It happened in a Wetherspoons

It happened in a Wetherspoons

So a bit about me: I’m in final year, I speak French, I’m from Merseyside, I think that the Obamas should be everybody’s relationship goals, I love morning walks through the park, I can be high-maintenance one day, so laid back I could fall over the next, and I’m gay.

Now, writing a coming out story is a pretty daunting task, because it’s not confined to just one moment, it’s a process that I’ll probably have to do over and over again. I’ve been doing it since the day I came out to myself when I was about 13, and I’ll probably have to do it until the day I die. And that’s not a bad thing, it’s the most empowering feeling in the world, but I can still write about the few days when it all became real.

I first realised when I was a teenager. I went to Catholic School. I loved school, I had plenty of friends and I was happy, if not that confident in myself. This, however, was a school where even though most people were open-minded – staff and students – old ideas were so institutionalised that we were taught about sex and relationships as part of our RE classes. We were taught that the rhythm method was just as good as stickin’ something on the end of it—just to give you a flavour of some of the ridiculousness. So, I never had any people like me to look up to and the few gay people I knew didn’t have an easy time, as you could imagine.

I finally plucked up the courage mid-way through a drunken argument with two of my best friends on holiday: the power of words said in haste.

I knew I wanted to tell my parents ASAP, which is a difficult moment for anybody. For me, there was no pomp, no ceremony, no rainbow flags floating in the wind. It happened in a Wetherspoons on Mathew Street in Liverpool, before a fancy Fathers’ Day meal in a restaurant across the road. I’d decided it was finally time about an hour before and I just knew I had to do it and I had my friends messaging me words of encouragement as it happened.

It’s cliché, but my parents really are my biggest inspiration. They’ve loved each other since they met 48 years ago. They’re an inter-racial couple that met in the 60s. When I came out to them, I realised that they knew exactly what it was like to struggle for love. The struggles that they went through back then – funny looks on the street as they walked hand-in-hand, finding it difficult to tell their parents, struggling to prove that their love was just as valid as anyone else’s – are the same struggles I face as their gay son today. For me, being mixed race is as important as part of my identity as being gay is. I already knew what it was like for something I have no control over – my background and the shade of my skin –to be the first thing that a playground bully or a bigot would go for. I already knew the importance of embracing who you are. My parents prepared me well.

Jamie Ali

 

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