Our favourite B-list holiday is just around the corner: Valentine’s Day, an occasion for those in relationships to be reminded of their love and for the rest of us to be reminded of our singledom. More importantly, it is also LGBT History Month, which means it is the perfect occasion to talk about being gay.
This feeling of being alone, or rather of being fed up of being alone, is precisely what drove me to my grand coming-out. It was long over-due and I had been continuously putting off the big reveal, waiting in the wings for some form of cue that would allow me to finally burst out onto the scenes of open homosexuality.
I repeatedly missed the cue, and before I knew it I found myself embarking on my highly anticipated third year abroad, a new country with new people and places, yet still not out.
But in the end, moving abroad gave me the shake-up I needed. I was lucky enough to have a coming-out celebrationthat was full of love, support and, thanks to some wonderful friends, an assortment of penis-related food items, Babybel[end]s and cheese balls included.
Although, as many of you will know, coming out isn’t a one-off performance, after which you receive your gaycard and retire to your new life as a fully-fledged, out gay man. Coming out wasn’t a final curtain call; it was actually just the start of the show, and I found myself thoroughly unprepared and feeling pretty clueless.
Rather than blossoming from the cocoon into a fully transformed butterfly ready to fly off and flirt with boys, I think a more appropriate analogy would be that of a newborn foal, birthed and left to find its bearings as it tries to stand up and stagger off.
I felt as though a lot of catching up was in order. I was essentially a twelve-year-old schoolboy with all the usual milestones of adolescence ahead of him. Everything from acknowledging you fancy someone and acting on it to hook-ups and heartbreaks; all these awkward first-experienceswere new and exciting landmarks on the road to becoming an emotionally developed and well experienced post-adolescent member of society.
While I don’t think that leaving the country to do a crash course in reinventing yourself is strictly necessary, the year abroad was useful in that it offered a time frame, by the end of which I was ready to return to the UK as the aforementioned fully transformed butterfly that flirts with boys.
Ultimately, however, your own ‘character development’ is an ongoing process rather than a racecourse with a finish line in sight. There are always going to be new experiences to be had and new things to be learnt, about yourself or about others, and perhaps this LGBT History Month, or even this Valentine’s Day, will be the perfect opportunity to make the first few steps on the road to being the best possible version of yourself.