Darren Kennedy opens up on being bullied in school for being gay

TV personality and fashion icon Darren Kennedy shared the difficulties he had in school and with his career due to his sexuality.

Close-up of Darren Kennedy wearing a burgundy coat and glasses

TV presenter Darren Kennedy told Sunday Independent’s LIFE magazine about the difficulties he had growing up as gay in Ireland during the ’80s and early ’90s.

39 year-old Kennedy, currently based in London but originally from Dublin, said his classmates used to taunt him for being gay, despite the fact that he wasn’t even sure of his own sexuality at the time.

The hair and skincare entrepreneur also said that going to an all-boys school – St Aidan’s CBS in Glasnevin -probably didn’t help. “Being gay was really tough when I was young. I went to a really GAA-oriented school. That all-boys thing killed me – in a mixed school, I would have been fine. There were a lot of taunts,” he said.

When things became particularly difficult, he confessed he would have changed his sexuality if given the opportunity.

“If there had been a pill [to be straight] I would have been first in line to take it. People say, ‘Oh your gift becomes your burden’ but it’s hard to have that perspective when you feel you’re carrying that burden,” he said, “But now I think that would have been terrible – what a loss it would be.”

Since leaving St Aidan’s, Kennedy has gone on to work for RTÉ, ITV, BBC and Channel 5, as well as setting up the Kennedy & Co skin and hair care brand. His success has totally changed how his old classmates treat him.

“What’s funny is that the same people who bullied me now come up to me and ask for selfies for their girlfriends. Nine times out of 10, I don’t remember them,” he said.

Despite his fame, Kennedy has still faced trouble getting work due to his sexuality. He opened up about how people have tried to stab him in the back, but he’s ignored them for the most part.

“Sometimes it’s been harder to ignore, though. It once got back to me that they didn’t want me because I was too gay. It was an RTÉ show. I won’t say which one,” he said.

Darren Kennedy is set to appear on the BBC series You Are What You Wear this month, alongside Rylan Clark-Neal.

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