Don't ever be afraid to #BeYourself: Jason shares an inspiring story of self-acceptance
As part of the #BeYourself campaign we have connected with various members of the LGBT+ community who have shared their powerful stories and passed on their words of wisdom and encouragement to act and be ourselves. Jason shares his story below about this path to self discovery and becoming the amazing and unique person he is today.
One of seven, from an early age I knew I was a bit different. I wasn't like the rest of the boys I knew. Growing up in a very small village in county down, people expected you to be the norm. My parents even bought me a football net, football and gloves to entice me... I used them in a fashion cat walk. Then I got to my early teens and things began to unravel. I wasnt blessed with good looks and had extremely bad acne along with national health glasses and the curtain hairstyle as I thought I looked like Leonardo di Caprio (tragic I know).
I had a great family and some close freinds but always felt I had to keep a part of my personality dormant. I should have been more of an extrovert but all my flaws kept me back.
In highschool I was badly bullied and taunted daily. Words like fruit, poof, gay boy, knob jockey were thrown at me. I didnt really know what they meant but knew it was negative. At one point, one of bullies grabbed my by the neck and spat on me. My friends would stick up for me but I would just feel so alone. I would spend a lot of time in my room alone, thinking. I learnt to deal with everything alone. Most of my friends were out at discos, I sat in with my mum.
When I was going through puberty I would have flashes of images come to mind; it wasnt girls, it was guys. I couldn't like guys, I didn't know anyone who did. I had never seen guys together. I just felt like a freak. Self loathing got to the lowest point when I swallowed a load of tablets the night before school because I was so afraid to go to p.e the following day. I would have to shower with the guys I was constantly thinking about and I just couldn't take the embarrassment.
The following day I woke up and was ill, vomiting. I went to school anyway. I knew that would be the day. I got sent home from school. That was the night I told my sister I thought I was gay, Stacey was nothing but there for me. I told a couple of my close friends and the reaction was good. The weight on my shoulders was finally lifting. I told my parents and they supported me. My dad's reaction surprised me as I always felt he wanted me to be different.
The whole school found out and instantly things were better. I was first person ever to come out in school and I'm glad I did. The person I am today is someone who knows who he is and is not afraid to show it. Luckily, as I have got older I have grown into my looks, the skin cleared and I was told it was all due to stress. People who meet me now are shocked to see how I once was, so dont always judge a book by its cover.
In Ireland there is such a stigma attached to being gay, the word is thrown around daily. It has got better as the years have passed. I'm writing this in sunny Manchester, I've lived all over and even worked in Disney World Florida. My quest continues to find my prince charming and one day return to the emerald isle.
Don't ever be afraid of being you #BeYourself