YouTuber Daniel Howell has reflected on the “profound” moment he first said the words “I’m gay” out loud after a lifetime of running away from his sexuality.
The British YouTuber came out publicly in June 2019, aged 27, in a 45-minute long video titled “Basically I’m gay”.
Howell told Attitude magazine that he had known throughout his life that he was “not straight”, but had to confront “aspects” of his life that he had previously not dealt with before coming out.
Reflecting on the powerful moment he came out to himself, Howell said: “I was sat quietly by myself thinking, OK, I want to talk about this publicly, I want to get this out of the way, I don’t want a skeleton in my closet.
“I just said out loud to myself: ‘I’m gay.’ It was really profound, [because] I’d been running away from that two-word admission my entire life.”
Daniel Howell struggled to speak openly about his depression, saying he didn’t want to be ‘judged’.
Elsewhere in the interview, Daniel Howell opened up about his struggle with depression – and revealed that he was afraid of speaking publicly about his mental health issues for fear that people would judge him.
“I didn’t want to be judged,” Howell said. “Are people going to want to work with me? Are friends going to ice me out? I was terrified, but then I put it out there into the world.”
The result, he said, was that people liked his videos even more.
“They are like, ‘This is funnier because you’re talking about real shit.’ Then I became the ‘mental health guy’. Great, I’m not just the relatable clown, now I’m the sad clown, which was the natural journey to me becoming the sad, gay clown a year later.”
Howell said he once attempted suicide as a teenager because he felt like it was his “only option to escape”.
“I was so wrong because every single minute of my life that passed as I got older, the world got so big and so open. The one thing to say to anybody that feels like they’re stuck in any kind of situation is, ‘You are never stuck, you might think you know everything, that there’s noting left, but there is a whole world out there, full of love and opportunity.'”
His family reacted with love when he came out via email.
In his wide-ranging coming out YouTube video released in 2019, Howell revealed that he told his family about his sexuality by email.
“I literally just sent them an email saying: ‘Hello gang. I’ve been meaning to talk to you all for a while, something quite important that should be disclosed at some point,'” Howell said.
“‘I thought I would around Christmas, then mum’s birthday, then last Easter Sunday etc but every time I meant to, I either felt like I would ruin the mood on the day or I just felt awkward and didn’t want to.
“‘So I decided to just email you all instead which is really inappropriate and just weird, but that somehow seems appropriate for me and at least I’ll just finally say it. Basically I’m gay,'” he said.
His family proved that his fears were unfounded after they responded with love and acceptance.
Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.