Meet Neil — Contributor

Neil Thomas considers himself descent, honest, law-abiding, loving, happy and admirable… at least, as he puts it “This is what we all aspire to be. We fail. Why? The aspiration for beauty doesn’t make us beautiful…”

In fact, a bit closer to reality and the truth, Neil enjoys being ‘naughty’, and loves partying with his many great, lovely and close friends. He is blissfully partnered with a man who came into his life just at the right time to be able to be fully appreciated. As he approaches retirement, he is moving away from the service industry — serving and pleasing the masses; he aims to provide services advice on a consultancy basis to companies on a part-time to support a new direction with something more meaningful to help individuals. He is an amazing masseur, complimenting this with starting Reiki practice and plans to extend these with two more therapies: Emotional Freedom and Electromagnetic Field Balancing techniques, and follow-up with Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Life coaching skills. In mastering these healing techniques and empowerment skills, he hopes to help people who are ready to move on from the pain, destructive habits and addictions in their lives.

In his own words:

What prompted you to share your story in ‘Love Me As I Am’?

I saw the value of writing the letter to myself at the age of thirteen as a cathartic process but it quickly dawned on me that prejudice and inequality encompasses much more than just sexual identity. I wanted to reach out to the younger generation who may be suffering narrow-mindedness, confusion and isolation. But I also wanted to address potential perpetrators and emphasise that we must respect and celebrate diversity rather than alienate and damage people.

What we focus on here is homophobia but the same basic principle applies to a disability, mental illness, obesity, anaemia, someone’s ethnicity or simply because they’re bespectacled. If someone doesn’t quite conform to the mainstream, should it really lead to bullying and hate crime?

In our early years we tend to take life for granted, perhaps we fail to understand the wonderfulness of life’s diversity. We don’t always appreciate that sometimes our circumstances can change dramatically. We may, in turn, become the victim of prejudice simply due to ill-health, injury or disability.

It’s important for parents to realise that children are not simply there to live their parent’s lives by proxy. Neither can they always be expected to fulfil a parent’s expectations or selfish need for grandchildren. Parents should be mindful of how they speak to their children in their formative years – and try hard not to judge. Encourage an openness, expression and honesty. Children must be given the latitude to be free and to be who they need to be.

Belonging to a group is fundamental human need. A gang leader’s agenda to impress their mates, play the ‘comedian’ or even divert attention from their own failings and fears can be extremely damaging to the targeted individuals. Before going along with the crowd and being abusive, we must check our own beliefs, develop values and make a judgement to step away from conspiring in cruelty.

Did sharing your story have an imp[act in your own life?

Life is very different in the large conurbations to what one might experience in the small towns and villages tucked away where lifestyle freedoms are still challenged by those societies. Primarily I wrote the story because I wanted to reach out to people. In the process of collating some of my homophobic experiences I gained an understanding of the jigsaw puzzle of my own genesis. Realising the power of fear; fear of being judged and fear of rejection and how it messed up my life for three decades. Lacking the confidence and being afraid to be me! The process has led to a better understanding of my own past and what was the consequential, repetitive negative behaviour. I have long since acknowledging my my part and my experiences affected the relationship with myself and others.

One never stops learning about oneself! I’m very thankful for this fantastic opportunity to share my story. This process has made me look back with some love and understanding to how some people behaved towards me.

I’ve always been a strong character with a tenacity to get through life’s challenges but this process has overthrown the remaining past legacies. I’ve dumped the last vestiges of internalised homophobia, and self-recrimination. Understood the effect of compounded shame and I’ve now overcome what was the inertia of perhaps just merely existing.

I’ve moved forward with a new wonderful and powerful momentum. My self-esteem seems to have shot through the roof and I’m experiencing an amazing positive buzz. I’m facing my fears. I am  now in an  extremely exciting new phase of my Life. I’m also starting to helping others around me to do the same. I’m highly focused in the “Now” and bringing true authenticity, creativity and vitality into my life.

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