Thursday, 17 January 2013

Coming out has brought me closer to my family

It’s taken me five years to accept I’m gay. Five years of anxiety, denial, depression, unease and deceit. Five years to acknowledge my sexuality and prepare to tell my family. How long did it take them to accept it? About five seconds.

Coming out to my family and friends was perhaps my proudest achievement of 2012. I might have bungee jumped off a bridge in New Zealand and volunteered as a Games Maker at the Olympics, but nothing compares to the relief of finally accepting and being accepted as the person you really are. It has boosted my confidence, made me feel at ease with the world and brought me closer to my family.

It was midway through secondary school that my feelings towards boys started blossoming, although in hindsight it was probably earlier then that when the feelings were noticeable. Flashback to my hot neighbour across the road and it all comes flooding back. I had a love of drama, singing and dancing from such an early age, which for most parents would raise the alarm. It’s certainly something my mother was well aware of.

“You’re really gay? I’ve known since you were nine!” was her response when I came out to her in early September last year. Picking the perfect moment - she was driving when I told her - she pushed her foot down slightly harder on the accelerator then she would normally as we drove up the dual carriageway. Car crash averted, thankfully.

I knew my Mum would take it well. In fact, I knew she knew. When I was still curled up inside her womb she famously told my grandmother that I would grow up to be a ‘ballet dancer’, much to my grandmother’s horror (she declared I’d be a footballer. I hate football. Sorry Grandma.) So even from birth it looked like I was destined for the life of a gay man. And here I am. Happy, comfortable; out and proud.

Nevertheless, it still took me five long, emotional years to accept it. Secondary school is no place for a gay boy. I was taunted by boys for being ‘camp’, quizzed by bitchy girls about my sexuality and ridiculed for my love of acting and the limelight. Thankfully, I hid it well. Choosing to ignore it at first proved the best option, and kissing girls and having a couple of girlfriends kept the bullies at bay. But a boy who hated sport, was only friends with girls and loved Hairspray and Strictly Come Dancing was always going to be coming out the closet at some point.

College swiftly passed by and again, the rumours persisted, but my stance remained the same. “It’s just a phase,” I’d repeat to myself every day. I used to make resolutions every new year that I wouldn’t look at a man in a certain way, that I wouldn’t watch any indecent videos online, but it took only a few days for my hormones to get the better of me and admit defeat as I flicked through Youporn.

Living in the country didn’t help things. No one was gay, apart from the stereotypical gay’s who everyone loathed and who I tried to avoid on most occasions. There was no one to talk to. There were perhaps one or two friends I knew at school who felt the same way, but speaking with them only made me more and more confused. Bottling it up and trying to forget about it made me depressed and emotional. It meant I kept my distance from my family, locked myself up in my room away from my family and their rumours. On one occasion, when I overheard my mum and younger brother discussing my sexuality (he used to tease me regularly, despite being very welcoming and protective now), I felt so low I was determined to change.

University was the moment for change. Getting away from my family seemed the perfect opportunity to forget about my previous feelings and start afresh. Knowing no one else was perfect, it meant people didn’t gossip about you or question your sexuality. It was perfect. I was kissing girls, living the life of a fresher.

But I was living a lie. Deep down, I knew the act couldn’t last forever. The other good thing about university is that the majority of people here are open and liberal about attitudes to sexuality. I mix with lesbians, bisexuals and gays on a day-to-day basis and no one complains, no one stares and no one is secretly gossiping about you behind your back.

On one drunken night, I kissed a boy who was staying with my friend for the weekend. I knew what I wanted, I knew I had to finally do it and face up to it. And it felt good. From that point on I knew I was gay, I just had to learn to be comfortable with it. A few months down the line and after meeting a few guys through Twitter for dates, I finally met one who made me see me for who I really was. A 19-year-old student hoping to crack the world of journalism, who also happens to be a homosexual. It was the first moment in all my life that I finally felt comfortable, and most of all, happy.

And from then on, I’ve never looked back. Soon after telling my Mum, I told my university friends and childhood pals. All were happy for me, even if most of them were unsurprised. Coming out was easy. Trying not to make a big deal out of it was reassuring, like a weight lifting from your shoulders. Once I had told a few key friends, I waited for the rumours to do the talking. Now most people know and there have been no problems.

My relationship with my family however has been the key change. Short of throwing me a ‘coming out’ party and belting out that infamous Diana Ross song, my Mum stood by me as I told the rest of my family. Despite a few shocks by one or two relatives, everyone has been understanding and supportive. Now I’ve told them, we can go back to normal. And that’s just it, I am normal. I have not changed who I am; my personality hasn’t gone from a moderate Neil Patrick-Harris to an over-excited Alan Carr.

I’m still Kieran. The white elephant in the room has been addressed and there are no more awkward glances between my family, glances that ask, “Is he? Isn’t he?” I can even joke about it to my Mum, who recently sent me a 'coming-out' card with two Ken dolls from Barbie getting married. I guess I can only thank the woman who bought me Abba Gold as my first album when I was ten (yes that happened, and yes my favourite song is Fernando.)

So my big bad secret turned out to be the best thing that could have ever happened to me. A happy, single gay man looking forward to a successful, colourful future.

(Picture: the card my Mum sent me)

Quick note to say if you want to discuss any issues I've raised or the experiences I've been through, or if you just fancy a natter, you can talk to me through my twitter account: @kieranwatkins or via email,


  1. Kieran, I'm sitting here smiling and slightly emotional at this. This is so well written, honest and from the heart. You should be so proud, and you are an inspiration. Reading something like this gives me hope that my parents are like your Mum when I (eventually) come out. WAY too much praise for this!

    1. Lewis thank you. Lovely comment there which has really touched me. I wish you all the best for when you come out to your parents, I'm sure they will accept it and you'll have me and all your other friends supporting you in the meantime.

  2. Thank you for the comments guys, I'm thrilled by the feedback and extrememly proud of what the blog post is achieving. Really appreciate all your kind thoughts :)
    Kieran :) x

  3. this is beautifully written Kieran, well done from what Bev (Stokes)my sister tells me you sound like a fantastic young man. sending you my best wishes & love. Cindy xxx

  4. Kieran first of all I would like to thank you for taking the time to write this beautiful article because for so many people who struggle with their sexual identity it's just not an opinion. They don't have family and friends who support them, they get tormented on a daily basis and it pleases me to know this is not the case for you as things stand now and I hope it never is. It's ever so brave of you to let complete strangers in some cases come into your world and understand how things are for you by reading your personal experiences. I hope now you're depression has ceased and you've got that inner happiness and peace you deserve. More than just the topic you've discussed you have a way with words that captures the attention of readers in a way that's both humorous and insightful. Well done xx

  5. Kieran, I have known your mum for over 20 years (we went to school together) and I remember those school days well. I was a shortass and got bullied. My response to that was to learn karate and look after myself. It gave me confidence and helped me through. However, it pales in to insignificance based on your experiences and internal turmoil. I don't know you personally but I am very proud of you. Anyone who has that courage to make that decision and move forward, I have TOTAL admiration for. Society has this "wonderful" ability of pigeon-holing people instead of accepting them for WHO they are. It is often a case of WHAT you are which is totally flawed. You sound like a great guy and I hold you in complete respect for standing up and accepting yourself and not hiding it. I am sure your mum is so so proud of you for doing that. It can't have been easy and I wish you every success in everything you do. Have a wonderful 2013 and please send my best to your mum and the rest of the family. Shaun Bryant.

  6. I stumbled across your blog through twitter and this was the first article I read. I don't even know you and I feel so unbelievably proud of you and I'm happy that you've had the confidence to come out, accept yourself and that your family has been so supportive. Congratulations! And I hope you're really happy :)

  7. This is really well written Kieran and a great read. I'm really happy for you. I've noticed a good change in you since you came out. It's good to see you happy, being you, and not hiding any emotions. I'm sure it was tough, but that's all over with now and I wish you every luck for the future and hope you find someone nice!

  8. Thanks Katy, that's really really kind of you, appreciate your kind words despite the fact i don't know you! :) add me on Twitter if you haven't done already :)

    And thank you Anonymous, I really wish I knew who this was!? thank you xx