The owner of a fitness brand recently said he would love to hear why I set up LGBTQ Wellness.co. I thought nothing of it, until I’d finished typing my response and realised I’d poured my heart out to him on a page. It was then I realised my entire website had been built from the foundations of my pain. I have created something so incredibly beautiful and pure, from something so incredibly raw. I have created something amazing, and I am incredibly friggin’ proud!
The last twelve months has been very tough; two weeks before lockdown I found out my boyfriend was cheating on me, knowing he was rejecting me for not being ‘masculine’. I had too much time to think over my pain and rejection while being on furlough, and I was unable to see my friends and family for the support I so desperately needed. I later lost my job, and then lost my last lifeline through my group exercise income. I’ve been unemployed for five months, and lost £7,000 on an expensive London tenancy. I’ve been recovered from anorexia for 6 years, and yet in the last five months my eating disorder has resurfaced at overwhelming speed.
At 32, I’m living back at my mother’s, rebuilding myself financially, and emotionally.
This is my story…
I worked in banking for thirteen years; it was an incredibly successful career, and as a young, camp, gay person, I had worked hard to get the respect and reputation I created. I thrived within a very hetro-masc world. I was a young success.
Banking was great, but I always knew that one day I’d want to follow my dream of working in fitness. In 2019, I made the transition – I had been building up to it for four years. Within six months of managing a gym in this new and exciting industry to me, COVID-19 struck, and I was put on furlough.
In June 2020, after the first lockdown, I setup a bootcamp for LGBTQ+ people to get people outdoors, exercising, and interacting again. I needed to do something to help the mental health of our community, but I didn’t understand why I needed to, until I wrote this blog.
Launching the bootcamp gave me time to build up a group exercise client base, ahead of my anticipated redundancy which ultimately happened for Oct 31st, at the end of furlough.
I fought like a warrior to build a fitness brand to cover some of my London living costs. I was up against established brands who had been building their client base years before. I didn’t even know how to use Instagram (seriously) – I had to learn quickly, and adapt fast. It was going well, I was getting new clients each week and people seemed to like me. I thought things were going to be okay.
Then, in November, we went into lockdown. Unfortunately for me, the majority of group exercise clients did not want to participate in online workouts. I suddenly found myself locked into an expensive London tenancy, with no group exercise income, and no job.
The year had already been tough on me. In February I had found that my boyfriend was cheating on me. I was too feminine for him, and we had discussed separating, but I didn’t see the discussion as an agreement to begin seeing other people. His rejection of me by cheating on me, while selfishly still taking my love from me for his own emotional needs, crushed me. I entered the first lockdown, heartbroken, and unable to see my friends and family for support I so desperately needed.
2020 felt like the Universe was stripping me back to my very core; forcing me to look at myself as nothing but the skin and bone I’m made of. I had been rejected for being my authentic self, leaving me with a feeling of deep inadequacy as a partner, and I’d lost all financial security, and the value that I assigned to being successful. I entered a very dark state of depression.
I packed some belongings, and went to my mother’s in the Welsh countryside to begin processing everything that was happening to me. I took a very big look at who I was, where my life had landed, and wondered how I was going to overcome the intense pain I was experiencing. I cried, and I cried, and I cried. I was spent.
It was in that pain that I saw some clarity – I realised I was going to heal by helping our community heal. I needed to take everything I’d learned about physical and emotional wellbeing to improve lives of LGBTQ+ people, one small act at a time.
I set up LGBTQ Wellness.co to provide our community with one platform which houses resources for their physical and emotional wellbeing. I wanted to help LGBTQ+ trainers and wellness professionals improve their visibility online. I wanted to help us all get back on our feet, collectively as a unit.
The website is, in effect, all my pain and suffering, channelled into something beautiful, healing and useful for the whole of our community.
This website is my healing, and I’m incredibly friggin’ proud of what I’ve created.
Pronouns: just call me James
Titles: Owner of LGBTQ Wellness.co, Recovered Anorexic currently battling resurfacing disorders, Big Softey