Coming out later in life
Coming out can be difficult but Sue describes how she was helped by friends and local LGBTIQ+ groups.
TRANSCRIPTSUE: I was hidden for a long time, most of my life. I’ve always known from being very young that I was a lesbian, but I was afraid, [pause] really, of coming out. Because in my younger days it was very much frowned upon and not accepted, and I didn’t feel, [pause] I’ve always had a fear of rejection, which is that main reason why I didn’t come out for so long.
I’ve never actually told my family, although I think my sister has always known from being a teenager. But it’s never actually been said out loud, and there are areas of my life where I’m not out. I’ll not go into more detail, but when I did eventually come out I did get a lot of support from my straight friends basically, and some of them did help me. There was one in particular, who has lesbian friends, she found out information for me, and we went along to the (at that time quite new) Keighley LGBT group and from that I found out about the Older & Wilder Group which meets at the Equity Centre in Bradford, and the first time I went along there she came with me. And when I went in, I saw, as I was approaching I saw somebody that I knew that I wasn’t quite sure about before, that confirmed it for me. So, I felt quite good about going then and when I walked into the room it felt safe, and it felt like coming home. And I was accepted straight away which felt really good.
And now I’ve got a lot of friends, in the lesbian community in particular, and the Keighley group, we are a very mixed group so I have gay men friends, I have transgender friends, trans women in particular. It’s quite a spectrum really. And [pause] I feel safe now, being with those friends.
INTERVIEWER: Can you remember… You said it was quite recent when you came out, can you remember when that was?
SUE: Just before I was 60. It was a couple of years before when I was emerging gradually and told one or two people, and I got a lot of support. And it was basically on my 60th birthday party that I made a sort of announcement in a roundabout way. A friend of mine, who was a folk singer, does a particular song which is about female lovers. But it was a male version of this song, well, a male-female version of it, but I asked her to sing this particular song at that party. So I was sort of, in an oblique way, announcing to my friends that I was a lesbian. Some realised, quite a lot didn’t. [Laughs] But since then, I’ve talked in particular to a couple of my close friends, and they helped me and said, ‘Yes it is alright, it would be alright, we don’t mind, we still love you, whatever you are’. And it’s sort of, from that, I felt more confident.