Ger Fleming had a problem.
A big problem.
He was, to butcher a phrase, an unhappy gay man trapped in a 300-pound party boy’s body.
And for a long time, he could neither get nor come out.
“From a young age I knew I was gay but I just didn’t want to accept it. I never wanted to explore it,” Ger, who lives in Dublin, Ireland, told Independent.ie.
“I used to just try and convince myself, ‘you think you are but you can’t be’.”
While out with friends, Ger was the joker of the group. He described himself as being ‘the party boy’.
His big personality was helping him hide his anxieties but later, while alone, he would turn to food for the comfort he really needed.
The cycle led to Ger, now 27, becoming ever heavier.
It came to a head when the Irishman and his friends were returning from a vacation.
“Before we took off, an air hostess asked me if I needed a seat belt extender. It was really embarrassing and I made a pact with myself to just get that sorted when I got home,” explained Ger.
So he began to change his life.
The weight loss led to more female attention, and Ger even dated a girl for a while.
However, he knew deep down that it wasn’t right.
The weight was dropping off, but Ger still needed to come out to his family.
“I just bit the bullet and did it. After 25 years, I told my parents. They had always said that if we were gay it wouldn’t make a difference, but when it comes to actually telling them it’s another thing.
“They responded to it so well, they said there was no need to be worrying as much as I was. It took me so long to accept myself though I panicked about other people accepting it.”
With that hurdle cleared, Ger met Mark, who he calls ‘the man of his dreams’ on a night out with colleagues.
They’ve been together ever since.
“I’ve been the happiest I’ve ever been,” explained Ger.
“When I was at my heaviest I just had no interest in exploring myself. It is a relief to finally have had the confidence to be myself, and Mark is amazing.”
Ger is now 15 pounds from his goal weight and confident he will reach it.
He also says his anxiety has improved so much since he accepted himself.
For anyone trying to make a similarly monumental personal transformation, he offered the following advice.
“When you feel like giving up, remember why you started. Nobody can do it but yourself. When I look back now compared to a couple of years ago, I couldn’t be in a better place.”