Having just celebrated a rather relaxed thirty sixth birthday, I became a tad reflective.

I used to have a ritual that consisted of knocking back a load of beers before nine O’Clock in the morning whilst listening to the first four Metallica albums – something I have been doing for many years. I used to make a point of it, I had to stick to the rule. Obviously, I would actually start my birthday the night before. I guess, to get a head start on the next days drinking really. This recent birthday started out slightly different,.. just a tad. I awoke due to the annoying birds congregating on my roof, and not as bleary eyed as I would of liked, and bundled myself down stairs. Fist job, was to de-flea the cat. ‘Why today?’ I thought to myself. Next mission was to fill the bird feeders to feed the annoying yet beautiful bastards that had awoken me in the first place. Time for a cup of tea, (hears baby crying), tea on hold, I fetch one of the children from up-stairs and make a bottle of milk. The other two “little un’s” decide to get up and within minutes, the kitchen is a mess of toast, fruit, felt tip pens and a mournful cup of tea that knows I’m about as “Rock ’n’ Roll” as Coldplay wrapping paper.

Things have certainly changed from the times my mates would wake up at my house and we would smash back some beers and go and ‘Bomb hills’ on our skateboards at six in the morning. I am happy of the changes though. Delighted in-fact. I couldn’t sustain who I was. “The birthday ritual” was quite innocent in comparison to some of the views I held in earlier life. As I thought about this, I became somewhat reflective. I thought about friends, past and present, things said and emotions felt, and I remembered a particular friend coming to me and asking a question.

I used to live in a room that was, by any definition, an extension of my inner being. The walls, the ceiling and the floor (after removing the carpet and fitting laminate flooring) were covered in writing and doodles. Thoughts were poured out and spread out, smeared and scratched onto any available surface. Lyrics were copied verbatim. New songs hashed out. The darkest and happiest imaginings thrown up everywhere with whatever materials were at hand. I had no money so ‘tester’ pots of paint from the DIY shop were collected for free to be used as the next medium. Arty antics  and more words were embossed on to walls with silicone sealant so you could read out things in the dark with the touch of your hands. Glow in the dark tulip pens were also a boon. It became a living art piece and everyone that entered had to contribute. It could of easily won the Turner Prize. This room was also sanctuary for many. I have met many people in the following years that had been to “the room” that I genuinely couldn’t remember. Unfortunately, as is always the case, I didn’t realise how important this space was until it had gone.

One day, I had a good friend come over. The normal ceremonies were carried out: music selection from the wall of CD’s, appropriate Rizla’s apportioned out and libations taken. As was very normal for the time, politics, music, skateboarding and general society were discussed and then came the question: “What do you think about Homosexuality?” Hmm… Well… “I think Homo’s and junkies are pretty much the same thing, they should all be either locked up or executed”

I actually said that… I can’t believe it, but I did. I actually believed what I said too. I thought that I was ‘right and true’. The “great book” confirmed my beliefs.  I feel fucking disgusted, even as I type this, that I actually used to hold those beliefs and that I actually said that to another human being. As if my point of view mattered, but it did matter. I had a religious hangover but that was still no excuse to hold onto those opinions. I honestly thought that I wasn’t saying anything wrong, people came to me for open debates on all manner of things, so I must be right?… I wasn’t. What makes matters worse is, why the question came up? It turns out that my ‘friend’ was testing the ground to see where his friends stood on certain issues as he was to later ‘come out’ as being Gay. I didn’t deserve him as a friend.

No-one should have to “come out.” Everyone should just be whatever the fuck they want to be and we shouldn’t have to have narrow minded idiots (at best) foisting their outdated ideas onto others. I, now using the enlightening powers of hindsight, realise how I must of repulsed him with my vile opinions and medieval dogma. Who the hell did I think was to hold such beliefs and proselytise such dirty vitriolic opinions on to others? What the fuck was wrong with me?

To you, my friend, if you ever read this, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you when you really needed me, I’m sorry that the world shunned you for just being your self, for wanting to be free, for wanting to not be judged. I’m sorry that I was so judging and horrible. I do not seek forgiveness. I hope that those words spoken to you on that day do not sting you as they do me. The world is a very difficult place to grow up in, whoever you are. I hope for a better and understanding world for everyone.

It is time to stop hereditary dogma. We shouldn’t have to wait years for people to realise that outdated views are just that: Outdated. Let’s move forward together. Maybe one day, no-one has to “come out”, maybe, everyone will just be… here… together and we can fight the real battles that we need to fight, together.

It upsets me that, some of the music that we enjoyed together, Hip-Hop and some Rap-Rock had such homophobic lyrics nonchalantly peppered throughout the tracks. It must of been strange to an outsider to see a Gay man and a Homophobe enjoying some sick as fuck beats together. You’ve gotta see the irony here.

Fortunately, one of us has changed, the other?  Still as beautiful as ever.

“For whom the bell tolls, time marches on” – Metallica

I’m just a Changing Man.