As we celebrate Pride in 2021, I’m happy to say that I’m out, loud and very proud.
I am 100% gay and I’m in love with my sexuality.
It’s opened my mind and my world, brought me joy and some of the most wonderful, never imagined, experiences. As I’ve matured into a 40-something man, I could not be happier as I have truly embraced everything that makes me, me.
However, it’s been a journey, and for a good part of my life I’ve been singled-out as that ‘weirdo’.
I used to hate everything about this word.
These 5 letters have belittled me, made me feel crap, devalued my confidence, given me anxiety and shattered my confidence.
Why should being ‘weird’ be such a bad thing?
Being weird should be celebrated!
Just because you may look a little different, see the world differently, act, dress and think differently to what society has programmed us to believe, why is this looked down on?
Being weird has generally been seen by society as a negative. It’s called you out, pointed a finger at and perhaps even verbally abused you; generally degraded you. Just because you are you. As a society we are too quick to judge and too slow to accept one another for who we are.
However, as I’ve grown, matured, gained confidence and worked out who I am, I have made sure that my version of weird is something brilliant, and unique to me; I own that word – it does not own me.
It’s given me a different voice, an eclectic way of looking at things and over time it has evolved into how I put myself out there professionally.
I’m approachable, empathetic, un-biased, open minded, emotional and purpose driven. This has given me an edge, enabling me to lead in a way that reflects who I really am.
Now executive creative director and a board member serving across marketing and communications agencies within the Chime group, Eat the Fox and Harvard, I am responsible for the creative vision of both brands and their clients.
Both agencies specialise in technology which allows me to not only sit on the cutting edge of culture and innovation, but think of and build campaigns in a global way. As well as filtering trends, understanding emerging audiences and responding to global briefs, connecting through powerful communications is how I help businesses and brands to make impactful change.
But the best thing for me is that I can push the diversity narrative and reach out and help where I can.
I sit on the D&I board and play a significant role in Chime Q; the interagency LGBTQ+ network. Recently, and through lockdown, I have reached out to help the next generation of creatives. I mentor for the The Creative Society; an employment charity that helps young people from low socio-economic backgrounds wanting to work in the creative and cultural sector gain better access. I also started to guest lecture at Leeds Art University for its creative advertising students on a voluntary basis.
It’s a liberating and empowering feeling that someone like me—that weird lad from Grimsby—can have such a positive effect.
It's not only on myself, but in everything and everyone around me; my partner, family, friends, colleagues and those I mentor. It’s a special place to be for sure, and it makes me even more proud of who I have become.
For anyone who reads this and identifies with the above, and for those like me, let’s start loving the fact that we are different, individual and quirky! Let’s reclaim this little word and make it ours. Let’s celebrate the fact that we are our true, beautiful selves!
So whoever you are and wherever you may be, here’s to the fabulous, the ridiculous, the loud, joyous, bright, funny, straight, unique, small and large.
Here’s to us; the wonderful weirdos!