We interviewed Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist and Drag Idol UK Winner, Danny Beard
DtL: Can you tell us a little bit about Danny Beard?
Danny: I’m a 24-year-old cabaret artist and singer and am lucky enough to travel across the country and abroad, performing for people.
DtL: Have you ever experienced bullying? If so what happened and how did you overcome it?
Danny: Yes I have, and I am lucky enough to be in a position – in the job I do – to be on stage where young people are looking up to me, so I think it is important to speak out. When I was younger I got bullied quite badly and I never really fitted in at school. From a young age people used to say to me ‘you sound like a girl’, and then, as I got older and people became aware of sexuality – I was branded ‘gay’, and had to deal with all the negative connotations that can come with that. It was during this time I was quite heavily bullied, to the point where I had to move schools.
I had a fresh start, and it was at this new school that I found an outlet in acting and drama – it not only enabled me to express myself but I also found a place where I was comfortable with the people around me.
“When I was younger I got bullied quite badly and I never really fitted in at school”
DtL: What advice would you give to those that are being bullied?
Danny: Speak to somebody. It doesn’t even have to be an adult, it can be anyone you trust – a close friend, sibling or someone at Ditch the Label! Speaking to someone about it is your first step. It might sound cheesy but try and remember that things will get better. In the future you will be able to look back and learn from it. In a way, it’s made me a stronger person today.
DtL: Could you tell us your ‘coming out’ story?
Danny: So, I had got to the point in my life where I was quite sure of who I was and what I was – a gay man. I promised myself that I would tell my mum next time she asked if I was okay; often she would ask and say ‘are you alright? Is there anything you want to talk about?’ – you know – she’d try her best to get me to open up about the subject but I never did. So I vowed that I would tell her next time she asked, but like, 4 months went by and she still hadn’t asked me!
I don’t know why, but one day (I don’t know why it was this day in particular) I just decided enough was enough and I had to come out to her. I thought ‘Right, I’ve got to go and tell her now, right now!’ – she was upstairs in bed reading a book before going to sleep. I remember walking up the stairs thinking ‘How am I going to approach this?’ and I when I reached her door, I thought ‘Oh no, I can’t do it’ and then I saw she had switched her light off and I kind of just burst in to the room! She was obviously quite panicked and asked me what was up – but I didn’t know what to say – it was all a bit awkward. I eventually said ‘I’ve got something to tell you’ and I think she knew straight away, she sat up and put the light back on, popped her glasses on and was like ‘tell me’ but I just couldn’t find the words. I don’t know what it was about telling her…I just couldn’t do it!
“Then she finally said ‘Are you gay?’ and I just nodded and burst into tears”
She asked me if I had ‘hurt somebody’, I said no, if I had ‘done something bad’, again I said no – she kept going through this list of awful things – you know – she even asked me if I had killed somebody!! Then she finally said ‘Are you gay?’ and I just nodded and burst into tears and she said ‘do you know why I asked you all of those things? Because I wanted to show you that being gay isn’t a big deal – it is just one part of your life and it doesn’t matter’. It was such a powerful moment and has always stuck with me. I am so thankful that it happened that way; I try and pass this story and message on to other people who may be struggling to come out.
DtL: How did the public receive you after appearing on BGT? What inspired you to audition in the first place?
Danny: I auditioned for drama school and I didn’t get in, so I ended up going to Salford University in Manchester. When I was studying for my degree, I liked to explore being different versions of yourself on stage – this is where I came up with the initial idea of who Danny Beard was. Danny Beard is just an extension of who I am really – I don’t see it so much as a ‘character’.
As I was coming to the end of my studies, I had the usual thoughts – ‘What am I going to do after uni ends’ etc and I thought ‘You know what, I want to see how far I can take Danny Beard’ and at the same time I had just started hosting cabaret nights and somebody from X Factor saw me and asked me to come and audition for the show. I said ‘no, that’s not me, that’s not me’ but we stayed in touch and about a year later I felt ready – so I contacted them and they asked me to audition for Britain’s Got Talent. Obviously, I ended up getting through to the live shows and the public reacted to me in such a positive way, I would have to really search for the negatives. The LGBT+ community really took me under their wing too, so I think all in all, the reaction was absolutely amazing.
“The LGBT+ community really took me under their wing”
DtL: If you could go back in time, what one thing would you tell your younger self?
Danny: Smile more, because that smile can be easily spread and it also leads to being happy on the inside. When you are seeing the negative in everything – try as hard as you can to see the positive. Again, it sounds a bit cheesy!
DtL: What is the best thing about being a Drag Performer?
Danny: I get to meet so many new people every day that I go to work. I get to sing songs, tell jokes and generally have a good time. I love helping people at my show escape; it’s just me and them – they’re watching something silly, and for me that is the biggest reward – when I see people having a good time – that’s my job you know?
Follow Danny on Facebook .