A contestant from The Voice UK was bullied for being gay
A contestant who is currently appearing on the latest season of The Voice UK has revealed he was bullied during high school for being gay, and music helped him get through the challenging period.
Tom Rickels told the Sunday Mirror he was a target of ongoing homophobic harassment during his time as a high school student at Brookfield Community School in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, with one student telling him he “may as well die”.
“My year in particular was lads, lads, lads,” he said.
“I was the black sheep completely. I played football for years but towards the end I thought, 'screw this, I’m going to be the music guy and stop pretending'.
“Most people were great but I did get stick too. I got told ‘you may as well just die’ once. I was called ‘queer’ and told ‘you’re that f***** who’s into music’.
"Anything to belittle me. I never told the teachers - I just became a musical recluse.
“My brothers were amazing and used to defend me. There was a time when I didn’t want to continue my education though. Back then it felt like my world but now I think, ‘who gives a s***?’”
Rickels said it was playing music that helped him to manage this difficult period, which led him to compose songs on a keyboard his parents had given him as a seven-year-old.
“I wrote songs, they were awful but I kept writing.” he told the Sunday Mirror.
"The shower head and my bedroom was the only singing training I ever had but I did take up the flute and guitar and have a teacher for those.
“It sounds lame and cliched but I genuinely feel I was put on this world to write, sing and make people happy.”
And now with the likes of Boy George, Ricky Wilson and Will.I.am all currently competing to mentor the 22-year-old from Bristol, it seems Tom is definitely in good stead to share his talents with the world.
You can watch his performance of a Want To Want Me and Love Me Like You Do mash up on The Voice UK 2016 Blind Auditions below: