SBS Insight: Shaun Williams comes out to wife of 25 years


‘I came out as gay to my wife of 25 years and I couldn’t be happier’: Aussie dad of four speaks out about his ‘amazing’ new life after finding the courage to reveal his biggest secret

  • Shaun Williams, now 53, married his ex-wife in the late 90s when he was just 27
  • He always knew he was gay but ‘decided it would be something I would die with’
  • In 2019 Mr Williams came out to his family and began building himself a new life 
  • He said it was ‘very challenging and lonely’ but is living an ‘amazing’ life now
  • His story will feature on SBS Insight this Tuesday at 8:30pm
  • The episode is titled ‘Risk & Reward: Overcoming fear – What can risky decisions teach us?’

After hiding his sexuality for almost 25 years of marriage, an Australian dad of four has spoken out about the moment he came out to his family and began building himself a new life.

Victorian man Shaun Williams, now 53, married in the late 90s when he was 27 but struggled with the ‘guilt and shame’ of knowing he was secretly gay.

Mr Williams said he always knew he was gay but was too ‘frightened’ to come out.

‘I suppressed it, I decided it would be something I would die with,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

‘I grew up in the 80s when there was a lot of gay bashing, and the grim reaper with the AIDS ads made it, so I was too frightened to come out.

Shaun Williams (above) came out to his wife and children after almost 25 years of marriage despite 'always knowing' he was gay

Shaun Williams (above) came out to his wife and children after almost 25 years of marriage despite ‘always knowing’ he was gay

‘It was really challenging. I hurt myself and a lot of people along the way.’

For almost 25 years, Mr Williams struggled in silence but realised he was reaching breaking point and needed to face the truth.

‘I was struggling with depression and anxiety, I wasn’t being honest with myself,’ he said.

‘My oldest daughter came out at 16, and two of my other children have come out as queer since. I realised I needed to support them and be honest.’

Mr Williams said the realisation left him with an almost impossible decision to make as his mental health continued to deteriorate.

‘I had to decide between coming out, losing my family and my amazing wife or ending it all to get away from the pain I knew I was going to cause everyone,’ he said.

Mr Williams came out for the first time in December, 2019, to a psychologist he had been talking to for over a year and said the confession was a massive relief.

Mr Williams said 'gay bashing' in the 80s, including the infamous Grim Reaper commercials (above), lead to him deciding he would never be open about his sexuality

Mr Williams said ‘gay bashing’ in the 80s, including the infamous Grim Reaper commercials (above), lead to him deciding he would never be open about his sexuality

‘He said to me one day “there’s something you’re not telling me and it’s why you’re still struggling” and I told him I was gay,’ Mr Williams said.

‘He was incredibly supportive. Once I came out to him it was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

‘I knew then that I had to be honest with my family and friends.’

The next day Mr Williams came out to his wife and then his children.

‘It was a really challenging time,’ he said. ‘I was really torn because I didn’t know how my family would react.’

‘I told my wife one day later and my children the next day. I moved out of the family home out of respect for them.

Mr Williams said he felt 'isolated' when he first moved out of his family's home but built a support network with other gay fathers

Mr Williams said he felt ‘isolated’ when he first moved out of his family’s home but built a support network with other gay fathers

‘It was tough because I didn’t know where to turn, I felt very alone and because it was just before Christmas that made it especially challenging.’

After searching online for other people in his situation Mr Williams eventually found a man that was also a father that had come out to his family 10 years earlier. 

From there Mr Williams met more fathers that had come out to their children and was able to build a small support network before Covid lockdowns began.

‘I met a couple other dads and we were in a really small walking group because of Covid, and I said to one of the dads “I want to make a private Facebook group”,’ he said. 

‘I had felt so alone and it took me about six months to really find my feet. I’d felt isolated. So I said “there must be other people going through this”.’

Mr Williams set up his group in October, 2020, and now has over 600 members worldwide that share their experiences and support one another. 

Mr Williams (above) believes his 'life is amazing' and that coming out has helped him become a better father

Mr Williams (above) believes his ‘life is amazing’ and that coming out has helped him become a better father

‘I was really amazed there was so many of us around. There’s a world full of men that have been through the same thing I had.

‘It’s the shame and the guilt that we go through.’

Since coming out ‘what feels like a lifetime ago’ Mr Williams has moved into a new apartment with his new partner of two years.

‘It’s been amazing, he’s a dad as well and between us we’ve got five kids,’ he said.

‘The kids have been great. There was some adjustment to get used to, especially with my kids as they’re a bit younger, but they’re amazing.

‘My life is amazing now. I’m in a fantastic place and I’m a better father now. I still feel that guilt and shame every now and then but I know I can work through that.’ 

Mr Williams found support during the Covid lockdown by walking with a small group of other gay fathers and said it's important to never struggle in silence

Mr Williams found support during the Covid lockdown by walking with a small group of other gay fathers and said it’s important to never struggle in silence

Mr Williams said it’s so important to be brave and ask for help when you need it.

‘Reach out,’ he said. ‘Reach out and talk. Reach out to other groups, peer support groups.

‘Don’t do it alone. There’s so many opportunities now for people to reach out for help.’

‘I came out as gay to my wife of 25 years and I couldn’t be happier,’ he told SBS. 

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