'I am helping people come to terms with who they are': Deepdale man bullied for being gay as a youngster is nominated for National Diversity Award
A volunteer from Deepdale who was shunned by his family for his sexuality has now been nominated for the National Diversity Awards in the Positive Role Model category following his dedication to charitable causes and raising awareness of mental health struggles.
Marcus Wright spoke of how his experience as a young child pushed him into a "deep, dark, depression" after he was relentlessly tormented and ridiculed for being different in school.
And members of his own family couldn't accept the fact he was gay, with some still not speaking to him to this day - a struggle that has almost pushed him to suicide on more than one occasion.
Having spent years getting his life back on track and coming to terms with who he truly is, the volunteer, who helps out at a not-for-profit youth theatre company based in Preston has now been nominated for the prestigious award in the Role Model category of the National Diversity Awards.
And in lockdown, he founded new podcast chat show 'Spill It', which hears him share inspirational stories to raise awareness surrounding mental health, body confidence, living with disabilities and LGBTQ+ rights in a bid to encourage dialogues and promote self-acceptance.
The 33-year-old previously won the Pride of Preston award in 2020 for his efforts working with the community in the pandemic in running his fun and inclusive 'Dance X' classes online, which saw him switch on Preston's Christmas lights in December.
Speaking to the Post, he said: "This award recognises people who are from diverse communities, whether they have disabilities, are members of the LGBTQ+ community or other minorities and awards them for their contributions to people's lives.
"It all started two years ago when I set up Dance X. I wanted to create a dance class where people could just have fun and was inclusive of everyone, no matter what your background is or who you are.
"In lockdown, I stepped up and began offering these classes online for free through Facebook Live because it was important to give people something to enjoy, especially during the first lockdown when so many were struggling and just needed a smile on their faces.
"This is what turned into me being nominated for the Pride of Preston award, because people who had attended my sessions and watched me on live streams had nominated me for my efforts throughout the pandemic."
And after the lockdowns continued and the Covid-19 pandemic continued to plague the country, Marcus used his time last summer, alongside working in retail, to create a web streamed chat show to discuss mental health issues, body image and struggles faced by the LGBTQ+ community to help people facing similar struggles.
From starting out as a small live stream in his bedroom, the podcast, titled 'Spill It' then began attracting high profile guests and is now streamed live in 11 countries and available on all popular platforms.
Listeners have now nominated him for this year's 'Role Model' category of the National Diversity Awards for his contributions to the LGBT community, with nominations open until early next month.
It is an award he hopes to bring home for his home city of Preston.
Marcus, who is married to partner Glen, said: "In lockdown, I noticed that a lot of people were caught up in their own little bubbles and weren't able to reach out and speak to people. You forget the outside world when you are in that space.
"I wanted to create another accessible channel where I could talk about difficult issues that different communities face and give people a chance to chat and connect with each other whilst being given advise and educated.
"Every week I speak to different guests and offer something different to my listeners, whether that be discussing mental health struggles, the LGBTQ community, coming out stories to body confidence and body image issues.
"People are reaching out to me to be on my podcast and talk about struggles personal to them - I am now fully booked with guests until December this year with people hoping to share their inspirational stories to connect people together."
Guests such as Geordie Shore's Nathan Henry, Rupaul's Drag Race stars Vinegar Strokes and Joe Black and American actress Brianne Davis are just some of the stars who have bared all and given personal struggles a spotlight with Marcus.
And through his work helping steer young people away from crime in Preston with the Kidz4Kidz theatre group, Marcus is hoping to win the accolade which will mark him as a notable role model for communities in Preston.
He added: "People should never have to hide who they are. I have always wanted people to recognise me for being me and want to make sure to shine a light on the struggles that I have faced.
"I am a role model for so many people and it is phenomenal to even be recognised for this award."
You can find out more about the National Diversity Awards and make nominations here.
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