“We’ve always known” , “Well I could’ve told you that” and “Well DUH! What a surprise!” were just some of the reactions that I received when I finally decided to come out.
I grew up not far from London Gatwick airport, in a small village called Copthorne. It’s about 30-40 minutes drive away from Brighton (which later became my local watering hole, but enough on that for now). My mum and dad were together throughout my childhood and together, with my two brothers one older and one younger, we lived in a fairly decently sized family home. We were very privileged growing up so early childhood, from what I remember, was never something that was a struggle for me.
Apparently as a young child, I was extremely flamboyant. My mum regularly describes the same story to me and to most people who ask about me being gay.
“I remember Harry was outside playing with his best friend Hollie” (Who still to this day remains to be my soulmate….just not the right gender) “And my friend Jane was round the house for a cup of tea and chit chat. We were looking outside of the kitchen window, just keeping an eye on the two of them playing together and Jane turned to me and said, ‘If that boy isn’t gay, i’ll eat my hat’ ”
So it was always something that, I guess was, kind of…expected of me. Which sounds strange because it usually isn’t that way. More often than not it comes as surprise to some parents…but not me…it was almost like a birthright.
Like I’ve said, my childhood was relatively easy. I sailed through pre-school from years 1-6 carefree. Spending my time after school cutting the heads off of Barbie dolls and flushing their heads down the toilet with Hollie. A pastime that wasn’t the most favoured by her parents, but was entertaining none-the-less.
High school is where life became more of a challenge. I started high school in 2004, a round faced, plump child with long curly hair. I was not the most elegant of swans in the pond…let’s just put it that way. Anyways by then, I had realised I was different. I had grown up knowing deep inside that I liked boys, but as it is, I was terrified to admit it.
I was never bullied in high school, in fact I was probably one of the most outspoken people in our year group. Looking back now, it was probably because I had such a burning secret inside me tearing me apart, that I just projected it on to being loudmouthed and outspoken. But the only difficulty I had was trying to hide my true self. For readers of this blog who don’t understand what it is like to hide that, imagine you are a werewolf in full exposure of the moonlight and you’re fighting the inevitable urge to change into your inner beast. It’s tiring, soul destroying, scary and at times physically painful.
I’ve spent all of my life interested in the performing arts and it is my greatest passion in life. Throughout high-school I spent most of my life in and out of relationships with girls, trying to constantly perform to everyone that I was straight…that I was “normal”. But even this type of performance eventually became tiresome. Of course, people would constantly make comments about me “Of course Harry is gay” but my greatest comeback would always be “But i’ve had sex with girls, so I can’t be”. How ridiculous was I ?!
It was made easier by having people fighting your corner of course. I made friends there that I wish to be in contact with for the rest of my life, simply because their constant support towards me, no matter what I was claiming to be was never ending. And to this day, after coming out, it still has never been faulted. Hollie, Katie, Barny and Paul. I love you all.
Eventually I left high school and proceeded on to study at a college that was closer to Brighton for two years. By now I was 16/17, still a rather plump individual, but in my head I felt a little bit more free. I don’t know to this day what it was about that place that helped me, but something did. I decided to give up bread for lent one year. I’m not particularly religious, I just fancied the challenge. This sparked a huge change in my life, and I managed to drop a hell of a lot of weight extremely quickly and this in turn helped me hugely with my self-confidence. I think looking back now, this was a huge turning point in terms of getting the courage to come out. I was becoming more sexually attractive and was just gaining more and more self confidence with each pound of weight that dropped. Eventually when I came round to my second year of college and had turned 18, I started to go out clubbing and when you’re so close to Brighton, where else is there to go!? I started going out more and ,as i’m sure most people are aware, when an excessive amount of alcohol is in your system, the firm hold you think you have on your inhibitions becomes looser and looser with each shot of tequila until eventually, you’re topless in a gay bar with your tongue so far down a guys throat begging for air.
Now, once you have been spotted by a few of your friends making out with several guys on several occurrences, the old “I was so drunk, it was a dare, it was a bit of fun” excuses become tiresome and eventually something has to give. So i accepted defeat. I admitted it.
“YEAH….OKAY!!!! I’M BISEXUAL”
Like hell was I bisexual. I had tasted the forbidden fruit and it unlocked something inside me that had been longing to be unlocked since birth. But, I couldn’t let anyone known that. I pretended to be bisexual because I thought it was more socially acceptable. I was a fool.
Anyways I managed to keep this charade up until I finished college. I must have either been one hell of a fine actor, or I was completely delusional and was ludicrously unconvincing. Either way, in my head, It was a secret.
I left college to study at The University Of Winchester to study Contemporary Performance, which is were I am about to graduate from. Now this is where my life finally began.
I started university in September of 2011. A new person. I was slim, I was more confident and I could leave my past of lies and performing as someone I wasn’t… behind. A new start.
Everyone during freshers week would ask me “Are you gay?” and finally, finally I just said it. “Yeah…erm…Yeah I am”. I remember telling the truth for the first time. It was the most nerve-wracking, exhilarating, uplifting and heart-warming thing I have ever done. Finally, I had done it.
And do you know what? Nobody cared. Nobody batted an eyelid at me. Nobody looked at me differently….I was completely…well….normal. I had shed the old me, quite literally, and almost like a caterpillar emerging out of it’s cocoon, I had blossomed into the true butterfly version of me.
I was me. I was Harry Casella. The human version of Harry Casella. I was no longer performing, no longer acting, no longer being the actor. I was being human Harry.
Shortly after embracing human Harry, I met someone. Literally, shortly after, in October I met someone.
Someone who I happily would say, is the love of my life.
I’m 21 now. I know some people might think i’m young. But when you know. You know.
It’ll be three years November 18th 2014.
I love him.
And no words, no discrimination, nothing….absolutely nothing….will change the fact that I am in love with a man. That I became human Harry. That I am proud to be gay.”
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