Westlife’s Mark Feehily and his fiance Kevin McDaid have been a ground-breaking couple during the seven years together.
Even though the relationship has dramatically ended, their legacy has been to leave a positive example to many young men struggling with their sexuality.
As a couple, they spoke about being gay men in a loving relationship with candor and dignity. They’ve also ended their relationship quietly and with the same dignity they conducted their seven year love affair.
It was only when Kevin McDaid came into his life that Mark felt able to ‘come out’ in 2005.
He has spoken about the over-whelming sense of relief he felt when he admitted he was in love with Kevin.
However, he also spoke candidly about the bullying, threats and loneliness before that admission. Private by nature, he and photographer Kevin went about their lives quietly in London and Sligo after speaking about their relationship.
The Westlife singer did not become a strident gay rights campaigner preferring to concentrate on his music rather than his sexuality. However, he did agree to spearhead the biggest ever campaign against homophobic bullying in schools in 2008. He teamed up with gay rights groups to mount a campaign with the Slogan: Some People Are Gay. Get Over It.
Mark revealed the campaign struck a chord with him because he suffered many troubled years as he came to terms with his sexuality. “There are kids out there now feeling alone and feeling scared - it kills me to think of them sitting in their bedrooms feeling alone and depressed,” he said. “I just feel for all the people out there because I used to be one of them.”
This couple set out to live their lives and not to be role models. However they still inspired many troubled young people to ‘come out’ by their positive example. Whatever the future holds for both of them, their relationship was important because it helped Mark raise his voice. His voice spread the message that other troubled young men should celebrate their sexuality rather than conceal it.