‘As we’ve grown, we’ve be­come very dif­fer­ent’

Irish Daily Mail - YOU - - REAL LIVES - n If you are an iden­ti­cal twin and would be in­ter­ested in par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Univer­sity of Es­sex’s re­search on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, please visit bit.ly/2Ni­awR9

HAR­VEY GARD­NER, 26, is an art ther­apy stu­dent; his twin LUKE is a ho­tel re­cep­tion­ist. They are both sin­gle.

LUKE SAYS When we were young, Har­vey and I were al­most mir­ror im­ages of one an­other. We can’t even tell who’s who in some of our fam­ily pho­tos. But as we’ve grown, we’ve be­come very dif­fer­ent peo­ple. Har­vey doesn’t look like me at all now, with long hair and a beard. I don’t know if it’s con­scious. Prob­a­bly. But Har­vey has al­ways been quite unique.

The bond twins share is def­i­nitely stronger than just si­b­lings. If we’re in a room to­gether and we’re hav­ing a chin­wag, it is a bit odd for other peo­ple. We’ll just be talk­ing rub­bish with one an­other and laugh­ing away like kids. There is a com­fort zone that comes with be­ing a twin. It’s al­most as though you’re on your own, but you’re not. You’re with this per­son who ‘gets’ you com­pletely. How­ever, if you get too com­fort­able then you don’t grow, get to know other peo­ple or de­velop bet­ter so­cial skills. But that’s be­cause it’s so easy when you’re with your twin.

I knew when we were about 13 that I was straight and Har­vey was gay. At first I thought he was some sort of stud be­cause he had so many lady friends, whereas I’d be out play­ing foot­ball. When he told me he was gay, I was, like, ‘Yeah, it doesn’t re­ally sur­prise me,’ but I think it was quite a big deal for him. Ob­vi­ously he cares what other peo­ple think, but we both care most about what we think of one an­other. If I had turned round and shunned him, it would have re­ally hurt him.

We’ve both al­ways had deep ques­tions about what sex­u­al­ity re­ally is. My opin­ion is loose. I don’t think there is nec­es­sar­ily a ‘pref­er­ence’ but that some peo­ple try to hide who they re­ally are. I think ev­ery­one can be at­tracted in some way to one an­other; it’s more about whether peo­ple are open about it or not. HAR­VEY SAYS I had a very shel­tered child­hood in terms of sex­u­al­ity. I knew I was dif­fer­ent. I didn’t want to do things with girls that other guys were talk­ing about.

I was at least 12 when I re­alised I liked men. I kept it a se­cret be­cause life wasn’t like it is now. School was quite a hor­ri­ble place for me. I had goofy teeth and braces. I re­ally didn’t look the part – I got bul­lied.

The roots of sex­u­al­ity are some­thing that I’ve been think­ing about for years. I feel a bit like an anom­aly, and have done for a long time. I be­lieve our fam­ily dy­nam­ics play out a lot in our re­la­tion­ships. In our fam­ily, there’s a bit of a split down the mid­dle, with me be­ing clos­est to our mum and Luke be­ing clos­est to our dad. And I think we’ve taken on those mas­cu­line and fem­i­nine qual­i­ties. In my opin­ion, sex­u­al­ity is based on life ex­pe­ri­ence and it can be en­hanced ac­cord­ing to what kind of up­bring­ing you have.

That said, nei­ther of us is that ro­man­ti­cally in­clined. We’re not re­ally that fussed. When you have a twin, you can just think, ‘Oh it’s fine – I’ll prob­a­bly just move in with Luke when I get old.’

IN MY OPIN­ION, SEX­U­AL­ITY IS BASED ON LIFE EX­PE­RI­ENCE AND UP­BRING­ING”

Clock­wise from far left: Har­vey, left, and Luke, aged around six – ‘we were mir­ror im­ages of one an­other’; the pair at a fam­ily birthday, and aged 11 start­ing to as­sert their in­di­vid­u­al­ity (Luke is on the left)

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