Alexander – My Story

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Beth – My Story
June 25, 2024
Kit – My Story
June 27, 2024

Alexander – My Story

Me at seven

 

My name is Alexander. This is my story.

I came out in 1990 when I was 19. I lived in England, where Section 28 was law (think Florida’s “don’t say gay” law, but worse), and we’d frequently see the horrifying “tombstone” ad warning about AIDS on TV.

In those days I often heard that “gay” stood for “got AIDS yet?” while AIDS was the “arse injected death sentence.” I’d known that I was gay since before I was a teenager, for the whole of the 1980s, which was a decade that sucked – and not just for the shoulder pads and terrible hair.

I was privately educated and I was head of school at the oldest private school in England. I wanted to come out while I was still at school and still “head boy” (oh, my), but I realized that in those days it would have been in the front page of the UK’s tabloid newspapers and I was afraid. I couldn’t handle that much scrutiny, even though I was becoming increasingly iconoclastic, always one to break the established rules.

I remember spending long evenings at school with my best friend, drinking clandestine bottles of red wine, desperately wanting to fill the pregnant silences with an admission of my sexuality, but too afraid of the consequences. I didn’t want to lose our friendship.

After school ended we travelled around the world, separated for a few months while he worked in Australia and I stayed in Thailand to teach English be by myself, and face the reality of my Identity. That time alone allowed me the space to find my honesty again.

This was before the public Internet, nobody had email, and communication internationally was expensive, so I was out of touch with everything I knew for months. It was great.

My friend and I arranged to meet again in Sydney, Australia because he had the tickets for the flights that would take us across the Pacific, and I resolved to come out to him then. I had a mental image that it would pull the rug out from under our friendship: I would be changing the very foundations of our relationship and that it was cruel and unfair of me to do that, but I had to. I couldn’t lie any longer, couldn’t hide my truth.

When the moment came, over lunch, I spoke my piece, he looked shocked and I wanted to give him space to digest the new reality (and the food), so we paid and ran away.

We met again the next day. The shocked look on his face was because I’d talked so fast that he was struggling to understand what I’d said. He (and all my other contemporaries at school) had known that I was gay for years. It didn’t and hasn’t changed anything about our friendship. He wouldn’t have been my friend if it was a problem for him. Nevertheless, I was determined that I’d never start a friendship on a lie again, and since then I have been out ever since.

I’m godfather to one of his daughters and we’re still good friends. We spoke two days ago.

The UK is better now than it was, but it’s not finished: there’s still a lot of fight to be fought, a long way to go. It’s easier to come out and much less of a surprise to people that their kids might not be straight or cis, but there’s a big anti-trans movement here and culture war nonsense that parrots verbatim the lies they told about queers in the 70s and 80s, but instead it’s about trans and non-binary folk today.

They were lies then, and they’re lies now.

Be safe, and when you are, tell your truth: your real friends are always with you.

Happy Pride!

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