Coming out as trans to my friends and family was both the easiest and the hardest thing I have ever faced. I had touched upon the subject with two friends in a light hearted manner to see what their reaction would be a few months prior to 'coming out' but I was not ready to fully engage with them the depths of how I felt or how serious I truly was...
We may never get to the stage where a celebrity's sexual status isn't news, but this is nothing to be ashamed about. Just as we have the pleasure of supporting and celebrating Tom Daley's sporting achievements we too have the pleasure of supporting and (maybe, just maybe) celebrating what he will no doubt remember as one of the defining moments of his life.
What's most heartening about the public response is that the UK seems to agree. That's good for Tom. It's good for us. And it's good for the world - especially when discussion of the Olympics and LGBT identity is currently dominated by Russian lawmakers' repeated insistence ahead of next year's Winter Olympics at Sochi that the mere acknowledgement of being gay is an act of political propaganda. I'm not, by and large, a patriotic sort. But the huge outpouring of support that has greeted Daley's simple statement has made me proud to be British today. That's partly because it shows how firmly recognition of and respect for LGBT people's basic humanity and dignity has taken root in mainstream society.
Some people simply have ideas they haven't reconsidered in years. They think that they don't know gays and that gay issues have nothing to do with them. They don't see why they should think about equal rights or about health issues or about their stereotyped views of humourless lesbians and camp men.
How often do young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or otherwise queer children or young adults see positive reflections of themselves and their lives in literature, in the media, on TV, or in films? When will they be featured in a documentary? When will they learn that they too are productive, welcomed, supported members of society who have bright futures ahead of them?
LGBTQ people want the freedom to live their lives without having to hide aspects of themselves and without having to face prejudice. That's why coming out is so important. When people come out, they say, "This is who I am. This is what I am like. Accept me for who I am." Coming out enables people to be confident in who and what they are.
The bullet that assassinated Harvey Milk; the ligature that loosed us of Justin Fashanu; the odium that obliterated Matthew Shepard; the rising gay teen suicide rate that claimed Clementi and Rodemeyer and thousands more throughout schools across the globe, and now DOMA and Prop8, are things that should have broken us and yet they have saved us by forcing us hidden homos into an ostensible openness.
A week prior to my birthday an immediate family member, so repulsed by my lifestyle, threatened me with a ten-inch green handled screwdriver and banned his only child from communicating with me, insinuating that I would abuse him and was a present hazard to his and any other child. All of this is what now led me to vacillate over ticking the gay box when asked my sexual orientation in an application to facilitate child learning (which I have done for 17 years). What if, I thought, there are others like him?! "Safer for who?" asked mum. "You just started being yourself; now you're ready to be someone else again! Stop running."
In what seems like another life, I was a medical student in the mid-80s. The New Romantic movement had only just begun its steep decline, along with my spiked-up straw-dyed hair. Around then, one of my clinical tutors died from Aids. Fellow students whispered that he was gay and "promiscuous". So then, otherwise caring people were implying that he deserved to die from HIV.
As tennis player and gay rights activist Billie Jean King has suggested, this news item is great, but it's also a shame in a way - it would be better if people didn't need to come out, and if instead everyone were accepted for who they are. We shouldn't have to defend ourselves, but since the world isn't yet at that stage, unfortunately we still need people such as Jason Collins.
I feel there's a change, a positive movement towards acceptance, inclusion and honesty. I used to think I was the only one. The only gay in the village. Yeah, I knew KD Lang was my homegirl and Ellen was too but they were celebrities. I was hardly going to see them around my local Spar. They seemed so far away.
I like Jodie Foster. She comes across as a focused, successful, beautiful and loving woman, who just happens to be gay, and maybe by concentrating on her family and career, rather than her identifying herself publicly as a lesbian for the last twenty years, that's exactly what people should accept her for.