UCL Department of Geography


Daniel's Coming Out Story

Daniel Parkes shares his experiences of coming out.

Daniel Parkes
I ‘came out’ as gay for the first time, and I should emphasise ‘first time’ as it is an ongoing process whenever I enter a new environment, when I was 16. I actually did it pretty simply and quietly while I was in a very bubbly bath. Basically, I locked the door, got in, and changed my relationship status to “In a relationship with (insert man’s name here)”. This was for a couple of reasons: (1) My parents had been opening posts from gay online friends, searching my room, and reading a diary I kept of times my (then) boyfriend and me had met; so part of me didn’t feel they deserved a 1:1 ‘coming out’ as they’d breached that trust. (2) I didn’t want a big deal to be made of it really. You don’t see heterosexual couples having to muster to courage to have a deep conversation with their family members every time they enter a new relationship. I just wanted to keep it short and sweet and as ‘normal’ as possible for me.

Unfortunately, that didn’t go down well…some members of my family thought I’d been hacked and one member of my family took it upon themselves, without asking me, (after accusing me of being someone else) to call every member of my family to tell them it was true. To this day, they maintain they were doing me some great favour. I was told my parents were super upset and I owed it to them to go speak to them now, to which I replied, “I can’t, I’m in the bath”. Personally, I think I had my priorities in order – can’t beat a good soak! When I did come downstairs, clean and fresh and gayer than ever, it was to an angry and upset mom who was not, in her words, angry and upset that I was gay but angry and upset that I didn’t confide in her. This hurt quite a lot, because I was being made to feel bad for (1) them breaching my trust and (2) for not coming out in a way that prioritised them. Arguably better than my Dad, who, when I brought my boyfriend to his house, told me he’d told my younger sister he was my friend so as not to confuse her and instructed me to do the same, which I reluctantly did as I didn’t want to rock the boat.

These days, I’m super happy and comfortable in myself now, but as queer people, there’re a lot of expectations of us to behave in certain ways and when we don’t, people don’t like it. These are our stories to tell and we should be able to do so as we see fit.

As for recommendations, see below:

  • Tell someone/people close to you who you are sure will be supportive before you go ahead telling those who are at risk of being less so. It’s helpful to have a support network.
  • It’s never ‘too late’ to come out – so don’t feel pressured to come out in one big bang. Do it at your own pace.
  • Don’t feel bad if other people seem more comfortable being out than others. It’s important not to compare yourself to everyone else – everyone’s situation is different.
  • Lastly, this is not necessarily for everyone, but (also specific to being gay as this has also helped me manage my Tourette’s/my perception of it),  try to have fun with it. People will make jokes, people might be uncomfortable because they don’t know how to behave (but have good intentions). If you have fun with it, it can put you and others at ease. Also inspires a feeling of confidence, personally.