Years & Years’ Olly Alexander has opened up about homophobic bullying driving him to self-harm

The singer discusses the issues he faced after coming out as a teen in a new documentary

Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander has opened up about the homophobic bullying he experienced after coming out as gay as a teenager.

The singer has made a documentary, called Growing Up Gay, for the BBC’s Gay Britannia series in which he discusses how the bullying led him to bulimia and self-harm.

The 26-yer-old returns to his secondary school in Monmouth in the hour-long programme and speaks to his mother, who raised him as a single parent after splitting up with his father.

Alexander told the Evening Standard: “I think I knew I was gay from a very young age, probably in primary school. By secondary school I was just in denial. It wasn’t until I was 18 or 19 that I fully accepted it and came out to my friends and my mum.

“I went to a bog-standard comprehensive school, and there wasn’t such a thing as LGBT people – they just didn’t exist. There was no inclusive sex or relationship education – I feel like that really would have helped me.”

He continued: “School wasn’t a pleasant environment. When I was bullied it was two things. It’s the language — being called a ‘fag’ or ‘poof’. Being picked on. Being called ‘gay’ as a negative word — it still is, really. Then there was the physical side — I got into a few fights.”

Speaking about how he dealt with the bullying he suffered, he said: “Bulimia and self-harm were a way of coping with that. Cutting was a coping mechanism. I was in a really dark place. It’s still really difficult for me to talk about.

“What I want to get across [in the documentary] is that there is hope — you don’t have to feel like that, if you have the right access to support, friends or family.”

Speaking about the film, he explained: “What struck me is how really good we are at hiding things. I can’t turn back time, but if  I had been able to be honest with people it would have helped.”

Growing Up Gay will air on BBC Three on July 18 and on BBC One later in the month.