I was born Steven John Harrington on June 4th 1963 in Harold Hill, Essex to Bill & Margaret Harrington
Before me was my sister Lynn who was born in 1961 and I never had any other brothers or sisters.
5 Lavender Path was a ‘Prefab’. Essentially these were used as emergency housing after the war for London bomb victims … which we weren’t. They were clearly still be used some 20 years later. I have only managed to find one picture of the area and my thanks to the site I ‘borrowed’ it from
… and here I am at around 2 years old with my sister
We left Harold Hill into a ‘proper’ house in either late 1965 or early 1966. Mum & Dad got a council house in Romsey Gardens, Dagenham. It had two bedrooms, a kitchen and a lounge and an upstairs bathroom/toilet. A few years later the larger room would be divided to allow my sister some privacy, not me, my room was effectively the hall into her room. This was a sign of things to come.
Those closest to me at the time would have been my parents but also grandparents as well. It was predominantly those on my mum’s side we saw the most though my granddad died in 1966 but I still remember him well.
This is the last picture I have of him as he died a few days later
This is me with my sister and cousins Elaine & Daryl in Parsloes Park, Dagenham. Mum and Dad used to both work and each morning, very early, we’d be got out of bed and taken (on foot) round to Nan & Granddads place in Gale St. Nan would put us back to bed for a while then, around 7am she’d get us up to go to the park and feed the ducks and we’d marvel at the sunbeams on this paddling pool. She’d quite often get her friend who managed the swings to open up specially for us as well. Everything in my world seemed right.
I was schooled in Dagenham and in the infants there, when I was just 5 years old, that is where I first had a notion I was attracted physically to boys. Yes, I know it seems terribly young but I remember what I remember. A young lad, I won’t mention his name, started to touch me and it felt good. Maybe that was the ‘problem’? Maybe if he’d not have touched me I’d not be gay today? Well, who knows? I certainly don’t and I couldn’t care any less.
By the time I was in junior school I had realised what bullying was. I had started to be bullied at home by my sister and at school as well. One of the issues may have been my health. As a child I was often off school and in and out of hospital. There always seemed to be something wrong with my ears. Many the time I remember severe pain from ear infections and a few weeks in hospital after having had something rectified. I am sure he did visit more often but, in truth, I can only recall my dad visiting me the once. I can also remember the sort of regime they had then. None of this parents staying overnight thing. There were strict visiting hours of maybe a couple of hours a day and they were very strict on who could visit. Grandparents and siblings were not allowed so it was just my mum. Understandably, I got very close to her over the years.
I can recall a holiday every year and, along with many childhood memories, the sun was always shining. I am sure that wasn’t the case but the memory has a funny way or rewriting itself.
I suspect this was the ill fated Isle of Wight holiday that my granddad died on in 1966 … actually, I am not entirely sure when it was but it was around that time
I really hated swimming and remember one holiday, in Clacton, where I had been left on my own in a rubber ring and someone knocked me over. It felt like a life time before someone came and saved me.
Occasionally we got a chalet but mostly it was a Caravan borrowed or rented from Mrs Knight. None of this central heating and running water … the toilet was a bucket or go elsewhere and the water had to be collected from a stand-pipe every morning!
We had one holiday with my dads mum to the Isle of Wight. She started to suffer from dementia after that or, possibly even during that holiday, I would have been protected from such things.
Sadly, I don’t have any pleasant memory of Nanny Pearce as we called her. I know she smoked way too much and I hated that but then, it seemed just about everyone smoked then. I also remember visiting her in Warley Hospital after her dementia got too bad for anyone to cope with. A horrible place, like a mental asylum which, effectively, it was back then I suppose.
I seem to remember my mums mum would come along with us whenever we had a holiday after granddad died. I think we were the only ones who lived just around the corner to her.
This from 1972 with my dads first family car, a Morris Minor, one of those with the split screens and the pop out indicators, though, I never remember them actually working.
Nan would often say ‘aint it lovely’ every time we drove down one of those roads where the trees covered the road from both sides and would regularly ask “What’s the time Marg?” and after finding out would always reply, “is it really!”
In the 70’s we had the ‘Parker’ coat. I loved it at first but soon came to hate that it even existed. The hood was fur lined and it was just another target for the bullies. Here I am being followed by dad and Nan in Romsey Gardens
Don’t blame me for the 70’s fashions, I was a victim like anyone else … I am just quite grateful that very few pictures of me during the 1970’s still exist presuming they ever did.
The 1970’s drew to a close and in 1979 I left Mayesbrook Comprehensive with remarkably few qualifications, none of which are worth anything now. Yes, I can read, write and do maths quite well. I have a knowledge of history and geography. I have virtually no interest or memory of science and a deep loathing for sport. I was extremely shy. I thought myself lesser than anyone else around me, I was barely 5′ tall. My confidence level was somewhere near zero. Even so I managed to go straight into work in July 1979 with Lloyds Bank. It was always expected I should go into banking as it seemed, my entire male family had done just that. But, banking or, at least ‘clerical’ was what I had been raised to do and that was where I stayed for many years.
I left Lloyds quite quickly and followed with 3 years working for a shipping company, part of Lloyds of London (not the bank). From here we moved into 1983 and a new beginning for me.
We had moved two years earlier from Dagenham to Basildon but life carried on much as it had always been. Then, in 1983, I met Neil.
We had become friends very quickly and spent all our time together. He was 6′ tall and drop dead gorgeous. One day when my parents were on holiday he accidentally trod on the back of my shoe at home. He knocked my shoe off and I chased him round the house determined to accidentally knock off one of his shoes as well. Needless to say we never stopped at shoes! That was probably one of the best two weeks I have ever had. Every chance we got, and there were many, we explored each others bodies. It was pure heaven. Our relationship lasted about two years but we drifted apart and one day he just disappeared, no forwarding address. I was devastated as he was my first love. It would take many years after that to find him again.
The two pictures above give some idea of what the 1983 ‘me’ was like. I was painfully thin and barely ate anything. This would have been when Neil and I went to Majorca together, along with his foster family.
After Neil left I started dating a girls. I never enjoyed their company and did not find them sexually attractive. They did manage to keep the relatives off my back about getting a girlfriend. There were two girls and both relationships fizzled out after a while. I felt certain that I would never settle down with a woman.
I tried many times to tell my family I was gay but it never happened as there was always one crisis or another going on. Ironically, I did decide after my Majorca holiday with Neil that it was the right time but, once again, a crisis happened at home so it never happened. At this point I really needed a friend. This is when I met Kris. Initially I wanted to be friends because she got off the train one stop before me and she could wake me up so I did not miss my stop! What happened was that we spoke endlessly about everything and nothing. I never fancied her sexually but I knew that I loved her intensely after just a week! Kris had gone through several really bad relationships and found it easy to talk to me, she said she never felt I was a threat and to be honest she was quite right! I remember one occasion when we were walking in Covent Garden she told me for no apparent reason that she found the idea of homosexuality very attractive. At this point I decided to take the plunge and ask her to marry me! It was actually a couple of hours later that I finally proposed and she said yes.
A very young looking me in 1985 having not long got back from Gran Canaria. Kris said she was attracted to my deep tan.
I should point out that had I not wanted children so desperately I would have most likely never have gone down this road. I didn’t use her at all in my opinion though some may disagree, Kris certainly does not think so.
We decided to get married either in September 1987 or earlier if she fell pregnant. We felt that if we were going to have kids (we decided on 3) then we would rather get it all over with fairly quickly.
My parents split in December of 1985. Mum had severe rheumatoid arthritis and couldn’t do a lot for herself. She often used to go into hospital for a break and to charge her batteries as she said. On one of these occasions I noticed that my dads visits to the hospital were taking longer than usual and, for no apparent reason I checked the mileage on the car to discover it was way over the distance needed for a visit. It became apparent he was having an affair. I suspect it was with my Auntie Kath (married to my dads brother) but couldn’t be certain.
I felt like total shit because I knew it and mum didn’t. I told my dad that if mum asked me outright I would not deny it which she did.
She was heartbroken of course. This led to their split on Christmas Eve of 1985. I then became mum’s official carer whilst also working in London.
Dad & Kath didn’t help by what seemed like constantly visiting to help out in the garden and stuff. I know nothing about gardening and with my working and trying to care for mum, it didn’t seem important.
At some point my Nan decided she was going to come down to take over. She made things considerable worse. Her attitude was that if mum didn’t want to eat or do anything that was OK! It wasn’t OK and her health went down quickly.
I should point out here that, my relationship with my dad was never a close one. I felt he bullied me and showed an unhealthy favouritism to my sister. When they split I told my mum I wasn’t interested in seeing him but she insisted that I should. This later turned out to be a huge mistake.
Because I was still in contact with my dad my Nan had done her matriarch thing and informed the family that I was an outsider. When she was living with us she made a point of doing as little as possible for me and cooking horrible food just for me but good stuff for her and mum (though mum wasn’t eating of course). Mum could see how badly I was being treated and eventually insisted on Nan leaving. I was asked to take her on the 17 mile drive home. On that journey she was persistently insulting to me, kept making it clear that I was an outsider, an ‘in-law’. There was also something she said about my being jealous of my uncle’s international stardom and success, I’d never given it any thought. My crime there was that I simply wasn’t interested in what he did, it didn’t relate to me. Anyway, whilst I was driving she slapped me over and over to emphasise her points, when I didn’t bite she slapped me more and harder. Driving was getting difficult and I tried to reach over to grab her arm to stop her, I missed and hit her in the mouth instead. Hardly a shock as I was not looking at the time. She made it clear my name would be mud for attacking an old woman and, before I got home she’d been on the phone to anyone she could think of to tell them the very edited details of the journey. This was the first experience I had of someone treating me like shit then blaming me for it.
Now I had all of mums side of the family against me which made mum really miserable as she knew the reality. Because I couldn’t accept Kath I seemed to be getting dads side against me too.
In the summer of 1986 mum went into hospital again for one of her breaks, this time wasn’t the same though. She died within two days. I had no idea she was that ill and it was the worst time for me ever.
Three weeks later I got married at was a disaster of a day with the family battles going on around me.
I went through a period of being totally unsupported by anyone except Kris’s parents who were everso good to me.
Kris fell pregnant earlier then we expected and in July 1986 we walked down the aisle with Kris 3 months pregnant with our first child.
I had a total breakdown in 1991 which lasted a couple of years during which time we had a fourth child, Daisy, who was not really planned. I am so pleased that she happened but, it was a bad time in my life and it was difficult for me
Married life moved on, I had a few different jobs during our time together, the longest of those being a local milkman. We barely made any friends and our extended family was our social life. Of course, Kris and I were still keeping our secret.
In June 1995 we made friends with a young guy from Dagenham, his name doesn’t matter. He was tall and handsome and I fancied him something rotten. It was obvious he was gay and one night we all got very, very drunk and to cut a long story short I ended up in bed with him. The following morning I realised the futility of carrying on pretending we were a normal heterosexual couple and had a long hard talk with Kris.
Soon after we moved to Northampton and started living a different life with each of us, myself and Kris, having separate bedrooms.
The children were told when it was age appropriate for them. Sadly they did experience a fair bit of bullying because of it.
By 1998 I was out to everyone in our lives.
Kris & I (Kris is short for Kristen) are really good mates. We have had some pretty serious problems but come through them. I have been grateful to all my friends both in person and via the internet for the help and support they have shown both of us.
If you had not already gathered I believe very strongly in being honest and not pretending to be what I am not.
I started a relationship with a lovely guy called Nick between September 1998 and April 1999. It was a real shame that didn’t work out, we moved too soon. There were too many pressures on us with me still being married.
From February 2000 until June I had a relationship with Simon … I really thought it would work but that too was destined for failure.
Kris played quite a large part in my break up with Simon as she did with my relationship with Nick before. Simon was probably the one partner I have had the most in common with.
In June of 2000 me and Nick got back together.
The relationship lasted for almost 5 years but we split in June 2005 though, effectively in November 2004. Family pressures and a total lack of support with my eldest and his special needs is what really finished us off.
In 2005 my best friend Tony died
I Began a relationship with Deej (John) in July 2006
We had our Civil Partnership in 2009
Also during 2009 I became a double grandparent when both Daisy and Matt provided me with Grandchildren. Check out my ‘Family’ page for more details.
From 2008 onwards Javis was on the scene. Try as I may to help him, I failed whether through my own inabilities or his stubbornness I am not sure but it left me devastated.
I was also sacked from a job I loved in 2012 for a stupid reason based around what people ‘might’ think rather than any facts and this too rocked my life.
Issues in my Civil Partnership became apparent soon after we had it. Here is not the place for the details beyond saying, issues were beyond my control. I tried to keep it together but, the trust was gone.
I fell in love with someone else in late 2011, kept it to myself until the summer of 2012 only to be rejected. What this did was to show me I owed better to myself than I was getting.
July 2012, me and Deej separated
We were divorced on Sept 11 2013
In late 2013 I met online a man called Joseph, he is from the Philippines. We would talk every day on Skype, Viber and eventually on Facebook. We got along really well so much so that we decided if we got along as well in person we’d strongly consider marriage. In light of that I visited in early 2014 and stayed for a month. I thought it went well, we seemed to get along well. Upon my return we started off the immigration process. That is when the issues arose. He started asking for more and more money to be sent. The immigration process itself was costing me £1000’s, money I didn’t really have. Our logic was that he’d come here maybe August 2014, we’d get married in November 2014, he could then work, we both could which would clear the ever mounting debt.
He knew there was a chance the Foreign Office might reject the application first time around, which they did but then he decided he didn’t want to pursue it any longer. I discovered much later he was already on a gay dating site looking for someone else during the immigration process. I’d been taken for a complete fool.
During the same period, Javis caused even more damage to me, it was all very unpleasant. Depression set in and I’ve lost some friends over it.
In June of 2015 I met Dennis online. He, like Jo, is from the Philippines but I totally trust and love him, I know he is the one for me. We’re taking it really slowly and totally differently to how it was before. Sure, long term we’ve still got issues with immigration but, I feel this time it’s far more honest, open and genuine so we won’t have any serious issues.
We talk every day for an hour or three on Skype, do the occasional call on Skype, send email so, we probably actually talk more than many dating couples! Hopefully he will get here next spring for a visit
Life may never be easy but it is worth it