Fitness trainer, rugby player and construction boss Steve Brockman shares his inspirational coming out story
Every gay guy’s life experience is different. Some of us come skipping into life happy and open about who we fall in love with. Others are rather more cautious, basing our choice to be honest on what ever is going on in the world around us.
Here, we chat to the very dashing Steve Brockman who opens up about how hard he found it to come to terms with his sexuality as he worked his way up in the construction industry and how he eventually found the courage to come out…
So Steve, when did you realise you might be gay?
I guess I kind of started to realise around the end of secondary school, when I was about 15/16and started noticing guys around. I kept the feelings to my self for a while because I wasn’t really ready to accept it myself. I have always had a great family and friend circle and I kind of knew they would have been fine about me, but the hardest person to convince was myself. It wasn’t until I was about 22 that I had my first gay experience. I was studying Quantity surveying at Leeds metropolitan University.
Who was the first person you opened up to?
The first person I told was one of my closest friends. I remember being so nervous that when I told him that I was sick. It was a big shock to him, he went quiet for a week or so after which really upset me. But then everything went back to normal shortly after and I’m glad to say we are still great mates now. I told my family shortly after as I met someone and then told more friends and extended family over the next few months , it got easier and easier each person and I started to feelmore and more confident of who I was.
Was there ever a time when you thought to yourself ‘I don’t want to be gay’
Yes and I put up this barrier. I played the ‘lads lad’ role. I had fun at school I was pretty popular. I was a bit of a naughty kid but I got on well with the teachers. I had girlfriends but in hindsight putting up that barrier held me back from finding out who I really was. I’d always had thoughts in the back of my head but just used to pretend they were not there. I think I subconsciously surrounded myself in a very macho, ‘mans’ man’ situations so that I would not let them come to reality.
Did you experience any dark times during this early period..?
Yes, I have definitely had some down times. Shortly after I started talking to people online and experimenting, I had someone trying to ‘out’ me before I was ready. I was so worried about how my family, friends, and rugby club would react that and there was a time when I contemplated taking my own life.
Why did you feel like this?
I was down because I felt embarrassed that I was not the version of normal I had in my own head. I was at an age where my friends were all in couples or enjoying their single life and I knew that I wanted that option too. I was living someone else’s life and I was starting to ignore my feelings and lie to myself. I felt isolated and alone. I decided that I didn’t want to take the worst route and convinced myself to tell my family and friends what was going on. In someways the pressure of the person who was trying to out me forced me to act quick. I felt if this is going to happen it will happen on my terms so I made the decision to tell my closest friends and immediate family. Looking back, I would say to anyone who is in a similar situation or has ever been there. Dig deep, be strong and be aware that it all gets better, so much better.
You work in construction – that must be a tough environment to be gay in.
I grew up around construction and started working from about 14 so I have always felt comfortable there. It was not until I was 22 and I had come out to my family and friends that I had felt like a weight had been lifted from me. With my new found head space and energy I decided to started my first company . A London based scaffolding company.
Is the industry an easy one to be gay in?
The construction industry at the time I was yet to come out was a bit behind. I mean, there’s always room for improvement even now when being gay is so accepted. However, I kept my sexuality to myself with clients and staff as it was a professional environment. But if someone asked me about it, I would answer. I mean you don’t go round explaining you’re heterosexual, so why should I explain I’m gay? Over the years I had a few incidents with staff calling me names when they were dismissed, but it was water off a duck’s back.
Was it hard telling your workmates?
I did not give them the option to react really. It was a formal scenario and I was the director. I was good at what I did and that was all that mattered in this environment.
Amen! As a young guy with an entrepreneurial head on your shoulders, has your journey been easy?
I have always been driven and a strong believer that if you want something you can get there. I was in construction from 14 to 22 and then started my own company at 22 . It was hard work for the first two years , really hard and it put a lot of strain on my relationship at the time, but it grew year on year and by year three we were working with power stations, theatres, new builds, renovation projects, school and had a solid and respectable name within in the industry.
Wow, that’s impressive? That must take a lot of courage.
I think the main factor that helped me make it happen was my new feeling of being invincible from coming out. I had nothing weighing me down any more, I felt like I was completely supported and able to be myself. My new weightlessness let me put all my drive in one direction. I set up the company with the money I had from selling my car and a small amount of savings 3k. Everything I earned I put back into the company. I had 3k and my wit and grit. That with my new mentality was all I needed with a lot of hard work.
And now you’re moving forward and expanding your empire.
I have recently moved back to London and have starting up a construction design and build company ( Brockman&Sons Design and build), we have some quirky renovation and design projects coming up so its got me really excited.
When did you get your first boyfriend?
I met my first boyfriend very early into my experimenting/ coming out phase. I was around 22 or 23 and we had started talking before I had told any one about me. He was one of the first few guys I had ever met. We met in London, hit it off and we dated for five years. The early stages I kept it a secret which was very hard for me. You see, I’m really close with my sister and I hated the fact I was lying to them. she knew I was seeing someone, but had said it was a ‘she’. I’d even changed his name to the girl’s version of the name! This went on for a few weeks before I told my family. The guy was incredibly supportive through the whole process and we dated for a long five years.
Were you a good boyfriend?
I like to think I was. My first relationship lasted over five years so it must have had some positives. We had a lot of good times. I learnt a lot about life and myself during it and grew up a lot. I don’t regret any of it. I strongly believe that you get out of it what you put into it.
Was finding Mr Right always the goal? Have you met a lot of asses along the way?
I definitely enjoy being part of a team, having someone who brings out the best in you. Like everyone I’ve met one or two assholes along the way for sure, but you need to meet them to learn how to filter them out – the more guys you meet the quicker and better you get at learning how to avoid the ones who aren’t good for you.
When you were a young lad growing up – gay men couldnt get married – do you feel privileged that we – unlike people in countries like Russia – can get married and be openly gay.
Yes, I think its a another huge step. When I read and hear about how things have changed over the years I feel very privileged, I have so much respect for the generations before that have done so much for LGBT rights. I personally like the idea of marriage as a physical symbol of committing to that person.
We can see on your Instagram feed that you have the cutest dog which you clearly love – is he teaching you to be a great dad one day?
Haha… yes Archie. He is a basset hound and three years old. He is incredible , the perfect mix of chill and fun. I don’t know where he gets it from. Kids wise I’m open to it if everything makes sense. Meanwhile I have three incredible nieces and a new nephew who I am super close to.
Aww, sweet. Now enough mushiness, you play for the inclusive rugby team the Kings Cross Steelers – how did you get involved with them?
The Steelers has been incredible for me. I was introduced to the Steelers when a old rugby pal called me up and asked me to make up numbers for a side. I hadn’t played for years as was so involved with work. It was a random friendly game. I turned up not knowing who we would be playing. When arrived and was told it was the Steelers. If I’m honest I expected an easy game. I was wrong it wasn’t. They won. I congratulated my oppersite number after the game and said how impressed I was. I was offered a drink and ended up staying for a few. I joined the week later, and it’s been one of the best things i’ve ever done and an incredible journey since.
What’s it like on a gay rugby team – is it all flirting?
It’s always been about the rugby and it’s actually a breath of fresh air that it’s not a dating thing as it lets you genuinely become mates friends with people you share interests with, without have the first awkward hook up date.
You competed at the recent Bingham cup, that must have been fun.
It was incredible. There were 70 male teams and four women LGBT teams in one place. It was actually very moving to see how the sport of rugby is progressing knowing the depth of support for LGBT sports.
You’ve recently launched yourself as a fitness trainer – have you always been confident about your body?
No, I have had shoulder surgery, back surgery , and generally lose a lot of weight when I get stressed. But I love having that release – for me its rugby and have always felt exercise clears my head space.
You’re a good looking guy – do you think sometimes people are attracted to you just because youre good looking?
Haha thank you. Ummm, I hope there’s more to me then just my grin on my face.
When you were younger did you have any body worries?
I don’t think I was ever worried massively about my image no. I have always been pretty confident. I stick to what I know and avoid what I don’t I guess.
There’s an emphasis on gay men having great physiques – do you think we’re too obsessed with muscles?
Yes and no? I mean I think it’s very important to look after your self and ensure you’re healthy. And then as far as looks go, be who you want to be. If you want loads of muscle go for it if you want to be a size eight go for it as long as it doesn’t effect a healthy lifestyle. Well, that’s my opinion anyway…
If we want to lose weight and tone up – what should we do to exercise and what should we eat and not eat?
OK, so food wise, the common thing most people do is eat their biggest meal in the evening – and then you sit down on the sofa or go sleep so your body just stores this. You want to have you biggest carb meal for breakfast and then let them get smaller throughout the day, this will increase you RMR (resting metabolic rate), helping you to burn more calories by doing less. I would suggest general exercise for toning, try larger movements or compound movements as opposed to isolated movements, or anything that gets you on one leg or one arm – this forces you to use/engage your core without thinking about it.
What is your brief – a healthy body and a healthy mind? What do you advise your clients to do?
Brief: Eat clean. Train dirty.
What would you tell your 16 year old self?
You’r going to get a lot of good advice along the way, but you wont listen. You will have to do it your way anyway because that’s what will make you who you are. But what’s important is be honest to yourself and your loved ones around you. Be fearless. Live happy with a positive attitude. Have no regrets. As Billy Joel sings in Vienna, “When the truth is told, you can get what you want or you can just get old.”