Hi, I’m Steve,
By the time I was 17 I had spent the past 3 years trying to find escape mechanisms to get me away from the bullies and the internal battle I was going through with my sexuality. It wasn’t for a want of recognition that I helped establish the youth page in the local paper, or trained as a peer mentor for the school. It was an escape, and a chance to make sure that other people were heard and helped and didn’t have to go through the bullying I had gone through.
My bullying was not physical, it was mental, I was broken down and teased not because of my eyesight, but because it seemed that everyone knew about my sexuality before I did, and in the late 1990’s it was still a big issue to most.
I left home at 18, as so many young people do, I tried a few different avenues (some a couple of times) I went to uni, left, ran a youth festival, went back to uni, left again but throughout all these changes there was a constant in the background; The Diana Award. I would be having a bad day and receive an email or newsletter and it would pick me up again and invigorate my spirit to make a difference, and that feeling never goes away.
Throughout my twenties, I have had a bit of a turbulent time, and writing this feels a lot like drawing a line under those years and accepting them for what they were. In my early twenties I was sexually assaulted, I never felt able to settle anywhere, I led myself a long way into alcoholism and my self-esteem hit an all time low. Whilst I portrayed a healthy image on the outside, inside I struggled, I struggled a lot. My parent’s split up in my mid twenties and I took redundancy in my late twenties.
This month I turn 31, and have to say I am pleased my twenties are behind me, they taught me a lot of lessons and helped shape the person I am today, engaged to a man I love dearly and in a society where change is happening for the better.
The Diana Awards for Inspirational Young People was established in 1999 as a charity which endeavors to appreciate and celebrate the work which young people make to society. Find out more at http://diana-award.org.uk/