Blue star Duncan James has said being in a boy band with a predominantly female fanbase made it hard for him to find the “courage” to come out as gay.
The 43-year-old singer said the existence of TV series such as It’s A Sin, the hit Channel 4 drama about the Aids crisis, and RuPaul’s Drag Race helped young LGBT people be honest about their sexuality.
James announced he was bisexual in a newspaper interview in 2009, after nearly a decade in the spotlight, but would later describe himself as gay.
Appearing on Rylan Clark’s Ry-Union podcast, he recalled his struggle before coming out to the public.
He said: “I think being in such a public boy band, with majority of fans being female, it was really hard for me to actually have the courage to come out because I was scared on so many different levels on so many different things.
“And, to be honest, I didn’t quite understand too much about my own sexuality at that time, I was just really confused.
“So I was kind of just like all over the place and, what with the height of the fame and everything, it was just one of those things where I kind of buried it inside me and I didn’t want to accept it and want to think about it.
“And we didn’t have any kind of television programmes that embraced the LGBT+ community back then, you know – there was no RuPaul’s Drag Race, there was no TV shows like It’s A Sin.
“You know, I think the closest thing we got to anybody being a gay icon was Nadia (Almada) from Big Brother. She was the original in many ways.
“And it wasn’t until, I guess, people were being visible on our screens that it gave me the kind of strength and the courage to actually think ‘Right, I need to be visible too’.”
James described coming out in 2009 as the “best thing” he ever did.
“I just wanted to run away and hide because I didn’t know if I was going to be queer-bashed in the streets. I didn’t know what was going to happen. And I was petrified,” he said.
“But, to be fair, it was the best thing I ever did. And I think, when you’re living with one of those secrets inside you, and you’re frightened to come out, I think everything is magnified on a great big level.
“And I was really, really, really scared that everything was gonna… my world was gonna come crashing down.
“But actually, in hindsight, it was never as bad as I thought it was going to be. And it wasn’t a big deal.
“And when I came out, it was obviously like, a huge weight had been lifted. And I was just really grateful that I wasn’t beaten up in the streets.”
– Ry-Union is available on all podcast platforms.