Coming out is not a single event. It is re-enacted time and time again, and on each occasion, with each new individual you face, the same questions, fears and hopes that everything will be okay afterwards, still arise. Stuart, a fifty-year-old gay dad who lives in the West Country, wrote a blog over a five-year period which was published on his work’s LGBT network web page. In this serialisation of his blog, Stuart tells his story; coming out to his wife, his son, his parents and work colleagues. Each occasion is different and fraught with varying degrees of emotion, pain and angst, but each step he takes is one towards living his life un-filtered and with authenticity.
‘I am a single, 44-year-old gay man. I live alone in a small, cosy flat in South Gloucestershire. A year ago, I was married to my wife of 15 years and living with her and our 14-year-old son. To say life has changed dramatically in the past year is something of an understatement.
Welcome to my first regular blog for Lloyds’ RAINBOW. Over the coming months I will share my journey, the highs and lows, the tears and laughter…there’s lots of both. I want to share with you a story of a gay man trapped in a heterosexual relationship, who decided he simply couldn’t carry on like that anymore…My story.
Why am I writing this? Firstly, getting my story down will, I hope, be a helpful exercise for me personally. I also want to give a true-life perspective on ‘coming out’. Above all, it’s for those who may currently be in the same situation I was. To all of you, I have a simple message – you are not alone. There is support available and change for the better, being truthful and honest with yourself, is most definitely possible and absolutely worthwhile.
So, gosh, where do I start? I suppose on the day that will forever be etched onto my memory – the day I came out to my wife and life turned upside down. The decision had been building for a while. I liken it to a pressure cooker. You start off simmering away, thinking you’re in control, coping, but the pressure builds and builds until something has to give. I spent years living a lie and the pressure of lying to myself, my family and friends became intolerable. I am a mentally strong person, but I knew I was buckling. I knew it was time for the truth and I knew it was going to be very painful for everyone involved.
That Sunday started typically. I got up early and went to the gym. Though I don’t remember working out at all, my mind was all over the place. On the drive back, I started shaking. I was terrified. When I arrived home, I went and found my wife. I sat next
‘What’s the matter?’to her, trembling, and a conversation stuttered.
Unable to speak, I shook my head.
‘You’re scaring me. Have you got something you want to tell me. Is that it?’
I nodded, still shaking.
‘Are you seeing another woman?’
‘No! I haven’t done anything, and I’m not ill.’
‘Well what is it then? Are you leaving me?’
With my eyes welled with tears, I tried to look at her.
‘What is it? I don’t understand. Are you gay?’
The sense of relief was immediate. It sounds like a cliché but it really did feel like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. My lifetime secret was now out, but the guilt was overwhelming too. I had delivered devastating news to someone I loved the most in the world. Upsetting her in this way was heart breaking. She is my best friend, a wonderful mother and a great wife…how could I do this to her?
We both burst into tears and she flung her arms around me and whispered, ‘It must be awful for you’.
We sat holding hands, hugging and crying, stopping briefly, then starting again. Neither of us knew what to say or do next. I was in a maelstrom of emotions – relief, guilt, excitement, fear, overriding sadness. How had fifteen years of marriage ended like this? This wasn’t supposed to happen.
One thing was certain; life would never be the same again.’
Read the next episode in Stuart’s Coming Out, ‘Grieving’, soon.
If you would like to Tell Your Story, please email via the Gay Dad contact page