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outIt's Sunday, 1st September 1996 - a day my wife and I will probably never forget. My wife was sleeping after working a night shift. Denise is a very loving person though we've had our ups and downs - but what marriage hasn't? We have been married for nearly ten years, but, today was going to be very different and was going to change both our lives.

My inner feelings made it impossible to be me, hiding away the real me. I finally accepted that I was gay. I had known this for a long time but had been in a constant struggle with myself. All those years of pushing back feelings, knowing that I was attracted to men.

I had the constant memory of my first gay encounter, with a friend, when I was seventeen. Phil was a year older than me and I admit he was a gorgeous looking guy. We were very close friends but neither of us ever talked about being gay. I used to go to see him when I could, even when he was working night shift, and we would end up play-fighting. That must have been the first time I had questioned my sexuality. I enjoyed being with Phil and being physically close was very exciting.

Then one night I was at Phil's house. We were enjoying a drink. Phil made the first move by asking me "what would you do if a guy asked you to sleep with him". I remember replying instantly, "I don't know - try me!". Phil was living at home with his parents so he told them that I was very drunk and it would be best if I stayed the night. I rang my parents to let them know where I was. We finished our drinks and went up to Phil's bedroom to sort out the sleeping arrangements. His mum brought up a camp-bed and placed it alongside Phil's bed. When Phil's parents had gone to sleep, I left the camp-bed and joined Phil in his. We were woken by Phil's dad coming into his room. By which time I had returned to the camp-bed. God knows what would have happened if I had still been at Phil's side when his father had walked in. After a light breakfast we went for a walk. We didn't talk much although Phil wanted to do it again. I felt I did but all I could think of was, "I can't be gay what will my parents say, what will my friends say?". I was very confused. I stopped seeing Phil shortly after that. I do feel guilty in that I must have hurt his feelings but I put a wall around that night, trying to forget it.

A few years passed and it was around this time that I fell for a woman. Denise was a friend of a friend of mine and we met at a fireworks party. She had a little too much to drink and was getting very emotional, so I went to comfort her. We went out for quite a while but I ended the relationship. I still wanted my freedom and independence. She took it badly. I felt very guilty.

Shortly after that I got to know Peter. I used to spend a lot of time with him, virtually all my free time in fact. I enjoyed being with him. After a few months of getting to know him we began play-fighting which was again quite exciting. This broke down the wall I had built up, around my friendship with Phil and again I started questioning my sexuality.

My friendship with Peter came to an abrupt end when we were in my bedroom late one night after going to a pub. Peter was standing behind me while I was tapping away on my computer. He was being very affectionate but still I didn't want to accept that I was gay. I just told him no and asked him to leave. Once more I had upset someone. I knew I had shown feelings of affection and excitement when I was with him but again I thought, "I can't be gay".

Later that year, at a friend's wedding, Denise and I resumed our relationship and about 18 months later we were married. It was a wonderful day, one I shall never forget.

A few years passed and I remember being at work. A colleague pointed out a piece in the paper about Aids. It was then a new word to most people and considered a purely gay virus. I remember reading it and thinking, "shit! I have had gay sex". Being a worrier I thought, "have I got aids?". I worried myself sick about this and in the end I went to see my doctor . He was the first person I told about Phil. He gave me an Aids test that proved negative. That was the worst week of my life. It was also the week I told Denise about Phil. After telling her about Phil, I found myself becoming more and more attracted to men. I can remember walking with Denise. She would see that I was looking across the road at someone she would think I was looking at another woman. She would say, "you can look but not touch" when in fact I would be looking at guys.

I love Denise but I find guys more exciting. I kept asking myself, "How can this be", getting more and more confused with my sexuality. "I'm married, I have two wonderful children, I can't be gay". I kept trying to suppress my feelings but I enjoyed it when I saw a guy that I found attractive, be it on television, in magazines or on the street. Things were getting harder as time went on. A good friend of mine, John, who I used to look up to. I idolized him, I suppose, and used to think it would be great if he were gay. One afternoon with him proved to me that my gay leanings were very strong indeed. We had all been in a pub and the drink got the better of John and his girlfriend. They started arguing, things got out of hand and some passers-by started on John. At this point I grabbed John as I could see a fight starting. However in doing so I left him wide open and a guy landed a punch in John's eye. John went mad but I managed to get him out of the way. He was very upset and was crying. He asked me to hug him, which I did, and I immediately got very excited and wanted to kiss him. If he had known the thoughts that were going though my head in those few moments, I think that I would have been lying on the floor with a black eye.

I had many fantasies about being with John when I was alone, wishing that he was gay as well but knowing that this was not to be. I still like to think of John as a close friend but he has moved away now, so I don't see him any more. For a while I did miss him. I remember the day he left. He was getting into his car and I was standing with Denise when he said, "if you were a woman Bob, I would kiss you". I just thought "yes please" and when he drove away I felt choked. Part of me now felt so alone and I was like this for a long time.

More time passed until one evening when Denise was at work. The last few weeks had been like nothing I had experienced before. I was still confused although I knew I needed to meet other gay people. I had been on the Internet for some time and occasionally looked at gay pages. Tonight, though, I had a good look round and read loads on gay issues.

On Thursday morning when Denise had gone out I rang the gay switchboard for a chat. The guy on the phone was very nice, helpful and understanding. He gave me some local numbers and names of gay pubs in Portsmouth. That afternoon I decided to visit one of the pubs. The first was Drummonds. When I cycled there I found it had been changed to a straight student pub. I then headed for Matha's. I stood outside for about ten minutes trying to decide if it was a gay pub or not, then I noticed and recognised the flag hanging outside. I needed the courage to go in, all the time thinking "what if I bump into someone I know, what if Phil is in there?". I walked past it about a dozen times until I plucked up the courage to walk in. I believe that the moment I walked though the door I became at one with myself. I am gay and nothing I can do will change that. The experience was quite exciting, being somewhere I could be myself with people who had the same feelings. There were gay newspapers that I could read without having to be worried who was around. I stayed for a couple of drinks, just reading and playing the fruit machines, hoping someone would come and talk to me. I needed someone I could tell my feelings to, someone to listen. When I left I felt quite proud of myself though at the same time guilty, thinking of Denise at home and where I had been.

On the Saturday evening after Denise had gone to work I connected to the Internet and to an area called IRC (Internet Relay Chat). computerThis is a huge chat zone with 1000`s of different channels with different topics whereupon I joined a channel called #gaychat-uk which I later found out had only started that day. I was immediately greeted by a person called Gaz who I soon realised was in a similar situation to me except his wife, Ang, already knew. I spoke quite openly that night for the first time and they told me about a local guy, ukgem, who also comes on the channel. One of the things we talked about was Denise and whether I was going to tell her. I really didn't know what to do. It had crossed my mind a few times but I was unsure how to approach it. I went to bed very confused once more but hoped to talk to Garry and Angela the following morning as they had been wonderful to talk to and I think I owe a lot to them for their help that night.

When I awoke on Sunday I was confused and scared. I went to log on to the Internet to talk more to Garry and Angela, but was unable to connect, this was going to be the longest morning I would have. I wanted to wake Denise up and just tell her but didn't know how to, finally at about midday I went up to her and cuddled her in a way Denise knows there is something wrong. I had arrived at a point of no return, which deep down is what I wanted. I explain that I loved her and what ever happened I would not want to leave her but still couldn't just say what was on my mind, she knew it was something serious, Denise suggested that I write it down, so I did. I just wrote the words I'm bisexual on it because I thought it would be easier to say than gay. I handed her the piece of paper and with all I can explain as a look of horror she said "you can't be!". I spent the next few hours explaining my feelings to her and that I wanted us to stay together, if that was possible. I was full of anger, I felt selfish, guilty and confused. God knows what Denise was really feeling, I was asking a lot, for us to stay together and also bring a third person in to our relationship. We spent the rest of the day talking and walking, it felt nice talking to Denise about my being gay. I felt a burden had been lifted from my mind. Feelings of happiness were coming too but they were soon to be mixed with lots of other feelings and emotions that I was having problems handling.

Later that evening I went back on the Internet to find Garry and Angela. To my relief I did, in a way I was quite excited that I could tell them I had come out to Denise. Now I could talk on Gaychat with out the fear of Denise walking in. When we went to bed that night it was to be a long night. We talked for ages, then I just broke down and cried, the guilt and anger was so strong I wanted to beat my head against the wall. I was so confused as to what I had done. What was going to happen next? I was blaming myself for what was happening and all the time Denise was cuddling me and trying to calm me and telling me it was not my fault, telling me that I cant help the feelings that are in me.

The following night I was again on Internet and this time met Ukgem. It turned out that he had worked at the same company as me. My heart sank. I didn't want this news to get out. I still had people I talked to from that company but my worries were not warranted as ukgem is a wonderful person. The road he lives in is the same as one of my brothers' employees but again not really a problem but at the time it did stir in my mind. We arranged to meet the following day at his house. I was looking forward to this and was getting quite excited, I knew that Denise was feeling quite anxious.

I had a terrific time there, being able for the first time to talk and feel the real me, the part of me that has wanted to come out for so long was now surfacing. I stayed there for a good few hours talking about Denise and my past experiences. It was such a joy to be able to talk so openly about being gay. I didn't know then, but do now, "the emotional side of things are the biggest hurdle. The past few weeks since I told Denise and all events after, have sparked off so many different feelings. One day I seem to know what I am about, the next my head is just full of confusion. Questions to which I have no answers but in time I think they will sort themselves out. I do find myself pondering about what is going to happen next, what of my future with Denise, no answers just questions. Over the next few weeks I visit gem and drew, we talk, which helped sort my head out, It's nice being in their company, every time I visit I feel so welcome and relaxed. They listen to me and help me find answer to some of my questions.

One thing that was on my mind a lot was Denise, her husband for ten years had just told her he was gay. She had no idea. Then again I gave her no reason to think I was gay, not until I told her. I can imagine this must have been quite devastating for her, I wouldn't have blamed her if she had just got up and left me. I suppose some women would have but Denise has chosen to stay, her mind must be full of questions and confusion as well.

A few months have past now, Denise and I have done lots of talking, never arguing but things have changed quite a lot now in our relationship, we are still living together but are starting to live different lives. I think this is the only way we will both find happiness. We both know that one day we will separate, when one of us finds a new partner, This we know will be the hardest hurdle to get over.

Rob                                         

This story was written by me as it was happening, it is now 2011. wow where did those years go. well a quick update on where I am now, well to get here you would have noticed I am living with my boyfriend Andy and we got together in 2002, but going back to 1996 I meet my first boyfriend Bob, yes another Bob, after a while I moved in with Bob to start my new life and in the 3 years we where together we had a great time and I owe much to Bob for allowing me to explore myself.

Sadly Bob Died in 2002 of a skin cancer, this was devastating, so young and very quick. I still miss him and I suppose still don't believe he has gone I have many memories of our time together which still keeps him alive.

Bob n RobBob n Rob

love you Bob xx

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Rob Bri©knell 2011