'A very defining moment in my life'
Olivia talks about acknowledging her identity as black and queer and the difficulties she faced in coming out to her Caribbean dad.
TRANSCRIPTSo… I kind of had my first coming out, when I was quite young about thirteen… because I realised I had a crush on one of my friends… and during high school I was definitely identifying as bi… I felt there was quite a lot of social pressure to not be a full-on lesbian. So, I kind of battled with that for a really long time. There was times were I was just convincing myself I am straight… and I’m just occasionally attracted women… I would say I battled with that a lot until I was sixteen, seventeen, and then sort of realised that I was predominately attracted to women and came out again properly during sixth form when I was about seventeen, just going on eighteen... And came out to my friends again and came out to my mum and said that I am gay. And that’s predominately attracted to women but that I wouldn’t rule out men because I have felt some attraction to men in the past.
And then, in that time, the sort of biggest thing I was hiding was coming out to my dad because he’s a typical Caribbean dad, and… much older than me, like he's in his sixties so he’s quite backwards in his views… So that was something I carried with me for a long time. When I moved up to Leeds, I had a lot of freedom in my identity, because I wasn’t around any family. I felt like… I fully sort of embraced my identity… and joined you know LGBT community at the university.
I met my girlfriend at - who I’m still with today. And I was sort of really embracing who I was, and it reached a point for me where I felt like I was hiding way too much, what I had been with my girlfriend for a year, and was planning to go out to China to visit her on her year abroad. It just felt wrong to me that I wasn’t telling my dad because my mum had very much discouraged me from telling him. So, my parents aren’t together, but when they were my mum said that she had heard him make homophobic comments and that he wouldn’t take it very well. But in the end, I just felt like I was hiding a bit too much and had too much weight on my shoulders… so I came out to him, although I must mention that my dad doesn’t live in the country. He hasn’t lived in the UK for about… 8 years now. So I came out to him via Face Time and he was not happy and hung up the call. And then I saw him… two weeks after that in person - the day I was flying out to China, he was also flying into the UK. And we met in the airport to discuss it - and I say discuss, but it was mainly him telling me how much he hated it and how much he wasn’t happy… and that was one of the most upsetting things... I’ve ever experienced…that… became… a very defining moment in my life and especially in my queer identity… because then I really started to acknowledge my identity as being queer and black because it was very much coming from a place of... Jamaicans don’t rate gay people [laughs] so he doesn’t rate gay people. And it’s been an ongoing sort of uphill battle with my dad. It is matter of him trying to fight his… his belief that its wrong and he doesn’t like it. But also knowing that I’m his daughter - and I’m his only daughter as well. We always had a close relationship before, so… I now currently have quite a strained relationship with my dad. I’ve only seen him one time since coming out. And we don’t talk and its ultimately him doing his best to try and come to terms with it. He is the only person that has really had an adverse reaction to my coming out. My siblings were all fine. I’m not close enough to my extended family to want to say anything to them, but yeah... That was definitely a defining moment in recognising I’m not just gay, I’m black and gay… and that’s why it really affected my dad’s reaction. Cos It was coming from this place of being traditionally Caribbean, and being gay NOT being something that is traditionally Caribbean.