Wow it was 2 years since I ‘came out’. It’s odd having a specific date because when you ‘come out’ you actually do it more than once.Everytime you meet new people you ‘come out’ its an ongoing process. I have picked the 15th May because it was the day I told my parents. For those of you who know the story you will know they weren’t the first people I told (I had spoken to some close friends from work and an old school friend and they are the people who reassured me it would be ok and told me some home truths). Telling my parents was my life changing moment so that is why I call it my coming out birthday. I don’t have a party or anything but I do like to mark in it in some way and this blog is my way of doing that. After all I came out to all of you through this blog.
I often talk about how I’m dealing/not dealing with being gay and I’m not going to use this post to moan. Instead I want to share my experience of the gay scene (it is a limited one may I add). The first time I actually went to a gay bar was with a friend who wanted to see Girls Aloud at a bar in Newcastle. It was around my Birthday in 2004 and I had plans but managed to do a meal with some friends in town and then join my other friend to go to Newcastle to see Girls Aloud. At this point I didn’t know what bar/club it was except it was in Newcastle (I know I should have guessed because it was Girls Aloud but I didn’t I don’t get subtle hints). So we arrive in Newcastle and my friend points out the club Powerhouse. Now I knew of Powerhouse. Having spent 3 years at Uni in nearby Sunderland which at that time had no gay scene the name of Powerhouse had spread that far. I must add that I wasn’t out at uni. The issue did cross my mind, well it does at that age but I wasn’t ready to address it for various reasons. Now I wish I had and my time at uni could have been so much different. Anyway that’s done now. So back to Powerhouse. My friend pointed the club out to me and I remember him saying ‘just be open minded’. I replied something such ‘yeah I will be’. We then got tickets and went in. Then it was in a slightly different place than it is today but still in the Centre For Life area. Once we were in I was surprised at how busy it was then and all the things there. I had never been anywhere where there were so many gay men and women just at ease with themselves. I was sooooo naive and it was a liberating experience . I was surprised we were here as my mate was straight (this has changed since then) but I was just excited to be seeing Girls Aloud I didn’t really think about it. Girls Aloud cam onstage and the place was packed and people were singing and dancing along to them. It was great to see them in such an intimate gig. Once they had finished we got a drink and then left and went home and that was that I had been to my first gay club. It would be another 7 years before I had my next experience.
So fast forward 7 years later to my 3oth Birthday. By now I knew I was gay (turns out so did everybody else) but I wasn’t out to anyone and turning 3o makes you think about your life and stuff so I had plans for celebrations in Newcastle. the day involved coffee, cinema, food , drinks and then hopefully a club. By 9/10pm there was just me and one of my friends. This was because of trains home. I was staying over in a Travelodge and my mate lived in Newcastle. I really wanted to relive the experience from 7 years previous by going to Powerhouse but didn’t feel I could say to my mate at that point why don’t we go to Powerhouse. He is straight and I didn’t want it to be an awkward moment. It probably wouldn’t have been but that’s how I felt at the time. I suppose I wasn’t ready to maybe let others see ‘me’ as gay. Stupid I know but that’s the way it was. So I lied and said I was tired and was going back to by hotel. I still feel bad about this as I sensed he wanted to stay out longer. Anyway I pretended to head off and once out of sight I turned back around and headed to Powerhouse. Powerhouse is now in a different venue. I go and pay my entry and head in. OK going to any bar or club on your own is a little sad but I felt I had to do this on my own. What did I expect from the night? I’m not sure. I wasn’t expecting to pull I’m not designed for that. Anyway I got a drink and soaked up the atmosphere. Yeah I made eye contact with guys who (apparently there was a lot of straight guys in) but that was it. I just soaked up the atmosphere and despite it being awkward being on my own I felt happy in myself. I stayed until the early hours and then went back to my hotel alone. It might not seem like an eventful night but for me that was a big step.
Since then I have been to some more gay bars but only a handful more. Most of these have been with friends which has made the experience much easier to do. I am not someone who is out on the scene but it is worth doing some times it can be quite reassuring to know there are lots of people like you out there. So this why I wanted to mark my anniversary/birthday with a post about my experiences of the gay scene. I hope this has helped some people.
Remember you are not alone out there and yes ‘coming out’ is scary but believe me you are not the only one to have those fears, we all did and still do. Just find someone to talk to and you’ll get through it, just don’t ignore it as it won’t go away you are just delaying the inevitable. The sooner you do it the sooner you can start living the life you want and deserve.