I was happily married to a man with two beautiful children. Then, I realised I’m gay
Getting to where she is today has been a long, sometimes difficult journey. When she was around 15 years old, she started to think that she might be bisexual. At the age of 19, she met the man she would go on to marry – and things moved fast. They quickly fell in love, got pregnant, had a baby, and “settled down into normality”.
Anna told her husband that she thought she was bisexual, but other than that, her queerness remained a secret. As time went by, issues started to crop up between them.
“He used to say it felt like I was always holding back, like I wasn’t really there,” Anna tells PinkNews. “A good few years ago I realised that I definitely preferred women, but I was very much of the thought of, ‘I’ve got a nice little life going on, I’ve got my kids, I’ve got somebody who really loves me and treats me really well. Don’t rock the boat.'”
Anna Martin was ‘forced’ out of the closet before she was ready
Anna kept her true feelings a secret, but everything changed when her husband announced that he was leaving her.
“We stayed really good friends. He was still living with me at the time because he was looking for somewhere else to live, and he asked if I was looking at dating again and if I’d been talking to any blokes. I said, ‘Oh God, no. Not interested at all.’ And he said, ‘What about women?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I would be interested in dating women,’ and he said, ‘So you’re not really bi, are you? You’re just gay.’ And I went, ‘Yeah, I think I am.'”
Sadly, her coming out journey didn’t go entirely smoothly. Anna’s now ex-husband decided to tell his mother about her sexuality, which meant she was “forced” out of the closet before she was truly ready.
“Obviously it was a big thing for him as well, finding out his wife was gay, but he didn’t want to give me that chance just to deal with it myself before coming out, and I wanted to make sure my parents were the first to know rather than somebody else, so I kind of had to come out there and then,” Anna says.
The whole thing “happened so fast”. The UK was still under lockdown, and she was living far away from her family. That meant she had to react quickly.
“It’s not like I could have gone over and sat them down and talked to them,” she says. “Being the chicken that I am, I texted my mum. I didn’t even phone her – I knew I wouldn’t be able to get the words out because I hadn’t even formulated them yet, I hadn’t thought about how I was going to do this. She was really, really shocked when me and [my husband] split up, and then I just texted her saying, ‘Another bombshell for you, but I’m actually not into men at all, I’m gay.’ And she just said, ‘Oh bloody hell Annie, you never do things by half!'”
Accepting herself was the hardest part of Anna’s journey
Her mum was fully accepting – but she still wishes she had the chance to come to terms with being gay at her own pace.
“I could have just done with a little bit more time because the thing that I found hardest was accepting myself. I had so much guilt, and I started thinking, ‘Will people think I’d been lying to them? Will my ex-husband think I’ve been lying to him? How’s it going to affect my children?’ I would have liked to have had longer to process it myself and to talk to some close friends, but I had to sort of come bursting out.”
Thankfully, people have mostly reacted well to the news. “I’ve not really received too much nastiness or anything. There’s been a bit of shock, and most of my friends were kind of like, yeah, we already knew.”
Anna’s friends were largely unsurprised by the news because she had always been so involved with the LGBT+ community.
“Even when I was at school, I was the one people would come out to, so I was always seen very much as an ally,” Anna explains. “I remember I’d share posts on social media about Pride and stuff like that, and I remember a few people saying to me, ‘Why do you care so much? If you’re not gay, why does it matter?’ And I always would say, ‘Well you’re not an animal but you support animal rights, so how is that different?’ Everyone knew where I stood – that if anyone made any homophobic remarks around me, I’d shoot them down.”
Anna might have been outwardly supportive of the LGBT+ community, but she still found it “really hard” to accept herself.
“I think a big part of it is heteronormativity – we’re seen as other, we’re not the ‘normal’ ones. I think because I’d had two kids and been married for so long, that guilt crept in. It took a long time for me to accept it. I think I could have dealt with it if people had said, ‘You’re a terrible person’ or ‘You’re disgusting’ or whatever – I could have dealt with that because I would have just bitten their heads off. But when it’s coming from myself, it’s different. I found that really, really hard.”
After her difficult journey, Anna became a life coach – and she hasn’t looked back
It’s now been 18 months since Anna came bursting out of the closet, and in that time, she’s overhauled her life. She decided to become a life coach so she could help others going through big life changes.
“I’ve been a life coach for just over a year, and it all started because after I came out, I decided to see a life coach myself,” she explains. “I had been through counselling and things like that in the past, but it didn’t really do much for me. What I needed was something more proactive, so I thought, I’ll give a life coach a go. She was absolutely incredible – she completely changed my life. Rather than focusing on on stuff that’s happened in the past, it’s more about what’s happening right now, where do I want to go, and how am I going to get there?”
With some encouragement from her own life coach, Anna decided to retrain. She realised that she could use her own life experiences of coming out and getting divorced to help others. Since launching her life coaching business, she’s been helping other queer people embrace who they really are.
“The reason why they choose me over other people is because I’m also LGBTQ,” Anna says. “I’ve found that it just really helps to have someone who understands what it’s like. There are plenty of other life coaches, counsellors and therapists that are brilliant across the board, but sometimes it’s that edge of knowing that they really get it.”
Anna hopes that she can help as many LGBT+ people as possible to feel more confident. She also points out that everyone has a different path to follow – not all LGBT+ people are ready to come out, but she hopes she can help other queer people to be more open with themselves.
“More than anything, I want people to feel secure in themselves and accept themselves – that’s the main thing.”
The last couple of years haven’t been easy for Anna – but she’s proud of herself for coming out the other end a stronger, more resilient person.
“It’s been a rollercoaster, and I know I’m not alone in that,” she says. “Everyone in the community has their story, whether it’s coming out as trans or non-binary or gay, lesbian, bi, or anything in between, and the reason why everyone’s got such a unique story is because it can be such a big deal. That’s why I want to help others.”