was gay, they just asked if I had a boyfriend. Like it was normal. Because it is.
Anyway, I’ve been feeling better about life. As I said in my last post, I’ve got my happy back. I’m beginning to believe I can do hard things again. And living with the boys has reminded me that there is unfinished business in my adolescence.
And so, it was time to stop the fifteen years of procrastination and come out to my family. As I drove down to Cork for Easter, I planned to tell my sister. But somehow, by the time I’d been in Cork for six hours, I realised I’d have to tell them all.
I get upset at family events like weddings and christenings, where the course that the rest of my family is on appears so very different to my own. They’re in a very religious group and on Saturday night, my niece was getting christened at an all-night ceremony, where three different members of my family were preaching from the altar.
I left the christening at 4:30 a.m., even though it still had another hour left to run.
I spent Sunday a knot of nerves, knowing what was coming. I told my sister that night. It was fine. I told my brothers this morning. But the really terrifying bit was yet to come. My parents.
I recited the words of Cheryl Cole over and over in my mind: “Quitting’s out of the question; When it gets tough gotta fight some more; We gotta fight, fight, fight for this love; If it’s worth having, it’s worth fighting for.” If proof were needed of my homosexuality, then surely the fact that I turn to Cheryl Cole in times of great need is sufficient.
I was on the verge of telling my parents when a visitor called to the door. She came in and sat and talked for TWO HOURS while I died a million times.
Eventually, it was just me and my parents and I spat it out. I expected them to know already, but my mother was amazed.
We talked about a lot of things – they were obviously sad, but not angry. We talked mainly about religion and the “gay lifestyle”. By the “gay lifestyle”, they meant “sex with men”, but they never said that. The “gay lifestyle” is dangerous. You can catch things from it. It won’t make you happy. They’ll pray for me. My mother wants me to stay celibate. Or try out marrying a woman and having lots of babies. But definitely no “gay lifestyling”.
Also, she doesn’t think I should be around students.
But they still love me. We’re still family. I haven’t been disowned or cast out.
My head is exploding with emotion. We’re unlikely to ever see eye-to-eye. But it’s said. It can’t be unsaid. My life can start again.
I don’t think I’ll write much here about my efforts to get me a man. I do (probably) (well, possibly) (maybe like) have two dates this week. And one of my flatmates has agreed to help me remove the hair from my back in an effort to make my hopeless body in some way presentable.
But that’s the future. A brighter place.