There’s a narrative you hear a lot about people who come out: they always knew. And that’s true for many, but not all. Some of us take a terribly long time to realise who we are, partly because it’s not always so obvious and mainly because we actively fight against it. And that means when we do finally put it all together and finally become ourselves, we do so late in life.
That’s hard. It’s hard practically – coming out often means throwing a hand grenade into a life you’ve spent many years constructing, causing all kinds of devastation, and of course there are physical aspects too: it’s a lot harder to transition if you’re old, overweight and baggy than when you’re young and slim with great skin.
But it’s harder emotionally. You find yourself looking backwards with a mix of sadness and sometimes anger, mourning the you you never were. It’s hard not to focus on what Wilgus describes as “the opportunities I’m never going to get back. The doors that feel like they’re closed to me.” There will always be huge gaps in your experience because you wasted so many years trying to live the wrong life.