A Labour MP fought back tears several times while he opened up to Parliament about struggling with his mental health and addiction when trying to come out as gay.
Dan Carden, who has been Liverpool Walton’s MP since 2017, spoke out about his past to destigmatise asking for help. His voice broke several times during his speech as part of a debate to mark the end of Pride Month.
He said: ‘If I could give one piece of advice to a young person today it’d be this: be proud of who you are and who you choose to love.
‘You may have had the frightening realisation that you feel different to the expectations that society has for you, you may be questioning your relationships, your gender, your sexuality.
‘It is frightening, there’s good reason to be fearful, coming out is scary and you might suffer because of it. But what you probably haven’t been told is that hiding who you are into adulthood will cause you far more suffering anyway.
‘Just growing up LGBT, the cumulative effect of those daily denials, the constant fear of being found out and the internalised shame causes a deep trauma.’
Then the 34-year-old went on to tell Parliament how he had needed ‘repeated interventions’ to admit he was battling with mental health issues and alcohol addiction.
He continued: ‘Only looking back now have I been able to accept that in my 20s I nearly lost my life to alcohol twice.
‘I was saved only by the actions of others. Drinking was destroying my body and damaging me and my relationships in so many other ways.
‘Alcohol addiction isn’t about drinking every day or drunkenness, for me it was about losing who I was over a long period of time.
‘It was desperate isolation, shutting down my personal life and using a drug – alcohol – to feel better, but ultimately to escape and giving up on living.’
Giving others hope, he explained that he is now happy and surrounded by love.
He added: ‘I am now in the third year of recovery and I am proud. Like so many in the recovery community, I am happy, I love my life, I have a wonderful loving partner and I appreciate everything that I have.
‘I have gone from not recognising addiction in myself, to seeing it everywhere – doing its worst damage in the most deprived communities… I hope my openness today can help challenge the stigma that stops so many people asking for help.’
In the same debate, senior Wallasey MP Dame Angela Eagle urged the Government to make the transition process for trans people ‘more humane’.
The 60-year-old, who calls herself ‘proud lesbian, proud feminist and trans ally’, said: ‘The Government must follow international best practice and allow for trans and non-binary people to obtain legal gender recognition through a simple administrative process.
‘And to address a myth head on, this does not mean that Keith will be able to identify as Kathy whenever they choose, and then switch back again.
‘It actually means that trans people can establish their legal status in a simple process and then do the things the rest of us take for granted, like getting married in the right gender, have their pension and insurance policies administered in the right gender.’
She continued: ‘The current bureaucratic, demeaning and intrusive process, which involves them having to get doctors to agree that they are suffering from a mental illness and then certify that they have lived in their preferred gender for two years, is no longer fit for purpose.’
Although Pride Month is celebrated in June, to mark the June 1969 Stonewall riots, London’s 2021 Pride march is set for September 11 and September 12 because all coronavirus restrictions are expected to be lifted by then.
Other parts of the country also have Pride marches planned for later this year.
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