Every instinct as a journalist tells me not to publish this. For two reasons: 1. Because you should never be the story. 2. Because it’s nobody’s business.
But with the encouragement of a couple of friends, I’m going against my better judgement. Because the question was posed as to whether the 16-year-old me would be better off for reading this? The answer is undoubtably ‘yes’.
So it’s with great trepidation and fear that I press “publish post”. But if it helps anyone out there, then it’s worthwhile. And it will be the last time I write about it. Here’s a letter to my parents, penned last month.
Dear Mum & Dad,
I’m sorry this won’t be a face-to-face conversation, but to tell you the truth I’ve never been more anxious or nervous in my life.
After the reactions in the past months, I wish I’d said this to you 10 years ago, but I’m not sure that would have been wise or even possible really.
I have no idea how you’d react, and if you can, please understand that this is incredibly tough for me, so I felt this was the only way.
So here goes. I am gay.
I’m 32 this month, I’ve pretty much known I’ve been gay for 16 of them and spent a great deal of those years trying to pretend I wasn’t. It’s taken a huge toll.
I’ve been totally frightened to death. I cannot tell you the depths of lows I’ve gone through, and how scared I am I’d lose my friends and/or family, who I love so much.
I’ve been ashamed, confused, you name it. Most of the time I’ve hated the person I am, depressed and horrified that I’ll never be accepted and keep living a lie for my entire life.
But this was life as I knew it. Since my mates have helped me through this during the past few months – life has never been better.
My weight-loss (60kg in 8 months) isn’t because of diabetes – well not really – it’s because for the first time in my life I feel I can be proud of who I am. I can love and be loved in return by my friends and my family.
I’ve been overwhelmed by the love and support from those I’ve chosen to tell. All my friendships are stronger for it and I’ve never felt more respected and respectful of myself.
I’m not sure what you’re feeling right now. I know you’re probably going to be upset… perhaps disappointed. All I ask of you is that you’re not ashamed.
It’s taken me a long time to come to grips with this – it was by no means a choice. But I’ve gone down just about the hardest route possible.
Sports journalism has been an incredibly macho environment. I mean could you imagine me being gay and a sports reporter in Shepparton? I’d have been run out of town. Or at the very least be ostracised.
But what I know now is that it is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s life. It’s what happens. I didn’t choose it… it is who I am. And some of the greatest, most talented, cleverest, gifted and brilliant people in history have happened to be gay. It does not – and should not – define a person.
It’s affected every area of my life, my confidence, my self-belief, obviously my weight, and I’ve probably kept good friends at arms length because I’m frightened to get too close to people and that it will come up. It’s been incredibly tough.
During this whole process I’ve feared losing every friend I’ve had. Every email sent was terrifying. I didn’t know how any of them would respond.
I feared that none of them would ever talk to me again. But I’ve now got a folder of the most wonderful, kind and supportive notes from my favourite people in the world.
I’ve not had one negative response out of almost 20.
I’ve been so fragile about it and at times – probably from age 21-26 – it would been easier to end it all.
It’s been a long road, but if I’m going to get out of the living hell I have been in, I needed to share this. I haven’t and I’ll never regret it.
So what does this change? Nothing. I am who I have always been. Only I’m happier.
If I’ve been hard to get close to, hard to communicate with, hard to befriend over the years… well this has contributed to it.
I don’t know how this will go down with you. You might hate me. You may disown me. That’s my biggest fear… but keeping it a secret and bottled up inside just wasn’t an option for me anymore. I can’t do it.
I have wasted too much of my life. It’s such a precious commodity and I need to get busy living.
You are my parents, I love you so much, I admire and respect you and that will never change. I am who I am – for better or for worse – because of you.
Take your time to respond. Understand it’s still hard for me to talk about it. But know I have a brilliant and amazing support network that has seen me through this far.
Lots of love,