SSE Airtricity is privileged to have Tom from the National LGBT+ Helpline Community share his story.
“Hi, I’m Tom.
“When I was in my late 50s, early 60s, I came to terms with being gay. I came out to my wife, which as you can imagine caused a little bit of a problem as they say but we separated. Initially, before coming out to my wife, I had been phoning the LGBT helpline. For reassurance, figuring out what to do, where the hell do I go from here. I was put in with a wonderful group of gay married men. We've people who came from all over the country, everything from small fishing villages to the middle of nowhere. People spent three hours of an evening coming to those meetings.”
“Being gay is something that happens everywhere. When you consider one in 10 people are gay, there's bound to be somebody in your village that is gay as well. The helpline really just reassured me that I was just one of many, many people throughout the country that was gay and was married.”
“When I was growing up, being gay didn't exist. There was no visual representation or social representation of being gay in the small town where I grew up. I had nothing to identify with. It felt quite good to know that I wasn't the only one that made stupid mistakes when they were growing up. It's very important to realise that everybody made decisions based on the best information we had at the time.”
“Because I had gone to conversion therapy, I was reassured by this expert that getting married would make me straight. But that didn't work out. There were a lot of people who did the same. I mean that's what everybody did, getting married was the only course in life. Everybody got married to somebody from the opposite sex and that was what we grew up with. It was either that or join the priesthood.”
“I would say to somebody who's a little bit fearful and thinking about phoning the helpline, reach out, there is somebody there that will listen to you. Somebody that understands where you're going. I know when I was young, I phoned the Samaritans and that was very, very helpful and necessary for what I was going through. But the gay-specific helpline was very important. The LGBT helpline was important because they knew where I was coming from and they were non-judgmental. They knew the emotional problem I was going through. The important thing is if you're in distress, reach out. If you are worried, confused, or panicking, reach out. There is somebody there to listen to you.”
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.