The Unwritten

On this day, 10 years ago, I thought I had come out to an online friend. We became friends on a message board (are message boards still a thing?) after I stuck up for him when he was being bullied for being gay. He helped give me the confidence to admit my own sexuality not only to myself but also, eventually, the world. At this point, we’d been friends for about a year.

16th January 2007

I’m writing this because a part of me will appreciate having it later on in life… whatever the future holds.

I’ve always been careful to shield myself from him. He can’t know too much, I feel it’s a burden for someone still young and hopeful. I always attributed it down to being ashamed, but I realise now it wasn’t that – surely he knew, and I knew he knew, but I didn’t know if he knew that I knew he knew… or whether he knew I even knew. Well, now I do know – and he knows, and I think it’s more than clear we both know.

I am gay.

He said “secret” – it wasn’t the word I would have chosen but he’s right. It is a secret… and he’s the only person in the whole world who knows. I wonder if it shows? My psychologist did seem to say “is there anything else you wanted to talk about” in rather a suggestive manner. But I can assume that a part of me is paranoid it shows. As soon as he said it I practically screamed it inside my head, but luckily I thought of something else before the uncomfortable pause got so long he realised I was holding back telling him things. But I couldn’t tell him, he’s only bothered about the medical side of my life and how it affects me. But I guess deep down this is what all the secrecy is about. My “medical life” makes trying to accept being gay so much harder. I’ve had to deal with having a disability for over 20 years and I’m barely just getting used to what I consider a “normal” life – and now it’s all been turned on its head. I have to deal with being disabled and gay! Those two things don’t really mix well; you have the disadvantages that being disabled brings and you have the disadvantages that being gay brings. All in all, one very sheltered and lonely life.

But that sucks! I know there’s tonnes of advantages that I’ve yet to experience – most I probably won’t, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get to have fun fantasising about them. I guess it all boils down to what I originally thought when I first realised I was gay: What’s the point if you have no-one to share it with? I might as well be asexual! I never got a girlfriend (one that at least acknowledged me) in my whole 18 years of being “straight”, and it wasn’t for lack of trying! But even back when I was ten-years-old, I fell in love too easily. I grew connections with people that I misread as love and then had to deal with rejection when I told them… so I stopped telling them. And the feelings built up and eventually found a place in the back of my head to reside. And even that in itself is a scary thought: that there are dark spaces in my head that would jump at the chance if an unrequited love came back into the picture and declared her undying love for me. Who’s to say these feeling won’t make an uncomfortably reappearance four or five years down the road when I’m “out and proud”?!

So that’s what I want. Never mind being gay and all this “coming out” crap, I want a boyfriend. But maybe that’s all just another shield I’m hiding behind, protecting the realisation that I need to accept that I will be gay and alone for most of my remaining life… no, that shield ain’t ready to come down yet.

Turns out, he didn’t know I was gay (at least not for another 3 months). I was just so paranoid and introspective, constantly worrying about how other people perceived me, that I read into our online conversations and saw things that weren’t there.

This would continue for many years to come, until it reached a point where I had to stop and actualise a real life for myself, not some fantasy life of writing scripts together and being in each other’s lives forever. It was never going to happen – and if it was, I realised I had to change in order to become the person that I wanted him to meet.

We ended up chatting to each other almost every day for over three years. It’s still to this day one of the longest and most powerful relationships I’ve ever had, which I think is due to the fact the majority of it took part in my imagination! Who better to be your best friend than yourself!

This entry was written exactly 2 years later:

16th January 2009

I don’t know why I always seem to write these things at 20 past 2, but to be completely honest my Internet stopped working. So I was just searching through my files and was like, ‘let’s write in my gay diary,’ because it’s been so long.

I guess that fact I’m not having to write in here means I’m coping with things more – but the truth is I probably aren’t, I’m just bottling things up. Like, I remember my sister pulling me aside one night last October to tell me something – probably the most life-changing thing ever for her. That she was pregnant.

And I froze! I didn’t know what to say, all I could think about was how it sucked I couldn’t ever just pull her aside and say ‘hey, I like boys.’ But really, why should I? She doesn’t live here anymore; she always comments on changes in my behaviour, as if she’s disapproving of me. I don’t know how she’d react and I don’t want to know, it’s not an issue right now. There’s no point in me ever coming out because I’m never going to have anybody, I’m never going to find anybody – that just isn’t my life. There’ll only ever be one person, but there’s nothing I can do about that, so why bother. I doubt anyone will ever find this after I die, so it’s not like they’ll ever know.

He’ll often stop dead our conversations and say, ‘Oh it really doesn’t matter,’ as if he’s suddenly just become detached. And it’s those moments that snap me out of falling in love with him – because he knows it’s never going to happen, but he’d never outright say it. So instead he says, ‘it doesn’t really matter.’

And so I think, when I can’t wake up on a morning, it doesn’t really matter. And when I can’t eat I think, it doesn’t really matter. But the truth is – the gut-wrenching, jaw-dropping, and-the-oscar-goes-to truth is… if he wasn’t in my life, I may as well be dead. So it does matter. It matters more to me than anything in the world.

Much like nostalgia, most of life is spent trying to recapture the same moment over and over again. The taste of a certain food; a drink; a place; a friend, an orgasm. We repeat, over and over again, desperately trying to feel that same spark we initially felt when we first had it. That’s how I view my friendship with him. He satisfied me in a way nothing ever had before, because he made me like myself – and I hated myself, for years. I left sixth form and I just floated around not knowing what to do, grasping onto anything that felt solid. And he was the first solid thing that actually wanted to keep me around. And so I thought, there must be SOME reason; I can’t be all that bad.


About tomsbrain

The central hub of all things Thomas McNab - a 33-year-old Yorkshire-born writer and filmmaker, living with a disability, and medicating himself with obscene amounts of films, television, and amateur wordplay. Find out more at

Posted on January 16, 2017, in Posts. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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