'I couldn't have asked for a better response': How family support helped queer man 'flourish'

A queer man says having the support of his family when coming out helped him to flourish into the person he is today.

James McKenzie, from Guernsey, uses the pronouns 'he' and 'him'.

While the word 'queer' has a different definition for everybody, for James it's what made the most sense.

"When I fully explain who I am, I am a bisexual who is fully attracted to women and romantically attracted to them, however only romantically attracted to men," he said.

"It gets too complicated to say that every time so I use queer as the umbrella term."

"I'm proud to be weird, I'm proud to be queer," James said. Credit: James McKenzie

He continued: "A lot of queer people experience homophobia and one of the main words people use is 'queer' because it means weird, however I'm proud to be weird, I'm proud to be queer."

Growing up and learning about himself and his identity, James said it was "confusing" having "different options" thrown at him from different people.

But it was at the age of 18 that he finally told people he is queer.

James says he couldn't have asked for a better response from his family. Credit: James McKenzie

Despite "losing a few friends", James said it was the conversation with his family that was one of the most important moments.

He said: "I have a very religious Eastern European family so I have very different values.

"However they respected my new values and who I am as a person, which allowed me to flourish into the person I am today.

"When I told them and introduced them to my partner - who I had at the time and was secretly with - they were very supportive and I couldn't have asked for a better response."

For James, Pride isn't just about being proud of his community, but also proud of himself. Credit: James McKenzie

Another huge part of James' journey was attending Channel Islands Pride.

"I was able to see a community of people who either had the same values or opinions as me, or the same way of thinking and the same energy as I did," he said.

"Pride to me is not only pride in my community, but pride in myself. I am proud to be the person I am, and I am proud to be walking with my community and the people that I value and they value me."