When Ireland’s top male model, Gary Talbot, was strutting his stuff at London Fashion Week he caught the eye of some of the most beautiful women in the world.
The 27-year-old Dubliner became the first Irishman to take part in what is one of the world’s most celebrated fashion events.
At one stage, quiet-spoken Gary was earning up to €12,000 a day, thanks to his chiselled good looks.
But it’s only in recent months that the towering 6ft 2in Ballyfermot native has accepted and realised that he is in fact gay.The Dub has more than 60,000 followers on his website and he’s constantly being bombarded with messages. Many of those were gay men hitting on him, but it was never something which appealed to himBut last June he was contacted by Dublin optician, Ciaran Hewitt, and Gary’s life changed forever.
“When Ciaran contacted me I was like, ‘yeah he’s probably just like everybody else’,” he explains.
“When I did open his message I was like ‘he seems very nice’ and we were talking for a good while before we ever went out for a coffee.
“Then we went out about eight times for a coffee. I was still thinking ‘this isn’t really for me’, even though I knew it was. I was keeping everything at a slow pace.”
Gary was so terrified about ‘coming out’ that he had anxiety attacks and was so stressed that he lost a stone in weight.“I just didn’t know what was wrong with me,” he reflects. “I went into a panic state, I couldn’t come to terms with it. I never knew. So when the penny dropped I lost over a stone in weight in a matter of weeks, from worry.”
He was petrified his career would be ruined.
“I have a female following and I have a lot of straight men who follow me because they like my fitness posts,” he explains.
“I always considered myself to be a bit of a manly man. I do go to the gym but I’m more into going rock-climbing and getting my hands dirty.
“I’m not your stereotypical type model. I don’t sit at home pampering myself with a face mask on. That’s just not me, so I was afraid I was going to lose that and people would look at me differently and go ‘he’s not a man’ or ‘he’s not a masculine man’.“That was a big part of it – and then with the industry, I was going ‘I’m not going to appeal to women, I’m going to appeal obviously to gay men. I thought I’d lose the straight men following, but, thankfully, I haven’t.”
Even in school Gary just had flings with girls, but was never in a proper relationship.
“I was never going out with anyone really,” he admits. “I had it in my head ‘you know what, I’m probably not interested in anybody’.
“Still to this day I can appreciate somebody’s beauty, but I’ve never been attracted to anybody. So I was like ‘there’s something seriously going on here’.
“I used to be surrounded by stunning people, both women and men. Even with men there was never anything that triggered in my brain.
“So that’s why when I met Ciaran, it was the first time I was ever attracted to a person and I was like ‘holy sh*t, it’s a man’. So it knocked me for six.”
Gary is not a big drinker or socialiser and even since he’s been with Ciaran he’s only been to one gay bar in his life.
“I think I was really lucky because out of all the people who’ve ever mailed me or messaged me he is the only one who has understood me and understood where I was at,” he stresses.
They have now been dating a couple of months.
“My whole life has changed,” he beams. “Obviously I was carrying this stress and then I came out. But nobody cared. Some were shocked, but nobody batted an eyelid.
“I’ve from a very big family and they were very understanding.”
Gary was 21 when he was ‘discovered’ by American model Tyson Beckford. Tyson, who is a judge on Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model, came across a picture of Gary on Twitter and contacted him and arranged to meet him in Dublin.
Gary now hopes to start up his own men’s skincare company and admits he’s never been happier in his life.
“People look at it [his ‘coming out’] as being unusual at an older age, because kids come out in their teens these days.
“I think if I had known myself I probably would have come out a lot younger. I think it just made it a little bit more confusing that I was older – but just do it, because life it too short.
“You only get one shot at life and I’m glad it’s happened to me now and my life is only starting.”