Being Gay, Being True To Yourself and Walk on Some Hot Coals

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I’m absolutely delighted to have a guest post today from my beloved cousin 🙂 Paul came out of the closet as a homosexual man a few years ago and massively disappointed our family – most of them had a tenner on me being; “the only gay in the family.”

I’ve seen Paul’s confidence grow from strength to strength since he’s chosen to be true to himself, something we should all strive to be, but many don’t even bother trying. Today I want you to read this and put your finger on your chin, tip your head slightly to the side and ask yourself “am I really being true to myself?”

Throughout my childhood and early adult life I have known people who are gay, and to me I did not see it as a problem, but I did perceive it to be different from the norm. I have often wondered why this was. I was fortunate to have not witnessed the physical violence that many men and women have experienced (and some still do to this day). I did however witness the derogatory jokes, snide name calling, and people been introduced to as “one of them, Keep your back to the walls!”

The fear of been labelled as “one of them” had an effect on me that I had not realised until a few years ago. The right to adopt children, the right to make a legal commitment between two partners and the right to have sex with a member of the same sex without fear of imprisonment were for many years not possible due to a culture of inequality. This culture had a bearing on my decision to shun and hide for many years my true feelings about who I really was.

I believed that if I told someone I was gay then I would be labelled and would be disowned by everyone I knew and loved. My family and friends have never said anything to me directly or indirectly that had made me think that way, but I felt that it would be easier for everybody if I was straight. I had always sensed a negative association with been gay from television, work colleagues and from my many years at school. At secondary school everybody was taught sex education- however only one angle was taught- sex between a man and woman. This furthered my belief that been gay was wrong. And once again I buried MY true feelings deeper.

Eight years ago I was asked by a work colleague of mine a question that filled me with fear and left me a quivering wreck. It was a question that I had dreaded for almost my entire thinking life, and I had rehearsed many answers. (You wouldn’t believe me if I told you) What had I been asked that I was so terrible I hear you say? Well here it is……

Paul, are you gay?

Those four little words struck a fear deep inside that I cannot describe. At the time I was struggling with my sexuality; debating whether I was indeed straight or gay and even if I had been born the wrong gender- lots of thoughts that I believed to be true rushed through my head. I believe been asked outright if I was gay, pushed me further away from been truly honest to myself. I replied to my colleagues question by saying “Me, gay? Don’t be silly. I like women” I believed that to conform with the ‘norm’ I had to be seen as been straight. My feelings were not to be considered- social pressure prevailed.

Some of you reading this article may recognise yourself as having asked the question that I dreaded so much, to a friend, family member or work colleague.

 

Why did you ask that question?

 

Did you realise the potential repercussions?

 

Would you be happy if they lied and covered up their true feelings about them self?

Twelve years ago the government of the United Kingdom lifted the ban of lesbian and gay men serving in the armed forces. Previously it had been accepted that the sexuality of a person defined their ability to carry out a job. Some people still believe this to be the case.

 

My name is Paul, not gay Paul.

 

I am a student, not a gay student.

 

I sleep with men; this does not define how I live my life, but who I live my life with.

 

Think carefully before you speak next time.

Five years ago I became truly honest with myself and stopped conforming to others expectations. I can say with total honesty that it was THE hardest thing I have ever had to do, but the most rewarding experience.  As a friend of mine asked me shortly afterwards, “I hear you came out on Ebay”. (she actually meant to say Facebook, but that’s close enough I guess). The ice was immediately broken between us both as she made light of it and that it was ‘the norm’, part of everyday conversation. With each person I told afterwards it became easier and easier.

Ever since I have become a person I never could have imagined- confident and happy within myself. And I have done things I could only dream of- finished one career to begin training toward my dream career (can you guess which?), ran the Great North Run three times and aiming to complete a firewalk next month.

 

Be honest with yourself- life gets so much better when you do 😀


Join the Conversation

18 comments

  1. Rami Reply

    OMG you’re gay? That’s… totally irrelevant. Now, the fact that you misspelled “crème” in your ManvsClock description, THAT’S unforgivable.

    Get your shit together man, before people start picketing your website for bad French.

    😀

  2. Will - Gap Daemon Reply

    Fantastic post. It was really tear-jerking to read about what you went through. As a heterosexual male I can’t begin to appreciate how difficult it is for many homosexuals to “come to terms” with something as natural as sexuality.

    The fact that there is still this stigma – and that many people remain in the closet as a result, is utterly shocking in todays world. It least you got past it unscathed.

    Having Anthony as your cousin though? Shit man. Now that’s unfortunate.

    Chin up mate.

    1. Anthony Reply

      Hetrosexual male – who are you trying to kid, Willster? 😉

    2. Paul Iveson Reply

      Will,

      Thank you for your lovely comments and taking the time to read the article in the first place. It means alot. As for Anthony- shit happens eh? haha

      Paul

  3. Anthony Reply

    Rami,

    It’s not irrelevant to the title, but thanks for the spell check 😉

  4. JoJo Reply

    Ahhhhh, second attempt at leaving you a comment…. First one was dead nice and intellectual too 🙂

    firstly…… Well done Paul, fantastic piece. We’ve always loved you for you and everything about you but it’s amazing to see you more confident with ‘you’ at every new adventure (I fear I overdid the Dr Suess at work today)

    Secondly, I’m proud to say I’m the ….ahem (slightly older) cousin of these two fine gentlemen and have always been aware of just how awesome they are, it thrills me that others are now seeing it too.

    Hugs Jx

    P.S – you should know by now that the ‘norm’ doesn’t exist ( you’ve known me long enough)

    1. Paul Iveson Reply

      Joanne a.k.a.Dr Seuss

      Thanks for the kind words…who knew I could string a sentence together eh? Good point made about the ‘norm’…why aim for something that doesn’t exist??

      It is great to be your younger 😀 cousin….we can look to you for advice like a wise old tawny owl!

      Thank you for your support you’ve given…GNR training and the actual run…life advice…and for this Thursday…my fire walking buddy!

      Long may the adventures continue!
      Xxx

  5. Dad Reply

    As Paul’s dad, can i just say how proud I am of him, not just for writing this piece but for having the strength to finally be himself. Paul – you are a truely wonderful person, kind, considerate and as helpful as anyone can be, you are not just my Son but also my Friend. You have helped me through some very rough times these last few years and I can never thank you enough. So my son be proud of yourself for all you have achieved and all that you WILL achieve in the future and be sure that you have the love and support from all your family

    1. crazy sexy fun traveler Reply

      I’m having goose bumps after reading this! So great to see this comment. Very touchy! 🙂

    2. Paul Iveson Reply

      Dad

      There are so many words I could use in reply to your kind words…but two spring to mind. THANK YOU! Your support has been invaluable.xx

  6. flashpackatforty Reply

    Great post Paul, great sentiments, and thanks to Anthony for sharing his blog space to let you do it. Coming out is both scary and liberating, but once you are true to yourself the rest is easy. Well done

    Craig n John

    1. Paul Iveson Reply

      Craig & John

      Thank you for taking the time to read my article, is nice to hear that it does get easier. It has been a very liberating experience to write but totally worthwhile. Thank you again.

  7. crazy sexy fun traveler Reply

    Interesting to hear from a gay the whole story and feelings! I have some gay friends and we get along very well and just don’t understand why in the 21st century when anything is possible, some people are still against homosexuals! How stupid! Shouldn’t we all be free and just do what we love???

    1. Paul Iveson Reply

      Hi

      Thank you for reading my article, glad it was of interest to you. Very good point about all being free and just doing what we love- what is the harm?

      Paul

  8. Jo Reply

    Paul, that was a very touching, well written piece. I am very proud of you for expressing your feelings to everyone. You are you, and are very much loved by all your family. I don’t think I know anyone so kind and caring as you….you would do anything for anyone, and you deserve to be truly happy. Here’s to a happy future!! Xxx

    1. Paul Iveson Reply

      Jo

      Your words are so kind, thank you from the bottom of my heart! The support of my family has been invaluable and for that I am eternaly grateful. Happy future sounds good to me 😀 Xx

  9. Paul Iveson Reply

    Hi lads and ladies

    Paul here. I would like to express my eternal grattitude to everybody that has taken the time to read my article. The comments left have been so positive and have been a definite boost.

    It was an emotional experience writing this article, with support&co-ercing from dear Anthony, I put my self-doubts to one side and cracked on.

    Anybody else who has been in a similar situation- I would recommend writing your story, it is very theraputic. And for those of you who may be experiencing similarly to my past- talk to somebody you trust. I know firsthand the turmoil than can be felt.

    IT DOES GET BETTER

  10. gerard rodgers Reply

    Dear Paul

    I came across your post some time back and it moved me. I am researcher in the process of submitting my doctorate and my research question was simply ‘the experience of being gay.’
    As I have been trying to come up with a title for my study that is representative of the findings, this is how I came across this post online.
    What strikes me from your post is the absolute of one norm and that is the power of being recognized for who you are and what can flow from that is the respect, esteem and trust in yourself among others. In this, I am most certainly not suggesting that negativity and struggle miraculously disappears from our life projects but I get the sense you have been strengthened by the historic struggle. More power to you and your friends for supporting you.