I remember really liking a female student teacher in Year 2. I thought she was beautiful, and when she talked to me, I blushed. I didn’t understand why, but I felt really embarrassed about liking her so much.
Looking back, I had a little crush. I think that was the first time I realised I was gay. I also quickly realised I didn’t want to be. From that point on, whenever I had any thoughts about girls, I’d literally shake my head and pretend to myself that it came out of the blue.
Nobody ever directly told me that being gay was ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’, but that’s obviously the message I got. I didn’t want to be different and I thought gay was the worst kind of different.
It wasn’t until I was 30 that I had my first experience with another woman. As soon as I kissed her, I knew that this was what I’d been missing. I’d had fleeting relationships with guys but they never felt right. I was the girl who would call a taxi for some poor guy to go home in after sex because I didn’t want to cuddle; I just didn’t connect with them in that way.
Even after my first couple of encounters with women, though, I was still in denial. I met a guy through work who I thought I could fall in love with. I decided to have one last crack at being straight. We dated for six months, and he was a really sweet, cool guy. But I wasn’t attracted to him in that way.
When he didn’t do it for me, I knew I’d lost the war against myself. To complicate things I had actually fallen in love… with my housemate… who was female… and straight. Nothing ever happened between us, but I did try and tell her once that I loved her, and completely muffed it.
She completely cut me out. It was cruel. I was heartbroken but didn’t tell a soul. I thought it was an indication of how everyone else in my life would react if I told them. So I just stayed quiet and hoped that it’d go away. It didn’t.
A few months later I was reading a book, Sing You Home, by Jodi Picoult. It was about a lesbian couple. I couldn’t put it down.
At the end of the book I had an epiphany: I could stop fighting myself and be gay and still have a happy life. The characters in the book had done it! I needed to tell someone urgently.
I had a couple of glasses of wine and caught a taxi to my friend’s house. She was my most artsy and edgy friend and I knew she had other gay friends. I told her. I cried. I even vomited. I had a massive amount of shame, guilt and anxiety built up inside. Luckily, she was amazing and supportive and encouraged me to do what made me happy.
I then told my sister. We’d always been close and I knew she’d be OK with it. I asked her to tell Mum and Dad for me. I knew that they would love me no matter what but I just couldn’t tell them myself.
They were both completely fine; it was a huge relief. My sister then made jokes about opening up a coming out business where she tells your family for you! Maybe there’s a market!
Telling everyone else in my life was actually a lot easier than I’d ever imagined. Because I’m from the country, I had this idea that people would judge me; they didn’t. I was actually shocked at how supportive everyone was; I totally underestimated the goodness in people.
Coming out felt like I finally had nothing to hide and that was such a relief. In every other part of my life I’d always been honest and open. I was finally free and it felt so good. The only thing I regret is that I didn’t come out earlier.
My life is so much better now – I even got married to my partner in London a couple of years ago with the support of both our families. She has changed my life for the better and is the best human I’ve ever met.
If I’d come out earlier I wouldn’t have wasted 30 years hating myself and I may have even met her earlier!
Read more coming out stories in the March issue of COSMOPOLITAN, on sale now