Tag Archives: Mark Feehily interview

Mark Feehily Interview in Carlow People

Mark interview in Carlow People 

2011 – March
Take From: Carlow People

INNER PEACE

Westlife’s Mark Feehily radiates hapiness, describing the past 12 years as ‘the most exhilarating experience one could imagine’. In a compellingly candid interview with Jim Gray, he charts his remarkable journey from being a shy schoolboy to becoming a pop 

“All I know is that coming out, for me, was the best thing I have ever done. It changed my life, allowed me to be happy with who I was. 

“There were definitely a few dark days early on. Remember, I was barely 19 years old. I was shy by nature, I didn’t like all the attention.” 

MARK FEEHILY never craved fame, so he is not seduced by it. Yes, he confirms, the Westlife rollercoaster has provided the most exhilarating experience one could imagine, and it has given him an amazing lifestyle for which he is extremely grateful. But, at 30 years of age, and having packed more adventure into the last 12 years than he could ever have believed possible, he remains remarkably grounded and unaffected. 

“Fame and celebrity and money have never been the motivation for me. Ever. When I first got involved in school musicals it wasn’t just so I could skip some classes. It was because I genuinely wanted to be involved. It’s exactly the same now. I’m in Westlife because I want to be a singer. The other stuff is the bonus, never the motivation, he maintains.” 

Refreshingly candid and free from any sense of self-importance, Mark remains an innately shy person, who has battled hard to find the right balance between the privacy he values so highly and the public persona which is so important to his professional life. 

Happiness and contentment has always been important in the Feehily family. The eldest of three children of Oliver and Marie his brothers, Barry and Colin, still live in Sligo Mark had an idyllic childhood, growing up with a huge posse of cousins in a rural setting about three miles from Sligo town. The values learned in those formative years have not been contaminated by fame and fortune. 

“I value the life I had before I became famous, and I make a conscious effort to retain as much of that as a I can. Fame was never like a drug for me. I didnt grow up dreaming about being a star. Ive learned to enjoy it, but I would never be carried away by it”, he says. 

As if to prove the point, the highlight for him this year occurred last weekend not a glitzy, glamourous showbiz party or a mega concert, but his granny Mai Feehilys 90th birthday party.
“I’m the oldest grandchild and Ive always been close to my grandparents. Celebrating Nana Mais big day in Sligo was something really special for all my family”, he relates. 

A mildly talented tin whistle player as a youngster at Calry National School, Mark would never have been considered to be more than an average musical talent until he suddenly discovered, during a talent show in Summerhill College, that his singing voice set him apart. 

“People who never even noticed me before were telling me I had this really soulful voice. I didnt even know what that meant. But it set something off in me. The next thing I remember was seeing Shane Filan in a school production of Grease, and I knew immediately thats what I wanted to do. I hadnt a clue how to go about it, being on stage was like another planet for me. But I started scanning the local papers for auditions, and that led to Mary McDonagh giving me a lead role in Godspell. It hit a nerve. I was hooked”, Mark recalls, also noting the early influence of his music teacher at Summerhill, Dave McEvoy. 

The rest, as they say, is history. Westlife have gone on to conquer the world of pop music and their popularity shows no signs of wilting. Its a source of pride for Mark that the fan base still encompasses everyone from toddlers to grannies. He has no time for the musical snobbery which often seeks to denigrate their music. 

“I remember in the early days being quite upset with a review of one of our concerts in Sweden. But weve learned to take that on board. I remember being at a Prince concert and thinking it was definitely the best performance I had ever seen in my life. The next day the papers absolutely panned it. It made me realise not to pay too much attention to music critics”, he confides. 

During the course of a wide-ranging chat, he openly talks about how he loves and appreciates the opportunities Westlife has given him, but also about the darker days’ in his early Westlife career, when the dawning of adolesence suddenly found him catapulted into a world which often bordered on insanity, when coping with newfound fame and fortune would have been difficult enough without the added personal challenge of coming to terms with his sexuality, and how his natural shyness caused him to wonder on more than one occasion whether this was really the life he wanted. 

To the watching world, it seemed that the three Sligo teenagers, Kian Egan, Shane Filan and Mark, barely beyond their Leaving Cert, had somehow unearthed the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow, and that was certainly the case. But for Mark Feehily, the rainbow sometimes had a slightly darker hue. 

”There were definitely a few dark days early on. Remember, I was barely 19 years old. I was shy by nature, I didn’t actually like people looking at me. I didn’t like all the attention. And yes, there were times when I would be so nervous before a television show or a performance, that I wondered is this really for me. Am I cut out for this? But that was balanced by this indescribable rush of adrenalin I’d get from performing. There was just a magnificent buzz about being up there on stage and people responding to what we were doing. I loved every minute of that side of things.” But an even tougher challenge for the teenager, by then a famous pop star and a reluctant pin-up’ boy, was the dawning of the realisation that he was gay. He is quite happy to elaborate. 

”The fact that the explosion of Westlife coincided almost exactly with the period in my life when I was beginning to question my sexuality made the whole thing that much more difficult to deal with. 

”In one way, being in the band was good, because it was a distraction. We were on the road every day, flying all over the world, doing all the shows and so on, that I was able to put the question of my sexuality to the back of my mind. It was something I knew I would have to deal with, but I could say to myself not today, too busy today. 

”So I put it in a box and locked it away and got on with life. But I was often unhappy, because I suppose I knew I wasn’t being true to myself. The idea out there at the time was that all these young girls loved us and all of that, and that made it even more crazy. 

”I remember all those teeny magazine interviews where we’d be asked questions about our favourite type of girls and our first kiss and all of that. Smash Hits never ask about your favourite type of boy! So, while everything seemed to be like a dream come true, for me it was all a bit unreal.” 

Meeting his partner, Kevin McDaid, who was then in a boyband himself and could, therefore, empathise with the sort of unreal existence Mark was experiencing, changed everything.
”The thing that finally set me free was falling in love with Kevin. It’s like the penny dropped. I suddenly realised I didn’t care who knows about this. This is me. This is who I am. I knew that those who loved me, my parents, family, friends, the lads in the band, would still be there and would be supportive”, he recalls. 

Although not wanting in any way to become a gay icon or a one-man advice bureau, Mark is conscious that because he is in the public eye, people experiencing their own difficulties with sexuality might look to him as a role model. 

“I have no problem with that. But, really, all I can say to people is to be honest with themselves. Bottling it or trying to hide it away is not the right thing to do. In fact, it can be dangerous. All I know is that coming out, for me, was the best thing I have ever done. It changed my life, allowed me to be happy with who I was. I believe everybody should feel free to express who they are as a person. Its not about sex, but about being honest with yourself and others, and being happy. Most important, its about love and everyone has the right to fall in love and have a soul mate without questioning it”, he says. 

As to the future, he points out that Westlife schedules are carefully planned to allow each member individual freedom. An instinctively creative person, Mark would like to use this time to develop his interests in art and photography, and he wouldnt rule out the possibility of a West End musical if the opportunity ever arose. But he stresses that Westlife commitments come first.
”From day one, we always said if we were to succeed then Westlife would have to be above everything else, and weve never deviated from that. Our ambition initially would have been just to have a CD in Sligo. We got that and we set our sights on a single in Ireland, then the UK and so on. 

“We’ve never got too far ahead of ourselves. But always we knew we had to work at it, and we will continue to do that. I honestly believe Westlife will last as long as we want it and as long as were committed to the work that goes with it. We have much greater control over our own destiny now. I don’t see us packing in any time soon”, he pledges. 

As we part company, a mother somewhat sheepishly approaches with two gobsmacked young children, barely able to believe the Westlife star from their bedroom posters is standing in front of them. Mark greets them as if they were long-lost cousins. Happiness shared.
—-
Happiness is all around 😉
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Mark Feehily Griff FM Phone Interview on LGBT Topic

On Feb. 6th, 2010, Westlife’s star Mark Feehily was interviewed by Griff FM on LGBT topic, and here’s what he said in the interview:

Griff FM: First and foremost we have to congratulate you and Kevin on your recent engagement

Mark: Thank you very much

G: I can only imagine how difficult it would be for someone coming out of the closet, but obviously your situation, what with being in the public eye would’ve been significantly different, how did you cope with it all?

M: Hm… you know that whole celeb status… it was something that started of making things a bit harder but in the end, ironically, it made things easier for me because, erm, you know, being in the public eye, you know, once I came out it was on the front page of the paper and the whole world knew straight away, so I didn’t have to like come out in like five times a day to everyone I met, how they went along, erm… yeah, I have to say, I mean, you know, because on early days of Westlife and you know throughout kind of Westlife’s career it was kind of… eh, it was quite a difficult experience, you know, erm, I think, you know, it was a lot of dark times for me, a lot of times spent alone in the hotel room kind of just thinking about everything, and… erm, it’s not something that I’d wish on anyone, you know, and it kind of being through all that and now coming out the other end, luckily for me, happy… erm, it’s kinda inspired me to kind of share my story and sort of tell people that are in that situation, that things can turn out okay, because, you know, there is… the horrible side of things which, you know, when people get into a very bad place in their head, and, you know, they start thinking about very terrible things, and the outcome isn’t happy for some people, …, you know, well, I mean the word suicide is it’s a big kind of bad word that does, you know, exist, it’s in reality, and it happens and a lot of people end up in it, in that place in their head, and that to me, it just kills me to think people are, you know, get into that point, and I would do whatever I could to sort of explain to people that it doesn’t have to be like that, and that, you know, luckily in this state there’s a lot of things have turned out great in term of society, you know, so erm… yeah, it just, that something that I’m really positive about, you know, sort of trying to stop the suicidal type and depression type, and sort of thing, you know…

G: Absolutely, when you did come out the response was, it was absolutely overwhelming and positive, were you surprised by the reaction or were you worried?

M: I kind of didn’t ring a note how… what to expect, I kind of knew that, you know, society as they said and everyone were cool about people being gay… because, you know, this is something quite important, there were a lot of celebrities on TV and music that were out, even were gay publicly and I kind have looked and seen all the reactions of all kind of fans and kind of taught myself, well, you know, they’re kind of supporting all of these people, and I think that’s something that luckily for me, I was, supposed my coming out story was able to do for other people as well, because people look and they see their mom’s reaction or their sister’s or their friend’s reaction to a celebrity coming out and that can help them to gauge what their family-friend opinions are on gay people and I think everytime a celebrity comes out, and these people see their family or friend kind of go ‘oh, yeah, but sure, you know, what difference does it make or something’ and that can be a positive experience for the person who lives in the closet to have

G: You mentioned there about how you feel about people can be inspired by a celebrity’s coming out, did you use that feel about Stephen Gately’s coming out kind of form a template for you and what you could hope to expect?

M: Yeah, before me, I mean, Stephen Gately is borne sort of present, I supposed I’ve being compared to a lot of years, you know, Westlife and Boyzone are always very comparable and then you’ve got kind of said the gay one or whatever in the band, and for that reason, you know, myself and Stephen ended up in the same kind of story in the same paper, you know, quite a lot, and like, I mean, we didn’t necessarily know each other very very well, but I have to say for me, when I’d seen him coming out, he was in a boyband, it was kind of like, kinda like an out of body experience in a strange way, I felt I was kind of looking at sort of story very similar to my own unfolded in front of my eyes, so he definitely, his story and his kind of journey definitely inspired me in kind of taught me some things and also these people like Will Young and Bryan Darlene and everyone in the public eye that did come out as well and they’re not only accepted but they’re highly celebrated, so I think that without a doubt any celebrity that come out before me done nothing but give me positive feeling about everything and those positive feeling help you to get into the good place in your head where you should be at, you know

G: Absolutely, and after Stephen’s untimely death there was a few stories in the press particularly the one by Jan Moir who kind of incorrectly suggest that Stephen’s gay lifestyle had attributed to his death, what did you make of these kind of stories?

M: Erm, well I think, first of all, that was a horrible story, and I would be part of the private people that would be, you know, erm, whatever, like putting that down, erm, I think that’s probably an element to her where she got a little bit kind of lazy and, erm, like her journalism wasn’t very professional, I think that she kind of probably wrote, she probably writes fifty stories a month that she found it was just probably another story that she was kind of whacked out and she didn’t realize what she was, you know, sort of such a bull’s claim to me, and I think a lot of the time journalist can kind of, I supposed, forgets the responsibility that they have and get a bit lazy like that, you know, and I think that journalist should respect their power, the power they have to kind of influence people’s opinion and influence people’s mind, and that was very a clumsy irresponsible story that she wrote, and, you know, I don’t know her, so I don’t know how homophobic she is or isn’t, but I think that, as I’ve said it was very irresponsible journalism, you know, and it was clearly a lot of crap, you know, built that kind of claim that she made about Stephen, you know, clearly just stupid, really, and I just think that she made a big mistake, you know

G: The reaction I saw it was really, positive as in the public seem to come together whether be on twitter or blogs, could’ve told her ‘Jan Moir, you’re wrong’ and do you think that saying I’m sorry would’ve got the same reaction ten or twenty years ago?

M: Probably not, I mean, put it this way, like homophobia is very …, well it’s knocked up to the point where it’s not accepted by anyone, but it’s not really, the general rule in public walking down the street, homophobia isn’t really acceptable, it still exists but it’s not kind of something that… you know, if you’re in sort of say McDonald’s Q and somebody’s trying to put on something homophobic, you can be guaranteed that they will, most of the people in the Q will stand up for the gay person or whatever… society is kind of come along way, ten or twenty years ago I doubt that would’ve been the same, people might have, let’s say ten years ago people might have just said nothing, or they just kept quiet about it, or they would’ve been uncomfortable because they wouldn’t have known how to deal with it, and I think that nowadays people are more educated about gay people, and therefore everyone knows what acceptable, what’s not acceptable, and I think one of the main problem, you know, homosexuality through the years is people didn’t understand, and a lot of people are scared of what they don’t understand and know, so for that reason it was kind of this taboo subject, where is, all it takes is for everybody to talk about it, and be it on the TV, in stories say Coronation Street, and celebrities coming out and you know the person down the road or someone in your class in college being gay and all of a sudden it’s not that strange weird thing that is behind closed door, it’s a part of everyday life and that’s what happening and that’s what needs to continue to happen in order for us to get to where it needs to be.

G: So your advice to young men and women coming out about their sexuality is definitely to just go for it and speak about it?

M: Yeah, I mean, a hundred percent, I cannot promise that everyone’s mom or everyone’s aunty or whatever is gonna react positively, that’s not something that anyone can promise to someone who is in the closet, but what I can say is that in hindsight from me, anyone who would’ve had problem with it, I literally wouldn’t want for whatever and I don’t really want them in my life where, you know, I’m not, I mean, I don’t know, it’s not something that, there’s no point in being living in a dreamland, like for me, I got nothing but positive reactions, but like I said not everyone out there will face the same kind of response, but I can guarantee that your life would become a million times better, and you have to be a bit selfish about it and think about yourself, if you do have a homophobic brother, or a classmate, or a parent, erm, you know, well, screw them basically, you have to think about yourself and you have to make yourself happy in that situation, so I would just say come out, and if you have homophobic brother, then you’ll still have your supportive parent and your friend, if you have homophobic parents, you still have your friends and your brother, put it this way, everyone is not gonna go against you, if one person does, that’s the worst that could happen, and to be honest with you, you’d be better off without that person in your life.

G: Yeah, I agree.

M: But I have to say though, I don’t think people will find that, parents and, my granny was the first person who called me screaming, she was like, my granny is on the ninety, benchmark age wise, I’m not gonna say her age, she was ringing me on the phone crying and how happy she was and she can’t wait to meet Kevin, et cetera…, honestly, I think the people kind of probably build it up in their mind so much that they get to them where they don’t come out, but I think it’s actually a bit weird just like anticlimax sometimes and when you do come out, you expect kind of more reaction but it just isn’t there, you know.

G: Well, Mark, it’s been brilliant having you in the show, thanks for talking the call.

M: No, wait, I hope it didn’t wave along too much. I’m fascinated about the subject and all.

G: Thank you. The best to you and Kevin as well.

M: Cheers, alright, thanks a lot guys.

Gosh, how I love Mark Feehily, I completely agree with his view on coming out, we were better off without people who are homophobic in our lives even though they are family members or friends, and it’s quite sad to hear that he has to spend a lot of lonely nights back when he were still in the closet. But, at least he’s happy now with Kevin, again, congratulation guys 🙂

note:

#1. I typed it based on the interview, there are some words that are hard to interpret but I think I got all the main things he said on the interview 🙂

#2. You can find the audio interview link here