What LGBT+ means to me

My name is Mark. I'm autistic, I'm gay and I have learning disabilities as well.

I believe in love so much. I'm part of the LGBTQIA+ community. We need to be recognised and we need love the same as everyone else. If you are in a minority then it's much harder to be accepted. Things are getting better with the LGBT+ campaigns but it beggars' belief the way things were in the past. Being gay for me is many different things. I've never known anything else. I've known I was gay since I was 5 years old. When you're really young it isn't a sexual thing, you just know it in your bones. I felt it so strongly, this special connection to feminine things. I've always had a feminine voice and my hero growing up was Kenny Everett, I loved how he put his gayness into everything and made everything sparkle.

When I was young there was nowhere I could be myself. When I came out it was a very negative experience. I came out when I was at a Christian secondary school and I was bullied horribly for it. I was even sent for gay conversion therapy - at the time I went along with it as I knew no better but afterwards I thought this is mind numbing, it's not good. When I was 19 years old, I went to college and had a much better time as it was more cosmopolitan and everyone accepted each other for who they were. I remember there was an end of term concert and I did a really camp act and it went down like a house on fire. It was outrageous and it was so much fun! Being autistic and gay is just me. I can't understand why people don't accept it. For every bad experience and person who doesn't understand, there are lots of great people who support and accept us. I believe love can heal everything. You can't go wrong, it's just amazing. Hear Mark's full interview on our Sunny Sessions radio show on Thursday 17th February at 11am on Surrey Hills Community radio: www.surreyhillsradio.co.uk/listen

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