“I didn’t know anyone else who was like me”
“I didn’t know anyone else who was gay.” It was Christopher Anstee’s experience growing up in the valleys.
The 46 year old is Rhondda born and bred. Growing up, Chris knew he wasn’t like his brothers, who were crazy about sports. Instead, he did theater and dance, which led to a wave of bullying.
He said: “It was small towns, pretty determined – I didn’t know anyone else who was gay. I felt out of place. And as much as I hate the word, the truth is that when you’re a teenager and you start to realize that you’re a little different, in this environment of rugby, football and a very masculine environment, you instantly start to feel a little weird. is incredibly difficult.
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“What was even more difficult for me in this environment is that I did a terrible job of hiding it. Part of it is because it’s who I am, it’s my personality, and I I was very lucky with my parents. I grew up with two older brothers who played rugby in football, they had a lot of male friends. I wanted to go to dance and acting lessons, so I did a terrible job of hiding it, and the onslaught of it was a horrible bully for many years. That’s what it was like in the early 80s, in some ways.”
Chris slowly learned to accept his sexuality by doing his own research. He continued: “I was lucky enough to always be very curious and deeply interested in gay history in terms of what happened in London and the 80s and the AIDS pandemic. in New York and San Francisco. I started researching activism, I guess. People that you know, famous people like Harvey Milk and Marsha P Johnson and things like that in terms of people who have stood out against intolerance.
“I started to develop a clear understanding, that it was wrong for people to think it was wrong. So I guess I developed that understanding in my very late teens. And from that moment, I think that’s when the bullying went away towards the end of my studies I got to a point where the bullies lost their power, because when they called me queer or queen or gay, I started to say ‘Yeah, what’s the point?’ and all of a sudden the rug is pulled under them because they’re not hurting you anymore because they’re just telling you what you know about yourself and you’ve started to accept. So I guess I I accepted my situation in the last half of my teenage years and accepted the fact that it was wrong, then I changed, I adjusted, I started to gain confidence in myself.”
Upon graduation, Chris felt ready to come out. “I actually came out to my friends before my parents, just a few really close friends when we were about 18,” he said. “It was actually a vacation between 18 and 30, God forbid. I had spent the week working up the courage to go out, and I told them, after quite a few pitchers of sangria. When we got together woke up in the morning, they had completely forgotten, I had to start all over again the following night.
“What’s weird is that even though I was willing to do it, I was willing to say the words ‘I’m gay’, I ended up coming out as bisexual initially because I thought that would be easier for them to digest. So I pulled a leg, an arm, and a leg out of the closet and the rest of me followed about six months later.”
Chris has spent the past five years writing his book “Polish the Crown” which came out in early May. It’s the first book Chris has written and he says he’s surprised it’s doing so well. He said: “It’s number six on the LGBTQ chart in the UK and in the top 30 biographies. So yesterday I had to look twice just to be sure that yesterday my book was ahead of the book by Graham Norton and one by Stephen Fry. I almost wanted to phone to find out if it was a mistake. It’s died down a bit today but I’m still just as happy with its reception.
“During the writing process, I discovered the incredible benefits of documenting your story and found it incredibly rewarding. It was empowering to do so as it certainly made you face, in my case, some of demons from the past and it made me think that it’s easy growing up to forget things that were wrong when you were young and in fact it made me confront them and realize that some of the things that I’ve been through were really not good and I shouldn’t have But it was a really good opportunity to reflect Fortunately things have come a long way in the past few years, but there’s still a long way to go. Browse.