LGBT History Month: Aaron Porter

To celebrate LGBT History Month, we've asked a group of queer musicians to pen essays and share stories that reflect this years theme: Peace, Activism and Reconciliation.

I found peace when I realised that there was no point in arguing with people about my sexuality. I am who I am, and I’m proud of it. Knowing what I’m about has kept me strong in difficult situations. Unfortunately there’s always going to be someone that has something to say, and understanding that there’s always an angry person somewhere makes you realise that you can’t fight them all. I accept that, and I’m at peace with it.  

I grew up in East Grinstead. I already stood out as a black man, I hadn’t yet realised I was gay. When trouble came my way it would always be an argument. It was always me fighting with people about what they had to say. I spent a lot of time saying “No, I’m not” and it wasn’t a lie, I just didn’t fully understand my sexuality. When people were coming at me for something I didn’t yet know myself, I fought against it.

The point where I stopped fighting was when I began to come to terms with the fact that maybe I was gay. Having friends argue for my newly uncovered lie, trying to help me, ironically made coming out more difficult.

"BOY" by Aaron Porter

When I realised I was gay, it was such a moment. And then all those fights just became pointless. It was a waste of time and energy. Acceptance and peace came as I realised who I was. It was a moment where I thought, I can tell everyone now, and that I definitely did! There were no secrets, and less secrets lead to less confrontation. I think people are scared about what they’re unsure of, about what they don’t know. Suddenly I was out in the open.

In London there are certain times when I expect homophobia more than others. When I’m leaving home in Tottenham for example, I’ll be extra cautious about how I’m dressed or how I put myself across. I hold my face strong, I don’t wear a crop top.

This could all be within myself. Maybe I’m over-anticipating confrontation and pre-planning ways to avoid it. There have been times I’ve walked into shops or restaurants and I can feel people saying things, but maybe it’s just in my head.

The place that makes me feel the most nervous is my barber shop. It’s an ultra-straight, black Afro-Caribbean barber shop and there’s a lot of homophobia in the black community. I’ve been going there for years and it’s only recently they’ve stopped asking me about girls. It’s so frustrating when people purposefully ask about girls, because they really just want to say “Are you gay?”. And I say, “No girls at the moment”, just to save myself from the effort of what could follow next.

"I Wanna Let Love" by Aaron Porter

And it really does bother me that I don’t just say, “No, I’m gay”.

With each year that passes that reply gets closer to coming out my mouth. But in 2019 in a room full of black macho men, it’s just not the conversation I want to have. But maybe I should give it a go, not edit myself, not fear the uncomfortable. Perhaps I should give people a chance.

I don’t get angry about these things. I just wish all of society could progress at the same speed. I know that there will always be people with different views, and I take many small steps in trying to make a change. There will be certain people I am completely open with, but conversely there are certain situations where I need to protect myself from being humiliated or hurt.

Peace in knowing who I am has given me so much strength. Every year I get to know myself a little bit more, and with that I gain a little more peace.

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