It’s coming to the end of 🏳🌈 Pride Month 🏳🌈, so I wanted to share a small part of my story in the hope it may help others.
When I came out as gay to my parents in my 20’s, I was accepted with open arms. Mind you my dad had to take a long drive to let it all sink in and my mum nearly drove her car off the road, but apart from that it was all good. Neither of them had any inkling I was gay; I was very good at hiding it.
But while my parents, family and most of my friends accepted me, I didn’t. To have the acceptance of others is one thing, but to accept yourself is another thing altogether.
I was crippled by an internal shame for who I was. I’d spent so long burying a traumatic childhood, I didn’t want to contemplate the ramifications of being gay as well, yet I still absorbed everything that society and religion said about it.
‘Limp wristed poofters’, ‘pansies’, ‘perverts’, ‘disgusting’, ‘they live sad and lonely lives’, ‘they’d be better off dead’, ‘they should burn in hell’.
Really was that me? Am I intrinsically a bad person? A lesser person?
Yes… and I told myself that for decades. And I hated myself for it.
I also hated living in fear of being rejected, fear of being judged, fear of being beaten up or even killed for who I was. You live in a constant state of fear and anxiety, and as people with anxiety know, it’s bloody exhausting.
But it’s the deep shame that corrodes your soul like a cancer, weakening the core of you as a person. Shame forces you to hide the truth of who you are, even from yourself.
And you can’t just cure it with feel-good positive affirmations or a postal vote.
But thankfully things are changing. It fills me with joy to see so much acceptance and celebration of the LGBTQI community these days, that my heart bursts.
But it also hurts.
It hurts for all those people who still live with the shame (that thankfully many of today’s young people won’t experience), but for my generation and older, it’s still there.
But there’s one place where shame can’t hide.
Justice Michael Kirby wrote in his memoir, A Private Life, “Even if it involves difficulties and dangers, we should stand up for ourselves, as we are for who we are. It is the path of truth that we must ultimately pursue…… It is the truth that sets us free”.
Free from the shame.
This is my truth.
And I’ve finally spoken it.
Here I am.