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Wednesday 08 April 2009

Greg's coming out story

Posted in: True Stories
By Greg - 18th November 2008

45-year-old Greg always knew he was different, but coming out was a huge step for the family man he became. He tells us his story.

Greg: "I loved my wife and my kids more than I can explain but I was so lonely inside"
I always knew that there was something different about me well before I came of age, so to speak.

I was born in West Auckland, the youngest of three boys. My parents separated when I was two and we were raised in a borstal till I was 9 – that's when we moved back to live with Dad. I'm sure he tried but he had little control over us boys and we were left to run free for most of our young lives. It wasn't till around 12 years old that I realized what it was that was so different about me. I knew it was normal to be interested in girls but I had a fascination with boys and keep having crushes on boys at school. I experimented around this time but never found anyone that had similar feelings to mine.

I became withdrawn because I thought I was a freak and that I was the only one that felt these feelings. I was scared to make friends in case someone found out who and what I really was. I kept away from the opposite sex until I was around 25, when I had to make a key decision in my life. I had meet a girl that wanted to be with me, but as luck would have it at the same time I meet a guy that seemed to be interested in me as well. So I can remember making the decision which road to follow – the straight road full of normality and acceptance, or the bent road where life would be difficult – and I had no idea where it would lead me. So of cause with the pressures of family and society at the time, and the need to fulfil my dreams of having my own family, I chose the easy straight road.

I thought that I could and would be able to control my feelings and hide them away forever. Only I would know the ‘real me' and that was the way I liked it. Very quickly I was married and had two fantastic children, first a girl and then a boy. These two make me incredibly happy and I enjoy every minute of being a father. I have watched them grow to become good decent human beings and am incredibly proud of them. It's so easy to love your own kids, but I would die for them without a second thought. Being a father has been everything that I dreamed it would be. In this mix I was more than just a father I was a husband as well and she loved me unconditionally. I loved her more than I ever realised but it was enormously hard for me to show it so I made a habit of pushing her away. She is such a huge part of my life, we shared lots of good times and many bad times, we planned to grow old together. We dreamed together and made all of our life time plans together, some worked out and some didn't but I truly believed we would always be together.

In an attempt to hide my feelings and guilt I dedicated all my time to work and built up a successful business. I was on top of the world but something was always missing. I never stopped having these feelings. I loved my wife and my kids more than I can explain but I was so lonely inside. Something was missing. I hadn't opened up to anyone, I had no friends and not one person really 'knew me'. I was hiding from myself and the world and this was tearing me in two.

Things started to go wrong when I sold my business and later lost most of our money with a bad property deal through a conman, the family pet was run over and then with in a few months both my parents passed away. Life was getting too hard. Depression that had been hanging around for years took over and I made attempts to take my own life. This forced me to start dealing with things in my life that I had not accepted. With lots of help I eventually came out to my wife and my kids. The hardest thing I have ever done is tell my family that I needed to move out of our home. I packed up a few belongings and left so much behind. My life had changed so much so quickly. To this day my kids, now 13 & 15, have never questioned my sexuality and are totally accepting of me and any gay friends I have. Although I hurt my wife more than even I can understand, she has remained my best friend. She continues to stand by my side all the way. Although the pain and guilt never goes away, my family remain my biggest source of my joy and they have continued to love me without question.

So now a year on I find myself living alone in a tiny little apartment in the city, I have made a few gay friends over the year, and I love every one of them for who they are. Two stand out from the rest and I hope we will be lifetime friends, but what ever it is, what I am looking for I still haven't found. Maybe because of my age, or maybe because I have never learnt the social aspects of the gay world and how to meet the right people. Maybe because I can never replace what I had. Maybe because I still feel that I just don't fit in.

I sometimes go out to gay bars just to watch people. I love to see people happy and socialising together. I love to see same sex couples dancing together, kissing and hugging and hearing stories of successful gay relationships. I love seeing people that don't pretend to be straight when there not, people that are happy being themselves, whatever that happens to be. Why should people act "straight" if that doesn't feel right? Life is not an act, it's the one and only chance you get to be you.

Seeing these things remind me that NZ has moved on from where it was while I was in my 20s, that it is ok for a boy to love a boy and a girl to love a girl openly and that love is the important thing, not with whom. There are so many amazing people out there that make this happen every day. I am so happy for these people but envious at the same time. It seems that it is cool and trendy to be gay while you are in your twenties and thirties, but not so cool and even frowned upon when you're older. Who knows, maybe this will change as this generation gets on. Being in your 40s and gay can be incredibly lonely sometimes, even with loved ones around.

So looking ahead to the future, who knows, just one day at a time I guess, I will keep trying to be a good father and a good friend to my wife, to right my wrongs, try to put a smile on my face, keep my head above water while keeping an eye out for someone special to share it with.

I pay respect for all the gay and lesbian people that have paved the way through ignorance and prejudice, those who have suffered and even lost their life to allow the minority to begin to be free to love and be loved.

I think that although being gay may not be wrong in a lot of people's eyes anymore it's still not seen as being right either, so there's still work to be done, I only wish I had the strength to do more myself.

Anyone who thinks being gay is a choice – they need their head read. The only choice we have is whether to be true to ourselves or not. I have lost so much and gained only my self respect and the realisation of who I am. I have no doubt that if I didn't deal with the feelings I have I would be just another statistic like too many others.


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Greg - 18th November 2008