Am I Proud?

Lee Will Gregory

Lee Will - British - 22. Currently based in Australia whilst travelling the globe! Typical cancerian, creative, opinionated and passionate in all I do. I have a tendency to use sarcasm a little too often and will not beat around the bush to get my point across. Oh and I'm extremely vain.

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Since I came out as a homo all those years ago (7 to be exact), I’ve never questioned my own feelings towards being gay or necessarily asked myself how I feel about it.

I am currently travelling the globe and meeting people from all walks of life and it is only recently that I have started to question how I feel about being a gay man.

To most, myself included, the LGBT community is a taboo subject. If you see two guys kissing in public or a drag queen walking down the street then people will stare because it’s not the norm. If I saw anything LGBT outside the local gay scenes, I would feel uncomfortable. Any public displays of affection would automatically make me cringe and think was wrong. But still I never questioned what I was. If a heterosexual couple were kissing, would anyone question it or even second glance? Probably not.

My time being gay prior to travelling was a roller coaster of mainly highs but certainly some lows. I’ve had relationships, I’ve met and still have very close friends from the LGBT community, and my family have predominantly been supportive. But then there have also been times when I was attacked for being gay, with abuse hurled at me by family, and ultimately feeling like I had to hide who I was.

As I grew older, I became more secure in who I was and thought I had found myself and knew my views on being gay. I thought that if I’m going to be gay it has to be on the gay scene or behind closed doors. I don’t have to change who I am, but I can’t dance to Britney Spears at a straight bar and I can’t wear certain clothes unless I’m at a gay bar. I never questioned this, I thought this was what being gay was about.

It wasn’t until I’ve been exploring the world and staying at hostels that I’ve started to think about whether this is how it should be. Am I actually proud or not?

On my travels I’ve met someone who I’ve fallen in love with. This is something I have never felt before. He’s someone I want to spend every second with – including at night time when it’s time to go to sleep. However, staying in a hostel with not only bunk beds but also eight other people in the room, you start to question your safety and whether a cuddle is worth the potential consequences. What will they think? How will they react?

I’ve sat thinking of ways of hiding the fact I’m gay such as hanging towels from the upper bunk to create a secret den on the lower (to stop people seeing in) or waiting until the room is empty before giving my boyfriend a good morning kiss. This happened for a considerable amount of time and becomes draining. Hiding who you are is not healthy. After a while, something inside clicked like a lightbulb effect. I started thinking SO WHAT IF I’M GAY. I’m not hurting anyone. I’m not parading my sexuality about. I’m merely being who I am and being happy whilst doing that.

I ripped down the towels and climbed into bed beside my man and we held each other all night long. Yes there were comments made by passers by, yes there was glaring, but who cares for a bigot’s opinion? Not me.

I’ve finally realised that there is no shame in being who you are. No matter what other people think, your own happiness and that of those you care about is what matter. Today I kissed my boyfriend on the street. I then held his hand to the tram stop.

People stared; I didn’t care. I’ve never felt prouder.