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24 March

Make Up Artist Ken Boylan discusses how growing up as ‘one of the lucky gays’ helped him be himself

Ken Boylan one of Ireland’s leading and favourite celebrity make up artists . He shares his thoughts for our #BeYourself campaign. As the part of the #BeYourself campaign, we have highlighted various members of the LGBT+ community who demonstrated the courage to be their unique selves and hopefully inspire others to express and be themselves.


I think I must be one of the lucky gays!

I say this because I was always happy in my gayness…. I never wanted to be any other way! Yes I did have the odd dalliance with girls but I always new I was gay and really happy to be so.

When I was a kid, say around 5 or 6 I used to walk around my road in my mum’s cork platforms with her handbag in one hand and a girls world in the other! Before my mum got Alzheimer’s I asked her once when she knew I was gay… she told me it was around about this time, she said I was always fascinated by watching her get ready for hunt balls or a party of some sort.

However, at the same time I was always good at sports, I was and still am a good tennis player and we lived on a golf course for a lot of my life so I am good at that too. At school I was not your typical gay boy, I was always picked in and around the middle for hockey or running or whatever. I also loved school both primary and secondary. I went to Newpark comprehensive in Blackrock – I was never forced to be academic there. I think Newpark helped me on my way in life. I had my first gay kiss there and it was there that I came out at 15/16 and thankfully no one really cared! Just like at home it was no big deal.

The only time I was ever bullied was by a girl in first year who used to call me faggot and puff on the way home. This lasted for about a month until she just stopped. I heard from this girl years later on (of course) Facebook and she apologised to me and told me the only reason she called me names was she had a crush on me and it was her way of letting me know!

I grew up on the gay scene in Dublin. I went to my first gay bar (Hurray Henrys) when I was still in school! I was lucky enough to be part of the amazing club scene in Dublin clubs like Shaft, Sides and Chocolate bar and, of course POD! I made some of my best friends at this time and they are still my friends today. It was such a great time to be shaped as a young gay man, we always practised safe sex or at least tried to – AIDS was very much part of my gay upbringing, it was always there in the background – you sort of grew to respect it in a way…

I have had 4 great loves of my life who I am very happy to say are all still very good friends of mine to this day I love them and their partners. I am very lucky to have Fabio as my Husband, we have been together 11 years of which married 6. He looks after me and I look after him I love him today as much as I ever did. He is the complete opposite to me – he is an academic Dr. I can’t even spell! He is a complete nerd and I am not! But we work really well together even when we are fighting, which is a lot!

My career path has been a journey. I came to make up artistry by chance as I wanted to be an actor and went to Drama College. Soon I realised I was a terrible actor! So I found a course in make up and I have never looked back. I now have my own make up brand Make Up/Play and I am lucky enough to work in fashion doing lots of shoot with great people – gay and straight. I also have my shop situated inside Zeba Hairdressing and Mimi’s Beauty Rooms. I am surrounded by gays all the time and each one has a different story to tell. My life is great most of the time and a big part of that is my homosexuality – I am a proud and happy gay man!

Learn more about Ken at www.kenboylan.com


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