Coming out in Cornwall

BY GEORGIE HARDING

I first came out as a bisexual while at university in Brighton which was very easy in comparison to coming out in Cornwall, my old home. Even there, in “the gay capital of the UK”, I received a lot of weird looks, explicit comments and second glances when simply walking down the street with my then-girlfriend. But coming out in Cornwall was well…tough.

I lost friends that thought it was “weird” and “unnatural”, and of course heard the classic “it’s just a phase”. Four years on. It must be a pretty long phase.

I love Cornwall to pieces but have never felt completely comfortable expressing my sexuality there. I feel this has contributed to my decision to not move back after uni, instead moving to London where I feel more accepted and not such an anomaly.

Since coming out, a couple of other people who also grew up in North Cornwall have come to me for advice and support before coming out to other people in Cornwall. Those people had watched me being subject to this homophobic behaviour and feeling not only ashamed of who I was but resentful of my community. After that, the time I spent at home, with my parents and lifelong friends, became less and less. I don’t think the way I was treated is due to not being accepted, but simply not understood. By educating people to understand, maybe we can reduce the number of people who go through this sort of experience.

People are learning and adjusting to LGBT+ becoming more prevalent, but we still have a long way to go. I now refer to myself as a lesbian but have barely mentioned that to anyone in Cornwall, what would be the point in going through that all again? And why do I have to “come out” and label myself? No straight person “comes out” as “straight”…

I’d love to help make a safe space or be a contact for anyone who finds themselves in a similar position.

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