As part of the #BeYourself campaign we have highlighted various members of the LGBT community who have shared their inspiring stories. Andrew shares his coming out story below – not only is an Advocate for LGBT issue’s but he is hugely passionate about mental health.
I think it’s extremely important for members of the LGBT community to maintain positive mental health, without such, life is a very dark tunnel with little or no end in sight. For a second year running, I’ve organised a Darkness Into Light 5km walk/run at Fairyhouse Racecourse for Pieta House. It’s all part of efforts to foster positive mental health nationwide and ensure that if people have a problem. They speak up and out and get the help and support that they need; just last year we raised €30,000.
I first came out to friends in 2012, aged 16, and to family in 2014, aged 18 – there was no fanfare or grand statements on social media and the funny thing was..nobody was surprised and most were annoyed I had waited this long to actually affirm it for them directly; I suppose the delay was as a result of the fact that I was crippled by fear, and I think that fear centred on the irrational belief that I would be immediately ostracized by my nearest and dearest for…being gay, being who I couldn’t help but be.
What actually happened, couldn’t have been further removed from my frightful apprehensions and I think that when I actually came out…one journey of self-acceptance came to an end and another journey of self-actualization commenced – everything before that point was a difficult struggle and everything after that, has been an enjoyable and worthwhile adventure.
I think it’s important to be honest – when I first hit puberty around 2010, I started to feel a sexual attraction towards men and that was just that, but this was not something I initially accepted with gleeful delight. It was actually something that plunged me into a very dark and desolate place; I was exceedingly concerned about the morality of it all, I found it difficult to cope with the raw reality of my sexuality and coming from a rural conservative background, I felt extremely isolated…”the only gay in the village” if you will.
It was a challenging time for my mental health, but it was during those awful adolescent years that I became the person that I am today – assertive, self-confident & indefatigably positive.
I also was fully assured in my own personhood and have been since I went from crawling to walking – so being gay was always just an added layer onto my identity, onto who and what I am and make no apologies for being.
Life is literally about being the best that you can physically, mentally and conceivably be, being decent and mindful towards others and accepting yourself for who you innately are – the moment that you do, is the moment that everything comes to you naturally and doors start opening left, right and centre; I know it sounds clichéd and cringe-worthy, but it’s the simple truth and there is always light at the end of that dark tunnel.
I feel as if I’m living the dream – I’m a budding journalist at the Southside People & the Irish Sun, I’m a Meath Peace Commissioner and I’m somebody that has reached that “nirvana” place in my life right know…I am who I am and I accept it unequivocally and fully, I embrace it totally and I just leisurely smile my way through every day and live it to the fullest; there is no point for any member of the LGBT community doing anything less!