I came out at 15 in a Catholic school (2005). I didnt really have an issue. It was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. I got some commnets from the same lads on occasion in PE but nothing I couldnt handle. Most of it is teenage ignorance. Even lads who came out with homophobic commnets generally suddenly changed their opinion once they left school.
Ah bless him. What a lovely lad, I wish him all the best.
Brave young man!
I went to a Protestant high school (’84), although religion was not an issue. Homophobic slurs were common. It was generally known I was gay and some teachers thought it was funny referring to me that way during classes. The most problems I had was with wannabees and got beaten up quite a few times. Later I got some protection by the most popular students(, probably in exchange for cigarettes).
Still not sure what I could have done differently.
love the article! i came out on march 13th when i was 14 (just thought i’d mention it since it’s literally a day before andrew!) and was surprised when instead of being made fun of i also got people coming up to me and telling me they had more respect for me! and i agree there needs to be more education on the alternate sexualities in schools because i get questions constantly about being gay!
Good for Andrew and I’m pleased his experience has been better than he predicted, however I hope he does realise different schools in different areas see many young LGBT people that don’t have quite the same experience. In most quite the opposite.
That said a good article and one showing promise to Andrew himself and just maybe to some of those who go through a terrible time at school.
Good luck Andrew.
I’ve just had the pleasure of chatting to Andy. He comes over as really grounded and a helluva nice guy. He’s sane, literate and very sensible. For those who are not however, coming out remains a very difficult and daunting thing to do. Andy was lucky and he’s able carry it off. Being in really rough RC schools (and yes, there are some) may not have been as easy. Inner city schools can be even worse.
Children however, are much better at adapting to change than adults give them credit for, but it’s the adults in the schools who make the rules. In the case of faith schools, not even the local adults can say much.
He’s right about the homophobic banter though. It’s unpleasant and needless, but is everywhere. Even with the gay friendly on Twitter.
Andy, it’s an excellent article and I hope the RC schools will at least read and take note. In another ten years, I suspect coming out won’t be a huge deal for kids…but you can bet the Church of Rome will still be dragging their heels.
He’s deputy head boy (in the same school, I assume). So what’s the problem. Even he himself said that things became better for him after he ‘came out’.
The school I went to was a very secular state school, and even in the 1990s a boy threw himself off a bridge because he was being bullied for being gay – by the teachers.
Despite what many prejudicially think, many gay men I know who went to a Catholic school seem to have had a much better and safer experience than did many who went to the local comp.
I am in that position. I came out in a Catholic school at the age of 14 and although there was some ignorance amongst a few staff and predictable comments from the odd bully-ish boy, my overall experience was very positive. Friends rallied round me as did boys I would never have expected to understand. I didn’t know what being gay meant about my identity and their support did a lot to make my life easier.
Sounds like things have definitely improved since the 1960s and 70s when I was in high school and college. Back then even the rumour that you might be gay was a curse and you would be alienated and isolated and made fun of.
I remember hearing a rumor of some girls kissing in the library and it was shocking…lol. Another rumor of a guy being seen in drag was equally shocking. Even though I was gay, I was in such denial and comnpletely brainwashed by my Catholic education and homophobic peers that I just couldn’t imagine being homosexual. Had I seen some positive gay role models, life would have been so much easier. In reality, there were LGBT people all around me but I thought I was the only one.
Well done, Andrew. You’re a pioneer. I wish I had realised when I was at school that if people think you are Gay they will treat you like that anyway. Coming out is a sign of strength. It won’t feel right for all Gay pupils to come put but I admire and envy the ones that do.
I simply hate the idea of so called faith schools being given free reign to operate in a modern democracy. If they were to provide support to ALL sections of society i would have no objection but they don’t. I can find nothing more offensive to the upbringing of a modern democracy than an institution that bases its whole ethos on a religious culture that cannot be proven, yet their leaders can scald our own LGBT communities with venomus words and with many a church’s backing, shoe horn people into accepting a conversion therapy to make them straight! WTF! Religion has done nothing but divide people and nations. So keep faith school’s out of our education system. Why should my taxes go towards funding faith school’s who then back stab any LGBT student?
Mmmm, just let them hire tutors for ‘Religious Education’.
Catholic Schools have lots of gay kids, who have to live in a secret world to avoid the terror that would be visited on them by the Clergy and Catholic School authorities. They are evil institutions.
It would be good to know about the attitude of school staff, which you don’t mention. Was Andrew known by staff to be gay when appointed deputy head boy? The answer to that question would say a lot about staff attitudes.
To add to the “me to” comments I came out in St Bernard’s, Bethnal Green in 1979 aged 15 so it’s not a new phenomena
I came out in St Bernard’s, Bethnal Green, a tough all boys, working class school in 1979 aged 15 so it’s not a new phenomena.
Whoops sorry for the double post, RD
I’m not sure Andrew’s negative experiences earlier on is much different to those of any other gay pupil’s experience from other schools regardless of whether it was the local comp or a catholic school. Indeed his experiences were better than mine and I went to a local comp in south wales where nothing was mentioned about sex, lgbt issues etc by teachers.
I would have been more interested to know what the attitute was of the teachers and head. I simply don’t understand what a catholic school is becuase if you’re taught French or physisc etc then where does catholicsm come into that. What catholic values do you get when you go to a catholic school as opposed to the values you get when you go to a comp. I didn’t understand the differences?
That it’s owned by a Catholic entity, and either at some or all grade/year level(s) RE becomes a compulsory subject.
And in the application you testify you are a Catholic and have a recommendation by a Catholic clergymen in the local area.
Or at lest those are the features of the nearest Catholic school to me.
It would be good to have a second article by Andrew explaining how a catholic school is run & how pupils get taught about life, sex & relationships, bullying etc.
As lgbt people we are being constanty confronted by the catholic church’s public statememts and campaigns. I find the idea of catholic education very worrying but know little about how it operates. In the interests of better understanding it would be good to learn more.
Note that many of the things Andrew calls for, raising awareness of gay and transgender issues as a way of neutralising homophobic bullying are already used across the state education sector. Except that is in Catholic and other faith schools as they refuse to do anything that might imply the acceptability of homosexuality.
That is a really positive and encouraging article. And a Catholic school as well. Sometimes, recently, I have felt tempted to tar all Catholics with the same brush, especially after reading the appalling homophobic comments under the latest Telegraph article on equal marriage:
It looks as though the nasty “Catholics” posting there might be in a minority among more open-minded Catholics, and that this minority will shrink further as years progress and the new generation’s increasing acceptance of LGBT people forges a new and better society.
Fair play to him! It’s great when teenagers feel they can come out to their peers,
Unfortunately many still feel that they can’t.
I came out in my Catholic secondary school in1979. It was a safe environment in which to do so.
The RE syllabus was about acceptance, difference and diversity, long before the idea caught on in secular schools – but this philosophy permeated the whole establishment. It was somewhere that felt safe and welcoming to everyone.
Astonishing how quickly times change. I was at (comprehensive) school in the 1990s — not that long ago. The idea that anyone would actually come out as gay while at school was completely unimaginable. Like someone voluntarily having “kick me” tattooed on their forehead — possible to joke about, but about as likely to actually happen as being struck by lightening at the exact moment you mark the winning lottery numbers.
It blows me away that less than 20 years later, you can come out and become deputy head boy.
We have a lot still to win, and much of what we have won is fragile and eminently lose-able. But, boy, have we come a long way.
I don’t really know what the tipping point was. I felt comfortable coming out in 2003 – I think because there were gay characters on TV, for example, so people were *more* aware that gay people existed and it obviously helped normalise it.
I was definitely more confident as teenager than I even am now! I think a bit of naivety helped. I only had one or two bad experiences…kicked in the stomach at a party and another occasion, had the same person’s lunch shoved in my face. For some reason I didn’t report him to the school, whereas I hope the ‘modern’ LGBT pupil wouldn’t think twice about it.
Well written and very glad you had a good experience in the end, Andrew. I’m 25 and I also had a positive experience at school. I came out in Year 10.
Totally agree about educating high schoolers.
I guess to non-LGBT people, it might seem odd to concentrate on educating students about a minority group, but the experience LGBT people have whilst growing up has the potential to be so much harder than their straight peers.
Anything to combat prejudice or ignorant use of language is a good thing. It’s not just about gay people though, it’s about recognising that ALL nasty behaviour is unacceptable.
I came out as Bi at an all girls catholic high, wouldn’t reccomend it i had people refusing to touch me (because of course, sexuality is catching) asking far too intimate questions that i had no interest in answering (and they had no interest in an answer that they couldn’t scandalized in some way) and completely blanking me but at the same time i had girls telling me it was ok and one i barely knew hugged me and told me how brave i was. It’s not the religion of the school that makes a lot of difference it”s the students themselves and from my experiences and discussions with others it’s pretty much the same everythere. Hat’s off to Andrew for coming out so young, i waited until three weeks before i left. Good on you, mate!
Excellent article. One small thing: it’s not “AIDs” as if a plural of something. It stands for ‘acquired immune deficiency syndrome’; a syndrome being a combination of health effects all going on simultaneously. No criticism at all of the writer not knowing this (though perhaps a gay site could’ve given a little editorial help on such a point of fact?). But part of being in control of our health is having knowledge of at least some of the technicalities about it, including what the words are and what they mean. So this comment is for info, not to be critical. (Many media spell it as ‘Aids’ rather than ‘AIDS’, on the principle of “If you say it like a word, spell it like one.” I’m an editor who’s poz, by the way.)
Great article. I wonder if Andrew has ever considered what drives homophobia? Personally, I’ve always found that people who are comfortable with their own sexuality couldn’t give a monkey’s about anyone else’s. It’s those with their own ‘issues’ who are preoccupied with homosexuality. They ‘project’ their inner-hatreds and fears onto others. My motto is, “Show me a homophobe and I’ll show you someone gay, in denial”.
Coming out that you’re gay to your parents is never easy… or is it?