MY SAD, SAD COMING OUT STORY
I’ve never really been one to write about the ins and outs of the actual drama going on in my private life, because I’ve never been one to cash-in on ruffling feathers and generally upsetting people. I never wanted to segregate myself in that way, I didn’t agree with negative OR positive discrimination. This is probably the only reason why I’ve never written or blogged about one of the issues in my life that has, understandably, changed me the most. I’ve never written about my coming out story.
This post will be incredibly difficult for me to write because it goes against everything I ever told myself. But lately certain events have occurred that have hurt me in a thousand ways, and will continue to hurt me because the truth is yet to come out (pun intended). I read a blog post recently where the author came out to her father in an email, and published it online. This was pretty much the catalyst I needed to stop worrying about protecting people with the things that mean a lot to me. I'm not going to name names cause I'm like, way classier than that, and most of you will know who I'm referring to anyway. To make life easier for everyone, I'm going to refer to the person this post is pretty much about as Joan. Mostly because I'm listening to Joan Jett, and because I know nobody called Joan. Whilst this is the only thing that isn't true, for the remainder I’m just going to be straight up front and honest. I apologise in advance to anyone who is going to be upset by what I write, but it’s gone too far now.
As most of you know, the history between Joan and I dates back for years. Anyone with an LE postcode in 2007-2010 will know, similarly most people who went to Goldsmiths and knew either of us will know. More importantly, my friends and my family will know, first hand, the damaging and triggering ways this girl has affected my life. I will not get into the details of every event (let’s face it, I’d be here till New Year), however the event that changed it all will be spoken about now in absolute truth. I am not here to slander her as a person, I am merely telling my tale of what actually happened back then, and why it is important now when it has never been ‘important’ online before.
When I met Joan, she was a homophobe. I cannot speak on behalf of my other gay friends, but it is mutually agreed that she made so much of a dramatic fuss over everything that it seemed not worth the hassle. One particular event that stained my memory was when she told me that she saw two men kissing by Cutty Sark station when we lived in Deptford. She told me she was disgusted, that she was repulsed, that she didn’t think that ‘that sort of thing’ should be allowed in public. To put some perspective on this, it was at this time that she wanted to make a t-shirt that said ‘T❤RY’ and wear it around Goldsmiths just to antagonise people. Telling my ‘best friend’ how I felt was surely out of the window at any sort of utterance of homophobia. As Joan had spent most of the time I’d known her trying to control my life, this was the one thing that she couldn’t control. I knew I’d come out when I was ready to.
Long story (sort of) short, I met my first girlfriend at the start of my second year of uni. We’d both just turned nineteen, we were hopelessly and madly in love. Though she had already come out to her best friend, I hadn’t uttered a word about my ‘official’ sexuality to anyone. I’d never lied about it, but the presence of a boyfriend in my life had sort of turned off any questions around the matter. Needless to say, when I met my girlfriend I ended that relationship. I’d decided I wasn’t going to tell my family anything about my sexuality until I had a girlfriend, until it was important enough that I genuinely thought I couldn’t get by in life without the world knowing who she was and who I was. That time was fast approaching, and I was becoming more and more ready to sit my parents down like everyone else’s coming out stories say. I was going to tell them everything, in a way that I was happy and comfortable with. I’d never even begun to think that it might not have been an option for me. I’d never even considered that someone else might have informed my parents before I did. I don’t know how I’d never given anyone enough credit to how low they would stoop in a desperate bid to control my life once again, I’d underestimated Joan.
I wish it had been as simple as just saying ‘oh by the way, Sarah’s got a girlfriend’. But around this time of year, three years ago (I remember it was near Christmas, ‘cause that Christmas was the worst ever) Joan drove back to Leicester from our house in London for the weekend. I’d spoken to her as normal, she’d text me saying she was on her way back to London and I should expect to see her in a couple of hours. What she had failed to tell me was that with her, in the passenger seat of her car, was my poor mother. After an hour and a half of listening to all sorts of vile accusations and false truths, they arrive in London. My girlfriend and I were sitting on the sofa, watching TV. In runs Joan, straight up to the bathroom, and then straight back out the door, shouting ‘Hi’ as she ran up, approaching the door again, and then turning around and apologising. Of course, I had no idea what for until I saw my Mum’s tear soaked face walk through my front door.
When I’d asked Joan why she felt the need to collect my mother to have her inevitably walk into a situation no mother should be faced with, she told me it was her idea. It was not my mother’s idea to assume that I had been seeing a girl, nor was it her idea to walk in on us. When she came in, my heart broke. The one thing I had, the one thing I’d been preparing for, had been snatched away from me like it was absolutely nothing. I’ve never experienced sociopathy (for lack of a better word) quite like it. Being confronted by a wibbly and confused ‘Is it true?’ out of my mother’s mouth, we sat and spoke about it. I told her I was bi; I couldn’t face breaking her heart fully. She cried for hours and hours, we made plans to meet up when I was finished with uni the next day. In the morning she left without saying goodbye. She was too upset. My mother and I have always had a relationship that was second to none. In my adult life, we respected each other, and the lies that preceded my truth gave her reason to doubt my words over the words of another. That is what hurt the most.
Three years later, and my family understand. But for months after they found out, it wasn’t the same. There were tears at Christmas, I was mortified and everything was an absolute mess. This is the reason that I find it so unbelievably difficult to fathom why someone would find it casual to come out to their father publicly, online, and with so much self-righteousness particularly when she had taken that privilege, that luxury, away from someone else so callously. It didn’t affect only me; it affected my girlfriend too, as well as other people around us.
All I really wanted from this was to express how genuinely unfair I find it. Why should anyone receive the opportunity to capitalise on and make a mockery of what was so, so difficult for so many people, particularly if it was cruelly taken away from someone else. I was lucky, I didn’t receive anywhere near the amount of negativity I could have for my coming out. For so many others, it’s unbelievable. It’s beyond what girls like that can think. Maybe it’s because I suffered first, that’s why it’s so easy for her now. Her family all became used to the fact that lesbianism was a thing. They too, like so many others are shocked at the prospect of a ‘straight seeming’ or ‘straight looking’ girl could be gay. I lived through it all so that she didn’t have to. I had to deal with the scrutiny of the tiny village in which I was raised being raided with gossip. I had to live with the constant whispers in the N.A.B at Goldsmiths (that place was like a high school), I made it normal for everyone we knew. I broke it in. The main thing that I have a problem with is people like Joan using this experience to make money, which was made clear in a message she sent to me which said something along the lines of her recently acquired 'girlfriend' doing wonders for her career.
At every turn, I am being told to be ‘less gay’ in the media. This includes my blog, my social networks; I’ve even been encouraged to take off my sexual orientation on Facebook so it won’t be a hindrance to my career. Again, this is something that I find obscenely unfair, but it is also something that I would never do. Now that I’m out, there ain't no way in hell I'm getting back in that closet, no matter how fabulous its contents might be. I am unbelievably proud of who I am and where I’ve come from, and although I don’t identify as a ‘lesbian’, per se, I know that I would feel comfortable as a representative of the lesbian and queer community knowing that I can relate to them. I have lived through the same thing as many of these people.
I find putting Joan on a pedestal as a representative of gay women to be an absolute sham, and actually rather offensive. I know I wouldn’t be happy being represented by someone who labels herself ‘half-homo’ because the term ‘bi-sexual’ is too horrid. Of course, there is no need to label oneself at all, but to take terms that we relate to and deeming them not good enough for oneself is not admirable behaviour, in my opinion.
Whilst the catalytic post comes across somewhat innocent, the rest of the truth (of which there is MUCH to tell) shall remain unspoken, for now. Joan tried, and almost succeeded, to destroy my life again and again, yet I’ve still got no desire to do the same to her. Why? Because I’m better than that. Words that have now been publicly denied, yet truthfully straight from the horses mouth suggest that yes, friends that have text me in shock, I am, or at least I was, the ‘you-know-who’.
I am the reason, and now I’m done.