THE BLOG

Part One: How I Found The Strength To Finally Accept My Sexuality

01/09/2016 09:03 | Updated 01 September 2016

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This is the first in an insightful and inspirational four-part series documenting Ben's journey to understanding, accepting and embracing his sexuality.

For so many years, my life has been a restless struggle for acceptance.

Bullying, mocking, gossiping and rejection have all been major parts of my life, alongside excessive worry and fear that these four things could be about to happen at any given time.

The vast majority of my childhood was spent under a dark cloud of self-hatred and shame, engulfed by the pain and unhappiness of feeling that I could never been accepted or feel that I fit in.

One short word that had such a paralysing, heart-stopping and tear-inducing power over me.

I was embarrassed of and despised my supposedly 'camp' mannerisms, and fully expected to be mocked and rejected by everyone I came into contact with. Every glance I received in public always resulted in me assuming that people were negatively judging me, ridiculing who I was and joking about how I walked and talked.

As a result of all this unease, name-calling and anxiety, I tried to hide away, chanelling all my energy into putting on an act to hide my true identity, along with coping with the fear of bullying and negative comments and grappling with the pain of feeling that I was never going to be accepted or embraced.

Looking back now, it is strange, but completely unsurprising, to think that the cause of all this deep unhappiness, insecurity and bullying was one very simple three-letter word.

One short word that had such a paralysing, heart-stopping and tear-inducing power over me.

One short would that is such a massive cause of unimaginable bullying, persecution, hatred and rejection.

One short word that is, of course, 'gay'.

I've been denying that I am gay ever since I can remember

I wonder how you reacted to seeing the word 'gay' written down? Was it a snigger, the triggering of a certain memory, or perhaps a certain feeling in your stomach? Or did you have no reaction whatsoever?

'My only understanding and exposure to the word 'gay' during childhood was, like so many other children, when the term was being used to bully, insult or mock someone...usually me!'

The bullying, gossiping and rejection we see surrounding people's sexuality, not to mention the daily News reports informing us that yet another person has been violently attacked or even killed simply for being gay has meant that so many of us see being 'gay' as being pathetic, inferior, a reject, 'dirty', something to be excluded, attacked, ridiculed and bullied for.

After a lifetime of being bullied for acting 'gay' - whatever the word meant to the children doing the name-calling and bullying - I, like so many people in our society, developed the most intense rejection and hatred of the idea that I could actually be gay.

It is, I think, because of a deep fear of rejection and abuse that thousands of gay men and women - from famous footballers to everyday electricians - spend so many year of their lives hiding their authentic identity and desperately try to change who they are.

I did have my moments when, in my mind, I would think 'I could be gay'

So much of my personal unease and discomfort is, I think, due to the fact that my only understanding and exposure to the word 'gay' during childhood was, like so many other children, when the term was being used to bully, insult or mock someone...usually me! I had no understanding of or exposure to what it meant to actually be gay, having never been taught about homosexuality, gay couples or ever even met someone who was openly gay in my life.

For so long, I have been relentlessly bullied and mocked for 'acting gay' whilst I have never actually been taught about what homosexuality actually is. As a result, I've always felt that I've never been able to independently establish my sexuality. Being mocked for 'acting gay' led to me fearing and rejecting homosexuality as some dark insult, seeing being 'gay' as a bad thing that I should be repulsed by, and so I've lived a life filled with suppression, embarrassment, insecurity and denial.

I began to see that, actually, the question of my sexuality was my business, and mine alone.

Yet, despite all this suppression and denial, I can recall moments when, in my mind, I would think 'I could be gay'. However, these thoughts would be swiftly followed by feelings of hatred, worthlessness and isolation simply for even considering the idea. I'd then once again quickly bury my head back in the sand and refuse to actually think about the issue, returning to my desperate bid to be accepted by others, or at least to avoid their harsh words and wounding rejection.

Fortunately, as I began to mature and grow, my thinking started to change and I came to see that those who had mocked me for how I talked or labelled me as 'gay' were the ones in the wrong, and it was not me who had the problem. I began to see that, actually, the question of my sexuality was my business, and mine alone.

I saw that I needed to make a real effort to leave the toxic comments, labelling and ignorant attitudes I'd had to battle with behind, and make the decision to positively move forwards and settle the issue of my sexual orientation once and for all.

Coming In Part Two: Challenging Homophobia, Why There's No Justification for Hatred and Why God loves Gays.

HuffPost UK LGBT+ Living covers the full spectrum of life in the LGBTQIA community through a mixture of features, blogs and video.

It looks at a range of topics including relationships, parenthood, wellbeing, health, and inspiring stories of people who have created happy, balanced lives for themselves. It provides a platform for people to tell their stories and talk about their journeys and identities.

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