My name is Dominic Jones and my story begins a few weeks after my twenty-first birthday. Looking back, I think I first realised I was gay when I was thirteen years old, but I don't think I fully understood what that meant until I was about sixteen. During the last five years, or so, I've done a lot of soul searching, but have yet to accept being gay and I still haven't told anybody about it. I haven't even met another gay man that I am aware of. I have decided to write about my life in the hope of juggling all my thoughts in a more logical way. Maybe this way, I will finally be able to pluck up the courage to be who I really am in the world.
Late April in Newcastle, in the North-East of England, usually means one thing for me. It's coming to the end of the football season and my team are fitting tooth and nail for those final precious points to end the season on a high. I'm a Newcastle United fan; always have been, always will be.
My dad started taking me to the United games when I was four, or five years old. This family tradition carried on, more or less, for every home game for around a decade and a half up until the end of last season. I say family tradition, but really it was just me and my dad from my immediate family, plus a couple of male cousins and uncles.
My mum have never joined us for the football matches, either in person, or on the television. She was only nineteen when I was born and my dad is a four years older than her. They both left school with no qualifications, but have worked very hard to provide our family with solid security and as many treats as they can afford for me, my brother and my sister.
Max, my brother, is four years younger than me and never caught the football bug. He's more a fan of hard rock and metal music, or I often say to him crap music. It's all screaming in my opinion and a mile away from the music I like. I've got plenty of camp stuff hidden away under my bed.
My sister, Abbie, is fourteen. We don't have much in common, but we're still very close. She's the little princess of the family; a real daddy's-little-girl and the apple-of-my-mum's-eye. She's very much into Disney and chatting to her school mates online; a sheer contrast to the football, football, football culture that I lived in at her age.
Me and dad don't go to the football games together any more. It does bother me that the family tradition seems to be over. There's endless football on the television to get my fix, but the true reason I don't go any more is because me and my dad have drifted apart. We never really spoke about it; we just stopped going to the games and neither party protested. We were never close outside of the football world anyway.
In fact, I've pulled away a lot from all my family recently. I moved into my own flat a few months back about a thirty minute walk from where I grew up and the rest of my family still live. It's a decent bed-sit; nothing to shout about but it does the job.
“Why are you moving out?” my mum said to me when I first told her.
“Well, I'm earning decent money now, mum, so I thought it was about time I got my own place. I am almost twenty-one and I can't live here forever.”
“Good for you. But I do think it's about time you got a girlfriend, Dominic. You'll get lonely on your own. I was nineteen when you were born and had been going out with your dad for a few years by then. You're older than that and there's not a girl in sight.”
“My love life is none of your business!” I replied aggressively.
That was very common of me. To abruptly end awkward conversations by saying something defensive, or nasty to the person annoying me. I'm constantly full of worry and confusion and use this as a defense mechanism to try and stop the truth coming out.
Even after several years, gay still sounds a bit weird for me to say, or write. It's like a whole new identity that I discovered in myself one day that I have absolutely no control over. I went from not being attracted to anybody, to wondering why I wasn't attracted to one of the many girls surrounding me every day at school to, oh my god, I'm gay.
To be honest, I wasn't happy with the discovery at all. Actually, devastated is a more appropriate phrase; utterly devastated. I didn't want to be gay; I still don't. But I've done my research and, I guess, I don't have no choice. I've heard of some weird therapy that can apparently fix guys to becoming straight, but it sounds too good to be true, or bollocks is probably a better way of summarizing it.
I am still a virgin and have never even been kissed. I've been attracted to a few guys. The attraction does feel normal. I think I fully understand what a good-looking guy looks like. The only pleasure
I get though is on my own. I look at gay photos and videos online practically every day; making sure I delete the history afterwards. I used to delete them because my brother and sister often borrowed my computer, as they didn't have ones of their own. Surprisingly,
I still delete the history even though I'm now living on my own. I suppose I don't want to take the risk in case someone comes round and needs to use my computer; not that I get many visitors.
My self-confidence has been shot by being gay. I feel ugly inside and out. I don't know how to portray myself in public any more, so certainly have no idea how to go about meeting guys. I've no-one to talk to for advice. None of my family know the truth, or any of my friends. I feel alone and confused. Whenever my mum asks me if I've got a girlfriend yet, or any one else does for that matter, I make some lame excuse. I feel like I'm climbing more and more into the closet.
I've been brought up not to lie, but I certainly don't want to be caught in a trap by saying I have a girlfriend and then messing up. I'm building up to telling people; I just don't know how to. I've been online for coming-out advice and there is plenty out there. There's a lot more gay people out there than I expected; apparently around one in ten blokes. That makes me feel less of a freak.
I was in a large social group of sporty lads back in school. About thirty of us and we played football more or less every lunch time and sometimes after school, or at the weekend. Surely, at least someone else from that group is gay now; I often wonder who. There was a lot of fit guys in our group, but I wouldn't care which of them was gay; they were all decent lads. But I haven't kept in touch with any of them. My wallowing in self-pity has ruled out staying in touch with them.
I just wish I had another gay person to talk to. I'm almost certain I have unconditional love from my mum, brother and sister and even from my dad too, in his old-fashioned kind of way. I can't recall him ever saying he loved me, but I'm sure he does deep down.
But, I'm not so sure I would still have that unconditional love if I told them I was queer.
I think my brother and sister maybe slightly to young to understand it. I don't think my mum or dad know any gay people either. Maybe they do, but they have never mentioned any to me. I really don't know how they will all react if I pluck up the courage to tell them.
I've had my suspicions about one of uncles for a few years. He's a good few years older than me and I've never heard about any girlfriend of his. He's sensitive, defensive and can be aggressive; very like me. Maybe he is in the closet too. If he is gay and came out that would really help me to assess everybody's reactions.
Last Christmas, I nearly confessed all to my mum. Like every year, we had a big family gathering on Christmas evening with my dad's side of the family; some the guys who I used to go the football with, plus a few of my aunts and other cousins. We were all sat around chatting and exchanging presents when my mum turned the channel on the TV over.
“We're not watching this shit! Turn that puff off!” my dad demanded. “He isn't funny, he's just a camp ponce! There'll be something better on any other channel!”
“He is funny,” my mum answered. Then she directed a question to the rest of the room. “Is it just me, or does anybody else think so?”
I was hoping someone, anyone, would agree with my mum.
“No he isn't!” one of uncles agreed.
“Right then, if nothing is on we all want to watch, why don't we play that quiz we bought Max?” my mum suggested. “The pub quiz one?”
I charged out of the room and up to my bedroom. I felt like it was obvious why, but nobody seemed to understand. Only one person came up to see me.
It was my mum.
“What's up with you?” she said.
“I don't feel well. I've got stomach ache,” I responded.
“Really, how come?”
“How am I supposed to know?” I shouted back at her.
She looked annoyed at me for snapping.
“Maybe the turkey wasn't cooked properly. Or, that takeaway last night was dodgy,” I suggested
I was lying. My stomach felt fine. I was furious, but not ill. I covered up because I was scared my mum would piece the puzzle together.
“No-one else is ill. Stop being a drama queen!” my mum demanded.
“I'm not being a drama queen. I feel like shit!
“Oi, we don't swear in this house!” my mum insisted.
She always said that when anyone swore.
“Sorry, mum. Please leave me alone. I'll be down later.”
“Well don't spend all night feeling sorry for yourself. Your family's here and we only see them a few times a year. It's Christmas Day you can't spend it on your own. I would have thought you would have wanted to be around all your cousins.”
“I'll be down later, mum.”
My mum gave a loud sigh and left the room.
I could hear her footsteps going downstairs towards all the merriment. There was lots of noise, mainly laughing, coming from the living room I had recently left.
That conversation feels like yesterday. I had been unhappy well before, but I don't recall hearing any homophobic abuse from any of my family before that day. I had gone from a happy-go-lucky normal lad, who loved everything about Christmas to a deeply unhappy, angry, self-conscience loner within a few years and my dad had made things much worse for me with his mindless opinion.
What bothered me the most was that not one person in that room said anything to suggest that what my dad had said was wrong. Everybody must have heard him say 'puff' and 'ponce' and I didn't here a single 'you're out of order' from anyone. Yes, I wasn't out to any of them but, by not saying anything, they were all condoning my dad's behaviour; well that's I believed any way. I knew he was old-fashioned and narrow-minded; more from being uneducated about different types of people than being a nasty person. But, I expected my mum to tell him off, or at least one of my younger relatives who may have gay friends or, at least, thought it was offensive.
Yes, my mum said the gay bloke on the telly was funny, but that was hardly a glowing endorsement that she would be happy to give up some grand kids in the future for a potentially funny gay son. Any little confidence that had been building up inside me was immediately destroyed.
That was the catalyst for me moving out, which I did soon after. Things have been a bit easier since. Living alone gives me a lot more time to think away from my family. I don't know what's more annoying; my mum and dad treating me like a kid, or being around my brother and sister all jolly without a care in the world. They both seem much happier than I feel. I am glad they're happy; I certainly wouldn't what them going through what I am.
I work at a high street fashion store in the city centre. As far as I know, I'm the only gay guy there which is another kick in the stomach. However, there's this rumour going round that one the other blokes is gay, but I'm not sure. It would make my life easier having someone there to study how they
relate to the world; I've forgot how to do it. I feel like everything I do screams gay and unhappy. I have no idea why gay used to be a word meaning happy.
The rumour concerns a guy called Freddie. We're good mates and I've spent some time hanging out with him in work and out. I am attracted to him, but I don't want to get my hopes up that he might be secretly gay. He's also close to this guy called Malcolm. They're always talking about girls, whereas Freddie never talks about girls when it's just me and him. Sadly it hardly is, as Malcolm always seems to be around. I'm convinced Malcolm doesn't like me; I'm not sure exactly why, but let's just say he doesn't hide it very well. I can recall a recent conversation between the three of us:
“Do you fancy anyone at work, Freddie?” Malcolm asked him.
“Diane's okay, but I would have to say Sarah is by far the best looking,” Freddie replied.
I tried my best to hide my sadness at another conversation about women. I think I managed it without being noticed.
“Yeah, I agree,” Malcolm responded.
He then looked over to me expecting my input.
I said nothing, still thinking about the girls Freddie had said.
“What about you, Dominic?” he asked me. "Who've you got your eyes on?”
I was stumped. “I don't really know, mate. I've not really thought about it.”
There was an awkward pause before I continued. “So you like Jenny, eh?”
I tried, and failed, to move the focus back on to him.
“What do you mean you haven't thought about it?” he said angrily. “It's all us lads think about isn't it? You're not gay are you?”
“Don't be silly!” I stupidly replied.
I should have just admitted it there and then.
But, I chose to go further into my closet. “Yeah, I guess Sarah is the better looking for me too. But I get on with Diane better.”
I just wanted to agree with Freddie, so he thought we had even more in common. My feelings for Freddie were growing by the second, especially when he was around.
Freddie is a very handsome guy. He's two years older than me and quite experienced with sex from what he says. He's only admitted to being with women though, so I'm not sure the rumour has any substance. He seems to have gone a bit cold on me recently as well. Maybe he is straight, the rumour is bollocks and he's noticed me checking him out; let's just say I do it often. I try to be discrete, but maybe I'm not. He's so damn funny. He's always the life and soul; cracking jokes and making everyone laugh. He doesn't seem to have a care in the world; I like that.
My last shift at work was two days ago and I casually looked at the rota to see when we were next working together. It's tomorrow and I can't wait! And as a bonus, Malcolm won't be there getting in the way. Maybe I should take Freddie aside and tell him I like him. What's the worst that could happen?
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