Fulwood man opens up about mental health fight - with a little help from drag queens

A Fulwood man who thought he'd never dance again rediscovered his passion for the stage - with high heels, make-up, and a lot of sequins.

Monday, 29th July 2019, 6:17 pm
Updated Monday, 29th July 2019, 7:17 pm
Ashley Banks and his mum meet the queens

Ashley Banks, 33, is one of the stars of the latest episode of Channel 4's Drag SOS, which follows a 'family' of larger-than-life drag queens as they take on unlikely protegees in the hope of putting them in touch with their fabulous side.

The jeweller, who lives on Masonwood, signed up for the show to shed light on his struggle with depression.

He said: "It was a really positive experience. I've had loads of messages from people I've not spoken to in years and everyone is looking forward to seeing the show tomorrow.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Ashley Banks

"I used to perform. I did dance at university and I didn't enjoy my course as much as I wanted to. In the holidays I had an accident and hurt my back. I became really depressed and didn't want to do anything; I thought if I can't dance what can I do? I went into a spiral and became really low and suicidal. I still tried to hide it from the people around me because I was embarrassed.

"Now that I'm coming through the other side, I find it really good to talk about it."

Ashley took part in the filming in November along with two other Preston locals looking to regain their lost confidence through the magic of drag.

"It really did change the way I was feeling and made me feel a lot better in myself, and made me feel more confident," he said. "The whole thing was amazing.

Ashley in costume

"It was a little strange at first because you're dressed in clothes that you would never wear. They gave us make-up, wigs and outfits. It was the full experience and it did get me to open up a bit more.

"It made me think if I can speak to the whole country I should find it easier to speak to those who are closest to me. I think it's really important that people do talk about their feelings and that's why I wanted to do the show.

"All the drag queens were just fantastic people and the whole thing was brilliant, and I would recommend it to anyone. It gives you a whole different outlook on things."

Drag SOS will air on Channel 4 tomorrow at 10pm.