Personal Queerness and the Struggle with Mental Health

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The idea of coming out scared me. I thought it was going to be the worst time of my life. Convinced by the horror stories you hear of arguments, self-doubt, internalised battles and endless explanation of how i’ve tried being straight, it shook me to my core, but I knew that coming out had to be done. These days, I don’t believe anyone should have to come out.

In the end, I didn’t come out as much as I was dragged out, but for the most part, it was pretty uneventful. Only a handful of people were pissed off and not the entire family as I had imagined. But now I was free from the closet, escaping like an uncaged bird, feathers and all!

My teen years were consumed with pursuing as many boys as I could gather, exploring my newfound sexuality and love of sex with all the questionable joys the came with it, and the local scene, where obnoxious drag queens dominated that I knew I needed as my friends. The only way I can visualise it now is like Pokemon; harsh bright clothing, way too much hair gel and nights spent throwing balls around to capture a rare creature.

As my twenties approached, things changed. A lot of my older gay friends raved how escaping the tween years was approached like a rebirth, but I just wasn’t feeling it. The world outside of the glitz and glam was not too dissimilar to the drink stained carpet under our dancing feet — battered, crunchy and in need of some serious work, and I started to realise it.

My partying days came to an end and I started observing the world around me and the shocking realities that I had to now face head-on. I started hearing stories of public beatings and murders in the Middle East, the blatant discrimination in the southern states of the U.S and even closer to home, my Government constantly turning their backs on the LGBT+ people. My people. This wasn’t the rebirth I was told about and when you’re exposed to all of this in one go, it sticks in your head.

For my own sanity, I try to segregate my negative thoughts to one area of my brain. Separated like Klingons and the Federation. But sometimes the neutral zone is crossed and all hell breaks loose. I call them my ‘grey spell’.

My grey spells could last a month before I’m snapped out of them. For me, the worst part about a period of lapsed mental health is how rapid the impact can grow. What starts as a case of doubt, can spread like mycelium into harmful questions of my career, skills as a creative, my body image and the confidence. In the past, it has even raised thoughts of my relationships and how genuine they actually are.

Harvey Milk once said “Don’t let people happen to you” and I try my hardest to live by that.

When I’m battling a form of depression and right-wing oppression I find that activism is the medicine that’s most effective. I have protested at the Russian embassy in London, paraded myself through countless gay pride marches and been a part of vigils for the fallen and all have given me such a boost, releasing the endorphins I need.

More recently I’ve started to look inward at the community. Internalised homophobia needs to stop before we can take down the hetero minority and their tyrannical bullshit. Today i’m stuck on a train heading for London. Delays are endless and so are the snarky, homophobic comments on social media, from people within the community. I can’t change these comments, but I can try and fight for change.

Activism is my recovery. Activism is my twenties rebirth. Activism is my new Cher anthem. Activism is someone else’s life changer.

When I focus my efforts on a form of activism I feel like I do come out fighting, for myself and those who need a voice. Like a screaming gay Batman; a self-professed do-gooder in the name of my people. Only without the costume, I imagine that would be a little tight in the crotch.

This contribution was written by Graeme Fullwood, you can find him on Instagram and Twitter.