In the wake of the tragic suicide of 13 year old Tyrone Unsworth GuysLikeU’s Simon Dunn opens up about his struggles coming out and reveals for the FIRST TIME that he hit a very dark time.
Like many of you, I’m utterly devastated by the death of Tyrone Unsworth, a 13-year-old boy who took his own life because of the relentless bullying he received because of his sexuality. Bullying, might I add, that had once turned violent and had left him in hospital.
Let that sink in for a moment… There was a young boy, barely a teenager, who felt it was better to end his life than having to deal with the hatred he was living with. It’s utterly heartbreaking.
It doesn’t escape me that my Facebook is routinely filled with news of suicides. Young men I consider friends and others within my own circle of friends. I sit here and wonder why my own community has such a high statistic of suicide. But then I don’t really need to wonder. I know.
We grow up in a society that suggests that gay men are lesser and weaker than straight ones. We wake up every morning knowing that we don’t really fit in. Starting off we’re told we’re not like those around those us, that we’re different for no other reason than that for how we are born and who we love.
When I came out to my family I was kicked out of home. Why? Because I was true to myself and my family didn’t understand at the time. I don’t sit here now and write this with contempt – my family has accepted me since.. Because that reaction was a response to something that took me my entire life to accept. What I struggled with is the fact it took me that long. The fact it was something I should have ever felt ashamed of.
I know that some kid out there is going through the same thing. I truly do hope one day that someone doesn’t have to “come out” and instead just tell those around them they’ve meet someone they love regardless of gender.
As a gay man I look back at my teen years with sadness. I wish I grew up in a time that I was awarded the luxury of a teenage romance. But my sexuality prevented this. I often wonder if things are getting better, but with the death of Tyrone and many like him it shows me they aren’t. We have so much more to do and so far to go. If not for ourselves but for those who follow us.
So why do we still ponder why the LGBT community are more likely to commit suicide? Why gay teens are four times more likely to commit suicide than most and almost half attempt it.
I’m not ashamed to admit that has a teen struggling to accept his own sexuality the thought crossed my mind. I’m very fortunate to have come through it. But it breaks my heart seeing week in and week out, not just teens but young men just like me who don’t get thru it.
Furthermore, we’re also a community shrouded with drug and alcohol abuse. Like most Australians I’m partial to a drink or a dozen. Don’t think I’m this great athlete who’s never had a struggle with accepting himself. Because as I’ve learnt to accept my sexuality it shows me exactly why I did what I did. I drank to escape the shame I was feeling about my sexuality.
I would literally roll out of a club on a Saturday morning and onto the rugby field. I even recall on occasions vomiting up last night’s vodka outside the dressing sheds before a game. My own shame in myself was affecting the one thing I loved and that being sport.
I know now that if it wasn’t for my rugby team, I would most likely would have ended up dead. I am eternally grateful in my coach and rugby team because they believed in me when no one ever had, especially myself.
They’re the reason I’m now sober and achieving all I can. I still remember my coach taking me aside and telling me at the end of a season that helping me was one of his proudest achievements he got from coaching.
But he did more than turn my life around, he saved my life. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have that person. I was lucky to find a support group and in the one place I felt most at home, rugby. But lots of people within our community struggle to find this.
We need to starting being that support.
I’ve admitted more in this article than I ever planned. But why my community continue to feel so alone and desperate they feel the need to take their own lives I can’t sit here in silence and pretend that my life is perfect. It’s not, its far from it!
But if the knowledge that I also struggled helps one person than I know my story and my life has made a difference. I’ve always been reluctant to be public about my life because I worry people will will judge me and I wont be considered a role model, I’ve worried that these admittances will prevent that, but I can no longer sit by and watch.
I’m blessed to have been given a profile and public influence, using it for the right thing is more important than anything for me.
Please know you’re not alone. If you’re feeling down I beg that you seek help. I will never deny life isn’t a battle, but please keep on fighting the good fight. As cliché as it is, it does get better. Something I wholeheartedly wish Tyrone had the chance to learn. RIP buddy x