When news happens, text BONEWS and your photos to 80360 or phone 01204 537274
Gay campaigner in final of Homo Hero awards
A GAY campaigner who batt- led depression after his HIV diagnosis has been recog-nised for his work in Bury’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Bury-born Simon Clark, aged 33, credits setting up organisation Rainbow House Project with saving his life, and has now been nomin-ated for a prestigious nat-ional prize.
Simon is one of three fin-alists vying to win Comm-unity Champion of the Year at the Homo Hero awards, run by the Lesbian and Gay Foundation.
Founded in 2009, his supp- ort group Rainbow House Project holds weekly coffee mornings in Bury, with guest speakers, giving lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender (LGBT) people the chance to socialise and seek advice.
Simon said: “I was absol-utely chuffed to be nom-inated. Rainbow House Proj- ect has only been properly running a short time, so for people to vote for me was amazing.
“I feel quite humbled as the award recognises my personal struggle, and how I turned my life around.
“If I was to win, more char- ities and organisations would want to get involved with Rainbow House Proj-ect and I would be so grat-eful if people would vote for me.”
After Simon’s HIV diagn-osis in 2009, an ongoing battle with severe depression led to several suicide att-empts last October, and he was placed in crisis care for three weeks. He now runs Rainbow House Project full-time, funding it entirely from his own pocket.
Simon added: “When I was diagnosed, I thought HIV was a death sentence. I honestly believed I had 10 years left, maybe 20.
“Mentally, the diagnosis did a lot of damage to me, but I realised I had so much to live for.
“Rainbow House Project saved my life.
“I have come so far in such a short space of time.”
Before falling ill Simon managed a Manchester hot-el, a bar in the gay village, and a recruitment company.
In the future he hopes to open a community centre, and he also supports other LGBT groups, recently des-igning the Oldham Pride website.
He said: “I felt there was a lack of support in Bury, so Rainbow House Project was a way of directing people to the help available.
“There is a large LGBT community who deserve this service, and I also wanted the chance to talk to people about my diagnosis, and let others talk to me.”
The annual Homo Heroes awards ceremony highl-ights the inspirational stor-ies, and triumphs over adv- ersity, of members of the UK’s LGBT community.
Paul Martin OBE, chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Foundation, said: “This year has seen the high- est number of nominations ever. We have been over-whelmed by the diverse and humbling stories.”
Voting will close on Sep-tember 21 before a winner is announced at an awards cer-emony on October 3.
Rainbow House Project’s coffee mornings are held every Tuesday, from 10.30am to noon. at Automatic Cafe, in Market Street.
For more information, or to vote for Simon, go to lgf. org.uk/hero For more information on Rainbow House Project go to therainbowhouseproject. org.uk
Comments are closed on this article.