Olly Alexander has revealed how homophobic bullying as a teenager led to him self-harming and developing an eating disorder.
The Years & Years frontman has opened up about his own adolescent struggles ahead of a new BBC documentary in which he explores the reality of growing up gay in 21st century Britain.
Growing Up Gay – part of the BBC’s ‘Gay Britannia’ season – will see Olly examine the reasons why 40 percent of LGBT+ people will experience a significant mental health problem compared to around 25 percent of the whole population, and are more than twice as likely to have attempted suicide.
Recalling a lack of support during his own adolescence, the 26-year-old singer told the Evening Standard: “I went to a bog-standard comprehensive school, and there wasn’t such a thing as LGBT people — they just didn’t exist.
“There was no inclusive sex or relationship education — I feel like that really would have helped me.
“School wasn’t a pleasant environment. When I was bullied it was two things. It’s the language — being called a ‘fag’ or ‘poof’.
“Being picked on. Being called ‘gay’ as a negative word — it still is, really. Then there was the physical side — I got into a few fights.”
Growing Up Gay sees Olly read through his old diary, which was written during the period in which he was self-harming.
He said: “It was so hard at that time. I felt like I was going mad. I wasn’t talking to anybody about what I was feeling. I was writing it all down. Everything felt hopeless.
“Bulimia and self-harm were a way of coping with that. Cutting was a coping mechanism. I was in a really dark place. It’s still really difficult for me to talk about.
“What I want to get across is that there is hope — you don’t have to feel like that, if you have the right access to support, friends or family.”
Growing Up Gay, part of the Gay Britannia series, will be available to watch on BBC Three on July 18 and on BBC One later this month.