Interview and answers by anonymous(es)
A special thanks to Irina Nakon for interview transcription
Q: At what age did you come to terms with, or at least become aware, of your LGBT identity?
A: Well I’m sure everybody, or most people ,would agree that you kind of on reflection say ‘Oh, like, I always knew’. But I didn’t actually, it didn’t really click, until I was actually quite old, probably like seventeen, which I think is, compared to a lot of people, quite old. Seventeen, and when I left school and started thinking of things outside of a little small-town bubble, and meeting different people and stuff because, I don’t know, I hardly knew any LGBT people, and I had an idea in my head of ‘Oh well I’m not gay, because I don’t like this thing, or I don’t like that’ so… yeah, when I was seventeen. Is that old?
Q: It is quite old [laughs]. Do you want to talk me through the mindset of this little, seventeen year-old [name omitted]?
A: Well, I always kind of knew, like when I was about fifteen or sixteen, I kind of had it in the back of my head like ‘Oh, that’s a problem for another day’. I just kind of, like, pushed it to the back of my mind, it was never a real possibility.
Q: So it stayed a problem for a while?
A: Yeah, it was always in there, in the back of my mind, but I actually started to come to terms with it. I remember, it was in art class, we were doing something to do with, like, LGBT-themed painting or something, and I just started crying, which was weird. And it freaked me out, I freaked myself out. And my friends. And my art teacher was such a mentor to me, and she was one of the first people I came out to, so I remember her trying to talk to me about that, get it out of me, like ‘What was wrong?’ And then I told her. And then the second person I told was another teacher. So, I didn’t really have friends I felt I could talk to about it, because I didn’t have any really close friends at that time, so I came out to my teachers first. Which is probably weird? Is it? I don’t know.
Q: So do you remember a specific time when it kind of went from being a problem to the kind of thing you celebrate now? Because you now live quite openly as, like, a flaming queer.
A: I, well at first, I was always kind of scared of it, and I didn’t really embrace it fully. Even, I think, I would dare to say that even now, like, I’m not embracing it fully. And I don’t know why. ‘Cause I’m not really out to everyone yet, so that might be why. But like even in some conversations, with someone, we’d be talking and they’d say ‘Oh, like, do you have a boyfriend?’ I would just be like ‘No’. And then, I wouldn’t go ‘Because I’m gay’, I would just leave it at that, I wouldn’t make a joke or anything. I don’t know why, I guess I’d be kind of scared of what people thought. Not because I think they’d be homophobic, it’s something about myself that still feels kind of weird to say. Which is not ideal, but it’s gotten a lot better though. When I first came to Uni, I was very awkward with it, I’m sure you remember.
Q: Yeah, it only took you a few hours to come out to me. We were walking up the stairs, first night of Freshers, and you were just like ’I’ve got something to tell you’ and I was like ‘Yeah?’, ‘I’m gay!’ and I was like ‘Yes!’
A: There were so many opportunities to say it during that first week, like, to everyone, but it was so hard, so awkward, I would get really nervous anytime someone would be even talking about relationships, I’d be like ‘I can say it now, I can say it now!’ But then I don’t. Oh, it was so hard. And, to some extent, in some social situations it’s like that, as well. When I don’t know whether to say it, or to bring it up, or anything like that, so I just stay silent. And that sucks, because I want to be totally, like ‘out, loud, and proud’, kind of thing. But I can’t really be that, and I don’t know if I ever will be. I hope so.
Q: Do you think there’s a family aspect that’s possibly keeping you in? Have you got like a kind of fear of losing those people?
A: Yes, there’s always a possibility, I can’t be too ‘out’ and showing off my gayness everywhere, because it’ll somehow get back to my family. Even though, you know, it probably won’t, still there are people here at Uni, who went to my school, they know my family and stuff. I just always think that, somehow, it will get back to them. I’m at the point now where, like, I don’t care. If my family ask me, and that’s what I’m kind of waiting for – I never really wanted to tell them, I was always just waiting till they asked, and they haven’t asked me yet. But I think they know, somehow.
It’s always hard to tell if someone knows something or not, I don’t know if I’m being paranoid, but yeah. That’s something I think about a lot. That’s, like, the biggest issue for most people, what their family will think of them. Because, like, if your friends reject you, you can get new friends. But if your family rejects you, that’s very sad. Or even if, if they don’t reject you, but if they don’t take it 100% well, or if it doesn’t go how you think it’ll go. Like I think I only had one bad experience coming out to someone, and they weren’t like…. it wasn’t a bad reaction, it was just like ‘Ohhh. Okay’ and like that look on their face, they were kind of freaked out. Even that killed me. So I don’t know what I would do if my family reject me. [It’s] Scary!
Q: In your early life, were there any LGBT figures around you, or were there any LGBT figures that you were exposed to, being on screens and stuff? Were there any TV shows, actresses, characters, books that you fixated on, that maybe could’ve been an early indicator, or even shaped your LGBT identity?
A: That’s so like, I know there must be some.
Q: Like, right now, you’re a big Grey’s Anatomy fan, at what point did that become an infatuation?
A: There is a phase where I, like actively seek out, like LGBT movies and TV shows and stuff, but I don’t know what was the number one thing. Not when I was really little, because I wouldn’t have paid attention to it. I can’t remember. I can’t remember ever actually seeing something and like, I know I must have, like been drawn to it, because it was LGBT. But I think every time I did, it was when I knew that I was, like, gay. I never was drawn to something and I didn’t know why. Or maybe I did, but I can’t remember.
Q: And were there any actors, actresses that you found yourself drawn at more, since?
A: Yes, like all of them. Whenever there is like a show or something, in general, I would just be like ‘Why are actors always so boring?’. They all look the same and they’re all not even that good-looking, when they’re supposed to be this good-looking character. It was always the actress, in any kind of TV show. I can’t remember a specific one, just all the women, in all the movies, in all the TV shows. I wish I had something that brought the gayness out of me when I was younger. I think it was just, I don’t know, maybe that’s why like I took so long to come out, because, I don’t know…
Q: Now that you are out, in whatever proximate you’re comfortable with, is there a queer text that you hold very closely to you, like any films or TV shows that you’ve now found, since coming out? When you do come out, you find yourself now seeking out more LGBT media, like the amount of foreign films I’ve found, are insane. Do you personally have one that stands out?
A: LGBT movies are like, my favourite genre, if you can call it that. I measure movies by how gay they are, and that’s how good they are. When I was younger, The Hours was a movie, and a book, that was one of the first with LGBT content [for me]. The book especially, it deals with it in such a way that people are struggling, but it’s also not like ‘Oh I’m struggling, my life is so hard, because I’m gay’ kind of way. And any movie that, like, deals with it in a way that is refreshing, and not ‘We’re all gonna die’. Sometimes, if there’s a new queer movie coming out, and it’s a sad one, everyone will be like ‘Oh no, I’m so angry at this bad representation.’ But, and I am as well, but I love, like, sad films. So I like them, I love all of them, even the bad ones, the sad ones, and the depressing ones.
Q: Are there any actions that you do, that are non-sexual and not romantic, that make you feel quite queer? Someone said in another interview conducted this month, that wearing Doc Martens made them feel very queer.
A: Just my, like, the way that I interact with my friends. Just because they’re all very, a lot of them are very girly and normal. They’re not alternative in any way, so they dress in a certain type of clothes, and I don’t like any of that, and I feel that that’s because I have a different perspective, because I’m not, you know, a ‘typical straight girl’. Just the way they’re all ‘Oh, texting my boyfriend all the time and I’m all girly-girly’, because I feel like I’m girly, but I’m not girly-girly. I don’t know why, I feel like I have a different style, and a different taste in some things. That may be just me, but sometimes I think it’s because of the different perspective I grew up in. I have this view of myself. I always like the saddest movies, and the ones where people are struggling, especially with themselves and their identity and stuff. And I hate, absolutely hate anything cliché, unless it’s ironic, in any form of anything. And when my friends are all talking about their love lives and their boyfriends, and their struggles with being a straight person, I can’t go along with it. Some conversations about relationships, you can bring it back and make it work for a queer relationship as well. But, in general, I just hate all the girl-talk.
Q: In terms of queer culture? How much do you associate with queer culture? Some people are like ‘Let’s drag up and go to a ball’, other people are like ‘I’m not a big fan of that, I’m a gay man who likes football’.
A: Yeah, well, queer culture in general, I love in anything. Even if there’s a movie and it is not even about queer people but is queer in general, I would just love it and call it a queer film. I’m immediately drawn to those kinds of things. Any kind of flamboyance, and things like that. I would say, there’s a lot of things I don’t really identify with. I mean, it’s all based on stereotypes, and stuff. What people think of a queer woman’s ‘thing’, a lot of these things I don’t like, or don’t feel like I am. But, I don’t want to be, since it’s all just based on a stereotype, and stuff. I don’t really know how else I can answer that [laughs].
Q: Is there a letter in the LGBT acronym you feel describes you? Or do you think the labels are a bit too simplistic?
A: That is the hardest question. I spend so much of my time and I just hate- I used to be fine with labels, but now, like, I hate it. I don’t really like the label ‘lesbian’, and I don’t know why. I feel like, because it’s a noun rather than an adjective, an ‘I am a’ something, and that’s all of me, that’s all I am, rather than a descriptive word among many things. I feel uncomfortable with it, and other labels in general. So I don’t really know what I identify as. I just identify as I really really like girls. But there isn’t a letter. I mean, if somebody asked me, and I didn’t have time to explain, I would just say I was gay. So ‘G’, but, I don’t see the point in the label. It makes me feel weird, and I don’t know why.
Q: Would you say you feel safe at the university, as an out queer person?
A: Yes. But not really more so than I feel anywhere else. There’s always people, you overhear people talking, and you hear the conversations. Mainly guys talking about how gay other guys are, or how they look. Or… well I don’t feel safe in the clubs, kissing other girls, because guys are gross and scary. And I’ve had, there’s been one incident where people were arguing and shouting at me, and that was kind of scary. That was on campus, and, that was one of the first times I felt actual homophobia. And it was weird, because I haven’t experienced a great deal of direct, personal homophobia.
Q: So in that specific moment, do you want to talk me through how you felt?
A: I just couldn’t believe it, because I’ve never felt it before. I was with a girl, and I said I was gay, and then the guys were all like, they were drunk guys, they were all like ‘Oh my god, that’s like so gross, like, what are you doing, that’s gross’. They were getting angry and shouting, and questioning me about everything, and it was super-uncomfortable. It was awful. I wish I could’ve blown it off with some funny comebacks or something. But, I don’t know what to do in conflicts, so I just stand there still. And then, yeah, we just kind of ran away.
Q: Do you feel the university provides enough information about keeping safe, both sexually and physically, out in the world?
A: I don’t know. It should, though. I haven’t really- I think it’s a very, in general, LGBT-friendly university. I feel represented here, and welcomed here, but you can always do more, like every uni can always do more.
Q: Do you think there’s enough education in general, about LGBT sex lives in school? Did you get any sex-ed education tailored especially to LGBT people?
A: I don’t know, if it’s like, supposed to be the same in all schools, but the sex-ed I got was shit. And it was shit for even, general, for everyone. And there was absolutely no LGBT sex-ed. Like, everything I’ve learnt is on the internet, and stuff. So, that’s bad, because I can’t think of any way that it doesn’t matter.
Q: Have you ever been exposed to, like, LGBT information in schools? Did it ever come up?
A: Not at all. Never. I didn’t see any resources or people, like, I didn’t know who I can talk to. Like I remember coming out to my teachers, and they said like ‘Come out when you want, but maybe after school, because school is shit for things like that’. So yeah… Most high schools are shit for things like that. And it’s sad.
Q: Do you see yourself being LGBT for the rest of your life?
A: Yeah. Of course.
Q: Yeah? What if you meet a lovely man, would you still consider yourself LGBT?
A: Well, I’ll always call myself LGBT, and identify with the community. I highly doubt I will ever meet “a lovely man”, but like there’s a 0.1% chance, so. But that would be weird. And it wouldn’t change anything, really, about me and how I identify. I would still call myself gay if I was with a man, which is weird I guess, but that’s okay.