As I started living and breathing my new gay self I had to start telling my friends. I wanted to. One friend had been there from the beginning, but the rest of them were none the wiser.
I decided to tell my closest friends initially. I called them the inner five. Because, well there were five of them.
In many respects it was easy as they were almost all gay men. I was joining their club and they, as you would expect, welcomed me with open arms. The only advice one gave me was ‘don’t get fat – there are too many fat lesbians!!’
Looking back what I found funny was how I naturally formed a list of who to tell first. A lot of my closest friends are gay men, so they were at the top, then my closest female friends. Family would have to come later. I wasn’t quite ready for that.
Many of the ‘outings’ if I can call them that, would follow a pattern. I’d tell them over the first drink and then we’d get stuck into more drinks as I’d answer a lot of questions. When did you know? How has it taken so long? Etc etc (all covered in a previous blog post). I began to realise that no-one was shocked. No-one said they guessed as much, but equally, no-one was very surprised. That was nice of course and lovely to be so well received, but a little bit of me wanted more of a reaction!
The only eye opening moment was one friend who said, years ago when I said I had a date, his partner had been surprised to find out that my date was with a man and not a woman. He had just assumed when he first met me I was gay.
What I didn’t bank on, is when you are open and honest about your sexuality, you set the arena for an impromptu sharing session. During one such session and one bottle of wine in, I couldn’t hide my surprise when one female friend told me she’d had a girlfriend while at Uni and several gay flings since, all prior to marrying her husband.
As time went on, I told more and more friends. The problem was, until everyone was told, I would find myself regularly texting friends in advance of a group catch up with the words ‘she doesn’t know about me/please don’t say anything’. I’d find myself telling a story that would show my true colours and have to steer it in a different direction. It was tricky as I couldn’t be my 100% me with everyone and began to hate the lies I’d have to tell to keep my secret identity.
In fact a few times I completely lost track of who I had and hadn’t told. I unintentionally shocked some friends, when I thought they knew and I hadn’t told them!
I regretted leaving some people further down the list because I wasn’t sure of their reaction. Mainly, if I am honest, friends with a close connection to the church. How awfully stereotypical is that. A few friends did question why they found out later than others. They were hurt that I had hidden my real self from them for longer. It was a tough lesson to learn. I had been so focused on me and my story to tell, I hadn’t bargained on why my delayed reveal would seem offensive as if I was second guessing how they would feel about it.
All in all, it got so much easier the more people I told. Everyone was so lovely about it and very supportive.
For the friends I didn’t see often, or distant relatives, if they hadn’t guessed by my social media posts, it was confirmed when I got married. Now everyone knew. Or mostly everyone.