Letter to my parents

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,

Rob

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14 comments
  1. jamie gilbert said:

    Rob, what a brave and wonderful letter I have just read. To be honest, I’m a bit shocked. Whilst we are were only collegues in shepparton, I’m extremely happy for you and your ambition to live your life with honesty, rather than shame.
    I hope all your friends and collegues are generous in their support. Take care.

  2. Truly inspiring words, Rob. Every sentence gave me goosebumps. I am so happy for you. What you’ve done in this past year is an absolute triumph. My hat goes off to you. May you continue living your life to its fullest and just be happy! X

  3. mandysue62 said:

    congratulations for writing this and I hope you get a positive response from your parents. best wishes.

  4. Katie said:

    Rob you are and have least been fantastic. We love and respect you! I think you have spoken to many xxx your cousin

  5. Thank you, Rob, for having the courage to post your letter to your parents. I can understand that you have done it in the hope of helping others. I am sure that it will. But I hope that you did tell your parents privately before sharing this with everyone and that they have had a chance to respond to you. Good luck with your journalism and every good wish for your life.

  6. Jonathan & Pat Coghills said:

    Dear Rob
    We hope that you received our e mail of support. We are sorry that it has taken you so long to acknowledge who you are. You are an amazing person who is much loved. You are what you are, so be happy, enjoy life and have no regrets. You have our comtinuing love and support. By the way we are really pleased with your acheivement of your weight loss. You look amazing and we are really pleased that you can enjoy sport again. We really that as you showed such atheletic skill when you were young that you would be a great sportsman – instead you have channeled that into sports writing and broadcasting. Well done! We look forward to seeing you at Xmas if possible.

    All our love

    Jonathan and Pat

  7. Bruce Esplin said:

    Rob – it was a brave move to press ‘publish post’ – but I think the right move – but I am sure it is easier for me to come to that conclusion than it was for you!

    You won’t lose the friends that matter – and if you lose people they are not friends!

    Congratulations

    Bruce Esplin

  8. Absolutely the right thing to publish this amazing letter.

    WOW! Amazing #ComingOut Letter 2 parents http://wp.me/pEeRh-1Y via @rharris334 Much respect 2 this young #Gay man. Truth, Honesty, Love #LGBT

  9. Alan Wallace said:

    I think all of us have thoughts like that Rob. I’d worried about losing my career in Shepparton as well but I’m busier than ever, had made the decision to be up front about it from day one when I arrived and never looked back. Well done 🙂

  10. dcarm85 said:

    Well done Rob! Your letter is brave, and it is honest, and in places, a little bit sad. Congratulations on taking this fantastic step and living as who you truly are!
    Thank you for making this public, I hope other people who are struggling get to read and appreciate that they aren’t alone.

    I hope you are proud! Even though I don’t know you, I’m proud of you! 🙂

  11. Travis Jenks said:

    Gday Rob,
    Well done. I did VCE in 92 at Wanganui and the last thing in the world i could have imagined would have been to come out there. Though hopefully things are changing, hopefully your letter helps – Im sure it will.
    Cheers,
    Travis Jenks.

  12. dazjames said:

    I was born in Shepparton so understand why it was difficult for you it isn’t an easy town to find acceptance but there are good people there, times are changing people in general are more accepting. Yet the unknown of what people will say always terrifies, you’ve showed great courage. Your letter will encourage others so everyone will feel the same freedom you now do. Excellent stuff

  13. Thank-you for giving to the world in such a genuine and selfless way, Rob. You are welcoming in a wonderful future.
    Much love from someone who has never met you.

  14. JoyceB said:

    Hi Rob, Well done Rob. It’s a pity you waited so long. If anyone didn’t understand or they disapproved they are certainly not your friends or people worth knowing. Life is too short to worry about what others might thing. Actually, I’m sure you still have the same friends and understanding family. As dazjames said, times have changed. Congratulations and still keep honest and keep that great smile.

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