Dear Reader,

This is going to be a bit different to my usual posts, but there’s a reason why I feel now is so important for me to do it.

On Tuesday night I went to the cinema to see Love, Simon. For those of you who don’t know, the premise of this film is about 17 year old Simon Spier, a high school kid with a massive secret; he’s gay. When the school blog ‘CreekSecrets’ leaks the news that a fellow student is gay, Simon starts corresponding with his closeted counterpart and ultimately falling for his new penpal. We follow Simon as he navigates coming out to his friends and family, being outed to the entire school and trying to find out who this mysterious ‘Blue’ character is.

Now you’re probably wondering why I had to explain all of that to you if this isn’t a simple “review post”. And here’s why. I went to the cinema last night, but I didn’t go alone. I went with my better-than-me-in-every-way-other-half (and she’ll fight me for saying that).

Yes. Like Simon, I am gay.

To those who know me personally, this will come as no surprise. I’ve been out for a long time now (I actually can’t believe it’s been 9 years…), but the amount of time varies across different people. And that’s because, surprise, surprise, coming out isn’t a “one-time only” deal.

As anyone in LGBTQ+ community will know, coming out is one of the most terrifying, heart-racing and nerve-wracking moments you will experience in your life. Whilst you know the people closest to you will probably be fine with it, there’s always that 1% of your brain that focuses on the “what if?”. “What if my parents don’t love me anymore?” “What if my friends abandon me because of it?” “What if my brother turns out to secretly be really homophobic?” These are genuine worries that can go through someone’s mind, all within about the space of 30 seconds.

The first person who knew about me was one of my best friends, and that’s because she guessed. That was easy because I didn’t have to be the one to say it. Telling my parents was a whole other deal. I remember my hands were sweating and I was shaking like crazy until I eventually just blurted it out through a stream of tears. But with every new person it got slightly easier. As Simon’s Mum, played by the incredible Jennifer Garner, says, I suddenly felt like I could exhale. Like that breath I had been holding in for years could finally be released. And over time that breathing has got easier and lighter.

So what’s the point I’m trying to make?

I got to make the decision to come out when I was ready. I got to decide who knew, when and how I told them. So many young people have that choice taken away from them. A lot of teenagers still get outed at school, some by those that they thought were their closest friends. So this is my message to you. If your friend, your colleague, your brother/sister/cousin, whoever it is, if they come out to you, then they’re confiding in you. They’re telling you the one thing about themselves that they’re probably most scared to talk to anyone about. Keep it to yourself. Unless you know that they’re completely comfortable in you talking to other people about it, then don’t. It’s not your secret to tell.

“I’m supposed to be the one that decides when and how and who knows, and how I get to say it, that’s supposed to be my thing!”

– Simon Spier

So why have I decided to come out (pun not intended) and publicly tell you all this now? Well, I feel like I’m in a better place in my life than I have been for an incredibly long time. I have a family who loves me for me, friends who stick by me no matter what and someone in my life who makes me happier than I have ever been, who genuinely puts a smile on my face each and every day.  Someone who makes me want to be a better person, not only for them but for myself. And what better way is there to become a better person than being 100% my authentic self?

I’ll never fully be “out”. It’s impossible. I’ll always meet new people and have to divulge this little piece of information about myself at some point. Whether it’s new friends, colleagues, someone I meet on the street or people on the internet. But I feel less afraid of it, now more than ever. And if I can say it here, I can say it anywhere.

If Love, Simon had come out in cinemas years ago, you’ll probably find a lot of us would have too.

Badum tsch.

Love, Charlie.