During an interview on BBC Radio Ulster’s When I Was 25 podcast, Westlife star Mark Feehily shared that realising he suffered from internalised homophobia encouraged his decision to come out.
In an episode of Vinny Hurrell’s podcast in which guests think back to that age and share what they would do differently in hindsight and what advice they would give to their younger selves, Mark Feehily spoke about his life before coming out.
“I have done some therapy,” the star described. “There was a eureka moment where she told me, ‘Do you realise that you’re actually homophobic?’ I was like, ‘What? How dare you. I’m homophobic? I’m gay, how can I be homophobic? This is a joke. I can’t be homophobic. I’m always afraid of all these other people that are homophobic, now I’m homophobic?’ That was a big turning point in my head.
“I was shocked about my own what they call internal homophobia.”
This blunt realisation made him think, “Probably the majority of young gay lads’ biggest enemy is their own opinion of themselves. It’s not other people’s opinion, it’s what they think of themselves. I thought ‘that’s the last straw. I’m not homophobic’. If I really wanted to change that, I needed to come out.”
Feehily, who has become an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, continued, “I had this guilt. I’m not the type of person to live a lie, yet somehow I found myself in that position. I suppose, in the end, the only person that was stopping myself from getting out of this situation was me, but I didn’t know how to do that.”
Feehily decided to come out to his family before going public. In a previous interview on RTÉ 2fm, he shared, “It was the beginning of a lonely situation, I was surrounded by family and friends but there was this one part of me that was lonely because there was no one I could share it with.
“For me my coming out experience was an anti-climax in one way because I was so worried what everyone would think and I got zero negative reaction, everyone I was worried about just didn’t give a hoot. The main thing I learned was that it was all actually within me.”
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