Newsgroups: soc.motss
From: Stephen Nicholson 
Subject: Re: Coming out later in life?
Date: Fri, 2 Sep 1994 03:27:38 GMT

Re: Coming out later in life?

Although I'm Australian, I can't say that my experience has been
all that much different from the Americans replying to this thread.

I finally came out to myself when I was 25-26, and to other people
when I was about 27. To say that its been a difficult fear-filled
process would be an understatement.

As to why it took me so long - it seems most of the reasons have
already been mentioned by others ...

Firstly I was brought up as a Roman Catholic. I went to RC schools
for all my school life. There was little taught about sex, and most
of that was "naughty naughty stuff - wait 'til you're married"
sorts of things. As such I had little understanding of sexuality or
sex, and had NO role models to  speak of. The city I grew up in -
Wollongong - is very working class and yobbo/macho. No poofters
here! At least that's the way it seemed.

At the same time, when I was in High School, the other boys picked
on me every day pretty much - verbal and physical harrassment for
years. They called me a poofter, even though I didn't quite really
understand what it meant. All I knew was they they got bashed (like
I was) and killed, and that everyone thought they were disgusting
perverts etc. The local media never helped - Wollongong is a
working class town and all the local media ever wrote about
homosexuals was stories where they could also include the word
Paedophiles or Perverts in big headlines.

Just as my sexuality was starting to take hold when I was 15 I came
up with a grand scheme to do away with all these confusing emotions
- I became VERY religious. You see - Catholic priests took vows of
celibacy - and that was my answer. I was going to be a priest so I
didn't have to discuss my sexuality at all! I also joined a pretty
fundementalist youth group - that didn't help much either. So, I
hid it all away, deep deep away.

By the time I was 18 I was moving fast out of the religious phase -
but University became my next vehicle of sublimation. Yes, I got my
distinctions and high distinctions with veritable ease - I didn't
have much else to think about. I learned Sign Language and within a
year I was teaching and interpretting it - amazing. I didn't have
much else to do. I masturbated like a jackhammer night after night
about the men I met - but sort of assumed that when I reached an
appropriate age that all of a sudden I would change. Ha!

Occasionally during Uni I saw ads for the Gay Soc. on campus. I
thought about going and it turned me on so much that it scared me.
I never went. That was for poofters and I wasn't one of them
limp-wristed perverts! Seems that I learnt too well in High School!

After I finished my undergard degree and started on a Masters/job,
I started to open up. I started to get interested in Drama and
writing. I started going to parties. I started experimenting
sometimes with drugs, or different types of music. I even tried
this 'sex thing' with a few women - but whenever they'd be trying
to snog with me on their lounge, I'd secretly be eyeing off their
male flatmates or brother or someone. Nope - that wasn't right for
me. The longest I could hold a relationship together was about 3

When I was 25 I met a gay man called Terry. He didn't try and bonk
me, but he did talk openly and honestly about his life and what he
liked to do with men. And I was astonished - and turned on like
nothing ever before. He made me confront myself and think about it.
Soon enough I could look in a mirror and face up to the fact that I
probably was gay. But I was still very badly repressed. Yes, I was
gay - but was I going to do anything about it? No! Was I going to
tell anyone else? No!

But then the bad times started. I went into months, years of
despression over all of this hiding myself away. I was suicidal. I
wouldn't talk to anyone. I ditched out of drama, and nearly lost my
research job. I hid from most of my friends. I knew that I had to
come out properly. Looking in the mirror wasn't enough. It was the
mirror hanging on the inside of the closet door.

Sometimes it takes death to affirm the desire for life - and my
uncle in New Zealand died. It was a very sad funeral and it got me
to a lot of thinking as well. When my parents died who was going to
comfort me? When I die who is going to mourn me? I was 27 - it was
time to start working on these hidden parts of my life. The next
week I came back to the campus and there was an ad in the Uni
newspaper for the campus gay group. I went along the very next day
... and as far as I'm concerned the real coming out started there -
when I was 27.

However, I've felt it difficult to get back into the life stream.
The few relationships/boyfriends that I've tried haven't been
particularly successful. Like others have said - I'm a mental
adolescent trapped in a grown man's body. My psycho-sexuality had
been stomped on and buried when I was 14 or 15. I've spent the last
two years trying to undo all that damage. I'm trying to live with
other people again which is very difficult as I lived alone for 7
years. I'm trying to trust other people again - once again very
difficult because I haven't even had an intimate/close friend for
years and years - if truly ever! But I moved out of that flat in
Wollongong and moved closer to the gay nightlife of Sydney, trying
to leave the old ghosts of Wollongong behind for a while. I moved
in with 4 other people - a shock to the system that's taken me the
last 6 months to get used to again. I'm starting to assert myself
again whereas I cared so little about myself before. I still have
my bad days, but am surprised at the number of good days that are

I feel now, at the age of 29, that I could actually have enough
self-confidence to start dating and doing all the other things that
my friends did back when they were teenagers. I still feel bitter
about all the lost time - although in some ways it was never lost.
I've been quite the achiever over the years, in all but one area.
Now its time to go and fix that!

There is, of course, much more to the whole thing than I can write
in these paragraphs. A lot more reasons and influences and events
that were significant. But hopefully this shows why I didn't come
out when I was a teenager, or in my early 20s.

Hope this is of some help!!

-- Stephen.
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