Welcome to day five of our ten day feature – Everyone has a Story.
Our fifth entry come from Yorkshire (UK) born James Noble. Here’s his story…
- Firstly, how old are you and what do you do for a living?
I’m 25 years old, spent 6 years training as a classical musician and this summer just gone, I began working as Cabin Crew.
- Please can you give us a brief background about your life?
I grew up in a village just outside of Halifax, West Yorkshire. At the time, you never really appreciate it, but looking back I had a fantastic upbringing in some beautiful surroundings. I grew up in a house with both my parents along with my two brothers and sister. We were all very well looked after. We had the classic family scraps and sibling fallings out but, we all got on very well.
I think I always knew there was something different about me compared to everyone else I grew up around. Not as much that I was ‘gay’ but I had a more open mind in terms of sexuality and relationships to the community that I grew up in.
What’s considered ‘normal’: Man likes woman and vice versa. Reproduction, its nature, of course that’s what I should and need to do – how stupid of me! Be normal!
But then at the back of my mind I always wondered why it should matter about what sex you are? I always thought and knew a relationship had a bit more to it than that. If you have that bond and connection with someone of the same sex, why should that matter?
- When did you realise you were gay?
It sounds mad to think now, but I don’t think I’d ever even met an identifying ‘gay’ person until I was about 16 when I started studying at a music school in Manchester over the weekends. It was so exciting for me to go to the city and be around other creative open minded people who had dreams, aspirations, motivation and came from varying backgrounds from all over the country. I always knew I was gay, but I guess this was when I realised… would’ve been strange if I didn’t, because by that point I’d met my first boyfriend!
- When and how did you come out?
Funny one! So, my first boyfriend… We met at the weekend music school where we were both studying, I was living and going to school in Yorkshire, and he lived in a town on the other side of Manchester. We were both in a similar situation, but he was a year or so older than me. We developed a great friendship which then we played it by ear and it developed into a really great relationship.
He was always keen (when he was comfortable and happy the time was right) to come out to his parents. I never was, I didn’t see why I should have to! I never heard of anyone coming out to their parents as ‘straight’ so why should I have to come out as ‘gay’? I figured they’d just assume and it would all just be brushed off.
We’d been together about 10 months, and by this point he’d moved to Manchester to study for his undergraduate course, and I was still at school and living with my parents. It was all very exciting, like living a double life. The regular James, day to day school life in the week, and then running off to Manchester at the weekend to be the real James with his boyfriend who had great friends and loved partying!
I can’t remember the full details but we’d been over to Leeds to my sisters’ birthday party and ended up coming back to Manchester late and I stayed at his for the weekend as I had a free day on the Sunday, and I would head back to my parents that evening before school on the Monday.
Sunday lunchtime I got a phone call from my Dad saying I needed to get on the next train home and they knew that me and my boyfriend were “more than just friends”.
HOW DID THEY KNOW!?
Well… I’d been on a trip to Australia a few months before and had taken some sort of indestructible old school Nokia with me to use with an Australian sim card. My mum’s phone was on the blink so she’d grabbed it to use and whilst clearing the text message inbox everything sort of came out in the wash – SCHOOL BOY ERROR! I’d done so well!
- Have you ever experienced any discrimination due to your sexuality?
I’m very thick skinned and always take things with a pinch of salt, and compared to a lot of people in the gay community in UK, and most certainly around the world, I have been incredibly lucky and would say I have never (or so I’m aware!) been discriminated because of my sexuality. I have received homophobic abuse on several occasions but, it never really phased me, until I realised how it affected other people around me that witnessed it.
I remember 5 or 6 years ago when I was an undergraduate student in Manchester, my parents and younger brother had come over to visit me for the day and we were walking down the main high street. A boy not much older than my brother (who was about 11 or 12 at the time) shouted at me as he walked past “you gay queer!!” I was a bit taken aback as it came out of the blue and had done nothing wrong, but I sort of laughed as I’ve developed a bit of selective hearing for that kind of thing (and also, what does that even mean…and it was from an 11 year old boy!).
The thing that bothered me about it was that my mum phoned me later that day and told me that my brother had been really affected by this and that upset me. I didn’t like that he had to witness somebody about the same age as him openly displaying his closed minded nature, and even more so by shouting out words that don’t even mean anything! At the time, as much as I didn’t like he’d seen that, in a way I’m actually really glad he did because it triggered something inside of him. As far as I’m aware, he identifies as ‘straight’, but it wouldn’t bother me whatever he identified as. He’s an absolute equality pioneer now!!!! He’s so willing to learn from other people, communities and cultures and I love it. He’s so switched on.
I also got called “a fucking faggot” by a passenger under their breath at work the other day. Nobody around said anything, and neither did I, because it didn’t really phase me. I’m more angry thinking about it that I didn’t say anything back and it could’ve been a great opportunity to stick up for myself (and maybe embarrass them a little.) But, I’m glad I smiled and carried on and was the better person. I don’t like to cause a scene, it had been a rough day, and I think everyone around me respected me for that. 100%.
- If you could give your younger self, or anyone else currently struggling with their sexuality what (if any) advice could you give them?
If I had to give my younger self advice, I would say don’t put so much pressure on yourself to conform and don’t stress about putting yourself into any sort of category “Am I gay? Am I Bi? I don’t know!”
I don’t much like the acronym ‘LGBT’ because it makes people feel they have to fit into some sort of mould. I don’t think sexuality is quite as simple as that. But I understand the equality movement is a process and journey, things won’t change overnight, and ‘LGBT’ is just a stage in that journey.
Ooh, most important bit of advice – Always delete messages off your old phone!!!!!
Advice I would give to someone struggling with their sexuality is: CHILL OUT!!
I know it’s easier said than done, but, when you can relax you can be yourself, and don’t be afraid to be it. When you’re comfortable with what you identify as, it doesn’t change who you are and the people that DO matter will see that too. You’re still YOU! Surround yourself with people who make you happy and treat others the way you would want to be treated yourself.
TAKE YOUR TIME!!
I’m all one for living in the moment and making the absolute most out of everything. But there’s no rush. You have the rest of your life to enjoy – don’t waste it being miserable. It won’t happen overnight – just enjoy the ride!
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank James for his help with this project and for his frank honesty.
If you’d like to keep up to date with James, follow him on Instagram @joble