This week is Come Out Active Week. This and Rainbow Laces Day on the 27th of November form part of the Rainbow Laces campaign that aims to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues in sport. In light of the fact that I co-founded Racing Pride, an LGBTQ+ motorsport organisation, I’ve decided to write a little bit about my own experiences of being queer.
First, a metaphor. It was like having vertigo, despite the solid foundations of the building, I just couldn’t walk out onto the roof. I held onto the entrance to the lift. I didn’t trust any surface outside of the lift’s confines. This was my experience of finding out about my sexuality.
I had a difficult coming out, the first time. I won’t go into detail, but I came out when I was in my mid-teens, about six years ago. I experienced what, at first, was a beautiful blossoming of sexuality but which turned into a psychological trauma.
When that was over, I started from square one. The thing I buried deepest were my queer feelings. At the time I was about to start my A2 year, at the end of which I would have exams that would decide the university I could go to. It was going to be a hard year and the last thing I wanted was anything negative hanging over me. I said to close friends that it had just been a phase. Nothing could get in the way of the end results. It couldn’t be allowed to disrupt the academic year.
Come results day and I obtained great A-Levels. I went to university and despite all the freedoms that change brings my queer self remained hidden, I wasn’t ready. One night in first year one of my flatmates had some friends over, one of whom was gay, for a card game in the kitchen. At one point the game got lively, several cards were dropped. As the guy came over for a card he had dropped I found myself blushing as I gave it to him. That was March 2016.
At the time of writing it’s November 2019, so what’s changed?
I’ve since graduated with a 2:1 from a university I loved studying at. I’m now a graduate looking for a full-time job. I’ve consequently got far less stress than I’ve had for a while. I can pay attention to other aspects of my life that I want to explore.
So, we come to a cold night in November and I get invited to the Heaven nightclub by a close friend. At the pre-drinks he’s invited a close female friend of his who asks if I would like some eye shadow. I’ve never worn make-up before so I opt for a light application of bright green shadow to match my t-shirt, not enough to stand out but enough to show up under the bright lights of a nightclub or in a selfie.
It was when I looked at the selfie the next morning that I saw for the first time my openly queer self. Devoid of fear, here was a person happy. I remembered that before we went to the club I was asked if I would be alright on the journey home with it still on. I’m a Londoner, I’ve gone to parties in bright white overalls, but I’ve never been asked that question that way before. You know what? I wasn’t worried at all.
The next day writing this on four hours’ sleep mixed with a dose of fear was difficult too. I’ve chatted to friends about my story but never written about it. The biggest difference is eleven hours’ sleep, brunch with friends and an edit.
My close friends and family know I’m LGBT, or at least something along those lines, and I’m fortunate to have never experienced any homophobic abuse. In some way it’s an identity I’ve struggled to embrace fully, to the extent that this article was originally going to be published anonymously.
I hope that this admission — my journey towards finally being comfortable with my sexuality — can provide some comfort and inspiration to some. Comfort, in that you can take your time and ease yourself in, and inspiration to those who are struggling. On reflection, I’m perfectly comfortable being Queer even if don’t appear so overtly. And I’m happy to say that I look forward to maybe a bit more eye shadow when I next head out with friends.