What a Crazy Year!

2010This year was crazy for me and it will take a lot to beat it.

The first major thing to happen was to give up smoking in February. I used nicotine patches as I knew there would be no chance of success if I went cold turkey. I got them with prescriptions from the doctor and used each strength for 1 month each. Thankfully I’m still a former smoker but there’s days where the temptation is still there and tobacco smoke is still the nicest smell ever.

Next came the biggest event of the year. In March I finally accepted that I’m gay and came out to family and friends. More about this later but not only was it the biggest and toughest thing I’ve done this year but of my life.

The General Election was called in April and was held on 6th May. I was selected by the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland to be their candidate for the Foyle constituency [1]. During the campaign I took part in a debate with the other 5 candidates on BBC Radio Foyle and an interview with the Derry Journal. I was, unfortunately, not able to attend a debate organised by the Rainbow Project. In a way I think it might have been fortunate because I don’t think I was ready to be so public about being gay. I know I could have attended the debate without saying that I’m gay but I wouldn’t have felt comfortable discussing gay issues.
During the election I helped with the Alliance Party Belfast South (Anna Lo) and Belfast East (Naomi Long) campaigns by canvassing and delivering leaflets and target letters.
I was at the Foyle count in Templemore Sports Complex, Derry when it was evacuated because of a pipe bomb in the car park. [2] The doors to the count hall were locked and sealed when we were evacuated. While we were outside news got through to us that Naomi Long successfully defeated Peter Robinson in Belfast East. This was brilliant news for Naomi, the Belfast East team, the Alliance Party… and me – I did have a £25 bet at 100-1 that she would win so I won £2,500! Word about my bet spread like wildfire and I got congratulations and hand shakes from other candidates (obviously not including the DUP candidate), journalists, other party activists and cameramen! You would nearly have thought I won the Foyle seat. :-)
There was a controlled explosion in the car park and we were eventually let back in. All of the candidates and Deputy Returning Officer had to inspect the locks and seals of the count hall before everyone else were let in and the count resumed. Martina Anderson (Sinn Fein) was on her way to the centre when we were evacuated so her agent was able to inspect the locks and seals in her place.
The results were eventually declared and obviously I didn’t win but my bet did get some media attention including mentions in Derry Journal, Derry News and Belfast Telegraph.[3]
The table below shows the results for the Foyle election (taken from Wikipedia[4]).

General Election 2010: Foyle
SDLPMark Durkan16,92244.7%-1.7
Sinn FeinMartina Anderson12,09831.9%-1.4
DUPMaurice Devenney4,48911.8%-2.2
People Before ProfitEamonn McCann2,9367.7%+7.7
Conservatives and UnionistsDavid Harding1,2213.2%+0.9
Alliance PartyKeith McGrellis2230.6%+0.6

I didn’t get to bed until about 5am as the car park at the count centre was still closed after we were let back in. My plan was to go back to Belfast on the afternoon of the 7th and get some sleep but a friend had a different idea… He talked me into going to the Limelight! Luckily I went as it was on that night I met my first boyfriend, Ryan. Ryan and I went out with each other for nearly three months. I had a good time and enjoyed it. We did things like going for a meal, to see a film and some drinks, things that any couple does. We didn’t break up due to anyone’s fault, it just didn’t work out. It wasn’t a bad break up either, I’ve seen him since then and wouldn’t have a problem seeing or talking to him again.

Airtricity started offering domestic electricity supply to Northern Ireland customers on 1st June. [5] They were offering savings of 14% on Northern Ireland Electricity bills so I phoned them shortly after their phone lines opened at 7am. I was told I needed my last NIE bill which I didn’t have so I was going to wait until the next day. I just happened to see my last bill while I was getting ready for work so I phoned them again. This time I was successful in getting my electric supply switched to Airtricity. Later that day I was sitting at my desk in work when my mobile phone rang. It was a woman from Airtricity letting me know that I was the first person to become a customer by phoning their call centre so I’ve won one year’s supply of electric up to the value of £600![6]

At the end of October I decided to start this blog but couldn’t figure out what the first post should be about. I decided that it should be about me accepting my homosexuality and coming out to family and friends. When I started writing it I always knew what the last line would say and that the title would be One Regret. I sat on the post for about a week changing different words that didn’t seem right. The third paragraph always looks like a delaying tactic to me and the post would still make sense without it but for some reason I wanted to keep it. I wanted the post to be as perfect as it could be but I was honestly amazed at the reactions and feedback I got. I was nervous about publishing it so was very close to clicking on the delete button and I’m glad I didn’t. The main reason for writing the post was to come out to more people and it worked as so far about 350 people have read it.
I still have the one regret.

All but one of the things I described above happened in the first half of the year but all in all I’m very happy with how it worked out. I don’t think 2011 will be as exciting and I’m not sure what will need to happen for a year to surpass 2010 but I’m looking forward to finding out sometime.

  1. [1] Alliance selects Keith McGrellis for Foyle
  2. [2] BBC News – Device outside Templemore count centre a ‘viable bomb’
  3. [3] Belfast Telegraph – Northern Ireland election in quotes
  4. [4] Wikipedia – Foyle Election Results
  5. [5] BBC News – Electricity users able to switch suppliers
  6. [6] Airtricity – Competition winners
This entry was posted in Personal and tagged alliance party, belfast telegraph, blog, derry journal, derry news, election, foyle, gay, smoking. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to What a Crazy Year!

  1. Tim Trent says:

    The thing about being gay is that it is not always easy to admit to ourselves. Even when we realise that we are, the saying of the words is a large step, even when addressing only ourselves and simply looking in the mirror. Being openly gay and being a politician was, some short years ago, political suicide. Even today it is not 100% neutral, but it is getting there. Sexuality is, as your post here shows, simply a part of you. Its an important part, but it is not who you are, nor even what you are. All t expresses is your need to companionship, love, affection and the sexual happiness that goes with those things, assuming you find sex desirable. Not everyone does.

    As long as you are a decent person, one who empathises with others, one who harms no-one, one whose beliefs are discussed, and who is not dogmatic, your sexuality is as small a part of your life as it was a large part of this blog article.

    It is the very ordinariness of the overwhelming majority of gay folk that wins us equality. Paradoxically the high pressure and in-your-face tactics of the Gay Liberation Front in the 1960s and 1970s won us the right to be normal and ordinary.

    So be gay. Be proud. And be gloriously ordinary too.

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