Gay from birth … you’d better believe it!
At what age sex? Can a child know he is gay before he knows what gay is?
Let me tell you a story of a very ordinary man growing up in a working class family back in the days of flower power, through to bell bottomed jeans and long hair, new romantics and all those really happening trends that followed them on the ever repeating spiral of fashion and life.
There was my father, a man mad keen on sport, he was captain of everything at school … the cricket team, the football team … hell, they would have invented a new sport had they had more time just so he could be the captain! Not just him of course, every uncle or male relative since the family line began had been up there amongst the sporting legends of their lunchtimes. He married my mother, a first cousin at some point during the 50’s, I wasn’t invited to the wedding, a trend that seemed destined to occur to me throughout my life although, on this occasion, forgivable on account that I didn’t yet exist.
So, my mother … a small woman of around 5 feet, had an obsession with Dr. Scholl, I can always recall those sandals that seemed to remain with her every day of her life for every occasion. In appearance she was somewhere between a movie star and the wicked witch of the west, though not so green around the face. She read a lot, Catherine Cookson I seem to recall, quite a romantic though I never got to know her well enough to tell that with any confidence.
The family didn’t quite manage the point four of the traditional nuclear family but there was an older sister, it’s been years now since I have seen her but she popped out from my mother some two years prior to my own existence in 1961. She was full of confidence, had friends since the day she was born I expect. She could dance, sing in that American accent that everyone used during the 70’s, apparently she was very attractive too but she hated me.
I burst onto the scene on June 4th 1963, even then managing to upset my dad by interrupting the test match.
The years past, I was a sickly child having had the measles twice during infancy, so attention from the women of the family was never a problem. My mum fussed, my grandmother fussed, even the neighbour fussed. My father did his duty, visited me in hospital from time to time. Practically before I could walk and talk my father and decided I was unlikely to be the son he wanted, my sister did all the things that I should have been doing, kicked the ball around, rough and tumbled … I was not quite boy enough for my dad.
I started school at age five and in 1968, the legal age for gay sex back then was 21 and very obviously, I was just a few years short of that. There was a boy at school, Nick his name was … not a particularly attractive boy, seem to recall he had a few scabs … yuk, but anyway. During one of the lessons I could smell him, he smelt nice, strangely irresistible though I had no idea of what irresistible was at that age. My hand wandered down the back of his pants, he looked at me and smiled. It felt so naughty yet so exciting at the same time. His bum was so soft, my hand wandered all over it and up the crack, he was enjoying it. Soon he too was feeling me, I felt his hand slip down the back of my trousers, and the school could have been a million miles away. The bell went and we stopped abruptly. During break we promised to meet in the toilets after dinner for some more exploration. Five years old and I had been offered my first experience of a cottage! Of course, I was five and as such had a very short memory; I completely forgot our lunchtime date, quite odd really because I can clearly recall those events now, I can still see his little face and how upset he was later on that day that I had not been there, he had waited all dinner, this was the only time in my life that I ever stood anyone up, some things should be learned early and that was one of them.
My life continued much as it had done for the next five years. No more sexual encounters during that time, remember, I had no idea what sex was, it was one of those things that was not mentioned at home, as for gay sex, I doubt I had even heard the words gay or homosexual at that time much less knew what they were. As a child does in a simplistic way of thinking, I knew there was something I found ‘interesting’ in boys and knew also that girls were a different species I was never going to understand and had no interest in.
Alan in the library, one of those times in my life when I did what felt natural though looking back on it, could have been a very stupid thing to do. Was the famous gay radar working at such a tender age? Alan and I were working in the library together, it was one of things the school did to give children a degree of responsibility and today was our shift. I was sitting next to him and my heart started racing, we were quite alone. I simply turned to him and asked him if he would show me his in return for me showing him mine. He refused and I thought no more about it. A few moments later he tapped me on the shoulder and told me to look at him, he had produced his privates on display for me to look at, very nice they were too, now was my turn. I unzipped my fly and got out my tackle. This was the first time I was made aware that I had an erection. Alan observed how large mine was in comparison to his, whilst we sat there observing, it became apparent that his was getting large too. Neither of us knew what was happening and it was all over as soon as it had begun, we never spoke of it again.
Moving swiftly along now we find ourselves in the early 80’s. I was getting over an eating disorder that no one knew I had and had taken a keen interest in CB radio. I was 20 now, had gone a whole decade without any sexual encounter at all. I was now fully versed on what sex was, I knew about homosexuality, OK, not entirely accurate, I knew it existed and that I was probably one of them, more than that was restricted to observations of how others viewed it. It was a joke, one of those things that deserved to have the piss taken out of it, gay people were lower than everyone else and were not normal. Love? Love played no part in homosexuality; it was just sex, depraved sex to be had in seedy places at that. Then there was Neil, he was the son of one of the friends I had met through the CB radio network, I visited her one-day for what was called ‘an eyeball’. ‘He’ was sitting there, in the chair opposite my own, I was talking to her, cup of tea in hand just staring at him, and he was heavenly. I had been there an age before he looked at me, it was one look, one wonderful look, and he smiled. “You’re honoured” she said, “He’s usually a right miserable bugger”. He smiled again.
She suggested that us two, me and him, might like to go out together somewhere, she knew I didn’t have a large circle of friends and neither did he, she thought we might be good for each other. Can anyone have ever been more right?
I had no doubt that Neil was gay, his smell was there, it was that same smell I had got from Nick back in ’68. My parents were out and we were larking around, he knocked my shoe off quite accidentally but in the spirit of things I was not going to let him off lightly. I chased him around the house and knocked his shoe off too … we tumbled on the floor for a while and soon his other shoe was off and so was mine, his shirt, my shirt. I was on top of him, I had already undone his flies, he hadn’t even noticed. He was lying beneath me; face down, me facing his feel sitting on his back. I slipped my hands beneath his waistband and felt his underpants, beneath his pants his soft, smooth bum. He made no objections. I slipped his trousers down to his knees, then his underpants. His naked bum was beauty like I had never seen. I felt it, caressed it, his now completely naked body was beneath me, this was surely not gay sex? This was wonderful, this was warm, this was intimacy on a scale I had never imagined … this was horny, this was pure pleasure. He turned over, his manhood lay before me, I touched him and he responded immediately. His pleasure zone was in my hands and mine was in his. We looked at each other, we smiled, and we giggled. Moments later, it was over; both of us had shared this magical moment, better than any moment in our lives before. Three more times that day we shared the intimacy of our bodies, each time better than the first, it was like we had both been waiting so long and had so much catching up to do, we had to do it again and again.
Throughout ’83 we were together almost all the waking hours. We were breaking the law of course, it was still illegal for us to be gay at the age we were, until we were 21 the law deemed we were not able to know our own feelings, we were incapable of being gay, at the very least, gay was considered curable if we could refrain until we were 21 … what a load of nonsense!
My time with Neil was not a reality of course; life was going on around us. My father still considered me a failure. I had lived up to all his expectations of me and never even played sport at school let alone been captain of anything, the family tradition had ended with me. Coming out was not an option I had seriously considered, what was the point? It was just one more step on the road to failure. There was something else though, something I could not ignore. I wanted to be a parent; I knew there was something I could offer my own offspring that my parents had failed to do with me. I needed to be a dad, a father was not enough, anyone can be a father but it takes something special to be a dad.
I date a couple of girls to keep up appearances, I couldn’t do that for long because they soon wanted sex and it was obvious that I did not, I couldn’t afford rumours to start. It was now 1984, I was not seeing so much of Neil now, he had tried to come out to his parents and they had kept us apart. I was on holiday with my best friend at the time; we were in Ibiza, the hot spot of the med. Almost inevitably we slept together, it was not good. He had ‘issues’ with homosexuality. God would not approve, he would be damned for all eternity should he indulge and enjoy it. Sure, it was for certain he was gay but he couldn’t be, his fears of confronting his own sexuality were too great for him.
A year later and a different island, the same guy, Gran Canaria this time. We tried again, it again did not work … God was in there with us, his parents were there with us, every excuse a person could invent was in there with us.
It was a week after that holiday that I had Neil for the last time. I guess it was partly my fault, I had not put myself out to see him, maybe I was hurt that he caved in to his parents demands, I don’t suppose I will ever really have the answer to why I didn’t give him the interest he deserved. My friend was going though some emotional trauma, this was nothing unusual for him, I am certain he enjoyed the bleaker aspects of life. Because of this he was at my place more often than not. On each occasion that Neil called for me, ‘he’ was there. Neil put two and two together and came up with six, our affair was over.
A few weeks later that year of ’85 I met this girl at work, she was a nice girl, a little shy and very obviously she fancied me from the outset. OK, I had just returned from a country where it was very hot indeed and I had a tan to die for. I guess I looked as good as it was possible for me to look at that time. Anyway, I found out that she travelled the same way home as me from our office in London to the Essex suburbs and I happened to have a problem with trains in that as soon as I sat on one I fell asleep. On several occasions I had missed my stop and it had taken me hours to get home. She got off the stop before me so I saw the perfect opportunity to be woken up in plenty of time to get off at my own stop. It didn’t work that way, we talked, we talked for hours and soon our conversations were continuing away from train journeys. We were doing lunch, visiting bars in the evening. I would go to her parents for dinner and she to mine. The impossible had happened, I had fallen in love with a woman!
Sex was an experience to say the least; maybe because I had never had straight sex I did find it quite arousing, I had a very high sex drive at that time anyway. The subject of homosexuals came into the conversation many times and always positively. She had had many bad relationships with men and thought that her ideal man would be gay. My mind concluded that if there was ever going to be a woman I could marry and have kids with, this was the one.
Within eight months of that first meeting she was pregnant with our first child. We are now in May of 1986, and we are actually both really happy. Naturally my father thinks she is not good enough for me so I am yet again, a failure. My mother takes an instant dislike to her too though she is accepting of her as my choice and soon warms to her. Back in December of 1985 my parents had separated, Mr. Perfect had gone off with his brother’s wife, he had left me living at home with my now, seriously disabled mother. My sister had recently separated from her husband and was tarting around with some married bloke. My girl and I decided that we did not want our child born out of wedlock so we set a date for July 26th 1986. Our luck was not holding up though. My mum got ill very suddenly, it took us all by surprise. My grandmother and I had fallen out over my refusal to stop seeing my father. I had given my mum the option that I would not see him if she asked me not to but she insisted that it was important for me to maintain that contact. On July 10th, a dark skied day, I got the call from the hospital that mum was dead. I was shattered by this news, it would appear that I was the only one that didn’t realise how ill she really was, well, that is what they all told me anyway.
Our wedding went ahead three weeks later despite those other events taking the spotlight away from our day. Most of the invited guests stayed away, some because they felt a wedding so soon after my mum died was insensitive but most because they disliked my father so much they could not see past that and look at how much support I craved at that time.
Despite this going on around us, ‘the wife’ and I managed. We didn’t have a lot of money, we had inherited some from mum and most of her furniture but my father and my sister saw to it that we didn’t hold onto much of that. Almost daily they would turn up and remove something from my mother’s house where we were living at the time. We had to stay there until it was sold, we could not be housed by the local council until we were officially homeless. Father and sister viewed this time of our transition as a negotiable period over the assets in the home. There was nothing written down that these things belonged to us so, in their eyes, anything they wanted was fair game.
To my shock, soon after the birth of our eldest child we practically collided with Neil almost daily. It was an awkward moment for both him and me. My wife telling me that she knew that guy, had gone to school with him, and was sure he was gay made this worse! There was really very little choice, I could not be sure that she and Neil would not strike up a conversation, that he would tell her about him and me. One month after our baby was born, I told her I was gay. She was very accepting of it, of course she didn’t really believe me but as long as it didn’t affect our marriage then it made no difference to her. We even went through several months of eyeing up the boys together, this truly was a honeymoon period for us.
From 1986 until 1993 we produced four children in all. My homosexuality was repressed some way in my darkest thoughts. However, in June of ’95 a friend stayed overnight, he had stayed over several times before but this night was different. Something was happening between us. It wasn’t just the buckets of wine we had drunk either that night; something was affecting the chemistry between us. That night we had sex. I say that quite deliberately, we did not make love, it was just sex, in current terms, it was just a shag.
The following morning I came to a realisation, I could not continue to pretend I was not gay anymore. My wife was told that she would have to accept that we would never have sex again. Three months later we moved to a new town and a new life. We had separate rooms now; we were friends and no more.
My eldest child has special needs so he will never know about my sexuality, the child that is now 13 was told soon after his 9th birthday, he has practically grown up knowing I was gay. Both my daughters now know too. Being so young there were no problems with telling them. It was not done in full graphic detail but in a way that was easy for them to understand up to the ability they, themselves, had. As they have asked questions those questions have been answered. They never get more information than they actually ask for and I am always as honest as I can be.
My wife and I continued on as just friends for a couple of years, three to be exact. I didn’t have any more sexual partners in that time and neither did she. In 1998 we took a very long holiday away from this country and it helped us see things from a new perspective. We both decided that our separation was inevitable and now would be a good time to start looking for alternative partners. I joined a gay support group in Northampton and she started going out to pubs and clubs. I met my current partner in this support group. We started dating in September 1998, he eventually moved into our family home. The pressures of living as part of the family with my wife in the house as well grew too much for us. In April of 1999 we separated. Throughout this time I quickly grew into a large network of friends, I had never had many friends and this was quite a shock to my system! Never had I had so many dates booked in my diary. For several months I plodded along with my life. My partner had a series of one-night stands but none led to anything. A gay magazine asked me to write an article that was printed a couple of months later. This was my first real coming out to the wider community. A television company that wanted to make a documentary on my family and myself followed this. They began filming in early 2000 and the final production was aired in October 2000. Before it went out there was another national ‘straight’ magazine article and then the day before the airing of the program a live appearance on National TV. I would have to say that I am now well and truly ‘out’ to just about everyone.
My wife and I separated in July of 2000. I kept the children living here with me and she got a flat nearby. In June I had rekindled the relationship with my current partner. As I write this we have been together again for 10 months. He will be moving in again ‘officially’ this June. This time we are just like a proper family. The children still see their mother, she is now engaged to a guy she has been seeing for a few months. Just one week ago our divorce was declared absolute … my story will continue to develop. Things are bound to happen to cause twists and turns along the road of my life but I know I am comfortable now with myself. I don’t live any lies any more. Now, more than at any time in my whole life … Steve Williams is his own person. My father now talks to me as a human being; I am respected by him in a way that would never have seemed possible. I actually think that he now has just a hint of pride for me.
Now I don’t have any blood relatives left apart from my father that still talk to me, this is a small price to pay. I have my own family line now, my kids, my partner and those most treasured members of my family … my friends.