Life of Riley: Coming out

March 15, 1995

Coming out

By Dave Riley

I admit to it. It was some time ago when I first realised that despite the pressure of my friends and family it was time for me to come to some resolution, if only at first for my own peace of mind. Once I had got that right in my head, all the rest seemed to follow. I knew straightaway what I wanted to be by recognising what I had become — perhaps slowly at first and then with greater clarity.

But that was the easy part because you can never be one just by yourself. Saying you are in itself won't change things at all. You have to do it. You have to act it out publicly; otherwise you let yourself down and the expectations you have of yourself. Simply changing your label isn't enough.

So it's more than coming out. You can't do it alone and certainly not in private.

And after all these years I am still a practising Leninist. Outwardly I look the same, but when I'm on a roll I'm at it hammer and sickle.

It's true that we tend to be shunned in polite society. I admit that. There are some that pretend we aren't there, that we somehow don't exist just so that their sleep won't be disturbed. Ours, unfortunately, is the politics that is not supposed to speak its name.

My parents initially thought it was just a phase I was going through. "Don't worry, Alice", my father would tell my mother, "he'll grow out of it. He'll meet a nice girl and settle down." But I never did grow out of it. Once I got used to it, it became addictive and seemed to fit me like a glove. I couldn't get enough of it. All my social frustrations and desires could be channelled into this ready-made outlet I grew to love.

Despite the phobia you may share about us, maybe sometimes you have wondered: what does Dave Riley do with the nice folk he marches with? I'm sure it has crossed your mind on occasion.

In reply, I can say that some of my best friends are Leninists, and I've always found them to be a great bunch of people. We have our moments of high passion each time a festival of the oppressed comes our way and we really get to come into our own. Other times it's simply a case of keeping your finger on the social pulse. We are, you see, as much social as socialist and will always respond if we think we can lend a hand. When passions are inflamed, we Leninists can be very empathetic.

To you this must seem like a very serious business. Partying the way we do it — so energetically and with such relentlessness — may seem no way to party at all. But that's the way we like it. When you come out like we do(and come on so strong too) you don't want grass to grow under your feet.

I am often asked if I was born this way. Much as you may think I am different, unusual or queer, I am basically just like anyone else. The world made me what I am today, and it is the world that stops me wanting to change. I'd rather change it than me. That's what I get off on, if you really want to know.

Despite your impressions, Leninism lasts longer than sex.

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