When asked to describe my ‘Coming out’ experience I really had to think about it. This wasn’t because it was some traumatic experience that I have had to hide in the depths of my memory but because it was the exact opposite.
I knew l wasn’t a ‘typical boy’ from a younger age, preferring musicals and pop music as opposed to football and cars. When I reached High School I started to notice that I was definitely more attracted to boys than girls- I wanted girls to be my friend but boys were hot. This still wasn’t the normal back in the 90’s so I kept this to myself.
I had a good high school experience as I wasn’t the subject of any bullying other than the usual idiots who didn’t want to be there and tried to annoy everyone who did.
It wasn’t until 6th year at High School that I came out to friends. I used to perform in the school musicals and felt completely comfortable telling my theatre friends that I was gay. No one was bothered by this and carried on as normal.
I wasn’t involved with the gay scene at all. My earliest experience of this was a very important and very 90s programme called ‘Queer as Folk’
I still hadn’t come out to my family- I didn’t really feel a need to, it didn’t affect them and I didn’t have a boyfriend that I wanted to take home to meet them.
Once I went to University to study Dentistry I began to have a crazy panic that you couldn’t be a Dentist if you were gay. This was quickly shot down by new uni friends and fellow dental students who told me to stop being ridiculous and even pointed out that there were national social and support groups of LGBT+ dentists so you clearly could be a gay dentist.
It was at this point that I decided that I was going to tell my family that I was gay. Although it didn’t affect them I felt that I didn’t want to hide it anymore and wanted to be honest so that when the day came that I wanted to introduce them to a boyfriend, I wouldn’t have to do the gay thing and the boyfriend thing together.
I had practiced what I would say and how I would say it for weeks beforehand, I’d built it up in my head to be this major thing and what would happen if it all went wrong even though I had no reason to believe this as my family had never given the impression that they would take it badly. The weeks of build up and preparation came down to me blurting out “I’m gay!” followed by my mum saying “Ok” and then carrying on as normal. It was like I had just said we had run out of milk or something everyday. My family did not think it was a big deal and as long as I was happy then so were they.
I guess you could say I was one of the lucky ones- my coming out was very boring and run of the mill.
I am eternally hopeful that one day everyone’s coming out stories will be as boring as mine as it will mean we have reached a place of true acceptance and love.
Tom is appearing in ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ at the Whitehall Theatre, Dundee from the 17th to 19th October.