Today, my aim is to confirm whether Scottish Hamish ‘plays on my team’ or not. Yes, I intend to do some touristy stuff too, but it’s been so long since my Queer Bells rang at anything that I’m curious to find out if they still work properly.

The timid Scot isn’t much to look at, and I know the stammer might put some off, but he seems sweet and kind and I find myself looking out for him whenever I’m at the hostel. It’s the first time in years I’ve even had the inclination to look at another guy, and if Hamish is a Gay then he seems like one of the nice ones. Bev and Rachel both insist he couldn’t possibly be a ‘shirt-lifter’, but I told them, “Not all us gays are stylish, handsome and well-manicured, you know.”

They had looked me up and down and nodded in agreement.


Hamish came with us today, along with buddy Irish Karen, and without any prompting from me either. Score! It’s fair to say that his stuttering Scottish accent and positive outlook made an otherwise disastrous shopping experience a little more bearable.

“Och. It’s all a wee b-b-bit rub-b-bish really, isn’t it.” (I can’t do the accent.)

Hamish is cute but in an unconventional way, which Rachel tells me makes him ‘cugly’. There’s just something about him. When we stopped for lunch and he rammed a baguette down his throat I didn’t know where to look. It’s been a while since a sloppy 6-incher made me blush. Then Karen ordered a salad. Turns out she’s a vegan. She looks the sort. Salad always tastes nicer to me if its accompanied by a pizza. With no salad.

“Why you don’t you both tell us a little bit more about yourselves?” I asked, looking at Hamish specifically. “Where did you meet, where have you travelled, who do you fancy…”

“To be sure, to be sure,” muttered Karen through her lettuce (I can’t do the accent) “we only met here last week. Both turned up on the same bus, so they put us in the same room.”

“Turns out we both like the s-s-same music.”

I leaned forward, “So… are we talking Slipknot or Kylie?”

“I never really listen t-t-to pop music growing up,” Hamish said, ignoring the question. “I had quite a s-s-strict upbinging. One of the reasons I got on a plane.”
Hamish told us his mum was a headmistress and his dad was the pastor at his village church.

Bev frowned. “What? Like spaghetti?”

I’d nearly choked on my chicken teriyaki. “PastOR!”

Turns out Hamish is a little bit churchy, but I won’t hold it against him. Meaning, I’d still totally hold IT against him.

I don’t know what it is about a religious Gay that puts so many homos off. Maybe its an ego thing. Something to do with them having to love another Man? It doesn’t bother me. If Hamish wants to believe that a bearded bloke in a dress rides around in a cloud controlling the world then who am I to argue.

Rachel, on the other hand, has never been one to keep her thoughts to herself, and she and Hamish ended up having a heated theological debate right there over lunch. Now, I’m not one for confrontations, but watching her getting increasingly infuriated over Hamish’s blind faith and calm smile was wonderful to witness.

“The B-B-Bible is proof of His existence.”

“But that would make The Hobbit proof of fuckin’ Gandalf!”

He found out what side of the church I sat on a bit later. I’d been trying not to make a big deal of it, and was being proper subtle, but when Bev giggled and blurted, “he means he’s a KNOB JOCKEY you doofus!” there was no going back.

Hamish went visibly pale and the atmosphere got very tense, very quickly. Even Bev looked a bit sheepish, and she’s usually oblivious. It seemed that this particular Revelation freaked him out, and the rest of the afternoon was spent in an uncomfortable silence. I worried that he’d turn into some kind of Bible-belt preacher, and declare me to be a filth-peddler, guilty of leading a sinful life full of debauchery and sodomy. I WISH my life was that exciting.

But once we got back to the hostel he hesitantly asked me if he could have a private word (he may not have been hesitant, it may have been his stutter), and we ended up having a deep and meaningful over the pool table. It turns out my dodgy Gaydar still works after all.

“I think I m-m-might b-b-be… like you,” he eventually confessed.

“What, chubby and English?”

Of course, I knew what he really meant.

Many of us find it impossible to use the word ‘gay’ to describe ourselves at the beginning. The word has so much baggage, so much weight, you need to be strong to tie yourself to it. Even now, with a few years publically ‘out’ under my belt, I’m more likely to tell people I’m ‘a bender’, ‘a knob gobbler’, or ‘a big fat queer’. Shocking and self-mocking, never serious and scary.

Over the course of our pool game Hamish opened up more about his life. How he grew up in a small Scottish village with strict religious parents. About the struggles between his beliefs and his ‘unnatural’ desires. About how he was spending his gap year travelling the world to try and figure out exactly what he wanted. And what He wanted, too. His story tumbled out in frustrated bursts as he raced desperately against his own stutter to unburden his long-held secret, and it was equally heartbreaking and frustrating to listen to.

To summarise, Hamish is a couple of years behind me on the Path To Imminent Gaydom, still lost in the struggle between what he wants to feel and what he actually feels. The pre-coming out stage for any conflicted gay guy, I guess. The time when you are coming out to yourself. I remember confessing the same emotional turmoil he was feeling myself, not so long ago. Only in my case I’d been confessing them to my dog.

“Why can’t I be normal?”

“If it’s just a phase, when will it end?

“Quit licking your balls!”

I remember desperately trying to convince myself that I couldn’t possibly be gay. I didn’t want to be, surely that had to count for something. I lied when writing my own diary, not incase someone else read it but in a desperate attempt to re-write my life-story. I didn’t fancy that boy at school, I was envious of his physique. And it was only his impressive muscle-tone I was staring at in the showers.

I have a problem with the phrase ‘sexual preference’. It gives people the impression that being gay is a choice, like ‘chicken or fish’. It’s why many of the smaller-minded people believe we have some kind of say in it. It took me the whole of school to figure out that this was wishful thinking, so there’s no wonder I guess. My brain constantly self-analysed throughout my teens.

I can’t be a poof. I want kids some day.

I’m not a homo. I’m clueless about interior design.

How can I be bent? I’ve got no fashion sense!

At least Hamish is smart enough to understand that these thoughts are based entirely on stereotypes. There is no Gay Exam. You can’t fail it.

He’s now arrived at the biggest cross-roads of his life. Will he burst out of the closet with pride and enjoy being young, single and gay, fully accepting himself for who he is and who he was born to be? Or will he duck back into it and lock the door behind him, hiding there until he’s middle-aged, possibly with a family of his own, and in the midst of a massive mental breakdown?

Or will he take door number three and the ‘Bi Now, Gay Later’ option. The coming-out version of dipping your toe in the water, where you declare yourself bisexual then slip out of the closet when everyone’s backs are turned. The option I tried to take.

“Why not tell your family something they may be a little happier to hear?” I suggested. “Tell them you’re so full of love that you can’t limit it to half of the population? It’s what I did.”

Well, sort of. My bisexual phase lasted about an hour. I’d been clubbing with my then-best mate when I decided to do it. I downed three jaegerbombs for courage and then blurted out, “I fancy everyone in here, not just the ones I’m supposed to.” The idea being that I fancied the boys as well as the girls. Unfortunately, he’d misunderstood. He thought I meant I fancied the ‘munters’ as well as the ‘babes’. He’d laughed, called me a “dirty wrong’un” and offered to find me “a fat chick to bang”.

The conversation that followed that night was one of the most painful I’ve ever had. It ended with him storming off in disgust and promising to tell everyone I was a pervert. I’d gone into complete meltdown, informing Facebook “FYI I’m GAY” before turning off my phone and speeding off in mum’s car. I’d woken up the next morning in a Welcome Break car-park somewhere in the Lake District, the windscreen iced over on the inside, and close to freezing to actual death. Ah, fun times.

Of course I didn’t tell Hamish any of this.

As the common room grew busier, we abandoned our game and moved into the fire escape to continue our conversation in private, accidentally interrupting a blue-haired biffa smoking something hand-rolled and almost as fat and fragrant as she was. She dropped it in her rush to go, and I snatched it up when Hamish was sobbing into his sleeve. It looked like a new experience just waiting to happen. Unfortunately, it meant that from that moment on I was distracted. Hamish was talking about his stern, God-bothering parents, about how they’d disown him if they ever found out, and he was really opening up his soul to me, but all that was going through my mind was, I think I have a fucking joint in my pocket!

“You can stop worrying, you know. You’ll be fine. God loves Gays,” I said instead. “Otherwise he’d never have made us all so cute, right?”

Hamish managed a small smile. “If only it w-w-was that easy…”

Poor bloke. Your mum and dad are supposed to love you unconditionally, but it doesn’t always work out like that. Some folks actually think disowning their kid makes for better parenting and that’s just fucked up. Who can predict how religious people, like Hamish’s mum and dad, will react. They’re often the least accepting of all. Funny that. Personally, I struggle with the idea of trusting anyone who can clear their conscience of a shameful or hurtful act by asking forgiveness from an imaginary friend.

By this point, Hamish was curled on a step, head on his knees and rocking so hard he could’ve been doing an abdominal workout. I couldn’t help but cry a little too as I remembered I’d done exactly the same thing, only in my case I’d been panicking about how to break the news to my girlfriend. At least he didn’t have that bombshell to drop. She’d flipped out worse than I’d feared, although with hindsight I probably shouldn’t have told her I’d been fantasizing about her brother the whole time we were together.

Finally, Hamish fell silent. He looked exhausted. We sat there for a bit, bodies squeezed together on the steps, legs touching, my arm around his shoulder. He lifted up his t-shirt to dry his eyes and flashed a bit of stomach. God knows what was going through his mind, but all that was going through mine was, Fuck me, I’m horny. It’s the first time I’ve thought that in years.

“I’m honoured you confided in me,” I told him instead. “I hope it helps.”

Hamish bit his lip, stared at his feet and wiped some snot from his chin. It made him even more adorable.

“Thank you,” he whispered.

“I’ll help you out with anything, you know,” I pressed. “Anytime. Just ask.”

I put my hand on his knee and gave it a squeeze, silently wondering how I’d gone from nervous Born-Again Virgin to Predatory Gay in just one conversation. He didn’t seem to hear me though, instead he just closed his eyes and said, “If God leads me to it, God will lead me through it.”

He looked up at me with clear green eyes and my tummy did a little flip. After a moment’s hesitation he gave me a quick peck on the cheek before blushing furiously and standing up to go back inside.

“Thanks, Kev,” he whispered as he left. “I’m really pleased to have met you.”

I was forced to stay on the steps a few moments longer to allow the sudden swelling at the front of my trousers to go down, and when I finally re-entered the common room I was confronted by an over-excited, gossip-seeking Bev.

“Omigod, did Hamish just kiss you on the fire-escape?” she squealed.

“No,” I told her. “On the cheek.”

Well, it made me laugh.


What a terrifying evening. I spent it watched my first ever rugby game, squeezed in a pub full of hyped-up heteros, wedged beneath a glistening armpit and being coated in flying perspiration and beer. It’s made me realise that I feel just as uncomfortable in a room full of Straights as I do in a room full of Gays, so I’m not sure where that leaves me.

The girls have gone off to ‘console’ a couple of Aussies, so I’ve come home alone again. One of these days I’ll go out somewhere unaccompanied and surprise everyone. Including me.

I’m too buzzed to sleep, so I’ve been flicking through social media. I’ve been consciously trying to avoid it, wanting to focus my attention on the world around me instead of the one on my phone, for a change. I hadn’t missed it, but flicking through now it looks like most of my comings and goings are broadcasted by Gemma or Rachel anyway. Scary really. Looking at Facebook, I see a load of friends back in Essex have just finished watching the same rugby game I did and it’s the strangest feeling. I feel closer to them yet further away than ever. And in other news, Michael snogged some randomer that wasn’t me.

WAIT! I totally forgot! I’ve got that dodgy ciggie I picked up earlier! Who the hell needs to get a tongue in their mouth for kicks when they’ve got a… I believe it’s called a ‘doobey’?

Let’s give this bad boy a suck.

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