Archie shares his experience about growing up surrounded by women, his taut relationship with straight men, and how joining an inclusive Rugby team has helped him heal old wounds, and create new amazing relationships!
“I grew up in a household with 5 women. I had 4 older sisters and my mom. Then along came my sister’s girl-friends, my aunties and more! I was surrounded by women, all the time, which meant that I found it more comfortable to be around women as that’s all I knew. My closest friends have always been girls throughout primary school, secondary school, college and so on. This wasn’t just because of familiarity, it was also because for most of my life I’ve feared straight men.”
Being the first (out) gay man in school
My fear of straight men mainly stems back to school. I came out at the age of 13 and was the first person in my school to come out. I’d told family and close friends and it was obvious that I had majority-female friends. But coming out officially left me feeling isolated from the straight guys at my school even more. It felt difficult to fit in when you’re the only person in the school to (proudly) wear your label. It felt like there was a barrier between me and them and I couldn’t find a middle ground.
When I would be around a group of guys I would feel out of place. As though they didn’t want me to be there and that they were judging me, and some of them were. Sometimes they wouldn’t want to sit next to me in class as it made them feel uncomfortable. There would be comments made and an unnecessary amount of unprovoked gay ‘jokes’ told. The worst was in the boy’s locker room before PE. I would face the wall while getting changed and I could still feel their eyes piercing the back of my head to check that I wasn’t looking at them getting changed. Hurtful comments of “you better not look at me!” and jokes at my expense just made me more aware of the distance between other people and me.
The fear that followed me from school
The distance I felt between me and straight men followed me for many years. Anytime I was put in a situation where I had to socialise with straight men I felt uncomfortable. It felt like I was sweating. Like I had a secret that upon finding out, they would reject me.
When you’re LGBT, you’d think that once you’ve come out, you’re done, but this is far from the truth. Unfortunately, you’ll never stop coming out. Every new person you meet could assume you’re straight and you will have to either leave it to them to figure it out or at some point tell them which can feel like tossing a coin. There have been many times in my life where it has felt like I’ve been back in the closet again, hiding who I truly am because of the fear I hold closely of being shunned for something that’s unchangeable.
Due to my relationship with straight men in school, I could never rest around them after that. I would feel like I was constantly on-guard for a fight or an argument, which never allowed me to be myself around them. This was up until I found out about the Sheffield Vulcans.
Joining the Sheffield Vulcans
When I heard about the Sheffield Vulcans, an all-inclusive, LGBT+ friendly Rugby club I was excitedly nervous. To be in an environment full of men was alien to me. I was stepping outside of my comfort zone and my usual social circles to a group of pre-existing friends.
Prior to joining, I was looking forward to making LGBT+ friends as I didn’t have any at the time. It’s really important to be around your own tribe and come together as a community as it allows you to develop your own self-expression in a place where you feel safe and understood.
Most of all, I was enthusiastic about making straight male friends. Being able to go into an environment where there’s already an agreement of acceptance took away all of my pre-existing fears about straight men. I didn’t need to censor myself. I didn’t need to get lost in my own head with nothing but my anxieties. There was a preconceived notion of trust and acceptance before I got there. I got my only wish for when meeting someone new, my sexuality didn’t matter.
Growing with the Sheffield Vulcans and becoming friends with these lovely bunch of people has allowed me to experience the relationships I had always wanted. I have been able to express my masculinity and femininity without being judged for either. I have been able to heal old wounds and move past the judgement I still felt from school. It didn’t take anything profound, it simply took acceptance, and I’ll forever be grateful for it.
The Sheffield Vulcans welcomes anyone regardless of their sexual orientation. We have members who are LGBT+ and straight and we are proud to have a club that is accepting of everyone.
No matter your age, size, orientation, or experience playing Rugby, the Sheffield Vulcans are happy to bring you into our community and provide a safe and fun environment to learn and play Rugby. Learn more about joining us here.