DurAnorak (duranorak) wrote,
DurAnorak
duranorak

Apparently it is National Coming Out Day (UK edition) today. I feel like I should say something, on the basis that I like joining in the marking of occasions and I think this one's important, but the truth is I've had a pretty easy ride of it in terms of telling people my sexuality. I've had to field my mum crying about how she wanted grandchildren a couple of times, but she wouldn't have got those even if I was straight, and the only other problem with it she ever had was one of assuming every female friend I ever had was my girlfriend and trying to force them to sleep in the same bed as me to prove how understanding she was.

I'm lucky. I didn't have to fight with my parents. I thought, I'll write this, and make sure everyone knows I know how lucky I am, and then I thought about school.

I came out as a lesbian at boarding school when I was thirteen. (It was an understandable mistake of sexuality to make, as I hadn't really come across bisexuality at that point and had just been locked away beyond the reach of boys for what was to be five years; boys became pretty irrelevant for a while.) I was never physically hurt because of it - my school didn't much go in for physical bullying, plus I was basically a giant - but there are other ways, right?

The first thing that happened was that the girls I shared a dorm with rang their parents and informed them. Then, they got the girls in the next dorm to do the same - after all, it had a connecting door, they weren't safe either. Before long, I think most of the girls in my year in my house had contacted their parents about it, and pretty swiftly I was told by my housemistress that I wasn't allowed to share a room with anyone any more, because so many parents had complained in fear for their daughters. My sexuality won't have been the only issue - I was pretty mad and unhappy in a lot of ways - but it was certainly the main one. On the plus side, you know, then I did have a room of my own, which was cool.

During that same term, very early into the academic year, it became obvious that I was ahead of the classes in my year in almost every subject, simply by virtue of my prep school having taught to a more extended level than most places, I guess. My parents and I pleaded with the headmistress to let me move up a year, where I would be challenged and much less bored and where I already had friends. This was refused on the grounds that I would 'disrupt the students preparing for their GCSEs'. Yeah. A month and a half, at most, into their first year of them? Not so much, I think. It might be calling conspiracy theory to suggest that their motivation was to keep me away from other girls because they knew about my sexuality, if they hadn't subsequently far more openly done exactly that, later that same year. I'd made some friends in the sixth form by then, and I was summoned to the headmistress's office to be told that I wasn't allowed to maintain those friendships or to be seen with girls in years outside my own, because it was inappropriate, and I would be an unwelcome influence. I said, but they're my friends, I don't really have any other friends. She said, now is a good time to make some, then, isn't it?

And my girlfriend's dad - a QC - tried to bring legal proceedings against the school for allowing me to corrupt his daughter.

All of which was pretty grim. But, as with all other things, I would far rather have said something and dealt with it than tried to pretend to be someone else, and after the first year, everyone got bored and moved on to freaking out about something else, and I survived, and made far stronger and better friendships than I would have if I'd been hiding who I was. Be scared - it's scary. But be brave - it's worth it.
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