BLOG: My Coming Out Journey, For Pride Month

06/06/2024

June is Pride month, and Spectrum colleague Agnes has bravely shared her story with us:

I came out when I was 16, maybe 17, living in a country of strong religious beliefs and ideas of what a woman’s and man’s roles in a family were. Since I remember, I was more on the: “I want to achieve stuff, be sporty, be independent” side!

I must have been 5 or 6 and I remember being at my auntie and uncle’s house, who loved music and vinyls and I was always asking them to play Kim Wilde’s record because her picture on it made me feel dreamy.

I didn’t have any role models who were queer nor language to express what I was going through, but I felt like I didn’t belong.

I was good at football and sports. I always played football with the boys in my neighbourhood and usually was the first to be picked for a team, or I was the captain! I was good at it.

Then one day my father looked at me ‘funny’ and said: “You will not play football again, your calves are beginning to look like a footballer’s calves and that’s not a good look on a woman.”

So I stopped and went back to football 25 years later at the age of 35, still today loving every minute of it. When the Lionesses won the Euros, I was watching the game with some of my girlfriends from footie and we all cried. Some of it was joy, some, I think, a little bit of grief for what we never had, for the dreams that we had to keep to ourselves or leave behind.

Since I was maybe 12, what mattered the most to some of my family members and ‘adults’ around me was whether I had a boyfriend or not and somehow that was all that spoke of my value and future opportunities. I did ‘try’ dating boys and men, every time thinking, something was wrong with me, I was not meant for love and a relationship. I was hurting because all I was craving was being in love.

When I came out to my best friend I was petrified, but she offered me nothing more than love. She said: “Why would I care?, you’re you!”

When I came out to my family shortly after, it didn’t go that well. I felt the disappointment and heard words I would not wish on anyone. But I stood by my side and was lucky to have friends who did that too. Not everyone has that though. My mum even said: “I always knew you were gay, right from when you were at nursery.” I thought to myself – “Why didn’t you tell me?, speak to me about it?, gave me vocabulary and space?” It would have saved me so much pain, so many wounds, so many dark and sad days.

I would love to be able to say these memories have faded and don’t haunt me anymore, but that would be a lie. I still fear people’s reaction when I talk about being gay or my partner. Homophobia (direct or indirect, conscious or unconscious) hurts the same every time, and the politicised anti-trans speeches make me feel heartbroken and scared about the future, because not that long ago it was the wider LGBTQ+ community that was targeted, excluded, made to feel lesser, and unworthy. I can definitely relate to that and I could tell you a lot about the life-long effects and consequences it can have.

Amongst many things, I am queer, a lesbian, gay and I am proud of who I am. I care deeply for others, especially those who are excluded, overlooked and rejected, and I wouldn’t change anything about who I am, because I am kind and if you can be anything in this world – be kind too.

Much love,

Agnes

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