Monday, December 02, 2013

Sexuality: why does it matter?

As some of you may know, Olympic team GB bronze medalist diver Tom Daley came out today as bisexual in a video on his YouTube channel. If none of you have seen this then I shall post it below:

I completely take my hat off to the man because this is such a hard thing to do, especially as someone who is always in the public eye as much as he is. Tom is currently in a relationship with a man, as he said in this video, and states that he is really happy with someone who makes him feel safe - which is something we all look for in a relationship, so good for you, Tom!

This really got me thinking about why people get so uptight about sexuality. It is such a widely discussed topic in society, however I think that it is usually discussed in such a bad light because it is one of those topics people feel awkward talking about, or feel strongly about. 

I for one cannot understand why so many people instantly judge a person because of their sexuality. I have so many friends who have had their sexuality speculated for a substantial period of time yet when they came out were subject to a barrel full of abuse and hatred. Now that is the sort of thing that I think is just not on. Why should someone get abused and discriminated just because of who they are? I think this is the lowest form of abuse in modern society. 

A person cannot help who they are; whether they are attracted to males, females, or both, they should be accepted. Who cares whether someone is gay, bisexual or straight? I find that people who warrant this sort of abuse to someone because of their sexuality are rather insecure about themselves and find security in the abuse of another - it's a form of bullying.

One of my friends recently confided in me about his sexuality after previously coming out as bisexual. He admitted to me that his feelings and attraction were mainly towards males, but he was having trouble both coming to terms with it and accepting it himself. I think this is a good example of how society brainwashes people in to this sort of mentality. Just because he felt like it was a "bad" thing to feel, he was starting to resent the person he was becoming. We had a nice little chat and I gave him what I thought was some good advice (turned out it was). I told him that you cannot change who you are, and no matter what happened after that conversation that we would love him no less, and that we respected and supported whatever decision he made. If people don't like it then that is their loss - sexuality does not define a person. I then got a message from him this morning which did make me get all emotional! He had seen Tom's video which, along with my advice, has inspired him to both accept and enjoy the person that he is. He's since told people who had not previously been aware, who have been on the whole very accepting. I am just glad that I could be there to offer advice, and I have to say that it is a major privilege to know him because he is absolutely lovely and I wouldn't change him for the world.

I am actually lucky enough to have my friend make a few comments on sexuality, so I have conducted a mini interview:

In general, what was the final thing that gave you inspiration to come out?
To be honest it wasn't a choice, but rather an event which has lived in my memory as one of the most terrifying events of my life. My housemates and I were on a night out in the SU a couple of months before Christmas in 2012. Following a night of anger at myself and being drunk - which only made it worse - I finally let my emotions get the hold of me towards my housemates I succumbed to a panic attack which then lead to  my slow courage to come out to firstly my sister, brother and closest friends over a period of time.

What has the reaction been like overall from the people you have recently told?
To put it bluntly: supportive and proud. The support from individuals who already knew and have since found out has been immense, with the certain special few who I feel like I can tell anything to. The fact people have portrayed they're proud of me either by text, in person, or over Facebook has been amazing. One which really hit me came from my dad's girlfriend that I received this afternoon. It said "do you know that if you were my son I'd be very proud of you, and you are very brave" - a small text, but one that did mean a lot.

How were you feeling before you came out?
I felt like I was a liar. At the time I was in a relationship with a girl; a time I don't regret, but I knew something wasn't right. When I told her following the panic attack that I was "bisexual" and that I didn't know who I was, or what I wanted, it was really harming. I have known that I liked guys for 5 or so years and I only wish I came out sooner.

Has coming out changed this?
Um, it has. I know I have been a liar, and even yesterday I was. I would tell people that I was "bi", but not anymore. I have has experiences of both sexes and I know what is me and where my natural attraction is. I want to be with that special guy, and when people asked, and when I tell others, I won't be "bi" but I will proudly say I am "gay". So I suppose that yes, coming out has changed this. I know I still have some way to go, and when I'm out in public the initial anxieties will affect me, but I am nearly there; I am nearly the person I am and want to be.

Do you think that society's perception of sexuality prevents people from accepting who they are?
Yes, definitely. I always remember during my panic attack and the following months, I refused to accept myself because "society doesn't accept it". But I know that 90% do, and for those who don't...well then so be it. There is too much pressure on sexuality, but it is crucially advancing towards acceptance. I can't help who I am. I was watching a YouTube clip recently about coming out, and one example made clear to me how fickle some people can be. It was a clip about a mother who was struggling to accept her son for who he was, and was asked to choose between chocolate or vanilla ice cream - I know this is random, but it's a summary - and she chose chocolate. She was asked why to which she answered; "because I like chocolate". Well I like guys, and as with the ice cream it's a choice I make. Society is changing, but the problems of bullying at school, work, and public places needs to stop; it's petty and childish - what do they achieve from it? Nothing. It's hurtful and degrading, and in the 21st century it has no place.

What advice would you give to people who are too scared to come out?
You have to wait until you are ready in my opinion, but you also can't lock it up as I did because it will only make thing 100 times worse - shoving stuff inside a cupboard only gets harder and harder until it eventually topples on top of you. Start with those closest, and at your own pace, then find that one person who you can talk to about anything. I had a couple, but one in particular who was there for me no matter what after my panic attack. The best bit is that I have since found more. It is you, no matter how much you want to deny it, you can't. And boy, you will feel the relief and it is amazing! Maybe even read stories of how people have come out, celebrities and role models etc. It makes you realise what you are missing and gives you the motivation. This was something I did to give me the confidence to tell my dad. 


Although that I was there for my friend, some people are not so lucky to have support and often have no one they can turn to. On top of this, a lot of people who come out to their families and friends don't get the reaction that they deserve. Someone should not have to deal with the people they love telling them that they're not a good person because of their sexuality. That is just wrong. Just because a person doesn't conform to what the majority of society see as "normal", doesn't mean that they shouldn't be accepted and then in turn become alienated. 

Sexuality is not a defining trait of a person. Just because they are attracted to the same sex, does not make them a bad person. Society on the whole is too quick to jump on the bandwagon of the majority and judge a person based on tiny minute details. This has to stop. How would you feel if you were in their shoes? Would you feel OK that someone was judging you to the extent that people get bullied on a day to day basis? I think not. 

I genuinely wish that there could be something that I could do to help people who are suffering from this because it's such a horrible thing to go through. Obviously I have never been through this myself, but I can imagine how people can feel because of something like this. Feeling like you aren't being accepted by people you love is the worst thing in the world. 

If any of you are going through this then my email/social media links have private mail if any of you would like support. My Tumblr inbox has an "anonymous" option, and none of them will be published on my profile. 

I just ask you that you do not discriminate against someone who confides in you, or if someone you know is gay. It doesn't make you cool, and it isn't clever. It makes you less of a human being for being like that. Respect the privacy of people, and think how you would feel if it was you in that situation. 

Treat others how you wish to be treated yourself.

A big thank you to my amazing friend who gave this interview. For the purposes of this post, he shall remain anonymous.