2007 was a big year for change: Apple introduced the iPhone, Kevin Rudd became Prime Minister of Australia, and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was elected Argentina’s first woman president. It was also the year that I told my wife and kids that I was gay.
It came at a tough time. My beloved dad had just died from a long battle with stomach cancer, then my wife suddenly suffered a miscarriage. I’d wanted that bundle of joy more than anything in the world. Being a dad again excited me and was welcome news after such a traumatic period.
A strange thing happened after the loss of the baby. It unleashed a voice in me that got louder and louder each day, and consumed my every thought.
While away on a work trip, I was able to centre my thoughts and really listen to that voice. Eventually it whispered, 'if I’m not meant to be a dad again, perhaps I’m not meant to be a husband anymore, either?'. At that point I made the decision to return home without fear and embrace the unknown - as a gay man.
I’d slowly come to the realisation that being gay was something I’d repressed for many years. Now the time had finally come to stop living a lie. But when I got home I started to question myself; I avoided my wife and kids and after a week of complete mental exhaustion, I decided to go out and let off some steam.
To this day, telling the boys I was gay was the hardest thing I have ever done. I thought burying my dad was gut-wrenching, but I never expected the emotional turmoil I faced coming out to my sons.
By the time I got back, I’d consumed enough booze to give me the confidence to tell my wife. I felt scared and nervous, but also secretly relieved. It was thoroughly confronting and challenging. It was also one of the saddest moments of my life.
Understandably, she was utterly devastated. I ended a 14-year relationship and nine-year marriage - an outcome neither of us was ready for.
I then had to face my two boys - aged eight and six at the time. To this day, telling the boys I was gay was the hardest thing I have ever done. I thought burying my dad was gut-wrenching, but I never expected the emotional turmoil I faced coming out to my sons.
As I sat in front of them on the lounge I was sweating with nerves. So many questions ran through my head: Would anything change once I told them I was gay? Would they understand? What if they reject me? How could they ever look at me again with loving eyes?
As they sat there with their innocent faces staring at me with intense intrigue, emotions began to swirl. Tears began to roll down my cheeks. They knew something was wrong.
I am very close to my children. They are my lifeline. I was comforted knowing we’d raised them to have their own opinions and to accept everyone. I took a deep breath.
“I know you already know Mummy and Daddy are separating and won’t be living together,” I began tentatively.
“It’s going to be hard, but I want you to know why. It’s not because Mummy and Daddy don’t love you or each other. It’s because Daddy is gay.”
There was silence. Confusion filled the room. I wanted to disappear and not look at them. I was beside myself. Tears poured down my face. What was I doing to these innocent lives? They didn’t deserve this.
I strongly felt I had to tell them myself before they heard whispers throughout the family. Was it the right time? To this day, I don’t know.
My tears brought great sadness to the boys because they felt my pain. We all cried. The sobbing was eventually broken by my eldest son. “That’s okay Dad, as long as you are not ‘gay gay’ like Uncle Ricardo.” All three of us suddenly burst into laughter. My oldest has always known how to say the right things.
My wife wasn‘t happy I’d come out to the boys so soon. She wanted the separation dealt with before the boys learnt the truth. However, I strongly felt I had to tell them myself before they heard whispers throughout the family. Was it the right time? To this day, I don’t know.
I know me coming out was extremely hard for my boys. While they took it in their stride, I don’t think they really understood at the time how the news would impact our lives. At that moment I had no idea what the future held. I just knew I had to finally be true to myself.