Taken from Issue Two of Sister, The Sex Issue. Where Wendy Lathwell talks about coming out as gay and takes on her drag persona Vivian Tinx for our Don't Be A Drag Just Be A Queen shoot.
‘Being gay is wrong because you need a man and a woman to make kids. DUH!’ loudly proclaimed my 15-year-old self one lunchtime at school. I doubt anyone else will remember this fleeting conversation, what with all the other useless teenage opinions that were being thrown around, but this outburst has stuck with me ever since. Partially because I never forget things I’ve said that retrospectively make me look like a tit, but mostly because it makes me laugh that I tried to convince myself I was straight by spurting out crap like that.
It gets a bit less funny when 15-year-old me decided the way forward was to quickly lose my V plates to the first boy available, who happened to be a 21-year-old ketamine addict. That sounds a lot worse than it actually seemed at the time; I knew him well and he wasn’t a bad guy, but in hindsight, that ain’t right! Admittedly, that wasn’t all down to me trying to force myself into heterosexuality - my experiences would no doubt have been different if I hadn’t been hell-bent on poppin’ pills every weekend - but if I’d have felt it was ok to be gay when I was younger, would I have gone on to waste the rest of my early adult years getting into near-paralytic states and fumbling around with men who I clearly had no interest in?
I guess the main problem for me, and no doubt most LGBT kids, was that I didn’t have anywhere to get information from about anything other than heterosexual relationships. I didn’t know any gay people and they don’t teach about homosexuality in schools, so I had very little to go on other than Sugar Rush and a brief lesbian fling in Skins. Part of me obviously related to these TV shows, even if I didn’t really understand why, but they certainly weren’t incentive enough for me to accept that I might be gay.
So life went awkwardly on for a few years until I finally met my girlfriend. We were both new to it all and having someone made it possible for us both to accept who we are and be truly happy with it, although it took us a while to tell the people close to us. I told my best friends that I now have ‘a boyfriend who is a girl’ on a private Facebook group as I couldn’t deal with what I thought would be an awkward conversation face-to-face, but obviously they were just happy for me*. It took me about two years to pluck up the courage to tell my parents (although my dad had always had his suspicions) and they were supportive as well.
What I’ve discovered, despite what I may have thought when I was younger, is that we live in a liberal society where being gay is accepted - so much so that in 2014 same-sex marriage was legalised and my girlfriend is now my fiancé. I am really grateful that I live in a country where I can be in this position with little fear of being discriminated against as an adult – I just wish I could go back and tell my teenage self that it was alright.
So I leave you with this advice:
If you think you might be gay, bi, trans, whatever, then get out of the closet and give it a whirl. Your friends won’t give a shit and your family will still love you. (If they don’t I would suggest they seek mental help because that is CRAZY.) It’s never too late to be happy, peeps!
And, for the love of all things holy, make sure that all the kids out there know it’s ok to be gay!
*EDITOR’S NOTE; I remember this exact moment. I was in my third year of university, hungover sat on my living room floor. Logging on to Facebook and reading Wendy’s message I shrieked in delight, howling like a mad woman, then texting her saying something like OMG SO HAPPY 4 U BBZ. It didn’t feel in the slightest bit out of the ordinary, and never has done.