'I didn't seem to have a mind of my own'

Steve reflects on the influence of his mother and Catholicism on his upbringing, and how he felt 'easily persuaded' into living a conventional life.

Duration 03:58


I was brought up in a very conventional family. My mum was a very staunch Catholic. Um and my dad, who had no real religion, had to convert to Catholicism in order to be able to marry her in church. I had one brother who's two years older than me. She was very - my mum was very straight laced. And... obviously sex was nothing that was ever spoken about.

I went to a primary school which was taught by nuns. And they were the loveliest ladies in the world. I went to a secondary school taught by pr- Catholic priests. And they were fabulous. None of these [inhales] inappropriate activities took place. But it was a boys school. Uh no sisters, I knew nothing about girls. Um and I thought that's how the whole world... carried on.

When I left school, I devoted my time to sport. And my teammates... eventually got round to saying ‘get yourself a girlfriend, we can all go out for the evening and have a good time’. So I was talked into getting a girlfriend. I was easily persuaded for any number of issues by other people, I didn't seem to have a mind of my own.

So I got a girlfriend. Um [pause] she had to talk me into having sex. I wasn't at all interested in it. Um, but I eventually gave into her wishes. Eventually she fell pregnant. On a Friday evening, we were going up to her place in Darlington. I was living in London. Called at my mum's, I said ‘mum, got some bad news, Susan's expecting’. My mum said ‘you will go up to Darlington, see a priest and arrange to get married, at the earliest opportunity’. Had I thought about it, I would have said ‘No. I will support Susan, I will support the child. But no, I don't want to get married.’

But - [sighs] I chickened out. We got married. Stayed together for 10 years. And sex was absolutely abysmal. I hated it. I knew then there was something really wrong about it. We eventually split up. I went to live on my own. And I couldn't cope. I'd gone straight from living at home to being married. I just could not manage on my own.

Met another girl, she moved in. Eventually we married. I just don't know why, I think it was at her instigation. Eventually had two children and... we had 13 very unhappy years together. How she put up with me, I will never know. Eventually we decided that the children were old enough to realise the situation. So we decided to divorce. The last time I spoke to her as a married couple, she said to me ‘are you gay?’ I said ‘no, course not’. Because I had nothing against which to judge it. But after we'd split up, I went on to a gay dating site, arranged to meet a fella, spent the night with him and I realised this is what I had been looking to for all my life. It seemed so very, very natural.

So that in a nutshell is how I realised I was gay. But I still didn't know how long I had been gay. It could've been... since uh adolescence. I don't know.