Earlier this year Nathan Henry, star of MTV’s hugely popular reality series Geordie Shore, spoke openly about his sexuality on the show. In this week's episode viewers see Nathan explaining that he is now at a point where he feels comfortable identifying as gay.
In this exclusive interview with RUComingOut he tells showbiz journalist James Ingham why coming out has been the best experience of his life, despite receiving death-treats as a result.
"Coming out has allowed me to be myself. As a result I have a lot more fun with everyone and don’t feel pressured into doing anything I don’t want to do."
You come out as gay on Geordie Shore this week. Why now?
I wanted to go into the show and them to get to know me before coming out. I wasn’t 100 per cent sure if I was gay or bi. I knew I liked guys a lot more than girls but I was still working out exactly who I was. It wasn’t until we were in Greece and there was a competition to see who could pull the most girls that I realised this really wasn’t who I was. I knew I would much prefer to be necking on with lads. It got to the point where I could admit it to myself so I thought it was the right time to admit it to everyone else. Coming out has allowed me to be myself. As a result I have a lot more fun with everyone and don’t feel pressured into doing anything I don’t want to.
When did you first start to realise you might be gay or bi?
Probably about 14. There was a really attractive 'chavvy' boy at school who I became friends with and I really fancied him.
What was it like telling your parents?
Telling my mum was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life but the way she handled it was probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my life. She couldn’t have handled it any better. I was about 18 and told the boy who became my best friend that I fancied him. He didn’t understand and told me I wasn’t gay so I went home drunk and started crying to my mum. I ended telling her I liked boys and she just said: "So? What do you want a medal?”
She then told me to go to bed and get some sleep. In the morning she asked me if I still liked boys now I was sober and I said yes. It didn’t faze her at all. She took me out for lunch and that was that. She talks to me about guys and asks who I fancy.
My dad was one of the last people to find out, something that I still feel really guilty about now. He’s from Jamaica and in Jamaica being gay is still really taboo. I never wanted to tell him because I didn't want to disappoint him. In the end my uncle told him when I was 19 and he took me out for dinner and asked me if it was true. I couldn’t lie to his face because I didn’t want to be any more disrespectful than I felt I had been. He just hugged me and we both started crying. He told me he was so proud of me and loved me just the way I am. I had the best coming out experience when it came to my parents which I’m really grateful for.
Why was telling your dad so hard for you?
I stupidly thought my dad would either kill me, beat me up or disown me. I stupidly genuinely thought that would happen but it was the complete opposite. My dad has never used homophobic language or ever hit me but I still thought those things. I used to go to his on a Friday and we both used to laugh our heads off at Alan Carr but I still thought he would be disappointed and that was the scariest thing.
What about your brothers or sisters?
One of my brothers actually caught me kissing a boy at home before anyone found out. I made him promise to keep it a secret and he did. My sister and all my brothers have been great.
Has it been a struggle for you to accept yourself?
It’s been a bit of a struggle but not as bad as it is for a lot of people. For me it's just been more confusing than anything. I didn’t have any gay or bi mates so it was quite hard to find someone to identify with. That was the hardest thing but as soon as I started college and met more people I realised I wasn’t alone and that helped me accept it. I was never bullied over my sexuality which really helped.
Was it harder coming out with you coming from a mixed-race background?
I don't think so. Apart from being scared of telling my dad because of his Jamaican roots. My family have been so accepting it hasn't made any difference to me.
Are you loved-up or single at the moment?
I'm loved-up and have been seeing someone for nearly nine months now. I met Craig just after my first series and just before my second so it was quite tough because I didn't know him well enough to stay committed whilst in Greece as we had only just met and I didn't want to waste my opportunity I'd been given.
However since Greece the two of us have both grown so much, we're stronger than ever and I'm so happy to have him by my side throughout this. It's not a walk in the park having a boyfriend and being on a TV show like Geordie Shore because I'm away from him for a few weeks at a time due to filming, but the second I'm free or can contact him I'm straight there.
I wouldn't say it's affected my role on the show at all because now everyone knows I'm gay I don't have to hide anything. It means I can be more fun. The only thing it affected was me not going on the pull but why would I go looking for burgers when I have a steak at home.
Coming from a controversial show like Geordie Shore and being in the public eye, do you see yourself as a role model?
People may say I’m not the best role model for young (LGBT) people coming from Geordie Shore, but at least I'm real! When I was growing up I didn’t really know any gay people apart from maybe Graham Norton and then Alan Carr. There wasn’t really anyone I could identify with but that’s changed now. I’m not saying I am a role model but what I’m saying is young gay kids may be able to relate or identify with me and that has to be a good thing. A lot of 18 to 25-year-olds do what I do it's just they don’t have a camera put in their face. It's a reflection of a big part of the youth of today. Saying that, I don’t condone underage drinking. I know I did it but you aren’t missing out on anything by waiting until your older. What I would say is don’t feel peer-pressured into anything. Just be comfortable being yourself.
What was the response like when you originally joined Geordie Shore and came out as bisexual?
Thankfully there’s been more positive feedback than negative. Going into the house being bisexual wasn’t a problem. It was the bedroom scene where I went on about being King Richard that turned a few heads. I ended up looking at the profiles of the people who were being homophobic to see what type of people they were and to be honest they were nearly all middle aged men with kids. People my age or younger were really supportive which was really great to see. Hopefully this means that there is a brighter future for the LGBT community.
What was the worst thing that you read?
Someone messaged me directly on Facebook saying if they saw me in the street they would petrol bomb me. They said I was an abomination to the human race, I need to take myself to church. They also said that being gay had been scientifically proven to be a disease and a virus and I needed to be cured. I just wrote back saying, ‘Thank you for your concern and time, but right now I’m loving my life so no thank you’. I am proud of who I am and what I stand for. I’m not going to stop living my life or being who I am because of some homophobic nuts.
Was there any awkwardness with your other cast mates when you first joined Geordie Shore?
Not at all. I told Charlotte first and she ended up telling Gaz. He then pulled me to one side off camera and just told me to not feel uncomfortable. He told me to stay in the boys room and there was no need to stay in the girls room. He said they have loads of gay and bi mates. They said they weren’t bothered and just be myself and enjoy it. They are actually really open about it and really intrigued.
What has coming out done for you as a person and your life?
Coming out has been the best thing I have ever done. I've never felt as 'at home' and comfortable in the Geordie Shore house, or with friends, as I do now.
"I can just be 100 per cent me and that's the best feeling in the world."