So, we all have baggage! If there is one thing I have learned about people it is that everyone, and I mean absolutely everyone, has something wrong with them! Even the most balanced people have baggage, but the big difference is that they made peace with their demons and live with them rather than hide from them and feel haunted.

So this is going to get quite serious, quite quickly, because I am going to jump in head first…. I was abused as a child. I was under 6 when it started but the reason I cannot be specific with time is that I made myself forget. I have no idea if this is even medically provable but I spent so many years willing myself to forget and ignore the abuse, that I actually did forget all of it and about 90% of my childhood too. I have just a few childhood memories and it’s been that way for as long as I can remember.

I know I was under 6 because I remember sitting in pre school and… how can I say this… pleasing myself in secret. I was sitting in morning assembly with teachers and other children all around me. I knew how to do it and although I don’t know when I figured out how or even how I learned to do it, but I knew I had to keep it secret. I also know I wasn’t the only one who knew this. To protect this person’s identity, I will call this kid Alex. Alex was only 1 year younger than me and throughout my childhood we were often together and sort of friends, although never best friends. We both knew the same things. In fact we had a sexual relationship as children. I believe our sexual relationship lasted twice as long as the years of abuse we both received. We only stopped when the sexual relationship was discovered by another kid, a friend of us both.

I was 11 when this other kid discovered our sexual relationship. Looking back we were playing a dangerous game and found ways to incorporate sexual practices into seemingly innocent kids games. We would pretend to be mum and dad, and you could say we took our role quite seriously in terms of accuracy. It was only a matter of time before someone found out. We often did it in quiet places in otherwise open spaces and always in broad daylight. I mean, we were kids, we couldn’t meet at night!

Once discovered there was a sense of shame. We knew we had to keep it secret and although I didn’t feel emotionally burdened whilst in the relationship, the reaction of being discovered made me feel ashamed. However, I seemed to deal with it well at the time adding logical thinking to explain to myself and the person who discovered us. I remember saying, ‘we were young when it started… we didn’t know what we were doing… we can’t feel ashamed of something that we didn’t understand’. Alex didn’t take the discovery well at all. Our relationship was definitely mutual. There was no force. No negative emotion. But no love either. It was pure lustful desire. We did it because it felt good, for both of us, and we both shared a passive and dominant role equally. However, after we realised this relationship was ‘gay’, Alex took it very badly. I knew the word ‘gay’, but it was often used to offend someone. So, I can see why Alex didn’t like discovering that we were gay! I had trouble myself later down the line. After this day, me and Alex never spoke again. Only once in passing in our late 20’s, and that was just a hello.

With Alex’s reaction and the realisation of being gay, I soon followed suit and that’s when the shame took over. I never considered why or tried to make sense of it, I was stuck on this shameful feeling of being gay. I became very introvert; I was always scared of my secret getting out so I kept my head low. Being quiet like this meant I was very much susceptible to bullying. High School was a complete nightmare. My ego and self esteem was non existent. All waking moments I willed this feeling, my past, my past sexual relationship to disappear. It took a good 4-5 years but at the age of 16 I finally managed it. I completely erased those memories and although I knew I had done so, I could not and still cannot recall specific memories. I then hid the secret and tried to live a normal life. Something that was doomed before I even begun trying.

I stayed this way for around 5 years and I considered myself a straight boy. I was going to find a girl, get married, have children and live in Soham with all of my family and get the whole white picket fence thing. That was always the way. All my family did this and I felt there was never an alternative for me. There were no other gay people in my life, in fact I knew no one who was openly gay until after I came out and attempted to date. So this never even entered my head as a choice I could make as a teenager. I spent years trying to make relationships work with girls. All the way until I was 21, I refused to believe I was gay and I just kept trying to make it work with girls. This time of my life is too much to write here. This process of realisation could fill its own blog post. All I will say though is that whenever I got intimate with a girl, alarm bells rang in my head. Much like Spiderman’s ‘spider-sense’, my whole body tried to escape this intimate situation I was forcing myself to do! It felt so wrong and I was completely tearing my soul apart. There was this force from my logical brain telling me I needed to do this, to get rid of the fear and my heart and subconscious brain telling me this was not me and not what I wanted!

In all honestly, for as long as I can remember I have fantasised about boys. Every time I pleasured myself I was thinking of boys. When I looked at porn as a teenager, it was always gay porn! And although I did this, after it finished (or should I say, I finished) I told myself that I was straight, it didn’t happen and wont happen again and I will find the right girl for me! Ironically when growing up, all the boys would lie and say they had sex with girls at the ages of 12-15, and in my head I knew I had been having sex for years by that point. I remember masturbating and the complete shock of sperm. I had masturbated for years and years and then one day I was horrified about something coming out afterwards!

This 5 years of continued failed relationships with girls ended with Grace! Grace was my ultimate girlfriend. I adored her almost as much as Samuel. But I still had these alarm bells with sexual intimacy. So after 8 months of dating at the ripe age of 20, and no sex for the entire time, I decided that enough was enough! I had to admit something was wrong and I needed to figure it out and went on a soul searching mission.

It may sound like I have deviated from my story on abuse, but on the contrary… this was a pivoting role in figuring everything out. A journey which ended where it started, at my abuse at the age of 6! So I left Grace and I began looking into the possibility of being gay. I began admitting it to close friends and then after a few weeks of ‘I am gay’, ‘no I am not gay’ back to ‘I’m gay’… I finally settled on I AM GAY at the age of 21. But I didn’t stop there, I knew this was the tip of the iceberg! So I dug deeper and brought to the surface of these hidden feeling and memories of my abuse. I took this heavy, chained and locked box out and shook the contents out. I talked to everyone, even my parents and asked them if they knew I had sexual relationships with Alex as a kid.

Much like a jigsaw I began to put the clues together. I knew someone had shown me how to pleasure myself and another boy. I knew this because I knew I had to keep it secret. Someone told me I should not tell anyone or get caught doing it! I knew Alex had something to do with it too. The best clue I had was from my sister who said she never saw anything directly but that Alex’s older brother was always a little bit weird with us. That was the apple that fell and hit my head and cleared up all the confusion. Alex’s brother was mentally ill. He was an adult man but had the brain of a child. So I pieced together the parts and I made a conclusion that I was going to stick with and make peace with. Alex’s brother must have had sexual desires subconsciously, he had the body and hormones of an adult but the brain of a child. I never felt threatened or in danger. It always felt like a game and I only remember it feeling good! So this makes me think that Alex’s brother just played these games with us and in turn we played with each other. It made the most amount of sense. Of course, the only person who could have helped me understand this properly was Alex. But with no contact for over a decade it was obvious he still did not want to confront this. So I left him out of it. I made my conclusion and I decided I was gay, I had been abused and I made peace with it.

So fast forward to today. Obviously I am openly gay, (I mean I co write a gay blog with Samuel, my future husband), but I can also openly and freely talk about my abuse. When I asked all those questions at 21 I was actually surprised that lots of other people had also been abused. Even the other day, an old friend of Samuels told us he was abused. I decided it was OK, Alex’s brother did not realise what he was doing and I strongly believe he meant us no harm, so even if he hadn’t passed away years ago from his illness, I would not harbour ill feelings towards him. I decided that my abuse did not make me gay, my attraction to boys makes me gay. Although the abuse also led to many years of depression and low self esteem it had made me the person I am today… and I am proud of the man I am today. So I made peace with it. Obviously I wish it didn’t happen, but it did and shit happens and we can’t control what happens to us… But we can control how we deal with it.

If your reading this and you have similar skeletons in your closet, I suggest you free them. You take them out, you shake them, you ask, you get it all out in the open and then you make sense of it. You only need one attempt to sort the shit out and you go to the very end of that path, until you can take it no further. After you’ve done all the digging and hurting you find the conclusion you need, or the best one you can make. You make peace with it, accept it, put it with your other memories in the box that is called past and you move on and move forward. Believe me, once you let something like that go, you can really make deeper connections with people and feel better about yourself.

After I started dating boys and realising that gay sex and gay love just makes so much sense – it felt awesome and liberating. I stopped letting people bully me. I started dressing and behaving however I wanted and didn’t care what people thought. I had no secrets. I told everyone everything because that way I had nothing to hide, no secrets, no fear of uncovered hidden truths. I became the man I am today!

Written by Craig