Dan Howell fans share supportive messages after he opens up about mental health
14 June 2019, 15:34
"I want anyone who's ever felt like this to realise you are never trapped. There is always hope. You just need to believe in yourself and get to the other side."
Daniel Howell's "coming out" video may well have sent the internet into an absolute meltdown last night (June 13), but it was his powerful story about how he was driven to attempt to take his own life, and his discussion of mental health that is arguably one of the most important parts of the story.
As you're probably aware by now, Dan returned to YouTube after several months away with a video titled "Basically I'm Gay" in which he opened up about his sexuality and his relationship with his long-term YouTube partner Phil Lester.
"Basically I'm Gay" is an anomaly amongst the many 'coming out' videos on YouTube. Instead of an intimate, bedroom setting with minimal editing that we're used to in coming out videos, Dan opted for something different, almost theatrical; a dark backdrop with subtle neon lighting, graphics and illustrations popping up over 45 minutes, while Dan wears shiny, black sequin jacket. It was a very deliberate and intentional break from what has gone before.
And while ostensibly the video is about Dan coming out to his audience, nearly 10 years since he uploaded his first video to the platform, there is a greater sense of purpose to what Dan was trying to achieve with this video.
As he retold his story about his struggles with his sexuality, the bullying he received at school and media speculation about his private life and how that affected his mental health, he also spoke about how his story fitted within broader themes like gender, sexism and internalised homophobia - meaning it felt more like a video about the long-lasting dangers of living in a heteronormative society can have on queer people, especially on their mental health.
In his video, Dan goes into detail about the homophobic bullying he suffered throughout his teenage years while at school. The torment, he says, got worse as time went on.
"[The bullies] started heavy drinking and getting into drugs and things suddenly got quite scary, as people joked about setting fire to a tent as I slept in it at Reading Festival, or saying, 'You know that notoriously unstable guy? Yeah, he says he's going to kill you next Saturday.'"
He continued: "This was definitely the lowest point in my life. I just felt totally alone. Confused. And I deeply hated myself. I used to ask God in case he was there to please just make me straight and everyone stop. But I saw no end. No escape. No way to change the world or who I was. So, one evening I thought 'fuck it' and attempted suicide. I say attempted because just before it was too late I thought...[cuts to graphic]"
"I felt kinda bad for a few days but otherwise I pretended it never happened and I didn't tell anyone. Until now. Literally."
this really feels like a new chapter for me. i doubted all my life that the world would change to be a place i could personally feel open and accepted and that’s because of all of you. thank you. pic.twitter.com/IONmKeygR2— Daniel Howell (@danielhowell) June 13, 2019
Dan continues with a powerful message of hope for those who are or have been in similar positions.
"I know. Pretty dark, right? But hey, spoiler, things kinda worked out! I mean, still got a lot of issues but here I am!"
"I'm so glad I failed, for so many reasons. For people in my life, for the future I would have wasted. The most important being that I thought I was trapped in a situation forever when in reality the entire world I lived in and my life changed completely. I thought it was hopeless but there was so much to hope for. And that's it. Time changes everything. With the lives we have, we can try anything we've dreamed of. I want anyone who's ever felt like this to realise you are never trapped. There is always hope. You just need to believe in yourself and get to the other side."
Amen to that.
Fans have been sharing Dan's message and applauding him for his honesty and bravery in sharing his story.
dan howell talking about suicide attempt, homophobia, labels, bullying, mental health, finding yourself and being comfortable in your own skin is so important and i cant even explain how much respect i have for this man— joana loves paulina AND DAN (@readingdnp) June 13, 2019
today, you not only started a new chapter in your life 💖 today, you also gave us a magical, precious gift sorely needed in our world. today you gave us HOPE 🏳️🌈 thank you so, so much for sharing your story with us, dan. we are so proud 💕— fi 🌸 𝕙𝕒𝕡𝕡𝕪 𝕡𝕣𝕚𝕕𝕖 𝕞𝕠𝕟𝕥𝕙 🏳️🌈✨ (@psychicmoth) June 14, 2019
happy #PrideMonth, @danielhowell ❤️🌈✨ pic.twitter.com/1oH7fEpA4i
dan howell is truly an lgbt icon. he shared his stories in a coming out video about bullying, religion & self-hatred. even attempted suicide. he touched on knowing he is more privileged than other people by being white and cis which i have never seen before in a video. a KING pic.twitter.com/YWOcO6dCqI— eleanor 🏳️🌈 (@tatinof) June 14, 2019
My art to celebrate the amazing and inspiring video from @danielhowell. Thank you so much for not giving up, for existing, and for spreading such important and life-changing messages to so many people who need it ❤️ pic.twitter.com/HTvD81BcHm— Vic | PROUD OF DAN HOWELL (@incaseyouart) June 14, 2019
He’s here, he’s queer, and he’s full of existential fear— Hayley ✨💙 (@dyxnamic_art) June 14, 2019
I can’t express how much @danielhowell’s story and words impacted me and made me feel proud and accepted
Queer people exist. Choosing not to accept them is not an option so here’s a little doodle of one pic.twitter.com/SNQ61IWtwM
'internalized oppression', homophobia, suicide attempts, bullying, labels, mental health, self-hatred, harassment, toxic masculinity, standing up for social justice, upholding yourself with pride.— JUSTICE FOR HANBIN (@Alina_707) June 13, 2019
I can't tell you how much I love and respect him. Dan Howell deserves the world. pic.twitter.com/Do7zpjMvQk
If you're affected by any of the issues discussed in this piece, make sure you head over to Samaritans website for help and advice.
In the description of his video, Dan also linked to various charities and help lines, should anyone need any helpful resources. You can find them here.