Things are slowly changing in our society regarding gay and bi-sexual relationships but for a lot of people it’s still a massive issue to ‘come out’ to their family and maybe their friends too. However much we congratulate ourselves on being open and accepting, there are still many people who believe that being gay or bi-sexual is ‘wrong’ and who also think that it’s actually a life choice.
Years ago, when sexual acts between two men was still illegal (yes, that was the case in the UK until 1967 when the Sexual Offences Act of Parliament decriminalised homosexual acts in private between two men!), it was almost impossible for any gay person to be open about their sexual preferences as there was a chance that, for men, they could go to prison. It seems almost impossible now but for many men and women, they had to repress their feelings all of their lives, not least because they might have brought ‘shame’ to their families and be ostracised by the society in which they lived.
For many older men and women, some repressed their feelings or didn’t realise their true sexuality until they fell in love with another man or woman. However, it may not be the case that women who come out in later life have always been repressed lesbians as sexuality can change as we age. This was, and still is, very confusing for a lot of men and women, especially those who have been married to a member of the opposite sex and had children with them. For their partners and families too, it’s not always an easy transition to make, when someone realises where their true sexual feelings lie. The other person can end up feeling ‘cheated’.
Children and teenagers, the latter of whom are just discovering their own sexuality, may become judgmental whilst feeling very vulnerable about the future and how a parent’s ‘coming out’ will affect them. It can take years to come to terms with the reality and, as with any loss, there will be denial and disbelief before there’s a gradual acceptance.
If you’re still undecided about your sexuality, whatever your age, don’t despair. Seeking out advice before telling other people, and talking it all through to an independent person can help a lot. The LGBT Foundation can help you – phone 0345 330 3030 or contact a counsellor privately for some face-to-face sessions.
Repressing how you feel and not being able to be true to yourself if one of the hardest ways for a human being to live and if you’re not able to express your true feelings, it’s not healthy either psychologically or emotionally.
Take heart though, you will get through this difficult time and look towards a brighter future. If someone in your family has confided in you that they’re gay, try to be understanding and not judgmental – they are still the same person with the same positive traits and they didn’t choose to be different. This really sums up the name of my website, Same But Different, because you or a loved one look the same but in some ways you/they are different – and that’s OK!