January 26, 2011


Ben, age 2
Bristol, England (1974)

I was barely able to dress myself when I came across this fairy dress in my godparents' daughter's dressing up box. I'd toddled off on my own while everyone else chatted over a lazy lunch, came back into the room wearing it, and refused to take it off. I remember just loving the colors and how lightweight it was, even though it was the biggest thing I’d ever worn.

Everyone thought it was hilarious, but I remember the laughter being warm and friendly. If only they knew! I love this picture, as it shows me able to go off and explore on my own, and come back to face the world as I really am. I'm still a rebel at heart, and still love fancy dress!

I knew I was gay from about 7 years old, although no one else ever knew until I was 16, and started to date girls. Instinct helped me to come out to those who would be kind and unchallenging towards me, and one by one I did that during High School.

Then, before University, I left to teach in a remote Pakistani village for one year. Selfishly and cowardly, I thought and hoped that my wider 'coming out' might happen that year without me, as if by some bizarre process of remote osmosis. But like many others, I had to do it the painful and brave way.

There followed the usual denial, tears, soul searching and heartache against a backdrop of the UK government's terrifying 'Don’t Die Of Ignorance' anti-AIDS campaign. Everyone seemed to think I’d be dead within a year!

I’m 36 now - healthy and happily married to a gorgeous, strong, and sensitive man. And I'm very grateful for the relative freedoms of the times we live in, especially in the UK. I also have a supportive and loving family.

But there is still so much injustice in the world, and I’m saddened to think that others suffer pain because of love. What a terrible paradox. But there’s no real compromise.

Love has to be worth fighting for, and that is my message for kids facing the turmoil of coming out and falling in love for the first time.

Ben's first, famous-person same sex crush:
Harrison Ford (in "Raiders Of The Lost Ark")
I tell people I was inspired to study Arabic because of "Lawrence of Arabia",
but Indiana Jones was the real reason!

Click here - "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" book
Click here - "My First Gay Crush Blog"

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Nacho said...

Amigos, a todos aquellos que quieran compartir su historia en espaƱol, los esperamos en:

Anonymous said...

Love Worth Fighting For indeed:

Hamilton said...

thanks for sharing this Ben, great stroy and photo x

Daniel said...

Goldfrapp totally stole stole your look as inspiration for their Head First Album, from their color story to your wispy, angelic grace. Your photo was HAWT!

Unknown said...

Oh, if you weren't gay, married, a bit older than me, and long distance than I might marry you. Mostly for the sentence, "If only they knew! I love this picture, as it shows me able to go off and explore on my own, and come back to face the world as I really am. I'm still a rebel at heart..." Oh, to extrapolate such meaning for only a moment. It makes my literature geek heart flutter.