Pride 2014: I'm glad I was born gay

It can be tough, but being gay allows you the freedom to be the architect of your own life


This weekend all of LGBT London - and Sinitta - will come together to celebrate Pride. It's easy to be dismissive of any event where 5 per cent of the participants will be wearing gimp masks, but for many, Pride festivals represent the one day of the year where they are free to enjoy privileges that straight people take for granted, like holding hands with a partner or walking down the street un-harassed.

Even in 2014, being gay can be tricky to navigate. LGBT youths are four times more likely to attempt suicide, and it's not hard to see why. It's impossible to have engaged with the equal marriage debate and not come away with the depressing impression that there are still large swathes of society that find gay people distinctly distasteful. And recently there have been several violent homophobic attacks in London. So perhaps it's unusual that I've always considered myself glad to have been born gay.

I'm not alone. There's a wonderful quote from author Alan Hollinghurst who admits, "It has always struck me as a great stroke of luck to be gay". Just like him, I've always felt quietly smug that I belong to a pedigree that includes everyone from Alan Turing to George Michael. I’m aware that it doesn't make any logical sense to bask in the warm glow of other's achievements just because we share the same sexuality. But then, it doesn't make much more sense to be proud of a country just because you were born there, and yet during the World Cup patriotism seems to have been alive and well.

Obviously my sense of pride was helped by the fact that I wasn't born in one of the many countries where I'd have been nailed to a tree the second I expressed a vague interest in other boys, or to a family that responded to my coming out by performing an exorcism. But I did grow up in a rural village where teachers would routinely mimic effeminate boys, and I was once told by a family member that I wasn't 'really gay, probably just asexual.' Fortunately, by accident or design, I always preferred myself to my detractors.

Designer Tom Ford, who grew up in America's Bible belt as a gay boy obsessed with fashion, was once asked by GQ magazine whether he felt like a freak there. He responded, "I thought I was fabulous and everyone else was stupid." Obnoxious as it might make me, I identify strongly with his sentiment. I didn't care that there were boys at school who didn't like me, because I always knew that we'd lead very different lives - and thank God for that. In my more self-indulgent moments, I visit the Facebook pages of my former contemporaries and cackle at how the ones who were most homophobic at school have had the hardest time adjusting to life in the real world. Invariably they stayed put, terrified to venture outside their comfort zone and forced to copulate with an ever-decreasing pond of people that they wouldn’t look at twice were they not trapped in the same postcode. I’m making a sweeping generalization here, but being predisposed to unhappy childhoods does seem to give the average gay the gumption to get out and expand their horizons.

In some ways, rightly or wrongly, being gay also allows you greater freedom to be the architect of your own life. In supposedly liberal pockets of society, a gay man who wants children is now considered less of an anomaly than a straight woman who emphatically does not. In the UK, gay people now have the right to marry, but nobody is going to bat an eyelid if you choose not to. After all, living in sin is small fry after having been referred to as an abomination by the Church for thousands of years.

The struggles of gay adolescence (variable as they may be) force you to grow up at an accelerated rate. While that's not a walk in the park, it does mean that many gay people growing up today will have accepted themselves on their own terms before some of their straight mates have even decided whether they prefer Suarez or Messi.

I'm coming at this from a privileged perspective. As a gay man living in London and working in the media, I've been welcomed with open arms, which would not have been the case in countless other professions. As such, I can even afford to dwell on the cosmetic advantages of being gay, like being able to share clothes with my boyfriend (mostly his). If my Haribo habit ever gets out of hand, I can double in size safe in the knowledge that a large cross-section of the gay population would still be open to the idea of dating me (thanks, bears). And this weekend, I get to enjoy the questionable honour of witnessing Sinitta's come-back performance. Because, while gays may not inherit the Earth, we will definitely inherit Sinitta.

Video: Does London need Pride?
READ NEXT: Suarez, I forgive you for the bite
Ditch the nostalgia for the old 007

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Bathroom Showroom Manager / Bathroom Sales Designer

£22 - £25k basic + Commission=OTE £35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Bathroom Sh...

Guru Careers: Marketing Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Marketing / Digital Marketing Executive (CRM, Eve...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

Recruitment Genius: IT Engineer

£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity now exists for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
People struggle to board a train at the railway station in Budapest  

Even when refugees do make it to British soil, they are treated appallingly

Maya Goodfellow

Daily catch-up: immigration past and present, in Europe and in America

John Rentoul
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones