Out Of The Closet, Into The Fire
by H D Thompson
There was a time in my life when the idea of talking about my sexuality was about as likely as pig flight. Now, I talk about blowjobs the way most people talk about yoga. The act of ‘coming out’ will soon be an outdated one because eventually kids can grow up to be whoever the hell they want to be and it won’t be questioned and they won’t have to ‘come out’ because they will have grown up ‘out’ because that is the way it should be because, nature. Unfortunately, until that time, some kids are going to have to run this uncomfortable gauntlet, but lucky for them, they don’t realise how much good it will do them.
I grew up in a small coastal town on the mid north coast of NSW, nestled nicely in the outer zone of bigotry that wafts in from the smaller-minded parts of Australia. Like a blemish on a Beckham , I did not belong and I was not welcome. I wasn’t an overly camp kid, but I was by no means a Rock Hudson. I bared some of the tell tale characteristics of a gay kid, maybe a laugh too high here, a walk a little too light there, a perplexing affinity for dolphins, and it was these little things that accidentally acted as ammunition for those who saw fit to bear arms and shoot. It was a pretty homophobic town and my high school was a level of hell I daren’t wish to return to, but when you’re young you don’t really know what to do about it.
When I was old enough to take notice of these little ticks that were giving away the demon inside me, I attempted to hide them, to hide that part of me that was such an abomination. It was easier to retreat in the face of such adversity than it was to just grow up as a normal fucking person because at the time being gay definitely wasn’t normal and anyone the least bit different was treated like a wart and burned.
When I was finally free from purgatory school, I made new friends and started growing up as most people do. One friend in particular had an affinity for light I had not known before and she ended up being an unknown catalyst for the path I would eventually veer onto. Unfortunately, a car accident took her from me much sooner than I was ready to deal with and I on top of my already clouded soul grew a sad and heavy heart of grief.
One night as I was about to walk out the door, I took it upon myself to just bite the bullet. Fuck it, life is short, etc. My family are the most loving and supporting people I know. They wouldn’t hurt a fly (my Dad once stopped the car to untangle a butterfly from the windshield wipers and set it free on a nearby bush) and there was no way they didn’t know about me, it was just a matter of addressing the pink elephant in the room. I went in to Mums room where she was quietly reading a book and I just blurted it out. She responded in a loving, nurturing way but when she started saying the words “anal sex” a lot I was straight out the door, “Thanks Mum tell Dad OK love you bye!”.
And that was it.
I couldn’t stand the suffocating small town I was trapped in so I sought out refuge elsewhere. I moved all around the country until I found a city that fit me just right and in the arms of Melbourne I finally found a home. I started a new life as the person I now was. There was no need to lie about my sexual preference or hide any facets of my personality. If I wanted to listen to Beyoncé then I could fucking listen to Beyoncé. It was a type of living I wasn’t accustomed to and it was intoxicating. I found a job and friends that accepted me for exactly who I was and this helped form me into the person I should have been all those years ago – instead of hiding myself in the oversized clothes of a shady adolescence, I should have been out in the light being who I wanted to be without fear of fucking retribution.
I love my family more than life, but the idea of moving back to that deadbeat cesspool is so foreign to me it may as well be Mars – even now if I return for a visit, homophobic slurs are spat at me like phlegm from the throat. I have my life and I am happy for it. I would never have seen that I could be happy when I grew up trapped in that closet; the darkness after a while becomes so normal that you assume that life is just this hard. It isn’t, and it doesn’t have to be. For me it was removing what was toxic and finding somewhere to belong, it might not be the same for everyone, but there is always a way to pry open those hardwood doors and see the light. Trust me – it’s better out here. We have brunch. And Ian McKellen.