Coming out and dealing with homophobia

Richard explores his own 'coming out' and recounts two homophobic incidents to make sure they're not forgotten: 'I tell these stories because it's important'.

Duration 04:33


When I did come out it was, it was, it was late – well, when I came – well, we all know that y’know LGBT+ people don’t just come out once in their lives, it’s numerous times, but when I sort of did the ‘big reveal’ if you like to everybody it was, I were about 21, 22, so probably quite late.

And when I told – I told loads of me mates first, as almost like a security blanket, and I knew my mum would be alright with it, but I absolutely knew she’d be fine, but it was that 1% of doubt of what if, what if, what if? And it was that thought what sort of emanated in my head from when I understood what I were really attracted to from the age of 13, so I went eight years running all those scenarios in my head and everything like that, and I think that had a massive sort of impact on me. So when I actually told my mum, y’know there was all the tears, and the tears from her were just like – ‘oh my god’ – she knew, but she knows I’m stubborn. So she’s like, she knew I had to work out in my head and I had to tell her, cos she knows me, y’know, like back of her hand, and it was all the tears and it was all sorta fine, y’know. And from that point it was, like, I’m in a privileged position, because speaking to other friends who didn’t have the same experience, I were like, oh I’m quite lucky. But then I thought, am I lucky? Cos it’s taken me that long to tell people who I am, why should I be lucky? Actually, that’s something fundamentally wrong with the fabric of society that, a) I need to come in the first place, and b) that I think I’m lucky because my parent, well my mum and my friends didn’t react to me badly. So, I started to think about what I could do and obviously sort of taking it – I still struggled with it, d’you know what I mean, cos you do, and I think about some of the incidents what have happened to me – again, not as bad as other people, but still not right, y’know?

I remember being at Bingley Music Live several years ago with my then-boyfriend, we were just holding hands, y’know stuff. I’m a bit like, well, balls to what people think, d’you know what I mean, so, and just walking t’bar or something like that with a couple of us friends and one guy just literally stood in front of us and said, ‘urgh, that is disgusting, d’you know what I mean’ – and it just, to say, I’m quite a bolshy sort of character but it absolutely just shocked me, and I didn’t know what to say or do. But luckily, my friend who were my best friend, Jamie, and some other people around who we didn’t even know absolutely just went for this person, y’know sort of verbally, and I just thought again, what a sort of nice moment, d’you know what I mean, in terms of y’know there were people who were bothered, then there’s y’know – but then there’s other parts about certain pubs, where I’d be like – I wouldn’t even dream of holding my boyfriend’s hand. There’s like one pub I was in, in an area where I grew up in, in Wibsey, where me and my friends – because I didn’t know this guy, or it were connected to somebody within the area where I grew up, must’ve known I was sort of gay or whatever, and we actually got chased out of a pub. We’d ordered a taxi, cos we could feel the tension and d’you know what were happenin’ and stuff and the comments and the pointing with his mates, and I thought, ‘right we need to leave’, and me other, the guy mates who were with me were like, ‘no we’re bloody staying, why do we need to leave?’ And I get that and we should be able to do that, but I thought, ‘I don’t want summat to kick off in here, just let’s go’. And we were leaving to get int’ t’taxi and this guy sort of ran out of the pub – I remember it really vividly – and we’re getting in’t taxi and my friend who’s quite a broad, tall sorta guy, as he were just getting in the taxi, this guy – clearly goin’ for me, but punched my friend in’t side of t’ead, d’you know what I mean, and y’know, been spat at a few times, and it’s all that stuff, y’know what I mean, it’s like – that’s a part of my history and I tell those stories because it’s important.