Hughie burden | 

Big Brother star Hughie Maughan recalls how 'difficult' it was telling his family he was gay

"I grew up around so much toxic masculinity that already exists in society but which is even worse in ethnic minorities which is why growing up I found it very, very hard"

Hughie Maughan

Jim Gallagher

TV star Hughie Maughan has opened up about how he wanted to end his life at age 16 after becoming so miserable over not being able to tell his Traveller family that he was gay.

The Big Brother and Dancing with the Stars celebrity said growing up around "so much toxic masculinity" was "extremely difficult" for him.

“I grew up around so much toxic masculinity that already exists in society but which is even worse in ethnic minorities which is why growing up I found it very, very hard", the 26-year-old told Virgin Media's Eating With the Enemy.

“If I had lived by my parents’ rules and lived what they thought was right, which was essentially homophobic until they understood and learnt more, I would probably be dead now.

“I attempted suicide when I was 16. It’s seven times more likely for a young Traveller man to die by suicide than it is in the rest of society when it is already the biggest killer of men under 40.”

Hughie with his dance partner Emily Barker on Dancing With The Stars

The Dubliner said to his dining partner, Tullamore Traveller rights activist Maureen Ward: “Do you not attribute a lot of that to how much pressure young Travellers feel underneath?

“And how scared they are to come out? How girls are so scared if they ever had sex outside of marriage, it means their life is ruined?”

Hughie, who came out in 2016’s Big Brother show in which he was the runner-up, told Maureen that traditional views “can really impact on people.”

He said: “I’m so passionate about Travellers having rights that I want to broaden people’s minds.

Hughie Maughan

“I want my nephews and nieces growing up to think, ‘I can be anyone I want to be. It doesn’t matter what background I come from. I’m not going to limit myself.’

“The most liberating decision I ever made was when I came out about my sexuality.”

Youth worker Maureen, who described herself as “very traditional” and who believed in God, her culture and her family, said she learnt a lot from Hughie over the meal.

Meanwhile, the reality star, who also appeared on RTE’s First Dates last month, revealed the full extent of his plastic surgery while chatting to Maureen.

“I’ve had liposuction in four areas, I’ve had some of that fat put into my bum to make it bigger and I’ve had lipfillers.

“I’ve had Botox, I’ve had cheek-fillers and my teeth aren’t real and I’m getting a hair transplant soon and I’m having liposuction again in four weeks time.

“I’m actually not someone who looks in the mirror and hates themselves but I see things I’d like to change.”

“Somebody having a boob job to sort out what they think is wrong is no different to someone going to the gym and losing two stone. It is sometimes as healthy a decision as that.

“I understand there is a negative side where people can become obsessed and it can really affect people’s lives.

“They are striving for something they can’t have but that’s not everyone, that’s just the extreme side.

“Which is why I support having surgery over the age of 21 and not 18. Now that I’m a bit older I’m happier.

“When I was 18 I’d have laid on the table and said to the surgeon, ‘Start from the toes up.’”

Hughie revealed that he recently moved home from the UK and was working as a residential care worker for vulnerable young adults.

“And now I want to move into the beauty industry and the aesthetic industry,” he said.

“I would be a practitioner that basically gives you lipfillers and Botox.”

Maureen said she did not believe in cosmetic surgery except for medical or wellbeing reasons.

“It’s not normal. We came into this world and whatever flaws we were given…

“I find that strange that anyone – never mind a Traveller – should get plastic surgery unless it’s needed for their health and wellbeing. I don’t think it’s necessary.”

Eating with the Enemy is on Virgin Media One on Wednesday at 9pm.

If you have been affected by any issues raised in this article, you can contact Samaritans helpline 116 123 or the Aware helpline 1800 80 48 48 or Pieta House on 1800 247 247.

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