Well what a nerve wracking moment.....when I realised that a friend 'liking my website' on Facebook and it appearing on my wall didn't just mean the book was out....but that so was I. First response. Mad panic. Eyes growing wide. Gripping the sides of my laptop in sheer, helpless, white knuckled panic. While many knew I was gay, my mind raced at who I was friends with on Facebook....work colleagues.....school friends.....even a couple of elderly folk who needn't have known my impending news.
The only thing I could do after the book with such a 'gay' title became born on Facebook was to share with the community that I 'happen to be gay to.' I type in these words quickly and mindlessly, clicking submit before I can think straight (bad choice of word) and then freeze, eyes fixed on the computer wondering what the hell I'd just done.
The seconds pass....
As I sit here watching the impending doom unfold, I think I can begin to breathe again. The world hasn't toppled over. In fact, I stare in amazement as those very work people, old school friends, etc, are popping up one by one in a show of support for the new book. I'm not a big social media person, nor do I sit for endless hours and preen my profile. But as I watch the little notification symbol change as more people hit 'like' I get this overwhelming sense of relief. Not a relief for my 'virtual friendship' or that people have responded positively to the book, but a feeling of...acceptance. And that's acceptance in the sense of a much greater acceptance........an acceptance of being gay.
And that's what this book is all about. Acceptance. I denied and hid my 'gayness' for many years. At 31 now, and being in love with my Prep PE teacher at 6, that equates to many, many years. But until two years ago or so, I was too fearful to share this truth with the world. Today, I can. And the purpose of this book is to ensure no other person goes through years of 'half living' and being afraid or hiding this 'part of themselves' in fear of what may be. I don't want any child to feel that being gay is wrong or something filled with shame....as newly-out Magda reminded us a few days back, poor little kids are killing themselves because they are gay (not to put a dampener on this post) ... which is why I feel this message of love and acceptance is SO VITAL.
I was one of the lucky ones. People flocked with their support when I finally shared my news. There was only love and kindness shown. I was never shunned, I lost no friends, in fact if anything I grew closer to people and they were excited that they now knew the 'real me.' Some were surprised, others chimed in with 'about bloody time you told me Alice, I've always known.' Then there were all the people in between, a particular friend who insisted on calling me 'pussy' from then on, just to lighten the situation and a brother who said he knew many lesbians that would be perfect for me....all the women who have rejected him in the past.
If only I'd had his confidence and self assurance when I was secretly gay all those years. For his comment, he got nothing but a punch in the arm.