We may live in accepting times, but coming out to friends and family is still a big issue to some some guys and gals. Not only that, most of us still find ourselves having to get through school being picked on by idiots with a chip on their shoulders. Meet handsome Adam Bysouth, a successful 23 year old development researcher and radio presenter who has been through the toughest times and come out the other side. Here he tells GuysLikeU how being bullied eventually made him a stronger person and how working for a gay radio station opened his eyes to the happy lifestyle he lives today.
When did you begin to realise you were gay?
It’s funny you should ask this one because whenever friends ask me this, my answer is always ‘I’ve always known.’ And that’s true. Since I was a kid in school, and guys started talking about girls, I just wasn’t interested. Even if I tried; I just couldn’t get into them! But I think probably the moment when I really realised I was gay was when I lost some glittery sponge hand down the drain outside my parents house that my mum brought back from a Steps concert in the late 00s… I was about six at the time and when they were gone, I think the whole close where I lived were awoken by my devastation! I think that says it all really, doesn’t it?!
Did you find the idea of being hard to deal with?
Initially, I did. People in school started to speculate that I was ‘the gay one’ and I was subjected to years of bullying and torment as a consequence. In school, I couldn’t be myself. And now I work in television all of these years later, when I get to be myself every day of my working life, I realised by not being myself during my teens, I was committing the worst mental crime on myself possible.
How did you deal with the bullying?
I did not once take a day off school through my hellish bullying years. I was determined to never let those evil kids win. I would say that I’m incredibly tenacious and I certainly had that level of tenacity in me from an early age. But to say school was a struggle would be an understatement. Having the constant torment made me disguise my sexuality; almost wishing that being gay didn’t exist at all. I needed something to come out of the blue and reaffirm me that being gay is fine. Those bullies didn’t win. The last I heard was the one who caused major trouble got sacked from a fast food chain. Poor him.
Did you have any support at school?
I could not have asked for a more supportive set of male mates when I came out. As soon as I came out at university, I was straight over to see Ben and he just accepts me for who I am. Being gay doesn’t really come into it. He’s been one of the first to be introduced to boyfriends too and like all of my other male mates, he just don’t care who I am. If anything, a lot of them love me more for who I am. I think it’s credit to our society these days.
And how do you feel now about those tough years?
While I feel those days are behind me, I hope those people who did bully me are happy now. Those traumatic experiences have made me stronger as a person. I was very fortunate that as a kid, I was blessed with the most amazing support of my teachers and family. I’m a believer in believing what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger as they say… and those experiences sure did make me a lot stronger.
When did you finally came out, was it a good experience?
I came out as gay at 19. I was in my second year of university at the time. There’s never a ‘perfect time’ to come out. One of the first people I told my best mate Ben who I met at university. He was studying in Lancaster and I was in Manchester but we would often hang out further up north because on a student budget, Lancaster certainly offers more for your dollar! When I told him, the conversation happened in the early hours of the morning over a box of Krispy Kreme and a beer. That night, for me to come out was completely unintentional. My gut just told me to come out with it… and I did. And that’s why I always say to anyone who may be reading this about to come out… don’t put it off. Just say it. Trust me; it’ll be the best thing you can ever do for yourself.
Was there a person you were most worried about opening up to?
Definitely my straight mates, even though it turned out I had nothing to fear in telling them that I was gay. Whenever girls came up in conversation, like all teenage boys do, I simply wasn’t interested. But when I told my close friend Sam, who I was sharing a flat with at university at the time, he just smiled, hugged me and said ‘that’s so small to me Adam, you should’ve just texted me!’ In fact, Sam’s always said he’s wanted a gay mate and now he does so I didn’t have anything to worry about!
Did you throw yourself into the scene?
Yes, I did but not intentionally… blame my straight mates! As soon as I came out, my two house mates Sam and Ryan took me straight off to GAY in Manchester and from that moment on, we’d base our nights out on Canal Street. I enjoy a night out on the gay scene but it’s not because it’s a gay bar; I just like the atmosphere.
You’re a good looking guy – did you have any body insecurities growing up?
I think it goes without saying that I had body insecurities. Mainly to do with my weight. I hated PE as a kid and “puppy fat” developed around the age of 14. After a diet change, that weight soon went until university hit and I also hit the gym… then became too much of a gym junkie and dropped to 9.5 stone. Bad move Adam. Now, I have no idea how much a weigh, but I can say at last I’m satisfied with my body. The London lifestyle keeps you fit and in the summer I bike and in the winter walk when I can. Me and the gym don’t really get on, but I’m not in to becoming one of those muscle-obsessed body builders. As long as I look healthy and enjoy some form of exercise (and treats along the way) then I have no need to worry about my body anymore. After all, a creme cake can makes you very happy indeed. Forget the protein shakes – it’s all about the sugar for me!
Looking back at school what do you think schools should do now to help lgbt kids through
There’s SO much more that LGBT kids should be taught in schools. Where do we start? The big one for me is that when I was in school there appeared to be this taboo that no teachers could be out to their students. I think that’s completely wrong. In schools, LGBT children need their LGBT role models and in a lot of cases, that could be a teacher. That’s one big thing that I would like to see change. It’s strange to think though that in my school years, I would wish that I was straight. Now, I couldn’t think of anything better than being gay.
You present from time to time on Gaydio. It’s great radio station. How did you get started?
I was driving with my mate Sam through Manchester a few years back and Gaydio was on the car radio. Sam convinced me to send the bosses at Gaydio some material of me presenting on student radio, and little did I know what it was about to lead to. Toby, who is currently on mid-afternoons, brought me in after listening to my demo, showed me the ropes and three weeks after making initial contact with the station, he let me cover on air. I’ll never forget my reaction, either. I went home that night and texted mum… ‘they’re letting me present!’
Having someone like Toby and of that calibre believe in you at an early age boosted my confidence significantly. One thing lead to another and Toby kept on asking me back. As I was finding myself in my sexuality, my confidence was growing and I was meeting so many beautiful and interesting people at Gaydio along the way of whom I would’ve never met otherwise. I ended up covering shows across the week on the schedule and during my final few months of university, stepped in for Matt Crabb on afternoons for a three month run before I moved to America briefly to do something equally gay…move to Florida and work for Disney. It was an unbelievable experience broadcasting to Gay UK everyday. I’m very fortunate to be able to do cool things like that. My Gaydio gigs also lead to other radio presenter work and a regular weekend show on other stations.
You’re clearly keen to pursue a presenting career. Who were your TV presenting idols?
I watched a lot of telly as a kid. And still to this day, I do. Even though I’m a researcher every working day of my life in TV, there’s still nothing better than going home and watching the box on the weekend or after a long day in the office. Many presenters inspire me along the way. As a kid, me and my dad loved watching game shows and The Price is Right was our top pick. Bruce Forsyth was always a hero growing up. As I was a teenager though, I really got into T4 and Steve Jones was just brilliant on that. I loved his presenting style and followed his career. He can make every show that he puts his stamp on feel like his own. That’s one incredible talent to have and he’s managed to sustain a career that’s ensured that he’s not pigeon-holed to one type of show. He can transfer from entertainment television to now specialist factual with ease and that’s pretty tough to do.
There’s so many channels these days having to fill air time – are TV shows getting too generic these days?
Only if you allow it to be. In my job as a Development Researcher, it’s one of my tasks to ensure that it doesn’t stay ‘generic’. I think when you embrace the changes in television, then it doesn’t feel too generic. I’ve developed ideas for Facebook recently… who would’ve thought when we first got our Facebook accounts that we will be watching telly on there? I think though making use of the changes on the way people are consuming telly is a way of ensuring it doesn’t stay too generic. Elsewhere, in mainstream, there’s a risk that TV can become too generic – but I applaud the innovation that’s coming through on our screens. All Together Now on the BBC really felt like a fresh spin on the talent show. As developers, we also now have to think about the physical show just becoming the start of the conversation with the viewer. The Love Island movement is a great example of this; the brand speaks to all fans and there’s water bottles and even underwear that’s come along with it! I think everyone in. TV Development wishes they could hit the sweet spot that Love Island has.
Do you think it’s hard to break into TV?
Getting your break in television is always the hardest stumbling block to get over. My mate Jake, who I went to university with is also in the business and he told me once ‘once you’re in, you’re in for life.’ He’s right. I was very fortunate that a big production company gave me my break at 22 as an intern. But it was still tough; 200 people applied and out of 10 who interviewed, I was one of three hired. It can be hard, but once you’re in, you’re in. So to people who are finding it a challenge breaking into telly… never give up. Be tenacious and go for your dreams. If you believe you can make this your career, then you will.
Rylan is an out and open presenter – he’s real star isn’t he?
I think Rylan is an incredible talent but I don’t think it’s because he’s out and proud being the reason for his success. Like I mentioned with Steve, I think the trick with Rylan is that he makes his shows his own and people can relate to him. On Big Brother’s Bit on the Side, he really made that his own gig and he’s never afraid to try new things. Again, he’s not been pigeon-holed to various shows. And if things haven’t worked, he’s moved on. I had the most respect for him too when he held his hands up and took a break from This Morning. I think a lot of people believe working in television is an easy ride but it’s not all glitz and glamour. It’s hard work. And I applaud Rylan for putting himself first and taking a break.