As part of our #beYourself campaign we have highlighted various members of the LGBT+ community who have spoken about the importance of being themselves. These life stories have outlined the positives of being yourself and being free from secrets and expressing their natural strengths and attributes without fear or trepidation.
My name is Richard, I’m a young gay working professional in Dublin, living in Westport County Mayo. Being from a typical farm and rural area from the back end of County Mayo, with a working mother providing for the family and an alcoholic father at the time being Gay was the most toughest thing I have ever had to come to terms with in life, and this is my story and where I am today in life in terms of being #beyourself
I knew I was gay from the age of 10 when I preferred to play with dolls rather than play with action man and say to myself ok this is weird but I said nothing to no one. I found that I could easily get on with the girls in primary school and secondary school more than the lads as I often would be quiet shy and reserved around them. Through my years in Secondary school, I have to say I was blessed in the sense that I was never really bullied to an extent bar a few words throw here and there like Flynn go away ya big queer or gayboy Flynn, and sure enough yes they were right and I taught to myself yeah so what about it in my head?
As the days and years progressed I found myself building stronger feelings towards males and so much over weldment inside that I couldn’t come to terms on how to tell people on what I was feeling with this fear of what are people going to think of me? What will the neighbours think? How are my family going to take it?
At this stage I would have my siblings and even my own parents from time to time Richard? have you no lovely girl on the go or you seeing anyone, I used to cringe and nearly want to burst out crying having to think quick off my feet for an answer.
During these days which I would have quite a lot of with the run up to my Leaving Certificate in 2011, I would just go long treks through the fields to clear my head and try to build up the courage inside.
It was total fluke that I came across this YouTube channel called the Secret and to this day I am still a firm believer in it that it works in our everyday lives in the form of a positive mind set . I used this tool to help propel myself with the courage to build up and leave rural Mayo to explore the world and with the height of the recession in Ireland when I did finish school I found myself excepting employment as a flight attendant in Edinburgh Scotland.
Once In Scotland I found I had a fresh start as such 18 years of age, free from home ready to explore and fend for myself, I’m not going to lie but yes fact and naturally enough I was petrified leaving the family nest, but I can tell you this to whoever is reading this It was the best thing I could have ever done was to conquer one fear and that was the fear of the unknown , where I will I end up? Will I make it on my feet? Will I miss home too much and end up returning and not take this chance in life? These questions I constantly had flying around in my head but No I didn’t let these get me down instead I stepped over these.
Working in the aviation sector was eye opener for me and when one girl asked me was I straight or gay I found the comfort and happiness to say “No, I’m Gay” and it was only when I had realised I had said it I nearly broke down with all the emotional years of hiding and coming to terms with being Gay is absolutely fine in life. There is no shame in it and what was more the girl never batten an eye lid to it, she just brushed it off as it was normal which I was thrilled with. Obviously my time in Edinburgh was well spent I did explore my sexuality. I’m going to be up front and honest and dating act.
As the year passed in Edinburgh I found myself a totally different person from the scared nervous young Irish boy that arrived not knowing what was going to happen, to being comfortable in terms of being a proud gay man and I have to say it was from the aid of the YouTube channel “the Secret” and with working in the aviation sector with other gay men this helped my confidence grow.
As December 2012 approached I flew home back to Mayo ready to tell my family and parents. This still for me was going be nervous and fearsome as my parents are old school.
As I said earlier in my introduction my mother was the sole provider for the family and my father was a alcoholic for most of my childhood, so I never really had that father figure in my life growing up, so I would always come running to my mammy first.
Again these stupid questions appeared in my mind set, What are the neighbours going think? What shame will it bring on the family name? as were known farmers in the area, How will they take it? there and then at time set I finally turned around and said to myself Richard will you ever cop on to yourself, will you just go and be happy in life and who gives a rats what the neighbours think, you need to be happy in life.
The week of Christmas I finally took the bite of the bullet and sat my mother down one night as dad was in town. I just sat her down gave her the biggest hug as the day I was leaving for Edinburgh, I told her I loved her and I have news for her, at that moment in time I looked into her eyes and told her Mam I am sorry but I am Gay and there’s no changing who I am and the way I feel at that same moment in time and to this day I still have goose bumps my mother grabbed me threw her arms around me and cried, but not in disappointment but in pure love for me, and her exact words ‘Petting your still my son and no matter what I will always love you’, I broke down and cried and from that moment the fear had been abolished for once and for all, I was free.
My mother told my father who I didn’t know how to approach and like that he too was proud of me which I was surprised with and he gave me a hug to say he loved me also, this was a heart-warming for me and I am delighted to say whilst typing this my dad and me are on a positive road in building that father son relationship slowly which I didn’t have growing up and he has been off the alcohol now almost three years.
I’m working on the farm with him on my days off from Dublin and since this we have now a butcher shop open.
I guess for me I am in a lucky place and many people in the LGBT community are not so lucky in terms of their parents reaction to coming out and being yourself. If I am to give one piece of advice to LGBT People who are in my old shoes is please don’t be thinking of what people are going to think of you! One thing I have learned in life is that people will talk no matter what in life sure you might be the news in the parish for a day and guess what someone else’s news tomorrow, For as my mother says they only gossip about you and when they are their leaving somebody else alone
I guess what I am trying to say is don’t care what people say don’t let it get to you
Please don’t let people get you down. Be Loud and Proud to be LGBT, me If looking back I am definitely not the same Richard I was 5 years ago, I am a more positive person and have the same positive outlook on life , happy where I am and straight to the point, i don’t care what people say about me cause I am Happy and Proud !
I hope this little passage on my journey will help some people out there and thanks for reading