“For years I felt like a lesser human. I hated myself.”
Lachlan Beaton was haunted by his secret for more than a decade — convinced he’d face rejection if he confessed to the people he loved.
“From the age of probably 14 or 15 I knew that… I was attracted to men and I felt like such an outcast,” he says. “I grew up in an area where it felt wrong to be gay.”
Beaton was raised in country Victoria, then moved to St Hilda’s college at Melbourne University, where he played and coached at the university football team.
For more than a decade, he was so ashamed and frightened expressing his sexuality that he engaged in self-destructive behaviour to “hide it” — drinking heavily, becoming depressed and even feeling suicidal.
“I hated who I was. I could cry on a weekly basis, wishing I wasn’t this person who was born into this world,” Beaton, now 34, says in a powerful new video shared on YouTube. “I felt like if I were to come out… that I would be disowned and that people would stop loving me”.
He adds in the video: “Most of all I would numb the pain by drinking.
“It was 10 to 12 years of hating myself that… destroyed my soul during that period.
“I felt that I wasn’t a worthy person. I thought that I would be hated for being who I am, and I thought that nobody would ever love me again.”
At age 27, Beaton finally found the courage to come out — and to his amazement, he found his revelation was “very well accepted” by those around him.
He says he hasn’t endured one single negative response from the guys in his footy club — and that’s ironic and sad, he tells Mamamia, because “[i]f I had’ve known society were so accepting I would not have gone through so much pain.”
In fact, the video was so warmly welcomed by Beaton’s old footy team, that it posted two tributes to Beaton on its Facebook page, remarking that “bravery comes in many forms” and adding it was “so proud” of him.
No professional AFL footballer has come out publicly as gay yet — but Beaton hopes the positive response to the video will send a message to professional athletes that it’s okay to be gay.