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Nathaniel

 

Nathaniel

 
 
 

My story is about trying to amplify stories of other people that aren’t heard as often as me, and hopefully bring change by doing that.

 
 

I was a fairly normal guy growing up. I never felt othered too much. Recently I took part in some research, and the person interviewing asked my friends three words to describe me - one of the words they chose was ‘woke’. When Mark Duggan was murdered by police, I was very much like “why are we rioting? We shouldn’t riot, this is wrong and is making everyone look bad”. Someone said to me in response - “you sound just as bad as the police.” I had to take a step back and think about why I thought this way. I started learning about why people riot, what pushes communities to do things like that where literally everyone participates. I started thinking a little bit differently about things, and why the world is the way it it is. You’re aware of your own morality growing up y’know, that I’m a young Black mixed man and I’m gonna get stopped and searched, but it was hard to see outside of that. After the riots and beginning to do more reading, I realised that I still had loads of privilege as a cisgender straight man. Disabled people aren’t heard, women aren’t heard, trans people aren’t heard - so what can I do to bring about change so those people can be accepted in society as themselves?

 
 
 
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I used to watch First Dates a lot. There was a postlady on it who was a butch lesbian. She was talking about the idea of ‘plenty more fish in the sea’ - and how that’s only true when the fish are attracted to you. So of all the fish in the sea, there’s a smaller amount of gay ones, then there’s a drop that are attracted to girls like her. I always think of that when young ‘straight’ people criticise queer people for being in interracial relationships and things like that, they don’t get the fact that if you’re a straight guy or girl, there’s plenty out there. There’s not many places for you to go when you don’t have the whole ocean of fish.

 
 
 

I often talk about marginalised people having to reach a financial level where they can afford to be themselves.

When Beyoncé released Lemonade, media outlets and fans were like “oh my god Beyoncé’s Black!”, when her Black fans had known all along of course, but she’d reached a level where she could be that now. P Diddy has the whole Black excellence thing, but he couldn’t have done that 25-30 years ago when he was trying to get a name for himself in the music industry. With Serena Williams, where she got that fine and lost that game last year, people still reduced her to nothing. Tennis will probably never allow her to fully be herself without repercussions. It’s frustrating that we live in this situation.

 
 
 

My writing and the work I do on mental health is about raising awareness. But it’s just the first stage, and the next is how to look at we help people. As you get older, you realise that everyone has a story of being in close proximity to suicide, particularly for queer people. I do a lot of community work because I feel like there’s something about being around other people that’s good for us, on a core level. So often you can get lost in your phone and live that life, but you need both. I want more people to be not just accepted, but helped.

Society is failing them, and society needs to be better. We’re all in society, so we all need to do better.

 
 
 

You can follow Nathaniel on Twitter and Instagram.


He co-founded
SwimDemCrew, an inner city swim club who believe in the power of community. (They also sell wicked merch.)

Their podcast ‘The Current’ explores the stories of the people in and beyond their community, I’d highly recommend subscribing.