October 11th is nationally known as ‘Coming Out Day’. A day in the LGBTQ calendar where the event of coming out is celebrated. I think it’s sad that someone still, in 2015, has to come out the closet. Why does it have to be a big deal? In the past coming out of the closet could’ve resulted in shame and social stigma and even career suicide. I’ve decided that I’m going to share my story. This is not something I imagined doing when I started this blog but if I can help just one person who may stumble upon it I’ll be a happy guy. So here goes…deep breaths Declan!
A common question I get asked is ‘When did you know you were gay?’ and I can honestly say that I have no idea. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t aware when I was dancing around to Disney’s Hercules soundtrack as a toddler but somewhere between then and the age of 18 that must have changed? I remember nights laid in bed fighting not to say it to myself. Terrified to actually accept ‘I am gay’. These nights lasted years and I don’t think a day went by from about the age of 15 where I didn’t think about it. At times I felt so lonely and isolated by it and it was during these times that I’d make my sexuality out to be a MASSIVE thing and a terrible secret. It wasn’t until my best friend at the time came out as lesbian that I really started to think that I need to do this.
If there was a written textbook on how to come out it’d probably say to tell family first but my version didn’t and this is something I regret to this day. One by one I started to tell my friends in college, each as equally supportive. Some were proud, some were shocked but my closer friends were definitely not! I could feel the weight on me begin to lift as I began to feel comfortable with the prospect of it all. It was only when I went back home I’d return to a scared and nervous Declan. There were hundreds of times I’d walk into my parent’s room telling myself that this was the moment I was going to tell them and I just didn’t. The words physically could not come out of my mouth.
So my parents didn’t know until I was 18 and it only happened because my mum just came out with the question, ‘are you gay?’. I remember answering with a resounding yes as if a tonne weight had been lifted off me. She then told my Dad, brother and grandma and before I knew it I was embraced in the middle of a family hug. It could not have gone better! There was a difficult few weeks where my Mum worried about my future and how it would affect it but she came round and eventually all was well for a while.
It’s after the whole coming out that isn’t really discussed. There’s websites dedicated to ‘it gets better’ and sometimes this isn’t always the case. You seem to fall into a trap where you conform to a certain way of life. Yes it feels amazing to have told everyone but if you don’t want to be judged for being gay why change? I know I seemed to and still till this day it makes me cringe a bit.
I remember thinking that university would be where I could feel 100% comfortable with who I was. I could be exactly who I wanted to be without being judged. The reality has been a bit different. I didn’t know how to introduce myself to new friends. How would new people judge me? I’ve had homophobic hate in night clubs and became very uncomfortable with the notion of a homosexual lifestyle. Close friends would probably not realise that I have issues with my own sexuality. I always seem to enjoy it; joking about my sex life, Grindr and just everything gay. It’s so frustrating as I can’t sit here and type a heart breaking story about how my parents chucked me out of the house or my best friend turned their back on me. I’ve had the best support anyone could ask for. I’ve had it good. The issue is in my head. For so long I didn’t seem to accept it fully which has resulted in quite a deep depression. It’s resulted in friendship breakdowns, relationship troubles and multiple family arguments. I make it such a big deal in my head. I’ve even told myself in the past that I need to be in a relationship to accept it and be happy. I now know that this isn’t the case. I’m in my final year at university and working towards a happier and healthier Declan; both physically and mentally. I’m ready to grab life by the horns. I now see the support surrounding me and know I can be happy with who I am!
I would say to anyone going through anything similar to talk. Don’t be afraid of your feelings and if someone is your true friend they’ll be there for you no matter what. Come out! It really does get better. I’d also like to thank every person who has been there for me. You all know who you are. Family, home friends and university friends. I absolutely love you all and thanks for sticking by me.