I came out when I was 22. I knew that I was gay from an early age – I knew I felt different. I struggled with my identity, partly because there weren’t any gay role models when I was growing up. Thirty years ago, no one in the media was gay, and there wasn’t anyone in my family who I could talk to about it. The 80s and 90s were quite an isolating time for the queer youth – you stayed in the closet because you were scared. The only gay people on TV were ridiculed, and campness was seen as something to laugh at. I tried my hardest to be straight. I thought having different girlfriends would make me more accepted and, to be honest, I didn’t want to be gay. I hated myself for feeling like that.
Because of Section 28, which prevented the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities, my school couldn’t help me because they weren’t allowed to talk about LGBTQ+ issues. I didn’t have anyone to talk to, and I definitely didn’t want to speak to my parents because I felt ashamed. So, I went through all of my youth wanting to be straight, having sex with girls and thinking I was a player. Then I got married to a woman when I was 20. I knew I wanted kids, and thought getting married would make the ‘gay’ go away. We were together for about three and a half years, and were married for 11 months, but it didn’t ever feel right.
My sexuality was always like a devil on my shoulder that made me despise who I was. At the time, I certainly didn’t know any gay men that were having kids. Back then, we couldn’t adopt or go through surrogacy. My marriage collapsed because my ex-wife didn’t think it was working, and wanted to go back to her old life in Wales, so that was my get out. Six months later, I came out to her, which didn’t go down well, but that honest conversation made her understand why our marriage wasn’t working. She’s an amazing woman and we’re still in contact, but the marriage wasn’t fair on her, and I definitely shouldn’t have married her.