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Thursday, December 09, 2021

Hello class, I am a 60 year old, gay, cis male… full story —>



Last Monday I went to my niece Charlotte's secondary school as a guest speaker to talk to their LGBTQ+ student support group about the gaygooners. The group (about 15 teenagers) meet once a week in a school classroom, they cover the whole range of L, G, B, T, Q (and more besides), and were an engaging and attentive bunch.
 
Actually, I was there not just to talk about the gaygooners but to talk about me as a 60 year old, gay, cis male. 
 
I told about my coming out, my life, about how the big wide world can be a scary place if you're queer, but there are LGBTQ+ support groups in work places, colleges and universities, general social environments, and yes, in football supporters’ groups like the gaygooners if you need them.
 
I told them what gaygooners stood for, how we are the first and largest LGBTQ+ fans group in England, and that we are a social group for LGBTQ+ Arsenal fans, allies and their friends to meet up, and we provide a safe and welcoming space.
 
I also dropped into my talk that it has only been in the past 18 years that it was even legal for me to stand up in front of them and teach the acceptability of homosexuality. Thank you, Section 28 (1988 - 2003 in England and Wales, repealed earlier in Scotland).
 
After I finished speaking they had a lot of questions. A lot.
 
Yes, Arsenal are very supportive of the gaygooners - and vice versa. Yes, those are rainbow laces I'm wearing. No, I don’t know of any gay Arsenal players. Correction: any gay *male* Arsenal players. Yes, there is still homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in football. Yes, people can get kicked out of a stadium for hate. Yes, there are idiots out there. Yes, they are new idiots being born every minute. 
 
Yes, it might be a phase you are going through. But that's OK too. For me, my 'phase' has lasted 60 years and counting. 
 
Yes, it might be a challenge to come out. Yes, you might suffer rejection. Be prepared for that. But it is your truth. It's not about them feeling better as such it's more about you feeling better; being honest with yourself.
 
Yes, it can be tough coming out to older relatives. Be brave and be happy. If you like yourself - if you love yourself - that will shine through. Parents and grand-parents usually just want you to be happy. Show them that you are happy and they will come around eventually. Give them time.
 
Yes, you might lose friends when you come out to them. But were they the sort of friends you need?
 
The bad news, you will probably never stop having to come out. It can become a daily occurrence. The good news, it gets easier and actually can be fun. 
 
Yes, having a boyfriend is fun. Most of the time! My top tips: be prepared to compromise (it will seem you do more often than they do – but you probably don’t), be a good listener (everyone loves a good listener), and make them laugh (nothing is as sexy as someone who can make you laugh). Don't just go on looks, they fade. Stick to someone who makes you feel good.
 
If you like yourself it's easier for others to like you. Think about what makes you special and others will see that too.
 
Never suffer in silence. Always ask for help. You may not know this but other people love to help - it makes them feel good. So do them a favour too, ask for help.
 
Take home message: there are support networks beyond these four safe walls of school. Always ask for help. And if you want to join the gaygooners we'd be happy to have you!
 

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