COMING OUT - Mark's Story
Mark Bowman, 31 year old musician from London recently relocated to Lisburn, here he tells us his story....
When did you first realise you were attracted to same sex people?
I’ve always known I was attracted to the same sex, I would say as early as around 5 or 6.
Did you tell anyone at the time?
At that age, I didn’t think It was abnormal. However, it wasn’t until you grow older, and you soon realise that society pushes you to be “normal”. I soon realised that I couldn’t be myself, in fear of rejection.
When did you actually come out?
Believe it or not, I didn’t come out until I was 20, and had completed my first year at uni.
Who prompted you to do it?
My friend Carrie introduced me to one of their friends, Bobby, who was gay. I was in lust with him instantly and I was still ‘playing it straight’. We started to see each other without my parents knowing. I’d never experienced feelings like it, this was what most people experienced at the age of 13. Those butterfly feelings, not being able to stop thinking about your crush etc. I was very attracted to him and had developed feelings very quickly, even though I was trying to be the big man and just see it as “exploring’. Me and Bobby lasted for a few months I’d say. It wasn’t very long in hindsight. Both Carrie & Bobby were based three hours away from where I was studying at Uni. Therefore, it wasn’t going to work. I was heartbroken when I had to say goodbye to him, and I couldn’t keep this burning secret about who I was hidden much longer. Carrie and her family knew already, they were brilliant and so supportive, however, I needed to tell my mum, as she was so worried about me. I couldn’t have done it without Carrie and her family.
How Did you do it?
I was supposed to go back to Uni the day after I said goodbye to Bobby. However, I decided to stay home for the week and wait for my mum to finish work. I couldn’t just drop a bomb shell like this and be like “I’m off back to Uni now, oh by the way I’m Gay, Love You, Bye!”
What was the reaction of your family and close friends?
My mum didn’t know what to think at first, she was in shock, as I had quite a few girlfriends. It did take her a while to get her head around it, but she just wanted me to be happy. My dad was quiet at first, but like my mum, he just wanted me to feel better and be happy. I confided in Carrie and her family first, as Pearl (Carrie’s Mum), worked as a Diversity Officer in the public sector. Carrie, Pearl and her husband Ethan were there supporting and guiding me when I decided to tell my family. My Nan god bless her, thought that it was a “phase” but she loved me no matter what.
Any negative reactions? How did you overcome these?
I’ve been very lucky actually. I’ve never been subject to any homophobic comments or hate crime. However, I cannot imagine having to deal with those closest to you giving you an even more of a hard time. For years, you battle with yourself whether or not you should do it, or even whether you should try and ride it out, hoping the gay thoughts will disappear! Just remember that if a loved one confides in you, they’ve been brave and courageous to trust you with probably their biggest and most important secret. Don’t throw it back in their face.
How has coming out affected you?
I can’t say it’s affected me, as I am ok with my sexuality. I wasn’t before I came out, because unfortunately the school I went to drummed it into you that “Homosexuality” is a sin during Religious Education classes. It can damage your self esteem, and it’s important that you do everything you can to repair that, and tell yourself that you matter and are worthwhile. However, I’m perfectly ok with the fact I’m Gay. If anyone isn’t then I don’t even invite them into.... READ THE REST OF MARK'S STORY HERE