For Pride month, we asked some of our members if they would like to write their story and tell us of their ‘Pride’. If you would like to get involved email: email@example.com
Today, Yvonne tells her story
Finding The Gold At The End of My Rainbow
By Yvonne Devine
My story is the opposite of many…..I emigrated to London from Ireland in my 40s. I envied LGBTQ people who seemed to have left in their 20s and ended up in strong partnerships. I chose college and working and studying my way around Ireland (as well as other travel) resulting in me realising my feelings at 26 and not declaring them til 29 due to adverse conditions in my workplace of homophobic bullying by a Supervisor. I found out years later there was an Equality Tribunal that LGBTQ people could contact to complain.
I had already endured years of loneliness and isolation which led to low self-esteem and lack of confidence and had developed a coping mechanism of alcohol misuse. At least I hadn’t thrown myself in the river I thought, like the stories I heard on a frequent basis……but I sometimes wondered what would be my future.
It seemed such a long, dark meandering ‘closet’ to be in, a regular ‘Truman Show’ existence from puberty to adulthood. It was full of fire and brimstone of religious hate of the Catholic Church of any sexuality but especially people like me who were an ‘abomination’……I was told I was an ‘abomination’ because each subsequent Pope kept printing letters in our local papers to say so for all to read. I was happy when Sinead O’Connor ripped up the Pope’s picture.
I told my family after my weight plummeted on dropping out of my art degree year unable to cope with the chance of being ‘outed’……until I met another lesbian. Part of my suffering was the absolute lack of representation anywhere in years that should have been filled with the joy and discovery of relationships…..I will never get them back, but I did move forward and enjoy relationships.
I came to the UK and worked on changing my work life over 10 years to become self-employed as a result of never wanting to have anyone dictate how I survive and pay rent again. I tackled each of my ‘hurts’ one by one with the aid of a good therapist. I still sometimes feel the anger of suppression burn in my chest, at how I had to remain quiet around homophobia as my job or flat or safety was at risk.
Somewhere deep down I knew who I was, I just couldn’t ever feel safe and accepted. I wish I had left sooner but although I am damaged from my past experience of growing up gay in a religious family, I am starting to heal. I am realising it wasn’t easy for any of us, even the ones that ‘left early’. I’m happy to begin my life properly now, even if I have to relive my 20s in my 50s.
On a good day, I’m privileged to be be part of such a cool, talented unique bunch of people who endlessly have the strength to be themselves despite being a minority……on a bad day, I want to sue the Catholic Church for making it so difficult for my parents and family to ‘see’ & nurture me when I really needed them.
No one deserves to flounder and cope alone for decades without sex education, social skills, intervention…. as humans it’s shameful to think we degrade each other by catering for the majority. I’ve had people glibly say to me that pride is a “parade”. Pride for me is really that I managed to survive emotionally. My biggest challenge is to ‘forgive’ the place they call “the friendliest place on earth”, Ireland.