It has to be one of the most defining and stressful days of a gay person’s life; that moment when you decide to ‘come out’ to your family and friends. And I would guess that most would have a story to tell, whether it be funny, sad, intense or fearful.
A new book called ‘It’s Ok To Be Gay’, revealing the coming out stories of a range of people in the LGBT community within the media spotlight, will definitely resonate with anyone who has had to have ‘that talk’, or is planning to in the near future.
The book is being launched in time for National Coming Out Day, on October 11th, and includes contributions from authors Val McDermid and Stella Duffy, actress Sophie Ward, former Radio 4 presenter Alice Arnold, Strictly Come Dancing professional Robin Windsor, broadcaster Sue Perkins, Paralympian Claire Harvey and comedian Rosie Wilby.
It’s Ok To Be Gay is the brainchild of the charity Diversity Role Models, whose prime objective is to stop homophobic bullying in schools by providing role models (who might be from the LGBT community themselves) and give a safe environment for LGBT students and families.
The founder of Diversity Role Models – Suran Dickson, said: “This book will put into words the work our role models carry out when they stand up in front of a class of children and deliver the message that being different is OK. The stories shared by the contributors will give young people—and adults too—the opportunity to share in their experiences and develop empathy around what it means to be different. I’ve no doubt this book will save lives.”
Other famous contributors include BBC journalist and Dragon’s Den presenter Evan Davis, who writes that he came out to his parents over Christmas dinner when he was in his twenties, but wishes that he had done it much sooner.
The book doesn’t only talk about coming out stories, it also focuses on how having a ‘different’ sexuality made an impact on people’s lives, and when people first realised they were gay.
Broadcaster Alice Arnold for instance says that she knew she was a lesbian the first time that she felt “tummy flips”, but for comedian and presenter of the Great British Bake-Off Sue Perkins, being gay is “maybe the 47th most interesting thing” in her life. Talking of the Bake-Off, the first winner Edd Kimber also features, and from the sporting world, rugby player Gareth Thomas, who starred in a documentary ‘My Secret Past’ for Channel Four, which highlighted the work of Diversity Role Models, also features in the book.
Crime writer Val McDermid says that when she came out to her best friend, her friend was ‘completely blasé about it’ and it made no difference to their friendship, however, the second friend she told reacted totally differently and was really uncomfortable about it. Val says that it took them years to get their friendship back on the same footing.
We think the book is a great idea, and is not only a brilliant read for any LGBT teenager or person struggling with their own passage through coming out, but also for parents to promote a greater understanding and empathy.
It’s OK To Be Gay (published by Accent Press) is out this Thursday and costs £9.99 for the paperback and £5.99 for the e-book.