SSE Airtricity is privileged to have Tara from the National LGBT+ Helpline Community share her story
“My name is Tara and I'm just 50 years of age and I'm living in Galway.
My coming out experience surprised me, probably, more than anyone else. So, I was mid-40s and I had broken up with my children's Dad eight or nine years before. I had started a new job and liked this woman. I knew I wanted to be friends with her. She was with somebody at the time and then I heard she had broken up with that somebody. All of a sudden, honestly it was just that quick. When I heard she was broken up from her partner, who was a woman, it went from wanting to be her friend to fancying her. As simple as someone straight, it was just that simple. I fancied her. It was bizarre.
I had already known I wanted to get to know her as a friend. I was new in this job, I liked her personality, the same as you'd like anyone in a non-sexual way. So, it kind of just continued down that road. I took every invite that I could get to social occasions.
When I think about it now, it happened as easily as it would happen if it was a straight couple. We went out one night, of course being Irish, there was drink involved and I made a drunken move that I thought I could excuse with drink the following day, but I was also pretty sure she'd take it as just that if nothing came of it.
I have to say we were both really open with each other. It was the same experience I would have had with you starting off a new, straight relationship. It wasn't a thing of a woman with woman, I just loved how open and honest it was. We weren’t worried about if this works and if this doesn't work. We were both just really open.
We were just waiting to see and also knowing that in our job it would be okay and feeling that if we didn't work out, we were going to be okay working together. So, I just fell in love with a person and she happened to be a woman, honestly it was just that, because I do remember before we kissed, actually saying to her, I've never done this before. I don't know whether I'm going to like it, because I just had no idea.
I didn't think of myself as gay, I don't think of myself as gay now. I didn't know how that kiss was going to go but it was a kiss the same as anyone and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't work.
This one worked and it was lovely. I honestly didn't have an issue with coming out, I was quite happy I'd fall in love with a woman and I was old enough to be able to say to people I've met a woman.
Although, we do live in a rural area, and I had kids but at the time they were very young and were in primary school. I was really scared for them, in the way that a lot of people are when they come out as gay, or that you stereotypically hear that, people are scared when they come out.
That fear was for my kids, that they would be bullied at school and that they would suffer.
I knew there had to be other people like me. I'm old enough to know it's not it couldn't be unique, but I'd never come across it and I didn't know anyone or have any close friends who were gay or LGBT plus.
I did have the knowledge to go online and have a look and there was the National LGBT helpline. I rang them several times and the person at the end of the phone might not have had my answer, because it wasn't their experience, but they knew somebody who did.
Over weeks and months, I gave them a call with particular problems, and they would find the correct person that had the experience to answer my question. That's how it was invaluable, because they've been there, or they wouldn’t be on that helpline for people like me.
I suppose it's like trying to find your Irish Community when you go to Japan. You need to find people like you, and I didn't know anybody like me. So, they were able to get people like me, as in people with kids, who happened to be gay.
What I would tell someone if they were thinking of reaching out to a helpline would be, that there is no harm, you don’t need to give your name, you won't be asked any details. You only tell them what you want”.
SSE Airtricity are privileged to have Tara, Tom and Adam, who’ve used the LGBT Helpline, share their stories with us. Listen to all three podcasts here.
LGBT Ireland provides vital support to communities all around Ireland, including family members and friends who are seeking help and information to support their LGBT+ loved ones. The LGBT Helpline is a confidential, safe space to ask questions, seek advice, and simply be your true, whole self.
You can contact the LGBT+ Helpline by freephone 1800 929 539. For more information, please visit LGBT.ie.