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'Shipwrecked's Sean: 'My brother and I struggled to accept being gay growing up on an Army base'

The model and reality star shares his coming out story as he poses for the Attitude Body Issue 2019.

2019-03-11

When he sailed onto E4's Shipwrecked last month, Sean Lineker quickly found his personal life broadcast across the nation as he struck up an unexpected island romance with fellow castaway Chris Jammer.

The pair's handwritten notes, adorable Ocean-side antics, and nude portrait posing (you can remind yourself of that particular moment here) quickly proved popular with viewers, but for Sean, who grew up in a British Army base in Europe, shining a spotlight on his sexuality wasn't always so easy. 

As he poses for an exclusive shoot and interview in the Attitude Body Issue - available to download and to order globally now - the 27-year-old model and Attitude Sales Account Manager tells us that both he and his brother, who is also gay, struggled to come to terms with their sexuality in the macho confines of a close-knit military community.

"Growing up, a lot of my friends and people I was surrounded by wanted to be like their mums and dads who were in the Army," Sean explains.

Sean Lineker, shot by Jose Pope exclusively for Attitude's Body Issue

"I think a lot of people were heavily influenced by the atmosphere around us: it was very masculine, everyone wanted to be in the Army, and I didn't fit in with that. I tried to make myself like those things even though I didn't.

"I always got asked 'Don't you want to be in the Army?' and the thought of it killed me."

He continues: "I think I've always known [I was gay] but I was in so much denial about it, I couldn't even say the words out loud, never mind to anyone else.

"Even during my first and second years at university in Bournemouth I wasn't out at all: I'd go out and be 'one of the lads' and get with girls.

 

Photography: Jose Pope

"Everyone has these stories about straight friends that they 'did' stuff with, but I never had that, ever. It wasn't until I did work experience in London that I met my first boyfriend.

"I was head over heels; he was like no one I'd ever met before in my life. That was totally my first experience being with a boy."

He adds: "That led to me going back to Bournemouth and telling my uni friends and telling them I was gay. They were all quite shocked but they were fine about it. And then as soon as I came out to them I got dumped!"

Despite finally coming to terms with his identity, Sean didn't know how to bring up the issue of his sexuality with his parents - a fact made more complicated by the fact his younger brother Jack was also coming to terms with being gay.

Out and proud: Sean wasn't always so confident in his own skin

"I moved to London but was living two separate lives: I didn't tell my mum and dad because they were going through their own stuff at the time. My dad had left, there was a lot of arguing and I didn't want to be a 'burden' to them - or that's how I saw it at the time," Sean recalls.

"I also knew my little brother was gay as well - just from certain things he would do and say that were very simlar to me -  and I worried that if I came out as gay first it would stop him coming out, because then it would be like a 'double blow' to my mum, even thought she's totally fine with it, she doesn't care at all. But that was my thought-process at the time.

"Jack eventually told me [he was gay], and then I messaged him a week later and said 'Jack I've got something to tell you', and then I came out to him. He said 'I've known for ages I was waiting for you to tell me!' and was like 'Oh, same!'

Sean with his younger brother Jack (right)

"A week after that I told my mum, and it was such a relief not having to live two lives, and being able to tell my mum everything that was going on with boyfriends and things like that.

"It was amazing, honestly one of the best things I've done. Jack ansd I go on nights out together, he tells me about who he's dating and I'm the same.

"I highly recommend having a gay brother, because honestly, we speak about everything and it's made us so much closer."

Check out Sean's full shoot and interview in the Attitude Body Issue, out now.

Buy now and take advantage of our best-ever subscription offers: three issues for £3 in print, 13 issues for £19.99 to download to any device.