Happy National Coming Out Day because being content and comfortable with yourself is something that everyone deserves.
For the record, I ‘came out’ at a fresh-faced 14, having only just lost my virginity to a girl in my year called Margaret Devaney.
There were more important things on my mind though, because six months later I found myself frequenting The Joint, a Blitz-style gay/weird/alternative club with the likes of ace lezza Juliarna Williamson and almost immediately became involved with a tall lad of 19 called Andy Murray (no, not that one).
He clearly made a bit more of an impression on me, as the following morning, as Sarah Kershaw, Lesley Ainscough and I were heading to our Saturday sojourn at the local shopping centre in Central Milton Keynes, I blurted out “I think I’m going to turn bisexual!”
And they thought I was joking, I kid you not.
Mind you, this was the era of Thatcherism and the soon to be detested Clause 28, where the biggest pop stars of the day either skirted around being loud and proud (hello the two Georges and Michael Jackson) or deliberately tried to straighten themselves out to sell more records (howdy Dame David of Bowie) so my being the first pupil in the history of my school to come out was quite, quite a thing back then.
It’s no overstatement to say I was the most infamous person in the entire school. And I suppose a certain Tanya Ferrary going around plastering photocopies of her polaroid of Andy and me cavorting on the floor of said nightclub probably didn’t help either.
Rough with the smooth, rough with the rough.
There were battles against adversity and ignorance and most importantly fear, on a daily basis.
I couldn’t wait to leave, quite honestly, even if the pic above on my final day masks my unfettered glee.
Still, living well is the best revenge I hear.
And while my teens were undoubtedly the most turbulent period of my life (hardly unique in that department, sexual exploration or not), I’ve shed many layers but also wrapped myself in new ones since.
I’ve painstakingly rebuilt my house and head since then but we all have moments of madness.
This Steve Pafford guy has screwed up many times, as a son, brother, lover and as a friend, as an author and human he believes in the right of expression and doesn’t always say or do the “right things”, whatever they are.
He has an opinionated rarely closed mouth, and he has secrets.
He has physical and emotional scars too… because he has a history.
Rewinding back to the good-old-bad-old Eighties for instance, and three years after school and college ended I found myself dating fellow Sir Frank Markham pupil Richard Collins for a while, who told me in no uncertain terms, “You’re so far out of the closet that it’s padlocked the door behind you and you’re never ever gonna get back in!”
Closets are for clothes. You keep the mothballs, they’re toxic. ‘Cos I ain’t ever going back in, baby!
Funnily enough, a while back I ran into a fella a year above me at school called John Kincaid – we even shared Margaret Devaney, the school slut, but not at the same time I hasten to add. When he was informed I was making a sojourn back to Bucks he told OMF:
“Steve Pafford? Wow, he was quite a character at school. A bit of a legend we’d say now. We hadn’t really seen anyone like him before, he was way ahead of his time. Nowadays we wouldn’t think anything of it, but in the Eighties he must have had some balls to look like and do what he did. Fair play to the geezer.”