#UnderageAndGay: Channel 4 Documentary Reveals The Dark Side Of Coming Out As A Teenager

Channel 4

"I've had phone calls from people saying they're going to murder me," says 15-year-old Beckham, as he explains the extent of the homophobic bullying he has been subjected to since he came out as gay.

The Bradford-born teenager is just one of the youths who took part in Channel 4's documentary Underage And Gay, which aired on Wednesday evening, and gave a glimpse into the dark side of coming out as a young person.

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Recent research showed half of LGBT young people had experienced bullying in schools, with a shocking 20% having attempted suicide at least once. And, as the programme revealed, it's no easy ride for many of Britain's LGBT youths.

"During the first two years of coming out I was bullied every day at school," Cariad, also 15, tells The Huffington Post UK. "Homophobic slurs were shouted at me constantly and I was always followed around by boys who said that they could 'change me'. They didn't. Obviously."

15-year-old Cariad

The Cardiff resident is adamant more support needs to be offered to gay youths, as school can get "awfully lonely" if you're underage and gay.

"I came out when I was twelve. I was absolutely terrified, so much so that the way I came out was someone told me, 'I think you'll be gay when you're older.' And I replied 'I'm gay now.' From family there was nothing but support for me. But school life was hard."

Cariad was relatively lucky, and had a strong friendship support group.

"My friends didn't care one bit. If anything they were excited to have the group with the lesbian, must have made them feel a bit edgy, as stupid as it sounds."

Although, she adds, "others weren't so supportive".

Beckham, who has just got a new job at a hairdressers, is keen to be open about his sexuality at work, as he has previously had to put on a front for the benefit of others.

"I always knew I was gay, even when I was younger all the boys were having their girlfriends and I got one but I knew thats not what I wanted," he tells HuffPost UK.

"But I have had to hide who I am and sometimes still do. For example, when I meet someone for the first time so that I can work them out and see if they would feel comfortable with the way I am.

"I shouldn't have to hide it but as LGBTs we sometimes have to for the safety of ourselves."

Beckham, 15, hails from Bradford

It's no surprise Beckham is concerned with his safety. During the documentary, it is revealed Beckham has been subjected to anonymous abuse, with one man calling his home saying: "You're gonna get murdered.. I'm gonna kicking your f**king head in you dirty b*****d."

The phone calls leave Beckham and his mother visibly shaken, particularly as they say they have had little support from the police.

"I will get a comments wherever I am, mostly due to social network sites not stopping or preventing this," he says. "I have received homophobic bullying from people for quite a while but I am not bothered in anyway because they don't influence me.

"[But it] makes angry that people can be so narrow minded."

Beckham also agrees there should be more support in schools across the UK, as young people "don't know of any contacts or places they can go for support, which can sometimes lead them to be frightened or worried if they come out".

Tamika, 16, is in the middle of her GCSEs and says she found it hard to fit in at school.

"I remember one time in science people were asking 'how do lesbians even have sex? It's not even sex.' And I'd be like 'yeah, no it's weird' and I'd laugh with them, knowing full well I was hurting myself inside.

"I just blended in with everyone else and it's only recently that I've embraced my gayness."

But amid the bullying and stigma, it's the fighting spirit of these youths which shines through.

Mykyla, who lives in Rugby, told us: "I have only suffered by homophobic bullying once and that was when someone called me a dirty dyke.

Teenager Mykyla from Rugby

"I felt angry and sad but then I just grew stronger. At the end of the day I can't change who I am and people may not like that. It's something that to me isn't a big deal 'cause I'm gay and I'm comfortable being open about it.

"My mum has always taught me to be who I am and not what people expect me to be."

Missed the show? Watch it on 4od.

A person's identity is their own to decide

Transgender Acceptance

Useful websites and helplines:

  • Beaumont Society is a national self help body run by and for the transgender community | 01582 412220
  • The Gender Trust supports anyone affected by gender identity | 01527 894 838
  • Mermaids offers information, support, friendship and shared experiences for young people with gender identity issues | 0208 1234819
  • LGBT Youth Scotland is the largest youth and community-based organisation for LGBT people in Scotland. Text 07786 202 370
  • Gires provides information for trans people, their families and professionals who care for them | 01372 801554
  • Depend provides support, advice and information for anyone who knows, or is related to, a transsexual person in the UK.

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