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This section is about Best friends, and friends past and present who had a impact on my life. and a few in a way continue my life after coming out and fill in some of the blanks. I have arranged them in order of appearance to try keep the story flowing.

Andy and I first met in December 1999, I was working in Night club in Portsmouth as a voluntary worker for Gay Mens Health, we were doing a sexual health stall. Andy was there with his friends from work having their Christmas works party. our eyes kept meeting in the evening, but as I was working, I couldn't really do much(Professional boundaries) but luckily when I andyfinished my time behind the stall, I was free to pursue. we got chatting, and danced the rest of the night away until he left. I was having my works party the next evening, so asked him if he wanted to come with me, which he did. we spent the evening chatting and talking, and he came back to my place for coffee, I told him that evening that I was moving up to London in few weeks time, so we exchanged phone numbers, and he left. that was last I saw of Andy until after I had moved up to London and was thinking about moving back down, I rang Andy quite few times and left messages, and eventually got to talk to him, and we got chatting, and he offered me to come and stay with him for the weekend, to give me a break which I did. we spent the weekend together, talking, the Sunday evening came and I was dreading going back to London, I think my mind had made its mind up that I needed to move back south. Andy told me that if I needed to come back down, to ring him, and I could stay with him. I travelled back Sunday evening, thinking about what I should do. I arrived back at the house, Ian was out and I felt alone, I just wanted to get back down south, back to my home city, where all my friends and family where. so I rang Andy, and asked if I could take him up on his offer and stay with him while I sorted out a place to stay. he agreed, and I was on the next train back down. Andy meet me at the station, and by this time it was around 1am. we went to bed my head all in a turmoil. I contacted my parents telling them I was moving back down, and they said I could move back home until I found a place. Andy said the same, so I stayed with him, and we have been together ever since, we had a civil partnership in 2006. we have now moved away from my home city of Portsmouth to Plymouth, where Andy was born. I did have my concerns about moving, but it has worked out good, I have a great job and a loving partner. Andy Mum and Dad have accepted me in to their family and have done from the beginning, it was quite funny when I moved in with drew, I was the lodger as he told his mum and dad, and even calling the spare room, my bedroom, drew didn't officially come out to them until after I proposed to him, and we planned to have a civil partnership.

Steve I meet up after an eye ball(CB lingo) in the early to mid 80's. Steve was such a funny guy, very quick witted and very intelligent, Steve was part of a circle of friends I use to hang around with at the time, Including Denise who was to be my future wife some years later. Isteve can remember so may fun times we had together and Steve was the first person I knew who had a Sinclair ZX81 and then a Spectrum, waiting 10 minutes for Manic Miner to load! I did get one of these, check out my Gadget section. it was with Steve and another friend Mike that G.V.T.V was born. G.V.T.V. stands for Garage Video Television. we would spend hour in his garage and make TV shows, sketches and music videos, we were doing lypsyncing years before it became the rage, and I even started doing them before on my own in my bedroom when know one was home. we made hours of Video, which most of it I still have on VHS, I have put some onto PC now, and one of our fav Videos is on youtube, I did reedit it on a PC so it wasn't just a long shot all the time. Sadly Steve died quite some years ago. He had Cystic fibrosis, and I remember his mum taken me to one side, telling me what Steve had, and its a young mans disease, meaning he wont live to much in to his 30's. Steve is very much still alive with all the memories and the hours of Video.

Roger is Roger another friend I met through another friend and was in my motorbike days, I had a KMX125 trial bike, very cool and flash at the time. Roger did motor cross so was interested in my bike It was quite later in our friendship that I felt close to him, he had a big circle of friends, some good, some bad, and when I say bad, I mean criminally bad, they have properly spent their lives in and out of prison. I use to get jealous if he hung around with them because Roger had become my fantasy boyfriend, and wanted to spend my time with him, this all happened while I was married, Roger was straight and I knew I had no chance, but that didn't stop my feelings. and as I reported in my coming out story it was with Roger that in away started my question my real sexuality and what to do about it. I was so gutted when Roger loved away from Portsmouth. and even more devastated when he died of brain hemorrhage around 2001. I did come out to him, a friend of his had guessed anyway. Was it that obvious?

Des is my best straight Friend. we meet back in the days of desthe Atari, Amiga, CB radios, 368/486 pc's, Doom and Capri's to name a few things we use to get up to. Doom is the reason I got hold of my first PC a 486 8MB of memory 100Mb hard drive, no sound card or DVD drive, but super fast for that time. Des and I use to spend hour networked up playing Doom, and other network games. we use to spend evenings and sometimes all night out in our cars driving around Portsmouth and local area's as you did as there wasn't any Internet as such. when I came out Des was the last friend I told, I still don't know why really, just found it hard to tell him, and of course he didn't have a problem with it, more annoyed that I was scared to tell him. Des emigrated over to Canada and was great to see him, and meet his Girlfriend Catherine when Andy and I spent a month travelling across Canada in 2005, Canada is a wonderful country, drew and I even looked into moving out there when we returned, but I couldn't do it. It was great that Des came over to attend our Civil Partnership, we still have contact now, if not sporadic, and we are hoping to visit Des and Catherine in 2012 on a trip to Canada and The USA. looking forward to it(not the flying)

Bob(Steve) was my first boyfriend who I meet at a party being hosted by some new friends I bobhad meet on a gay chat room and lived local in Portsmouth. Thinking back I do think it was a bit of a set up for bob and I to meet, we got on well that night, and spent most of it alone chatting to each other, and this was the night that I kissed a guy again since I was 17, a gap of nearly 15 years. Bob and I started dating soon after, and because I was still living with my wife and children at the time, I moved out and into Bobs home. Moving out from my now ex wife and children(as they were at the time) was such a hard thing to do, but Denise and I knew that it was going to happen at some point. This also bought up other issues to deal with, like telling our parents that we were separating and why. (that will be for another chapter) Bob and I lived together for just over 3 years, and quite surreal was that we both moved into the same house I had lived before with my ex wife and sons. we had such a great time together, I learnt a lot from Bob and Bob was so understanding that I had not long come out and needed to experience my new chapter, this was a whole new life to me, and for the first time in a long time, I felt happy and compleat. not long before 2000, and more on my part, our relationship came to and end, with me moving up to London to follow a dream. I loved Bob still, but things were changing and had this need to move on, I still kept close contact with bob when I moved away, but after a few months I had moved back down south again, as the dream didn't happen(this will be covered elsewhere) when I moved back down south, it was with Andy my now partner. Bob and I continued a good friendship. but on the 17th May 2002 Bob died, this was so devastating, we had a little warning this was going to happen, as bob had a form of skin cancer on his ear, and was very aggressive and killed him in such a short time. but still was such a shock, and even now I find it hard to believe he is not around. Bob had such a big impact on my life. still miss him, and love him.

Anthony and I met not long after I had come out, it was at a drop in centre run by gay men's Anthonyhealth promotions,who I went on to work for on a voluntary base a while later. Anthony was already a worker for them, and as I was new to the drop in he chatted to me, we formed a friendship from there, and became my best gay friend, and still is, even though we are 170 miles apart. We had some good drunken nights out clubbing and dancing on the stage, Anthony has always been there for me when I needed an ear and shoulder. I was so happy for Anthony to be my best man at our Civil partnership and he done a great job. It was very sad when I moved away to Plymouth, but we still keep in contact and catch up on gossip. When I moved to London to chase my dream, Anthony was there for me when it all started to go wrong and at times of looniness made things a bit easier to cope with know he was on the end of a phone if i needed, which he has been many times for me in the past. thank you Anthony.

Ian I met when I was 17 while working for Sealink, as it was known then, its the passenger and car ferries Ianfrom Portsmouth to the Isle of white. I worked for Sealink/whitelink after I left School in 1980 and work for them until 1991 when I was pensioned off after an industrial accident, where I fell down whilst a ship was in dry dock and fractured my skull and damaged my neck. I was off sick for nearly 10 years due to the pain and body limitations, but after a lot of pain and work, I got back into the job market. Ian was a little older than me and we were drawn together into a friendship and became very good friends Ian features in my coming out story so I wont go over that again. but what happens after I came out was a surprise. when I had started coming out I wanted to meet and make gay friends, and at the time Didn't know anyone. I kept thinking back to Ian, and what had happened between us. I started looking through the phone book to try track him down, and made a few phone calls, but to no avail. A few months pasted, and I was now in a relationship with Bob, I had been Visiting my parents and was on my way back and on a ferry crossing Portsmouth harbour, I was gobsmacked, stood there on the ferry was Ian, we both saw each other at the same time. I can remember thinking oh my god. I don't believe in fate, but that was moments, all the time I spent looking for him, and had given up, there he was in front of me. we spent the time on the crossing having a quick catch up on things(crossing is only 5 minutes) and I remember saying to him, that I got married and have 2 sons, and he said to me you cant have your a poof! I explained that I had come out a little late etc. we went to local gay bar in Portsmouth. and spent quite a few hours catching up on the last 15 years. It didn't take long for our friendship to grow and we where meeting up quite a bit. after a while, Ian got a job in London doing IT work for a media company. he use to pop down some weekends, at sometimes I would go stay with him in London, and help him with the IT work. As time went on, and my relationship with Bob seemed to come to a natural ending, Discussed with Ian about moving up to London, I think he mentioned it first, I could move in with him, and look for a job when I was there. for me this would be the first time I had moved any distance away from my home city, so would be hard, but also exciting at the same time, because I had very strong feelings for Ian but I also knew that he didn't want to get into a relationship, but I was hoping that that could change as we would be living together and the house I was going to move into was a large house share and we would be living in the same room together. things started off well, spending a lot of time with Ian, meeting him at lunch time and a lot of emotion feelings to go with it, it was like a dream, wonderful guy, but things soon went wrong, the emotion were one sideded, I started to find this so hard, strange city, no other friends, couldn't find a job, It was all having an impact on me I started feeling very lonely, the dream I had been chasing was turning into a nightmare. It was around this point that I got back in contact with Andy, phoning for chats, and explaining what was going on up here in London. I ended up moving back down south and moving in with Andy. I remember the day I left Ian, driving away in a van I had rented to bring all my belonging back. I was very choked up and sad that it had not worked. I have not seen Ian since that day I left in 2000, had a few phone call after, and the odd text message every now and then.

 

Rob BriĀ©knell 2014