From an early age I knew I was gay, but it wasn’t until I was 14 that the enormity of this struck me. And I was horrified.
I wanted to feel ‘normal’; to grow up and have the same family life as my parents, the same prospects and hopes as my friends. Every evening after school, I’d lock myself in the bathroom and cry.
After doing this for six months, I realised that crying hadn’t changed anything. So I decided that I had two options: I could either kill myself or accept I was gay and get on with my life.
I chose the latter.
We must work to create an environment in the home and at schools and colleges where gay teenagers feel understood and accepted, and work to build a society where homophobia is as taboo as racism is now (stock image)
A few years later, someone at my school, a Catholic convent, did kill himself because he was gay and couldn’t cope. I understood how he must have felt.
Homosexuality was never discussed by the nuns and teachers — it was as though gay men and women didn’t exist. In fact, the page discussing same-sex attraction in a biology textbook in the school library had been removed, as though simply reading about it might corrupt us.
For those who have never struggled with their sexuality, it is hard to understand how lonely this feels.
Later, when I started working in A&E, and despite far greater tolerance than when I was a teenager, I was shocked at the number of youngsters I saw who had either tried to kill themselves or self-harmed because they were unable to come to terms with their sexuality.
The tragedy of it all, the misery they and their families endured, is something I will never forget.
Given my personal history, you will understand why I was delighted to read comments made by Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted, this week.
She said that all children should learn about LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans) issues at school, and about gay family life; that some people can have two mothers or two fathers.
It follows protests by Muslim and Christian parents at a school in Birmingham who have objected to their children