The queer pain of Daniel May is familiar to us all

Adam Lowe

Adam Lowe is an award-winning author, editor and publisher from Leeds, now based in Manchester. He runs Dog Horn Publishing and is Director and Writing Coordinator for Young Enigma, a writer development programme for LGBT young people.
Adam Lowe

You’ll remember that a short while back I covered the story that controversial First Dates star Daniel May had allegedly lied about being attacked to gain sympathy from the public. We then covered some of his more shocking statements as a self-professed ‘Gaytie Hopkins’, when he insulted trans women and disabled people.

At the time I thought twice about writing the article, because I worried about maligning a potential victim of homophobic violence. However, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right and that we, the press and the public alike, were being manipulated with the onslaught of screen shots and outlandish claims.

Now, in an interview with GuysLikeU magazine, Daniel May has confirmed that he did indeed make up the incident. Probably much like Daniel May, in a former life I’d be gloating and saying, ‘I told you so.’ But I can’t bring myself to feel anything but empathy today.

While it’s clear that May was trying to game the press and the public, I understand why. Beneath the very media-friendly narrative his latest interview gives is a very real cry of queer pain, and I recognise that pain a little too much.

All May has done is highlight the pain and pressures of being queer in a ruthlessly shallow society.

‘Gosh, I feel very ashamed to say this – but I feel this is the right thing to do – yes, it was a lie,’ he said.

‘I am not blaming anyone apart from myself, as we have to take responsibility for our own actions in life. I just regret I didn’t surround myself with the right people for advice.’

It’s a sad fact when we think that the best route to happiness is fame, and that the best route to fame is by emulating professional trolls like Katie Hopkins. But isn’t that what we’re sold?

Perhaps in another bid for sympathy, or in a final bout of honesty to clear his own conscience, May opened up about his past addiction to chemsex, and how he got clean thanks to treatment from the marvellous folks at 56 Dean Street. His story is of looking for meaning in a sea of meaningless encounters.

‘I think the majority of us seek attention, in lots of different forms. I know I certainly do… This is the reason I became addicted to drugs and later in life chemsex… I would go from sex party to sex party sometimes staying awake for five days. I never used protection and every week I must have been fucked by at least 30-40 men. I don’t know how the hell I’ve managed to remain HIV negative, but I count my blessings every day…

‘[At one point] I passed out and went into a 7 hour coma from an overdose of GHB at my one of my partners house while a sex party was going on. This was where I was raped.’

The LGBT scene that should have protected May, in this instance, was the very thing that hurt him. It’s not just his story – men gay and bisexual men experience these same things – but we got to see some of the fallout of that writ large in the press.

If more men were thrust from the sex parties and after-hours clubs of the scene and into the limelight, I actually dread to think what would come to light. But it wouldn’t surprise me at all, because it’s been happening for years now, and we’ve yet to fix the problem.

May took the time to apologise in the interview and his response seems heartfelt. He raises many issues I’ve often thought about – issues about the ways we, as a community, self-harm, yearn for and sabotage love, and undermine and undervalue ourselves.

In a sense, the curious case of Daniel May highlights much of what’s going on in our ‘community’. From isolation to abuse to bravado masking pain, and from chemsex to narcissism to internalised homophobia, it’s like a checklist of all the concerns we’ve been discussing and worrying about for years. Perhaps it’s also an indictment of our fame-hungry, consumerist culture in general.

Now it’s me trying to sift some kind of meaning from all this. Maybe there isn’t any. I don’t feel any the wiser for writing this, but I wanted to write it anyway, to acknowledge May’s apology and to highlight the dangers of courting the press (yes, I’m aware of the irony as I write this) for young men out there who might be in a similar place. Our popular culture doesn’t really allow for vulnerability or mistakes.

In the end, then, I’m not here to pass judgement. Let he who is without guilt cast the first stone, and all that. I’m just passing on the story so that we can all clear the air and move on. It’s done.

Good luck, Daniel! We at Vada wish you all the very best in the future!

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