(Left to right) Nathan (my boyfriend) and me.
Coming out as gay was probably one of the biggest challenges I have faced in my life. I was frightened and it made me feel so ashamed, for being just...me. But now, I'm not scared.
The word 'gay', in secondary school was used often; in the classroom, lunchtime and even within my own circle of friends. It would be used jokingly, but every time I heard the word, I just sunk lower in my seat.
I remember reading our schools Ofsted report, and it stated that many students were using the word 'gay' in corridors and classrooms. For me I don't understand the comical element to the word, and for people who are gay and hear people chanting the word, can make them feel every distressed.
It's just silly and childish, but I think topics like sexuality are hardly touched on in education which is why some people do not understand why saying 'gay' can affect a persons emotion.
I've always been gay, it's not something which just happens, but understanding what it really meant was probably in year 5, which made me nine years old. I think I had some kind of crush with a friend in my class. I knew it made me 'different' to the rest of everyone, and I knew that I couldn't ask them out, so I hid my sexuality and started dating girls, up until the age of 16.
I hated not being true to myself, my friends and family. It lasted for 7 years. 7 years of lying. Undoubtedly, people had their suspicions and every time when someone asked me if I was gay, it made me feel so offended. Of course, I dismissed their speculation straight away but to feel 'offended' was strange. I had tricked myself in believing it was such a terrible thing (being gay).
At around 15 I started speaking with the councillor at secondary school as I was going through mild depression and anxiety. I thought this might be my chance to finally open up. The councillor was amazing and so supportive, however I still couldn't do it.
It was like trying to break through a mental 10m thick wall. There must have been 100s of attempts of me trying to coming out.
A few of those attempts was with my mum.
The first time I said to my mum I was gay, she said 'that's absolutely fine' and she 'loves me either way', but a day later I said to her I don't think I actually am.
This just threw all kinds of thoughts around in my head. I knew I was gay, I just continued to lie to myself, it couldn't go on.
So, I had turned to my closest friends. I think it took around 2 hours of going around in circles before I finally said...
It was such a relief to finally say that to someone. It was as if a million tons of weight was lifted from my shoulders. My friends reaction was simple:
The conversation then went into a long deep talk about my feelings and emotions, which I wanted to express to someone for almost 8 years. By this time, I spoke to my mum again and fully opened up about my sexuality, and she was so supportive.
But I still had to tell the rest of my family and toughest of all, my dad.
I had no clue why it was the hardest to tell my dad. I just didn't want to let him down. After speaking with other friends who came out, they said exactly the same, coming out to their dad was difficult.
I spoke to my mum a little more about it and said if she could perhaps tell him, which she ended up doing. After a few days, my mum, dad and I spoke together about it, and everyone was completely supportive, which I thought was never going to happen.
I thought I was going to be disowned.
I asked my mum and dad to keep it from the wider family, as I needed to figure out how to tackle coming out to everyone else.
In true 21st century fashion, I posted a status on Facebook.
As I have my family on Facebook too, they all saw the post and began commenting on the status. They said they were are all very proud of me and loved me either way and a few days later my nan invited my boyfriend and I for dinner with my cousins.
It was crazy. I couldn't believe how lucky I was, to have such supportive friends and family. It was as if nothing had changed.
For me, coming out couldn't have been any easier. But for others, it's a traumatic experience. Young people are made homeless, abused, bullied and sometimes even murdered for just being, them.
There has been gay people since the start of time. This isn't just a 'modern thing'. It's nature not nurture.
I am now together with my boyfriend, Nathan. Who is amazing.
For anyone who is struggling to come out, there are so many charities and other services available. Here are a few: http://lgbt.foundation/information-advice/coming-out-support/ and http://www.stonewall.org.uk/help-advice/coming-out-0