Being in your very first relationship is an exciting time. But when you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual, your first relationship can be difficult.
Same-sex couples face unique difficulties when entering their first relationship that heterosexual couples don’t. Some can suffer prejudice from friends and family, some choose to keep their relationships a secret. Others may have a strong support network but no gay, lesbian or bi peers they can turn to for specific advice.
Here men and women recall their first same-sex relationships:
Were you ‘out’ when you were in your first same-sex relationship?
‘It was in 1981, I was out, but only just. I think it was probably less than 6 months after I told my parents,’ Chris, Bury
‘I was 23 and not out when I had my first same-sex relationship. It was all very much a secret and was fun for the first month. But in the end, it became a strain on the relationship. Having to make excuses about where I was going for the weekend, who I was with etc. We could only meet at his place and even when we went out as a couple it would be to places I kind of knew my family and work colleagues wouldn’t go,’ Ty, Wimbledon
‘No, I wasn’t out. I had always been open to the idea of having a relationship with a woman but it had never happened before. I think this made the initial steps a little tentative but quite fun,’ Liz, Shotton
Reactions from friends and family
‘My sister was fine with it. I didn’t really talk to people about my relationship as I thought it was obvious – I lived with my partner and we were raising a child. I would challenge people who made homophobic comments and was quoted passages from the bible on a few occasions. But the straight friends I had did not seem too concerned about my living arrangements,’ V, London
‘There was some resistance from some family members and friends, although the majority was supportive. My parents worried about how people would view me and not give me the same chances,’ Amy, London
Seeking relationship advice
‘The only person I spoke to about my relationship was my best straight friend. Not that he was the best person to ask. To be honest, I just took things as they came. This was in 1996 before we had the internet, so information about homosexuality and same-sex relationships was incredibly limited,’ Serge, The Netherlands.
The difference between the first same-sex and opposite-sex relationships
‘I had a girlfriend for four years before my first gay relationship. While it was very nice I always felt that there was something missing, that it was pretending and not real. With my first same-sex relationship I felt more comfortable with myself when I was with him,’ Ty, Wimbledon
‘I had only been in straight relationships before meeting my partner. I think being with someone of the same sex means it can be easier to know what is going to be pleasurable,’ Liz, Shotton
‘It was different as people saw straight relationships as normal and a given. Both same-sex and straight relationships were new and awkward,’ Amy, London
For more on same-sex relationships read:
Dealing with disapproval as a same-sex couple
Same-sex couples: Becoming a parent
The first UK gay marriages take place