When Hywel Kennedy turned 30 a couple of years back, his life took a new direction. He was single and had just quit his job to start anew and looked forward to relaunching his life. Now a couple of years in, he is happy with a new boyfriend, a burgeoning career in TV and is feeling more confident than ever. Here, the looks back at the dark times in his life and how he chose to develop his physique to make him feel happier.
Turning 30 can be a tough time for some people, but for gays, well, it can be very challenging indeed. When Hywel Kennedy reached the landmark age in 2018 he found himself suddenly single and embarking on a new career. Here, the handsome looks back at how he moved on after a split, how he came to terms with being gay and living with an eating disorder that left him body conscious.
You’re seeing a lovely guy at the moment. Would you say you were an easy boyfriend to be with?
I’m a dedicated boyfriend. I’m opinionated though and not really afraid to speak my mind on something so I guess that can be an issue! (maybe I can fly off the handle a little bit too – but i’m working on that!)
What lessons have you learnt from previous break ups?
I’ve learnt that should never rush into anything. I’ve learnt to trust your gut a bit more when it comes to sensing things within the relationship. I’ve learnt that trust is very important, probably the most important thing in a gay relationship. It’s easy to get distracted by the next piece of meat in a nightclub. Temptation is always there on the scene, but if trust is there then it shouldn’t be an issue. I’ve also learnt that a relationship should be a nice add-on to a happy and healthy life, a relationship should not be the thing that happiness hinges off.
You’re been working out a lot and showing off the results on Instagram. Are you happy with the way you look?
I started working out a couple it years ago. I decided I wanted to change the way I looked as I wasn’t happy with it. I’d say I’m not happy with the way I look to be honest. I think I’ve always felt a bit worried about it. I think once you start ‘improving’ yourself aesthetically you’re always looking at the flaws and the next thing to change. If someone could give me a wad of cash I’d skip my ass down to Harley Street for sure. me, vain? no.
Do you think having a good body in the gay world is important?
Absolutely not. There is an archetypal drawing of a modern day gay man, to which many attempt to conform to… But define ‘important’ though… If you’re into the scene, XXL, circuit parties, regular sex, then I guess, yes, having a good body is ‘important’ in terms of that conforming and getting what you set out to do… but some of the most successful ‘out’ gay men in the world, in terms of influence, don’t have the typical ‘good body’… it certainly shouldn’t define you and doesn’t make you any less of a person if you don’t go to the gym.
But if a boy wasn’t toned would you ignore him?
No.. I’m not shallow. If anything I get intimated by overly toned guys, because I guess I think that having a good body IS important to others so occasionally feel like I’m not ‘good’ enough. It’s ridiculous, I know. It’s all about a pretty face, sex appeal, sense of humour and a sense of drive! (is this my tinder profile?!)
Have you always had body issues?
Yes, I’ve always had body issues. I went from being an in-shape 19 year old, ballooning to nearly 16 stone when I was 21. I was very miserable and very closeted. The day I came out I started to diet, and my weight loss went from a casual weekly weigh-in to an obsession. I used to have a target of how much weight I could lose that week and then vary my diet to make it happen, eating less (or somethings nothing in a day) at points I would lose around 6 pounds in a week!
Wow, that’s shocking.
At the same time I was newly out, partying, so was experimenting more with clothes and couldn’t pass a mirror without standing in front of it and analysing myself. I didn’t even notice my weight loss I just knew that I needed to change something about me so now that my sexuality wasn’t in control of me anymore. I was controlling my weight instead. The comments started pouring in “you’re too thin” which in my brain genuinely translated as “you look great and slim”. It was only a year since I’d started dieting and almost 22 years old, at 6 foot, I was 9 and half stone. That is stupidly underweight but I didn’t realise. One night after my birthday party, I got so anxious about it all and combined with the hangover destroying my underweight body, I had a huge panic attack that led to an ambulance picking me up and going to hospital. Even though the hospital wasn’t directly to do with my weight it was a wake up call to me and those close to me. It’s taken me a while but I can honestly say that my diet is pretty much back to normal now, I don’t care what I put in my mouth – no jokes. I think the gym has allowed me to relax on that front as I know that I want to gain muscle and food is my friend. Eating disorders are serious stuff though and affects lots of people on a more permanent basis. Everyone has their individual relationship with food and I think it will always stay with you, it’s about managing it.
You occasionally post what some might call thirsty pics online – does this mean you are proud of your boft?
I’m not that thirsty am I?? I am constantly conscious of how I look, but I have worked quite hard in a year on something that I genuinely used to hate (my body) so I’m unashamedly showing it off if I can. People do get a lot of shit for being ‘thirsty’. Instagram is all about image, health, fashion, bodies and people use it for different things in different ways. i’m just doing me, for what is me right now!
Does posting pics merely encourage vacuous relationships?
You raise a point. yes, I guess if relationships are formed on image then there’s an argument to say that the relationship formed will only ever be skin deep. that’s why I said before, yes looks are important, but I wouldn’t use Instagram topless pics as a basis for choosing my future husband. that’s ridiculous.although I’d be more than happy to test drive.
Your dad was a rugger bugger – was coming out hard?
Coming out to myself and accepting myself was and still is the hardest battle. I was one of those boys who completely repressed my sexuality, which manifested itself into self-hate, and hating being gay. That’s hard. My dad and mum have from day one always been supportive. My dad is a soft old fart really and has always been more than friendly to my ex boyfriends etc.
If you were single, would you sign up to a gay Love Island?
Absolutely not. A night out in Clapham High Street is enough interaction, let alone a confined house. Imagine the arguments! I just saw a video of two muscle queens fighting at Circuit party in Mykonos, I’d imagine Gay Love Island to be on that level of HELL. There’s definitely a market for a new gay TV show though… I need to get working on my pitch, I think it could be amazing!