I had my first girlfriend at 3 years of age in play-schooI. We used to dress up and I told her one day I would marry her and buy her a big house and car. Suffice to say that never happened. In the following 14 years I had numerous girlfriends, culminating to losing my virginity to a girl when I was 16. As a friend once described me when I came out to her, I was always seen as a womaniser, but little did people know I was in fact a man eater.
I think the first time I ever kissed a boy was when I was 6 years old and in senior infants in primary school. This only happened one time, and the boy I kissed moved to England the following year. We never told anyone about this as we knew boys were meant to kiss girls, not other boys. It then happened again when I was 11. It was at this age that I was starting to hear other boys in my class call each other “gay” in a derogatory manner. It was insinuated that it was a bad thing to like the same sex. I tried to convince myself that I was only curious, even though it happened a number of times at this age. At the same time I discovered mobile porn, but while I pretended to be attracted to the women on this website, the real section that appealed to me was the gay section. I attempted to justify this to myself by stating that I was just interested in seeing what other men’s bodies were like, that again I was at a young age and curious like any other pubescent teenager.
It was around this time that I also started secondary school, and also began to be bullied over something I said in passing. This culminated into a chain of events, where anyone I thought was actually my friend turned out to be the total opposite. I was beaten up, lost friends and called gay and other names on a daily basis, up to the point where I wanted to take my own life. The only thing that actually stopped me was the thought that I was going to get away from this, that this would only be a minor bump in the course of my life. I knew I was stronger than this.
Due to the way in which the school dealt with the situation, the vice-principal in particular, instead of them helping me, as I was the victim in this case, they rested on their laurels. Any complaints were greeted with the response that the boy who was the main instigator of all this bullying “had problems at home”. By the end of April I had already been offered a place in another school. I was extremely lucky in the relationship I had with my parents that I could go and talk to them. They fought for me, to help me through all the torment and name calling.
The following September I started in a new school. I left behind everyone I had called a friend since I was 3 years old, with the exception of 2 or 3. It was here I made some really good friends. They accepted me for being me. I had escaped the torment that I had been put through the previous year. In 3rd year just before my junior cert I fell off a horse and was knocked unconscious. I ended up concussed for a week not eating. Since I was just on a saline drip I ended up losing the weight that had plagued me since my early teens. While I was at school though I never had problems, well except for other lads who again called me gay, but for a different reason, I got on really well with all the girls (go figure?), and I also got girls that they could not.
I also met one of my closest friends Sarah here. Both her cousin and a very close friend was gay. It was at this time I had just broken up with my second last girlfriend. No matter how hard I tried, even going to a church and praying not to be gay, I couldn’t deny it. I still found girls attractive, but I could not turn off how I looked at guys. I justified this at the time by saying I was bisexual. It seemed easier and not like a portion of my life was ending, that I would never marry, never have kids, and worst of all how could I come out to my parents. Plus I wasn’t flamboyant, yes I did have my camp moments, but in general I loved sports, I couldn’t be gay.
I was lucky when I came to college; I became a Class Rep and really became involved in the students union. Some of the other class reps became very close friends of mine, and then I realised that straight people seemed to be a minority in this group. I still kept quiet about my attraction to the same sex, but for the first time in my life I felt totally accepted somewhere. Many of these class reps were also members of OutinUL. I grew really close to a girl called Anna. One day while walking to my car, I casually slipped it into conversation about being bisexual, and then came out to her. The following November, days before my 18th birthday we had a class rep Christmas party, where I got horrendously drunk and kissed another class rep (who is now one of my best friends) in the middle of Mollys, where not only all the other class reps saw, but also 2 lads I had went to school with. When the 2 lads saw me all I heard was “Oh my God Seán Carrolls gay!”, when I heard this I turned around, waved, and went back kissing my friend.
This wasn’t the simplest part. I then spent the rest of the night shifting 4 other girls, then another guy. Then the night before my 18th birthday I came out to my mother as bisexual, knowing myself that I was gay, but hoping to soften the blow. She was shocked, but said she always had an inkling. She said not to tell my father or sister, and we never really discussed it after this. I continued on shifting both lads and girls for the rest of the academic year, but by the following September I knew I was gay and there was no point lying and I came out to friends. It was also at this time I started going out with my first boyfriend. He had been out home one evening collecting clothes for a night out, but only as a friend.
My mother began to notice how much I was staying at this “good friends” house, until a phone-call a few weeks later. While asking me about dinner I could hear my sister in the background saying “Ask him, ask him”, to which my mother asked whether or not I was actually gay. It turned out she had no problem with me being gay, neither did my sister, they just didn’t understand why I said I was bisexual. This was the turning point in my life. My mother told my father who had no problem either, and then in the course of time, aunts and uncles (well, another drunk coming-out at a family wedding). It also happened that a high proportion of my closet friends also came out.
I can now happily say that coming out was the best thing I did in my life. I am not hiding who I am anymore. When people talk about it, I talk along normally, I talk about my boyfriend and they do about their boyfriend. No one judges or has a problem with my sexuality. I am still heavily involved in sport, in fact as I write this I have a new surfboard beside me that I’m in the process of repairing. To anyone worried about coming out I would say do it, people might be a bit shocked first, but if they love you they won’t leave, if your friends have a problem, then they weren’t a true friend to begin with. Life might be difficult when you are an LGBT youth, significantly harder than other young people’s formative teenage years, but it does get better. In years to come you will forget the bad, and remember the good. Times are changing; don’t be afraid to be who you are. Surround yourself with people who want the best for you, and will help you become the best person you can be.