Ok so I must confess I’ve never come out and in truth I hate the word and term as to me it implies I ’m hiding something. To me there was never anything to hide even if it meant when answering a question often asked truthfully by bigots and bullies could mean you’d get beaten up or abused verbally.
I didn’t tell my parent or siblings as my relationship with them was never strong. I’ve never really been understood by my family, being privately fostered from 0-8 and living with my sister and a foster nanny meant my mother and two brothers who lived in London & I in Somerset, would have a certain sort of distance. That wasn’t the only thing as with two brothers only a year apart they could form a connection similar to twins, develop tastes in sports, music, food, friends that seven years younger and less masculine I just didn’t. I listened to Brandy they listened to Murder C, I wrote stories they played basketball. I always felt pushed, poked and punished for
being me and not like them.
In regards to my friends at the time, things had started to go wrong, we were no longer the children that had been bound by the past, the present was was just that, the future seemed like it was far away but the cracks had began to show.
We no longer liked the things that bound us in the past from Dragon Ball Z, playing gameboy advance or collecting pokemon cards. The present was about girls, designer clothes, sports and who had the best phone and acquiring it by whatever means necessary. Violence seemed to always be in the air, guns, knives, robbing etc - I wanted out.
At 15 I was sent to a referral unit for hardly ever attending school ( I found it boring and patronising that they taught us at the level and pace they did.) I was destroyed as I was fully capable of getting the grades and passing my GCSE’s but the school thought I wouldn’t ‘apply myself’. This turned out in hindsight to be one of the best things that happened in my life, I stopped going to the referral unit and soon I was going to Heaven every Wednesday that put on a night mainly for LGBTQI, POC.
This opened my eyes completely changing how I looked at myself and my colour. I wasn’t the odd one out anymore, there were so many gays of all races, shapes and ages. This led me to the decision that I no longer wanted to be where I was or in fact who I was, I wanted to discover myself and understand my sexuality. I had a burning desire to find a place where I could live my truth and I did finally at stonewall housing.
At Stonewall I met the coolest, craziest most energetic people, everyday was a party and I felt freer by just even being in their company. We had left the world with its hatred and discrimination behind. It was here I made some of my closest friends. I entered lost and emerged found, due to Rasharn living upstairs, he was studying fashion and I’d go and pour through his copies of Vogue & I-D, eventually I decided this is what I love. I applied for The Fashion Retail Academy and soon after we started the menswear label Jaiden rVa James.
I cannot be an activist fighting for equality if I feel ashamed, I can’t speak loudly and proudly if at any point my voice shakes or is lowered to a whisper! I’am a gay man who loves and finds beauty in other men. I see no shame in my desire and if anyone tries to make me do so they’re not a friend, family or ally and those who do are living proof that battles have been won yes but the war still rages on.