There are moments in my life as an out lesbian when I want back
in. Times when I think to myself, 'I'll just pop back to the closet
a bit for a rest, and maybe a Hobnob, and come out again later. No
one will know.'
This week, I had one of those moments.
I'm at a party with some people I barely know. It's late. I'm
enjoying a drink and I don't feel like having a lesbian
inquisition: "Yes, I have dated men. No, I don't miss it. Neither
of us is 'the man.' Bla…bla…bla."
So, instead of being up front about my girlfriend, I do the
sexuality sidestep and refer to her as my 'friend'. I haven't said
'friend' in so long it feels wrong, like the time my dad asked me
to start calling him Jim.
In the days before I was out, I would introduce girls as my
'friend' to help me play it straight. I had 'friends from work',
'friends from the gym' and on more than one occasion 'friends of
friends'. People didn't know if I was a lesbian or just very
I thought I had come a long way but here I am seven years on at a
house party, smoking and talking about my 'friend' again. Scissor
Sisters' 'Comfortably Numb' is playing in the background, and I'm
wondering if I've I drunk myself back to 2004?
But this time it is different. I'm not pretending to be straight;
I just didn't feel like coming out tonight.
Coming out to people you don't know can be exhausting. It's
strangely intimate and not good content for convivial conversation.
It requires too much explanation, like trying to give someone who's
never seen EastEnders a recap of every episode in the last eight
The thing is, as I listen to myself talk, there's something
missing. The confidence has gone and I'm not as much fun to be
around. Like Clarke Kent, I'm a bit shy and ordinary without my
superpowers. I'm far more interesting as a lesbian.
As I leave the party and head home I wonder what my girlfriend
will make of this. Then I remember: she'll have to forgive
me, because that's what friends are for.