Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: ITV/Polydor
Noel Sullivan has claimed he was forced to hide his sexuality after shooting to fame on the ITV docuseries Popstars and joining the resulting band Hear'Say in 2001.
The band - also comprised of Myleene Klass, Kym Marsh, Suzanne Shaw and Danny Foster - scored number one hits 'Pure and Simple' and 'The Way To Your Love' before disbanding in 2002.
Revisited the period in a new interview with Metro, Noel - now a successful actor - admits he had to move to the US to avoid abuse from the fickle public after the break-up.
"I was made to feel like there was something wrong with me"
Asked 'what’s the hardest thing you’ve had to process since Hear’Say?', the 41-year-old replied: "That’s more than 60 seconds with me - that’s a book! I think the hardest at that age was them hiding my sexuality, being told that if I wanted to be in the band then I couldn’t talk about who I was. It was a very damaging time."
He explained: "It’s taken me a lot of years to get over that shame and find acceptance. I was made to feel like there was something wrong with me and no kid should ever have to feel like that. If I could have my time again I would have spoken up but I didn’t have the knowledge or the strength. I was only 19."
The Years and Years actor - who did not reveal who he meant by 'them' - added of his move to the States: "Yeah, straight after Hear’Say - it was pretty brutal here. I couldn’t really function without people giving me abuse on the streets. I was like, ‘I’m gonna go to America where nobody knows who I am, where I can do stuff without being judged.’"
Noel came out publicly as gay in 2017. The star is currently appearing in How To Survive An Apocalypse at Finborough Theatre, London.