“Will Young did an interview recently and he mentioned me in his book where he said he didn’t feel like he had enough credit,” says Brian Dowling, reflecting on the immeasurable impact it has on. ‘he got onto the LGBT community simply by appearing on Big Brother.
Of course, at 23, Brian didn’t just appear on Big Brother, he won it. Later, in 2010, when Channel 4 rallied all of Big Brother’s most beloved roommates of all time, it won it again.
It’s been 20 years since Brian entered Big Brother’s house, just two days after telling his family, worried about what they might think seeing him as his authentic self for the very first time.
But without realizing it, Brian’s family weren’t the only ones upset by the charming, quick-witted and openly gay man. For many, it was the first time they had met a gay man, let alone didn’t care.
Will won Pop Idol just five months after Brian left the Borehamwood bungalow as the Big Brother winner, and became a gay male just weeks after beating puppy-eyed teenager Gareth Gates.
His recognition that Brian threw a much brighter trailer than he’s often been known for comes from a unique perspective, having spent months on the other most popular reality TV series of the 2000s. at the same time, but in the closet, at least publicly.
After winning Big Brother, one of the few times that gay men have been truly celebrated on national television – not to mention a popularity contest – Brian went on to feature SM: TV Live as the premier children’s TV presenter. openly homosexual.
“At the time, I didn’t see it as a really important thing,” he tells us. ‘That’s just what it is. Thinking about it now, you’re like “Oh my god, I was only 23 when I did this, I had no idea what I was doing.”
“It was a huge thing for ITV to do.”
Why Brian isn’t more celebrated as breaking boundaries for LGBT people in the 2000s is a mystery. If anyone has the credentials to be an “icon,” it’s him.
But looking back on his first encounters with the celebrity, he says the LGBT community has never really celebrated his success. Far from there.
“I have never felt the love of the gay community. In the evenings, I had arguments from people telling me I was negative for the community, “not all gay men, not all gay men are like [you]. “I was too effeminate, I was too camp. But what I meant was that I never said that all gay men were like me.
“I won Big Brother twice as an openly gay man, then SM: TV Live, then Dancing With the Stars here in Ireland. America before and it was amazing to do.
It’s only now that Brian truly recognizes how important his presence in popular culture really was.
“I only realized when I was 42 how important it was to host SM: TV Live at 23 as an openly gay man, which had never been done before. People had been locked up for years out of fear. I wish I had the passion and determination at this age to realize how important this was.
“Maybe I was too young to understand how important this was, but maybe it was good for me.”
Two decades have passed since Brian won Big Brother. He now lives with husband Arthur Gourounlian in the house they share in Kildare, Ireland, and is set to return to television on Celebrity Karaoke Club alongside Made In’s Olivia Attwood, Mark-Francis Vandelli. Chelsea and TV presenter AJ Odudu.
In each episode, the pack of celebrities share gossip, catch up, perform questionable karaoke before voting for each other.
“It wasn’t like on Big Brother when they don’t give you alcohol, these f ** kers give you a lot of alcohol,” he says of the ITV2 series, which has been filmed throughout. of the third national lockdown.
“I actually had a hangover. Olivia Attwood made me make tequila! You can’t make tequila at my age.
Although he admits that “the world never needs to hear me sing,” the timing couldn’t have been better.
‘I didn’t see the first season but I thought we were in the middle of a f ** king pandemic, you can barely get out of your backyard without getting in trouble so the thought of jumping on a plane and staying in a nice, safe hotel to dance and drink was like, “Yes, yes, yes!” ‘
Naturally, Brian brings all the pop bangers to the table.
‘Louis Walsh always told me he wanted to put e in a boy band but I don’t know which one because I can’t sing. But you don’t have to be in a group, do you? It’s all about performance and songs, so for Celebrity KI, KI took the song camp. There’s Britney in there, Kylie in there, Liberty X in there. ‘
The Celebrity Karaoke Club kicks off at 10:05 pm tonight on ITV2.
Do you have a story?
If you have a celebrity story, video or photos, please contact the Metro.co.uk entertainment team by emailing us at [email protected], calling 020 3615 2145 or by visiting our Submit page love to hear from you.