[Edited on 29.03.2022]
I have had some genuinely traumatic experiences with dating in the past, which is relatively public knowledge, if you have been reading this blog for a while. In reality, much of this happened because I was desperate to force myself into a traditionally heterosexual space, despite never feeling entirely comfortable. I was already struggling with the marginalisation that being disabled brings, you know? I wanted to avoid making my life more unnecessarily difficult. I couldn’t figure out how it was possible to ever be happy within a society that continues to reject my existence, so decided that my only option was to stay quiet. Therefore, I was willing to accept whatever (limited) attention that I was offered, almost as if to prove some kind of point to the universe. See? I can pretend — and maybe if I pretend for long enough, then it will start to feel natural. Spoiler alert: that never happened. Instead, I just became very mentally unwell. The idea of letting anyone down with this truth has been consuming me for years, which is something that I almost didn’t survive. For a while, this truly felt like the best approach.
Amongst my closest friends, I have been identifying as gay for over a year now. Every single person embraced me with such an incredible amount of warmth and acceptance, which I will forever be grateful for. If this doesn’t include you, please don’t take it personally. I only told my immediate family yesterday, simply because it’s so terrifying. It’s going to be an adjustment for everyone, I know. With that said, I am exactly the same person that you have always known, just deciding to live more freely and authentically. I am not asking for your approval because, frankly, I don’t need it. I am simply asking you to allow me this happiness, even if it will take some time. I don’t hate myself anymore, which I hope that people can accept with an open heart.
Is there ever a right time to make announcements such as this? Truthfully, probably not. I do finally feel ready, though. See, dear reader, I fell in love. Although I am no longer in the relationship that first gave me the courage to share this truth so publicly, we spent a beautifully magical year together. Just more than that, if we’re being super specific about dates. Not that it’s anybody else’s business, but the reason behind our decision to separate was (and is) extremely painful for both parties, with no bad vibes or bitterness between us whatsoever. Quite the opposite, actually. As the cliché goes: sometimes loving them truly is to let them go. Sometimes, it really is that simple and complicated at the same time.
As things stand, I have no idea how much contact it will ultimately end up being healthy for us to have, but it is my hope that we will learn and grow through it all together someday, even if not in the romantic sense. If nothing else, I would very much like to give them a hug. I think that would be cool.
So, with all of that said: do I have any regrets? Absolutely none, truly. When we first started dating, I had been absolutely destroyed by the trauma of existing as a disabled person throughout a global pandemic — and, frankly, as a disabled person in general. With each day, they taught me that it was okay. That I am worthy and deserving of good things, which I intensely struggled to believe beforehand. They taught me that I am enough and my life will always have meaning, even if it doesn’t fit inside other people’s neat boxes. These are the lessons that I will be able to carry in my heart forever.
Coming out was (and is) a really massive deal for me. I waited twenty-three years for this moment, so please don’t be a dick. Now is not the time. But equally, I will not apologise for being happy, now or ever again. Pfeiffer taught me that, too. As I heal and move forward at whatever pace feels right, that is what I will hold onto. I am not inherently unlovable because I’m disabled and aspiring towards my own happiness is still a tangible goal, even if it looks different than I expected. There is a world of possibilities and I am determined to allow myself the grace of grasping them, of no longer shrinking my own existence to make everyone else more comfortable. I have done it before and I can do it again. I will rise, I will rise, I will rise.
With special thanks to Imogen, Kesia, Megan, Sonia, Holly, Courtney, Sam, Kai, Céline, Cool Hannah, Rachael and everyone else. I hope that you know who you are. Finally, to my family: I have had a draft of this post saved on my phone for a few days now, before telling you, but I feel obligated to include a small edit here. Thank-you for loving me so unconditionally. I have played this scenario over in my head a million times, quickly becoming convinced that nothing would be okay ever again. Thank-you for the hugs, the jokes and the supportive messages. I appreciate every single one of you more than words could ever fully articulate. Again, I don’t hate myself anymore. I made it. Thank-you for making such a beautiful effort to understand and embrace everything that I am. I love you. xxx