Migration is part of the natural world. It’s not only birds who fly south for the winter. There’s a larger flock of migrating creatures. This mass migration spans randomly over time, each one jumping the nest when ready. This is the flock of gays!
In Britain our migration is indeed toward the south. From small towns in the north we steady ourselves and head south to London with a flex of our queer feathers. In the states it’s New York ect. Leaving your hometown is a much needed right of passage for lots of gay people.
For me it was a necessity anchored in my sexuality. If I wasn’t gay I don’t think I would’ve moved. I would have been happy in my old job, with a couple of kids and my family close by. My gayness was the sole reason, it was wrapped up in other forms, such as career but ultimately it was a need to leave a place that had been so dark for me. I couldn’t fight the darkness back and be in the same place where I had to hide, I couldn’t respect myself enough to move forward. If I was to grow I had to put miles between me and my past
When I moved away I was flooded with all that I had desired for my life. Freedom from old ways and values. Being in a cosmopolitan metropolis where I felt comfortable sitting across from a boy on a date was freeing. I could create the world that had been inside for so many years. I could feel for who I wanted to and shoot and film without worry. I could manifest it all in to reality. I could create my work unapologetically and speak freely and unchained to the past.
Home was far away now and I let it slip away, happily ignoring what was beautiful about my past. Distance painted a picture of my past and it wasn’t pretty or colourful. All the elements that link sadness to my home were/are true and as I spent more time away from it my judgements of the people “up there” became stronger and more negative. This made my initial visits back home extremely turbulent. These visits back home for family parties, weddings, Christmas and christenings always led to me being bitter and rowing with family members. I was in my mid twenties and succeeding and failing personally with equal merit. I had become unleashed, until I got on the train. As soon as I got off at the platform I felt the collar of the past strap around my neck instantly, difference being, this time I was ready to fight it. Many battles at home led me to realisation and truth but many were hurtful for both parties concerned.
We leave and forge new paths because we have to. When you have had your teen years stolen, you fight to reclaim it as a gay person. You fight tooth and nail to catch up and get that hand holding and high school girlfriend feeling that we didn’t get. We had to build walls and (for me) just get through it. The last ten years have been a case of me having those moments and knowing my worth with no constraints. I have been successful, failed , in love and out of love. It hasn’t been easy and I’ve been disappointed with London city, the industry’s, the gay world and gay people more regularly than I would have liked but I got to feel desired and relevant. I’ve had my prom queen moments.
I’m one of four children, so one on one time with siblings and parents are few and far between. I would always be so excited to be visiting, seeing my sisters and brother, but I entered a reality that I didn’t feel part of. I acted out and my flames of excitement were smothered and this was my fault because I was selfish, I was behind the times (never thought I’d say that). My family had worlds that I felt clashed with my own. Perhaps it was a deep jealousy? I don’t know.
Since coming out my immediate family have been so supportive and our conversations are what lots of queer people would dream of. We speak about everything, I never hold back, we speak about sex (my mums a sexual health nurse #savethenhs), boys, gender with honesty and humour. When I used to visit we would talk but I wouldn’t receive their thoughts with a knowing open mind.
I’m slowly getting round to the point of acceptance. Discussion and tolerance comes with gaining a calmness within your own situation. I now have a quiet self confidence that only comes from within, no partner or friend will come close to the perfect dialogue I have with myself. Once you’ve had your heart bashed about, been poor, been used for gains and struggled, you realise that our life’s all have the same commonalities.
I have just come back from a visit back home and it was beautiful. Everything had changed because I have evolved (I was going to say changed but I don’t think that’s the case, I don’t think any of us change). This time, the back and forth and open chat was there and we all listened. I had a chat with my folks after singing whilst my dad played guitar. We got in to it and we softly bumped heads but I learnt so much. Prior to this I would have got back on the train to London and ran, like I did when I left. Running is what gay people have to do sometimes but racing and not crossing the finishing line and grabbing that ribbon for gold is a choice. I’ve made my choice and I want that medal (Rippon style). It’s a choice of caring about the most important people in my life with no judgement, only learning.
Love is what matters. I see children all the time and their eyes show me they don’t know if they’re really the priority. A lot has gone on in the past and society has made it hard for gay people, the working class and every other minority. If you have known that you have been the love of your parents life nothing can be broken. I’ve never once felt like I wasn’t the upmost priority, I knew I was deeply loved from day one. That’s the key. Everything else can be worked on, broken down and learnt. It has given me the chance to be so open with them and them with me. Often my peers think it’s too open! I talk about everything.
I have been a confidant to many a gay boy who has had issues with coming out to family. I have always made sure I’ve tried to do my best for them even when they have felt disregard in the aftermath (read the other post about not being able to be gay best mates). It’s a personal judgement call to receive differences openly and not battle. Some people are in a situation that means they are left truly alone and that is a different kettle of fish. These people need true support and no chatting on the net will help.
We have to come out time and time again. With each new partner, with each article, with each church visit for a christening or wedding. It doesn’t stop. We always have to have our hearts beating before an exchange with loved ones, family, colleagues and lovers. Maybe ‘coming out’ has been a gift for gay people? We don’t have to metaphorically come out constantly, its precedence is visceral and real for us. Others having to ‘come out’ as vulnerable after having a baby, as feeling unworthy of love, feeling alone, feeling left behind must be hard without having an in built warrior inside that’s forged from childhood. I’ve had my mum, dad, brother, sisters, friends and Nan's come out to me several times. I want that, the exposure of ones self. As gay people we’ve been forced to do that, to have people ‘come out’ to you who haven’t been forced to means so much.
Moving onwards is a journey that I’m now on the path of. My nephews and niece need to see what it’s all about and that is my new mission. My family need to know they can ‘come out’ to me without any sacrifice to our relationship.
Being back home is now different. I love it because I’m willing to feel and listen again. I can leave the desperate feelings I had to resonate in the walls of my school and home. Those feelings are not in any of the hearts of the people that love me. I want my brothers in law to be able to talk to me about anything and I need to create a relationship with them that makes them know that I’m there no matter what.
Ask me anything, be anything, say it all to me, that is what builds meaningful relationships. It’s too easy to dismiss because of boundaries and let’s not do that. Conversation has to be preclaimed, if it isn’t then your bonds are fake. Creating a bond where nothing is off limits is the most progressive thing we can do. My family need me to be there and I need them to be there for me. Sometimes this has to be a painful literal back and forth. I remember my sister and I had a huge row as a teenagers. She had asked me about being gay and I had slammed the door in her face. I won’t be slamming doors in her face ever again.
This has been the most rewritten post to date. I wanted to portray what I was trying to say without bias.
I initially started the post with the dissection of a book, ‘Velvet Rage’ by Alan Downs. I pulled back from it as it was an extremely difficult read for me. I chose to give it to my mum to read and she has also struggled with reading it. I do want to reference it though as it’s been the most relevant read of my life. All parents should read it.
Sometimes difficulty shouldn’t be ignored it should be faced head on. Come out constantly!
Homes are left but ‘home is where the heart is’ for me and ‘home is where the new start is’ has just begun.