Friday, 5 November 2010



I read an article the other day that it is Playgirl's 30th anniversary coming up. In that article, the thought was expressed that publication of nude men in that magazine was part of the coming-out process for many men. Reading along, I remembered how I had used Playgirl to bring some sense of excitement to my then-single life and how it piqued my curiosity for how men would treat men in a bedroom setting.

I am 59 years of age, and my first actual act of sexual intercourse took place within a month or so of my 19th birthday. Of course, I had practiced frottage prior to that (not like I had an idea it was called that!), but my penis had never touched another crotch. At that time, I was exclusively heterosexual. My first masturbatory episode had been with another young teenager (were we 13?), but this didn't involve any hands other than my own. Throughout my teen years, I was dating girls my own age and loving it. Within a week or so of my first true sexual encounter, I had another and then another - I was on my way to the sexual revolution!

I was beginning to date a wonderful young lady, who might have become my first wife had not the Vietnam war been in the way. Eventually, we realized our love for each other; and, it being the times that it was, we naturally began a sexual relationship. Our sex life was delightful and never did the thought of a man enter my head. Of course, it was such a taboo at the time that I was probably (and properly) afraid to even contemplate such a thing. We broke up shortly after I got drafted and I then also began a tour of duty in Vietnam. There, I eagerly treated myself to the prostitutes who were virtually everywhere. Again, this meant female only. One evening, in the enlisted men's club, another guy put his hand on my knee as a sign of desire. I quickly told him I wasn't interested (it's true - I wasn't).

After leaving the Army in 1971, I enjoyed my single life until meeting a young woman who I thought would work out for me. It didn't - suffice to say, our relationship was poor. I was much desirous of sex, but she wasn't. Who knows - maybe it was the beginning of her lesbianism! I really don't know, as she and I never spoke again after breaking up.

In the early 70s, homosexuality was more evident in the population than it had been earlier. I worked with several gay guys, though I was unaware at first. Of course, my upbringing told me this was something to avoid, so I learned to look the other way while working with these guys (though I often suspected they got further on the job than I did due to their being gay). Around this time, I was beginning to incorporate Penthouse Magazine in my reading habits. Now Penthouse was famous for its Forum, which at that time had letters regularly discussing such things as trysts with people who had artificial limbs and so on. Also among the letters, you'd find discussions about three-way sexual encounters (2 men, 1 woman, etc.).

Needless to say, all this eroticism in the Forum served me well in my masturbatory fantasies. I don't recall ever using the threesome descriptions, but it was nevertheless imprinted in my mind. I began fantasizing - picking up such other interesting reading material as Hustler, etc. There was a plethora of reading (jerking off) material out on the market then, and the pictorials got more graphic, with lesbian scenes, two women with a man, etc. Naturally, every time you'd see a man in the pictures, it was someone quite well hung. I don't recall desire cropping up, but I do recall marveling at the size of some of the penises in the pictures.

I don't know what originally possessed me to pick up my first issue of Playgirl. I knew that it was aimed at the women of the world - giving them an erotic counterpart to Playboy - but my curiosity certainly gave me the inclination. Back then, all you could see was limp penises (if at all). I found myself turned on by those pictures, and I naturally fought the inclination. At the same time, I found myself attracted to the men featured (such strong, handsome models!). Living alone, I actually cut out some of those pictures and put them on my walls as an enticement when I would masturbate.

Being exposed to Forum, Playgirl, my fellow employees (some of them out of the closet); I found it easy to wonder what sex with another man would be like. On most of my weekends, I'd swing by one of the local bars to see who was around (many friends would come by and there was always women with whom to converse). One night, I was sitting at the bar alone, seated next to an older man. We chatted amiably, and the talk swung to our experiences in the military. I recall the topic of sex coming up, though I can't be sure who broached the subject of "where and when and with whom." Soon, I learned that this man had encounters with other men when in various ports - guess whose penis sprung up. I found myself sitting closer to him so that I could rub my leg against his. Clearly, the discussion was turning me on.

That night was my first sexual encounter with a man - I was probably 23; he was probably in his 50s or more. We exited the bar, climbed in his pickup truck and drove somewhere secluded. I don't have much recollection of what happened, but it's a certainty that my hand slid down his penis, and his mine. Whether there was any oral contact I don't remember, though it is certain I didn't open my mouth. We drove back to the bar and sat back down afterwards, as if nothing had happened at all.


After my first experience with a man, I continued to wonder about myself and what another encounter would be like. I don't recall how much time elapsed between #1 and #2, but my fantasies had certainly increased in both frequency and intensity. I had begun accumulating copies of Playgirl, which became nothing but a masturbatory accessory. I actually would read some of the articles, though, particularly if they had anything to do with satisfying a man sexually.

One night, having decided that I needed to further explore my sexuality, I made up my mind that I was going to go out with the expressed purpose of meeting another man. My normal activities on weekend evenings consisted of visiting the local bar, to see who all was around and to chat and converse with men and women - all strictly heterosexual encounters. Later, I had the habit (once the bars closed) of retiring to one of the donut shops that was open 24 hours (yes they had them then!) or to a diner located just up the road from my home.

I sought out the diner, as my hunger in my belly as well as in my loins was great. There, I met and began conversing with another man; and my purpose was, I hoped, to be fulfilled. After some conversation (mind you - this is many years ago, so memory isn't all that clear), he and I agreed that it would be profitable for him to follow me back to my home (wow - the risk!) and that we could crawl under the covers and deal with whatever came up.

We did just that, and at 2 or 3 in the morning, we repaired to my home, traipsed upstairs and climbed in my bed. This was a much more aggressive man than the first I had met, and that was okay - to a point. After some rubbing, etc., he kissed me. For this I was thoroughly unprepared. I had never kissed a man in my life, and I wasn't ready to do so this night. It thoroughly turned me off, and I asked that he leave. From my standpoint, he had ruined the evening for me. He left without incident, and I immediately crawled far deeper into the closet I had constructed.

It was many years before I would have the guts to seek out male sexual companionship again. My fantasies never left, of course, and I readily goosed those fantasies on a regular basis.


I married in 1975, at the age of 26; not having had male sexual relations for at least a couple of years at that point. My wife and I had a very good sex life, and we were happy together. I did, however, continue to read "porn" (if Playboy & Hustler & Penthouse are considered porn).

In time, I found myself drawn to thoughts of threesomes, swinging, etc. I'm quite sure, especially now, that those thoughts were mainly due to my inner desire for male on male interaction. My wife would read Playgirl on a semi-regular basis, and when she was absent from the home, I often masturbated with her copy of the magazine. I also was beginning to accumulate copies of Blueboy and other such gay magazines, along with some of the other gay-centric books of the time. Soon, I found chat lines (1-800 numbers). I initially got started on that and only spoke with the girls that populated them. Once I learned that you could "go private" with someone, I felt a natural urge to do so with some of the guys who were on the line. I don't recall exactly what I did, but undoubtedly, I used up some of my cum on those chat lines. I had earlier begun calling the sex phone lines that had women call back and discuss anything you desired. I then discovered that there were sex lines for gay purposes! That meant even more fun.

Again, I was having no meetings, no sex, no encounters with men, but over the phone was a different story. And to think that I denied being gay all those years! Yet another thing that I just recalled is indicative of my mindset back then and clearly showed me my direction, though it took a lot longer to follow that direction. In late 1986, I took a job with a local bank that was open on Thursday evenings until 8 pm. On leaving work one Thursday, I discovered a new show (new to me) on a local college station, called "This Way Out." I had been a fan of college radio for quite some time already, and began to listen to what was, to my surprise, a gay news show. This became my regular routine for most of the rest of my duration at that job, which I left in early 1990. I truly didn't give it much thought - that I was actually gay - but I have to say I enjoyed listening to the show. If my memory serves me well, I think I convinced myself that I was simply getting a little perspective on the whole "gay thing."

Obviously, I was very much in denial. Our relationship withered over time. My wife gained a lot of weight, and sex with her was much less enjoyable. My fantasies were exclusively about men when I would masturbate, though I did have a couple of almost-affairs with women I worked with. Nothing came of that - it was more emotional than anything else. In my gay fantasizing, I found that anal stimulation was most enjoyable.

At first, of course, my anal impulses were finger only. Oh, and I just remembered this: my wife and I did have anal sex on a few occasions - my first efforts at being a top! She and I actually had a conversation about her grabbing a dildo and using it on me anally, but that never came to fruition. There was no fruit involved, but vegetables became a part of my personal sex life. I searched the refrigerator and discovered that carrots and cucumbers were nice fits for my anus. I don't remember fantasizing about being mounted by someone when I experimented that way, but I'm also quite sure that was the case.

In 1990, I had a new job that led me to meet many new people. One of them was a Guyanese woman with whom I had a social, mental and everything-but-sex affair with. I fell for this woman. She ended up doing me very badly, but that's another story. I also found myself bedding down eventually with a Puerto Rican woman - a nice substitute for my now quite overweight wife. By 1993, I realized that my marriage was over, and I moved out of the home and moved on. During the marriage, I had never met a man with whom I had sex. Fantasies, yes; reality, no. I was still dating women, and that was my main thrust. Through the mid-90s, I continued to date women and had a wonderful sexual relationship with a sweet young woman - there was love involved too, and I don't mean to demean that - and she insisted on telling me that I had stanima (stamina).

Even though she and I slept together regularly, I was regularly receiving International Male and Undergear catalogs in the mail. As I would thumb through those catalogs, I found a peculiar and familiar sensation in my pants. I constantly found myself getting hard! Go figure. There was one model in particular - Glenn Kaufman - who intrigues me. He was as handsome as any man I'd ever seen, and he had a spectacular body. I realize I'm not into muscles or body builders in general, but this guy could certainly wear a pair of underpants! Jerking off was easy when I would see him in Undergear, especially. I always told myself that if I ever should want to be with another man and have a sexual relationship - if ever I was to swallow someone else's cock - it would be this man. Little did I know that the reality wasn't that far away.

Monday, 21 July 2008


Now in his seventies, Jeremy Kingston remembers coming to sexual maturity as a gay in his twenties: “Except that what you were called was far more abusive then: queer, faggot or nancy boy. And we lived with the spectre of Oscar Wilde. I knew that I’d be flung inside if I was caught in flagrante with a boyfriend.”

Jeremy, playwright and theatre critic for The Times, met me in an Islington restaurant where we joked about the young men on the streets, advertising their gayness in dress and style without any of the fear that he went through.

“Children of the Gay Pride revolution,” Jeremy observed, a tad wistfully. But nowadays he is happy to discuss openly the picaresque life he has led as a homosexual as well as 22 years of marriage and two adored sons.

He says the “vastly changed” attitudes to homosexuality over the past 35- 40 years enabled him to write his play Making Dickie Happy, in which Noël Coward urges his friend, Lord Mountbatten – who is deeply troubled by his sexual identity – to acknowledge his gay feelings.

He thinks it is the best long play he has written, not least because he now feels comfortable addressing issues of homosexuality honestly. “The first play I put on when I was in my twenties featured a relationship between a young man and a sensitive sailor.

“That had to be cut out and the play changed altogether because, I was told, the Lord Chamberlain wouldn’t have permitted it. Apparently the nation couldn’t take the fact that such effeminate monstrosities existed.”

The result was “a writing block which went on for a long time, and I am sure it was because I was afraid to say what I wanted, what mattered to me”.

Jeremy soon learned where to meet men. “I spent my time in the 1960s falling in and out of love around the Earls Court area – a world within a world.”

He had grown up in a home where sex was “an unacknowledged dirty business”.
His sister became a nun and his gay feelings were aroused by a man who made a pass at him in the cinema. “But I wanted to be heterosexual like my mates.

They all had girlfriends so I tried having one but she terrified me with her open mouth wanting kisses. I felt alarmed she would swallow me up.”

By 1955, when he worked as a clerk in London, he had acknowledged his gay yearnings and was going “up West” to clubs and finding “talented and witty” gay men who seemed so much more entertaining role models than his heterosexual friends.

But he badly wanted children: “I still felt it would be better if I could put my gay phase aside as a protracted adolescence. I could see how much easier life would be if I were straight and I thought maybe I could turn my fancy to something else.”

It was rewarding, therefore, to find himself sexually attracted to an actress “with lovely Cleopatra eye make-up and a purple leather dress”.

They married in 1967 and stayed together for 22 years, but “although I was faithful to her with women, I had my afternoons in London with male lovers. But although my wife accepted that I’d had a gay phase before we married, she didn’t know it went on”.

Although his sons were growing up in times when Jeremy could see it was a great deal easier than it had been for him to “come out”, he says emphatically that there is still enough homophobia and prejudice to make it a difficult choice.

He was determined his sons should not suffer if they had homosexual desires, so when his younger son, aged 14, appeared to be “in a sort of decline”, Jeremy wondered whether he was troubled by his sexuality.

“I found a time to tell him that I had been gay when I was young and that there was nothing wrong with that. The damage came from being ashamed; made to feel wrong. He didn’t say anything but indicated that he appreciated my making an effort to talk” – in fact his son was not gay.

Jeremy told his older son when a book was being published featuring him with the author, an erstwhile lover. He says with a smile: “I was touched because he just said he was glad that I’d decided to get married, otherwise he and his brother wouldn’t have existed.”

The marriage ended, however, when the sons had grown up, although he remains in good contact with both of them. Jeremy says, “I realised that I am 70% gay and my yearnings for men were very real.”

Written by Angela Neustatter

Thursday, 17 July 2008


First, take care of your legal business (divorce, support, dividing assets) with an experienced lawyer. Don’t promise or sign anything without running it by your attorney. Don’t let guilt cloud your actions. Money is going to be flying out the door in legal fees and courts cost as well as possible spousal and child support. You have to be responsible.

Second, give yourself plenty of time. Divorce/breaking up is a long and painful process. It demands time both emotionally and logistically. Plan on the process taking at least a year and a half. Give yourself time to grieve and take in the changes in your life. Don't forget to honor the life that was yours. In addition, give yourself time to acclimate to being gay. You will probably go through several stages. Some common ones are the slut stage, desperate for a relationship stage, moving in together after the first date stage, calming your inner teenager stage, working through internalized homophobia stage and many others.

Third, some family members (parents, children, siblings, etc.) are going to feel that your coming out is forcing them to coming out. By that, I mean, you are going to hear how painful, hurtful, inconvenient, embarrassing, and shameful your coming out affects them. They are going to have to process and reeducate what they thought a gay person is. It may be a struggle for them to want to do this. It is going to take time for them to come around. Usually you can’t tell ahead of time who is going to have an issue with it. There will be surprises all around.

Fourth, get out and meet as many type of gay people as you can: young/old, fit/fat, bear/twink, HIV positive/negative, coupled/single, straight-acting/fem, drag queens, all type of lesbians, transgender, etc. Don’t limit your pool of friends. You will quickly discover that you are not the only one that came out late. Thousands of men and women come out late in life or after being married to the opposite sex. Some did it decades ago when it wasn’t as accepting as it is now. Some will do it in upcoming months and ask you for advice.

Fifth, make a commitment to learn about gay history, culture, arts, politics, and personalities. Read books by gay authors; subscribe to magazines like Advocate, Instinct, Genre and Out; visit internet sites that cover similar topics. Watch DVDs about these subjects. (Netflix has hundreds of gay themed DVDs.) Take a class or listen to speakers. Support and patronize gay businesses. For example, when we travel, we make it a point to stay at gay owned bed and breakfast inns and guesthouses.

Sixth, get involved. Find and join various gay organizations that interest you. There are an amazing number and variety out there. There are groups that appeal to the intellect, the athletic, the social and the adventuresome. For example there are gay book groups, gay hiking and running clubs, gay dance (line dancing, square dancing, etc.) classes, and gay swimming and skiing clubs.

Seventh, give back to the community. While you were closeted and trying to be straight-acting, you lived a privileged and safe life. You are now obligated to help those that did not have that opportunity. You have a chance to make the world a better place. Volunteer at a LGBT community center, AIDS organization or other non-profit LGBT or gay-friendly organizations. Be an active member of the clubs and groups you join. Help organize or serve on event committees. Be a mentor.

Eighth, if religion is important to you, check out the many gay and gay-friendly churches/synagogues, prayer and social groups. There is lots of positive and supportive literature and resources on how to live a gay spiritual life. There is no reason to say closeted for God.

Ninth, go to a pride parade/festival in a small town and in a big city. They are two very different experiences.

Tenth, act your age. That doesn’t mean you can’t go out to bars, clubs or cruise guys or do other fun stuff. Instead, it means you should act with confidence and assurance and a belief in the wisdom you’ve learned over the years. No one wants to see a guy in his forties trying to mimic the worst traits of a twenty year old. However, there is something hot about a confident older man that draws the attention and admiration of younger guys.

Eleventh, share your story. Straight friends and family are going to have questions. This is a great opportunity to educate and have a positive influence. Develop and work on your story on what you went through to get to the “new” you. One recommendation, keep the story “G” or “PG” rated. Save the graphic details for your gay friends.

Twelfth, don’t whine about all you missed by not coming out earlier. Nobody wants to hear it. Save it for your blog if you feel compelled to share it. You have finished one closeted chapter in your life and now you are starting a new one. You are now living an out and authentic life. Enjoy it.


The other evening, a friend and I got into a discussion about coming out. He remarked that he had met a number of older gay men who seemed to be of the opinion that coming out makes all of the struggles with one's gayness disappear, or at least become insignificant. He told me that this attitude bothered him, because he didn't feel that was the case at all. Listening to him, I found myself agreeing with his point of view wholeheartedly. Indeed, I found the claims made by these older gay men (and bear in mind that these "older men" actually fall in my age range) to be astonishing and completely unhelpful. I emphatically told my friend that I felt the attitude these men had expressed was complete garbage.

Now, don't get me wrong. I think there are a great number of benefits to coming out when a person is ready to do so. (I also think that coming out is a process that involves degrees and situations rather than an all or nothing thing, but that's probably best left for another post.) Coming out to myself, ending the denial, and allowing myself to be the person I knew was inside of me has been one of the greatest gifts I have ever given myself. And allowing myself to share that person with those people in my life that were important to me allowed me to save a lot of time and energy that I would have otherwise wasted by trying to hide who I am and worrying about what might happen if anyone ever found out my secret. And I suspect that my friend with whom I had this conversation would agree with everything I've just said.

But to say that all problems surrounding one's sexual orientation will fade away once one comes out just isn't realistic. In fact it's a lie, and one that could deeply hurt someone who doesn't feel this fictional release of all troubles upon coming out. And to me, spreading such a hurtful lie to another person is reprehensible.

Truth be told, as wonderful as the coming out process is, it's only the beginning of a larger process. And for many of us, that beginning is the equivalent of opening floodgates and letting out a whole world of hurt and confusion we need to deal with. I can look at my own coming out experience that took place almost eleven years ago and the rough road it started me down, and the very lie of these older men's claims makes me wince.

Coming out means coming to terms with who we are and allowing other people to see who we are. In many cases, the whole reason we need to come out is because we've been denying or repressing who we are -- often for years. That takes its toll on a person, and quite often, coming out also requires us to face the results of those years. It's one thing to accept who we are, but it's completely different thing to come to love who we are. Sometimes, it means rebuilding our self-perception from scratch. Sometimes, it means learning that we really are deserving of love. Sometimes, it means struggling to live in an adult world while having the emotional maturity of a young teenager. Sometimes, it means coming to terms with an unconscious mind that only found it possible to express your sexual feelings through violent dreams and fantasies. The list is potentially endless.

Perhaps some people really do have less emotional and identity issues to work through after coming out. Perhaps they never denied or repressed their feelings as totally as others of us. Or perhaps they really can heal instantly. But not all of us are like it. To us, facing and admitting our sexual orientation -- whether to ourselves or to others -- is merely the beginning of the next stage of a difficult journey, not the end of one.


It wasn’t until much later when she started noticing signs. Nothing big at first. Little things, small hard-to-read clues left for her to see. Some name calling in school, a comment from a perceptive teacher, and the fact that all his friendships were with girls.

Then the anger came. Not hers, his. She watched as her sunny, luminous kid was becoming burdened with dark silence, afflicted with rage. She could feel the blinds coming down on the windows of his soul.

She tried to talk to him but it was no use, he pushed her away. Ironic. She who made a living by making people open up, she who could unlock any heart with a simple word found herself helpless when it came to her own son. She didn’t have the key. She couldn’t even find the lock.

So she prayed. She prayed that she was wrong, that this was just a phase. But deep inside her awareness was slowly cooking. The truth was boiling. The timer on her consciousness was about to go off.

She tried to fight it. She refused to give it a name, a title. She wouldn’t admit that her boy wasn’t special, he was different.

She hoped he would talk to her, share what’s on his troubled mind. She wanted to help, ease his pain, but she realized he chose to go through it on his own.

He finished high-school with honors, but instead of happiness, sadness in his eyes. He was exceptionally beautiful, a handsome young man. There were muscles on his firm body, the features of an adult.

A short-lived romance with a beautiful girl had for a moment lightened up her world. She hoped against hope that maybe, just maybe this boy was simply a late bloomer. Just one of so many explanations she had stored in her arsenal. But when that relationship ended she sadly acknowledged that she could not think of one significant connection he’d made with a girl over the years. All his relationships were of a friendly nature.

Years went by and her boy was growing more melancholic. His sadness hovering above his head like a rain cloud in a Hannah-Barbara cartoon. She tried to get closer but couldn’t. It was during that time that her suspicion was taking form, becoming deeper, until even she couldn’t escape it. But even then she waved away the thoughts, as though they were a pesky fly.

Then one day he brought home a friend. A male friend. She studied the intruder carefully and cringed at the intimacy she sensed between them. There was nothing overt, but it was enough that she couldn’t ignore it. For a moment she was mad at her son for bringing this man into her home. For not allowing her to continue in her illusion. She wanted to cling to it forever. But she knew the price you pay for denial is distance.

One day she dared do what she had never done before. She said the word out loud during dinner with her husband. For a moment she was terrified, worried his father might not understand. But she had to talk to someone. She couldn’t hold it in anymore. The secret, it was suffocating her.

“I don’t care,” he told her. “He’s my son and if he’s gay, that’s okay. I love him no matter what.”

She looked at her husband with admiration. He had been able to say what she couldn’t acknowledge for so many years. She was surprised at how the word “gay” which had stood there in the middle of the room didn’t seem so frightening all of a sudden. She looked at the man who she’d been married to for more than three decades and couldn’t help love him just a little more.

But even then she didn’t confront her son. She waited. She waited because the truth wasn’t yet ready to be told, not by him, not to her. A friend had told her, “Go ahead! Ask him!” But she knew better than to push him. She knew he was getting ready. She knew she was too.

She thought about what would happen when he finally came out. Would she have to come out too? Who would she tell? What kind of mother would she would be?

Then one sunny summer afternoon as she was drying off some dishes at the sink she could feel tension in the air. It was palpable. Is this when all hell breaks loose? She heard him say the words. “I have something to tell you.”

He was nervous, she had never seen him this way. His voice was cracking, the weight of the world clearly visible on his shoulders.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for you to say those words,” said her daughter who was also in the room.

Her daughter, the sensitive one had made it so easy. She had already known. She looked at her son, looked at her daughter and felt nothing but love and respect.

Then it was over. Relief on her son’s face. His forehead for the first time in years was smooth. And at that moment she felt only one regret. The energy wasted all these years. Wasted on hiding something irrelevant.

They sat down and talked. They talked all night. She wanted to know. When did he realize? Was this man or that man a friend or a boyfriend? She asked every question that’s been stubbornly nagging her in the back of her mind for the past decade. And she was happy to see him talk about it with such ease. Her son wasn’t different. He was special.

Years later she would get an e-mail from him. A long
thank you note for the way they all handled that moment. He had told her in so many words that to this day when he tells the story of that night, his gay friends cry.

These words you just read, not mine. My mother’s. Years after my coming out she handed me a short story written in third person. I wasn’t ready for it back then. I remember reading it, then tucking it away. Never thought about it again. I think I may have been embarrassed by it. Or maybe I was just tired of talking about my sexuality. Yesterday I was cleaning out one of my drawers when I found her short story. I read it again. And this time, I cried.


There are those who say that homosexuality is wrong, and that homosexuals should not practice their homosexuality. All homosexuals should abstain.

That is a fine thing to say if you are not homosexual. We are what we are - I earnestly believe that in the debate of "nature versus nurture", nature has the greatest influence, and that we are mostly born that way. We do not have a choice.

I believe that abstinence can cause depression and worse to occur - that as living beings, we have as much need to have sexual fulfillment as the next man.

The fact is that I am gay, I am married (whether I should have married or not) and I have to make the best of the situation that I am in, without hurting too much my loved ones, and yet at the same time, meeting my innermost needs.

How I do that? Well that is where I do have a choice. It may not be easy, but I do have a choice.


I find myself talking to my wife about my "situation" then realizing half way that (1) I'm digging a hole for myself or (2) I'm setting myself up to get yelled at. I'm my own worse enemy.

Saturday night it's my wife's birthday. Out to dinner we go. Pleasant time.

After dinner, walking back to the car, I start talking about the revelation of the last therapy session (love, companionship, sex - see posting below). I, obviously, do a horrible job of explaining this because she, I assume, takes it that all 3 elements are sucking with us. I stop mid-sentence and refuse to continue the conversation.
She explodes in the middle of the street. Being the pussy that I am, I decide to keep quiet. She continues to rant. I stay quiet. We get in the car for the 15 mile return trip. She continues to berate me. I'm trying not to respond. Then she gets mad for me not fighting back. So with only 3 miles left in the trip, I blow up with 12 miles of anger in me. She strikes me while driving. Like striking the cork on an warm bottle of champagne, I unload with full anger and there is no stopping me.

At home, we go to bed. She's settled down a bit. In the darkness of the night, I start to talk about the evening. I apologize. I try to put in context the 3 elements and how it was helpful. I must be losing my touch, in a moment, she jumps up, screaming about how I should just move out and storms off to the guest room. The room is silent.

I hear the sound of footsteps, the door opens, "Just one more thing ...", and she launches into another tirade, ending with, "and if you think the fairies you like are going to put up with your insensitivity, you've got a big surprise coming". Door slams, stomps down the hallway back to the guest room.

I wait 10 minutes. I am calm. I walk down to the guest room, open the door, "come back to bed now, we don't end an evening like this". She knows I'm right and head down sulks back to the master. The night is over.

I'm now in "no man's land", I can't win for losing here. I'm mid-way across the river and need to decide what side I'm heading for.

Read more of Chris's story here>


I guess to start a new journey, you have to finish the old one. Why is it so hard? Christmas has come and gone. I've started sleeping most nights at my new place. But that seems to be all that I am doing there.

We were waiting to tell the boys that I am moving out until after Christmas. Christmas was a few days ago. Why won't we talk about it? Why do we avoid it?

There is this dead zone that I'm living in right now. Halfway between worlds. A foot in both, not sure I'm making the right steps. I live a lie every time I walk in that door and say hi to my boys. I look at them and see how much they love me and I think, "not now, not tonight. Let them be happy just a bit longer."

I'm scared as hell.

I need someone to hold my hand, tell me it's all going to be okay. Tell me i will find love. Tell me I'm doing the right thing. Tell me life is worth it.

Maybe I'm just tired.

Maybe I'm not really depressed.

Maybe I just need more sleep.

I've been staying at the "family home" as one friend calls it, until 10:00 every night. Having dinner, watching television, putting the boys to bed like everything is normal. But everything is far from normal. As soon as they're in bed, I pack up some clothes, carry a few more personal items to the car, and head to my "single man's home".

It does make me happy walking through those doors. Knowing it's mine. Decisions won't be made for me here. I putz around for an hour, maybe more. Chat online a bit too late. And try to fall asleep, knowing my boys are 20 minutes away if anything should happen to them. If they wake up with a nightmare, I'm not there. If they get sick, I'm not there.

I wish I could cut myself in two. Half of me could go live the gay life, half of me could stay there with them, being the dad and husband I promised to be. Maybe then I could be happy again.

See Shannon's full story here>


Before recently leaving London's Metroplitan Police Force, Brian Paddick was Britain's most senior out police officer. In this extract from his acclaimed autobiography, Line of Fire (pub. Simon & Schuster, 352pp) he describes his early awareness of his sexuality and the struggle the went through over years to repress it and lead a straight life.

"I first realised I was gay as a ten-year-old Wolf Cub on a day trip to a scout camp in Essex. The scoutmaster had ordered us to strip off our wet clothes after we were caught in a torrential downpour. There were about six of us, shivering and trying to hide our embarrassment. It was then that I saw a scout of about 15 striding past, naked and confident. I thought to myself, 'That's gorgeous!” but knew that what I felt was not “normal”, even though I didn't understand what sex was all about. The subject of homosexuality seldom came up at home, but whenever it did it was clear my family did not approve. My father had been a major in the Royal Tank Regiment, was mentioned in dispatches for distinguished service in Italy and had taught Field Marshal Montgomery to drive a tank. Dad always kept his emotions in check - while there may have been some deep, unspoken understanding between us, he never told me that he loved me and we avoided physical contact until the last five years of his life, when we started shaking hands.

My non-identical twin brother John and I went to Sutton Manor High School in Surrey. I believed I was the only gay boy in school and possibly in all of Sutton, and thought I kept it well hidden. I was bullied in the sixth form but initially assumed this was because I was well behaved and always neatly turned out. It was not until we were revising chemistry that I realised the real reason. The teacher asked: “What's the name of a solution where the particles are evenly distributed through the liquid?” I answered: “Homogenous.” At the back of the class, a voice said: “You should know about that - homo.”

After I took my A-levels in the summer of 1976, my parents expected me to go to university but instead I joined the police. I knew that the force would be homophobic but it provided both the perfect cover and necessary encouragement for me to keep my sexuality under wraps. Late one night, shortly after the end of my probationary period, there was a knock on the door of my room in the section house. It was Barry, the guy from the next room, whom I had been admiring from afar. He was standing there in his underpants. 'I've noticed something about you, Brian,” he said. 'The way you look at me and some of the other guys.” My heart raced. My first thought was that I had been “outed” and my career was over. But Barry told me not to worry, he wasn't going to tell anyone. He had realised I was gay and wanted to sleep with me. I was petrified. I was 21 and a virgin. “All I want to do is sleep with you,” Barry said. “We don't even have to touch.” His proposition brought a mixture of desire and absolute terror. Trembling, I nodded and we went to bed. After a while we fell asleep. Several hours later I woke up to find I wasn't shaking any more; my desire overcame my fear. I had mixed feelings about this first sexual encounter. Everything I had learnt screamed that this was wrong - at the same time it felt instinctively right. I told Barry that I wanted a relationship but all he wanted was sex, so I stopped seeing him and decided I would have to try to go straight. I convinced myself that what I really wanted was a best friend whose company would be constant and with whom I would share intimate moments. There was no choice but to find a woman to be my lifelong companion.

When I was paired with a female officer, we really hit it off. We started seeing each other and after many happy months together I thought Jenny was the one - so I got down on one knee. To my delight she accepted my marriage proposal. Jenny's parents invited us to their home in Cyprus for two weeks. Her parents didn't believe in sex before marriage, so our beds were separated by a sheet hung from a washing line - a method that proved entirely ineffective. However, this was the first time Jenny and I had spent more than a weekend together and, to my horror, we did not get on at all. It was clear it was never going to work between us and I told Jenny this once we arrived back in Britain. It was then that she threw the ring back at me. I was distraught. This had been a genuine and determined effort on my part to play it straight and I thought I had succeeded. Although we had done everything but full sex, all the indications were that it was possible. It had felt strange to begin with, but it was wonderful to share such intimacy with someone without the guilt that had been associated with sex with Barry.

After Jenny, I started going out with WPC Fiona Pilborough, who was beautiful, blonde and voluptuous. One night I called round to her section house to find her in her nightdress. "Do you want me to come back later?” I asked. With a very firm "No!” she grabbed my arm, pulled me inside and started removing my clothes. I was petrified and it was some encounters later that I finally overcame my fear and achieved my long-awaited goal. Despite this slow start, Fiona boasted to her friend that I was "like a kid with a new toy". I blushed, albeit proudly. It wasn't long before I began to feel that sex with Fiona had little to do with love and intimacy, but we continued our relationship and actually became engaged.

While on a course, I met a sergeant who was a committed Christian. He shattered the negative stereotype I had of a Christian as a weak, feeble person in need of an emotional crutch. He was the complete opposite, someone who greatly impressed me. As we talked about religion, he suggested I read John's Gospel in a modern translation of the Bible. I read it with an open mind and was convinced - a short time later I found myself at Cheam Baptist Church being baptised by total immersion. I then decided to abstain from sex before marriage. Fiona did not take this well - we broke up and she called my mother to tell her I was going mad. I met a couple at church who bemoaned the fact that their daughter Mary was not interested in religion. When they told her about this upwardly mobile young policeman they knew, they managed to tempt her along to church and we started going out. Mary was beautiful, always immaculately dressed, and our senses of humour dovetailed perfectly. We fell in love and were married at Cheam Baptist Church on September 17, 1983. We were soulmates and I was truly the happiest I'd ever been. After our honeymoon in Madeira we returned to Oxford, where I was about to start studying for a degree at Queen's College. Hard academic work, religious activity and life with Mary pushed the issues I had with my sexuality into the background.

After Oxford I became, for a time, acting chief inspector at Lewisham in South London. While I was there, a female officer came to me to tell me that a PC called Phil was being bullied by colleagues who thought he was gay. I called Phil into my office but he insisted: “I'm not gay, and I can handle the situation.” “If you do need to talk to somebody, just bear in mind that some senior officers have very different views from others,” I said. A few weeks later I got a phone call from Phil, asking if I would come and see him. "I'm staying at my girlfriend's place,” he explained, throwing me temporarily off the scent. When I arrived, the door was answered by a sweet blonde girl. Phil explained that he actually shared the flat with another man and the flatmate had just beaten him up. "I don't want anything done,” he said, "but if I tell him that a senior police officer knows about it, it might stop him doing it again.” “Did your flatmate attack you because of your sexuality?” I asked. Phil looked at the girl, who nodded her encouragement. Hesitantly, he said yes. "Well, I'm not as straight as I look,” I said. Phil nearly fell off his chair. I became friends with Phil and his boyfriend and one night we went to the Hippodrome nightclub in London, which had a gay night on Mondays. Mary's trust was such that she didn't question it when I told her they were taking me there to reassure me there was nothing strange about gay clubs. I was incredibly nervous. I had a lot to learn. On one hand it all seemed, well, strangely normal. On the other, it was a revelation. I had no idea there were so many gay men in London, let alone in one club. I was finding it increasingly hard to continue living a lie and agonised over what to do until a particular incident made up my mind for me.

I was watching the film My Beautiful Laundrette, which features a gay relationship, on television when Mary came in and saw two young men kissing. I felt very uncomfortable until Mary said: “Oh no! They're going to catch them!” I took her sympathy towards the men as an indication that she might be sympathetic to my situation and I determined to tell her. There never is a right moment for these sorts of life-changing revelations. We were having dinner in a Chinese restaurant one evening in 1988 and I was talking to Mary about Phil. Mary looked at me and said casually: “You'll think I'm being very stupid . . . but you don't have any inclinations in that direction, do you?” I looked at my wife - and I did not have to say anything. Tears welled up in her eyes. At home I told her that I had always been gay but that I loved her and had really wanted the marriage to work. I had tried so hard to overcome my sexuality but now realised I just had to be myself. Mary was remarkable, as always. There was no massive row and she even thanked me for being honest with her. Incredibly, now that this fundamental secret of my sexuality had been revealed, Mary and I felt closer than ever, but at the same time the marriage was over and divorce was inevitable.

Understandably, Mary did not want to be seen as responsible for the break-up of our marriage, so I had to tell my parents the truth. While I suspected, and hoped, that my mother would sooner or later employ her oft-used expression "san fairy Ann" (a jokey corruption of the French phrase "ça ne fait rien" - "it doesn't matter"), I had no idea what my father's response would be. My dad, who was in his 70s, sat in an armchair while my mother was on the sofa. "I've got to tell you both something,” I said. "I'm exactly the same person today as I was yesterday. The only difference is that you are about to know something about me today that you didn't know about me yesterday.” Dad said: “Are you trying to tell us you're gay?” Not bad for 70! He was very stoical. Mum, meanwhile, was in tears. The next day I telephoned her. I asked if I could talk to Dad. "No, he's taken it very badly,” she said.

Apparently, after his initial response, he had become very upset. Some months after separating from Mary I began my first gay relationship, which lasted seven years, my longest to date. By now rumours about my sexuality were beginning to circulate at work. However, it was a sign that things were changing when I was posted to Notting Hill CID. The culture was very macho and alcohol-fuelled, but a detective sidled up to me at one of our regular drinking sessions and said: “By the way, guv, I share a house with a couple of lesbians.” Another said: “My uncle used to run a deli in the King's Road and he had several gay customers.” It was their way of letting me know they knew but that it didn't matter to them. On the anniversary of the publication of the Macpherson Report into the death of Stephen Lawrence, the Met wanted to do a media piece about diversity, featuring interviews with senior officers from minority backgrounds: one black, one female, one gay. "Guess which I am?” I asked colleagues when I told them about the plan but the idea was too cheesy even for the Guardian and it was dropped. I had developed a good professional relationship with a Financial Times journalist. He had known for a time that I was gay and volunteered to tell the world. The then Commissioner, Sir John Stevens, had wanted a "managed outing" so everything was set. I finally "came out" in a Saturday edition of the newspaper in 2001. In the middle of an article about the changing face of the Met, a sentence read: “Brian Paddick, the UK's most senior openly gay police officer ..." The world could easily have missed the announcement."

Brian Paddick now pursues a full time career in politics and recently stood as a candidate in the London Mayoral election.