I understood that I was gay at the age of 17. Until that age, I never thought I could be. Even if I started young to watch gay porn or to do live cam with other men, I never identified myself as a gay man before my 17 years old. I had to fall in love to understand. And it was logical, natural, so I didn’t have to make a coming out with my family or my friends.
A couple of months later, I started my studies at university. The best place I think to discover yourself, have experiences and understand who you are. It was a new beginning for me, for my sexuality and my knowledge. I had my first kiss, my first time, my first gay friends. I discovered the apps, the cruising, saunas, gay nightclubs, gay-pride, diseases, love,… But the more instructive for me and my gay identity was to inform myself with LGBT+ history.
I think the start point, of everything I am today, is the french documentary Les Invisibles. I went to the cinema and at the end, I just said: « Oh okay, so I can live my entire life until my death with a man ». Maybe it’s stupid but I had never imagined myself to be with a man for all my life before, it wasn’t possible. Not in the wrong way, my brain had just never thought about this possibility. And to see old gay people, some of them in a long relationship, just made me realize it was possible. Another important thing in this documentary was the story of these people – and the story of gay people in general – until today. I realized how much the LGBT+ history is important to me to be learned, to understand who I am, who we are, and where we are from.
So I continue to inform myself, to do research on the internet, books, to watch a lot of movies and series, to go to exhibitions,… I try to explore the different LGBT+ faces for my knowledge, to be open, and to remember if today I have a lot of rights it’s because people from different communities, with their actions and movements, fought for our generations. If I can walk with my boyfriend in the street or I can get married or party without hiding me, this is because some people fought or died for this freedom. I’m not a militant person. I took part in the march for the wedding rights in Paris in 2013 and in a few Prides. But it’s more important for me to not be totally passive, to have a minimum of knowledge and to be thankful towards these people before me.
Today, my gay identity is taking a big part in my life, however, this is not how I define myself. Every person has a different identity but my sexuality is not me. I’m not presenting myself to new people saying: « Hi I’m Valentin and I’m gay », and I think nobody does so, but to learn helps me build myself. Maybe if more gay people accepted to learn too, there would be no more homophobia, transphobia, queerphobia, racism… in our communities. Every gay can be who he wants, but respect toward others is missing. So, be queer, be a princess, a unicorn, looks straight or live your binarity, but one piece of advice: be open, respectful, loving, start or continue to learn about our gay history and where you are from, it really can help you.