Mark Hoar (he/him)
I came out as a gay man when I turned 43, which is relatively late in life. Similarly, I didn’t come out to myself until in my late 20s, but although I didn’t understand it then (but obvious now!), I had been attracted to men since my late teens.
I had a very stable, happy but straight working-class upbringing: growing-up in a small town, I didn’t know anyone who was openly gay before I went to university and the image projected of gay men was not a positive one neither from people at school nor the media. My parents didn’t have gay friends and as Section 28 was firmly in place during my teens; ‘other’ types of relationships weren’t taught or spoken about at school.
The only thing I knew about being gay was the then media stereotype of being loud, effeminate and flamboyant – an image of gay men portrayed by Dick Emery, Larry Grayson, etc. I knew I wasn’t like that and, consequently, had no idea that I was gay: I just happened to be quiet, not sporty and preferred to be around girls.
Working at UEA:
I work as a teacher of physics and mathematics at INTO UEA and I am very aware of the different cultures that I teach and attitudes towards LGBTQ+ in their countries. Every year there will be LGBTQ+ students that arrive at INTO with very complex emotions regarding their sexuality and they need to know that diversity is accepted here. Therefore, since coming out, I have been driven to make LGBTQ+ visible at INTO and have worked with our welfare team to promote Pride History Month, events involving the Terrance Higgins Trust and have produced displays. Joining UEA Staff Pride has given me the opportunity to take place in events like Pride History Month and helped me to make LGBTQ+ more visible at INTO.
On a lovely hot, July day, which I can still remember clearly, I decided to join the tail of the Norwich Pride 2018 procession. This was my first step to coming out. I decided to tell my parents the next day (on my birthday with tea and cake in John Lewis!) and had all the fears and worries of acceptance. It was very emotional, but they were brilliant and helped give me the confidence to come out to the wider world. I’ve done things that I didn’t have the confidence to do before and have pushed myself to go to Gay and LGBTQ+ social meetings, events and to try online dating: I’ve now been with my partner, who also lives in Norwich, for two years.
Coming out has been a series of steps, sometimes leaps, and that continues, but it has been enriching, allowed me openly to enjoy a side of my personality that I had supressed and has made me happy.