One year ago, I published a piece about bipolar disorder. It had been something I had wanted to do for a long time, and the act of doing so marked a significant point in my life. The piece itself has been useful on a number of fronts. People who know me have either found it or been referred to it, and it has given them something of an insight into my head. Some people I thought I knew well have opened up a little more as a direct result of reading it. It has also introduced me to some new people. But more significantly was the effect it had on me. Up until that point I had been enormously guarded on the subject but, almost instantly, I became much more relaxed both with others and myself.
I have considerable admiration for anyone who’s ever had that discussion with their parents. If the parents have managed to overcome shock and respond with the usual parental love and support, I admire them too. I like to think that, by the time my own terribly liberal generation is old enough to have children of the “finding one’s sexuality” age, we’ll be so chilled-out, unfazed and approachable about it that it won’t even register as a milestone.
Last year, I found myself in a situation which I believe is as close to this as you can get if, like me, you’re straight. It took place, as convention dictates, around the kitchen table.
It wasn’t premeditated: I had not intended for it to happen, nor staged the moment, nor even planned what I was saying. For the life of me I can’t even remember exactly what I said. I remember realising that I’d just said it, and that I was already part of the brief silence that followed.