Ben Kaye: Meet the man who overcame chemsex addiction to help other LGBTQs and men who have sex with men who need support

Ben Kaye (Image: Provided)
Ben Kaye (Image: Provided)

Being heard, listened to, understood and supported were the main things that catalysed my own recovery journey.

Since my sobriety date, which is 15 August, 2017, the word recovery for me has changed over the years. It now not only means from a substance misuse perspective, but I often joke and say that I am in recovery from myself. But this really is my truth after years of feeling lost, alone, unhappy in my own skin, compounded by trauma and the overwhelming sense of constantly wanting to change the way that I felt from the age of 15 to 37.

So, when I say that I am in recovery, I refer to my own personal journey of self-acceptance, self-love and self-worth. I would not be where I am without being able to share my truth and be heard by the amazing professionals who encouraged me and gave me the space to explore myself and my vulnerabilities in ways that I did not think was ever possible.

I remember feeling validated, seen and accepted by a counsellor for the first time and as my own therapeutic journey continued, it became even more apparent that this was the professional path that I wanted to follow, and after years of not knowing what I really wanted to do with my career, I had found my calling. I have studied continuously since 2018, qualifying as a counsellor in 2022 and am about to complete a Humanistic Counselling Degree at The University of Chichester, while working full time for a national drug & alcohol charity as an Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Lead and more recently as a Team Lead in a busy London service.

Being that person who others feel safe enough to confide in and trust means the absolute world to me. Just like I experienced when I first landed in recovery, I want to always continue to be able to share this gift with others. Receiving an Attitude Pride Award in 2021 for the work I do in the area was a wonderful moment of recognition for the positive changes I had made in my life since the worst days of my chemsex addiction.

Along with London based trauma, psychosexual and relationship psychotherapist Silva Neves, I host Really Queer, a new podcast that aims to bring a therapeutic element into the space whilst openly talking about often taboo but very real subjects and issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community. We aim to support queer people with the skills to flourish in a challenging world. Helping us discuss topics such as ‘connecting with others’, ‘connecting with self’ and ‘chemsex’ are inspiring actors, activists, and other bright lights from the LGBTQ+ world, including Dani St James, Charlie Condou, Yaz Senghor, Tash Koster-Thomas, Dalia Flemming, Monty Moncrieff and Yvonne Shell, and even Attitude editor-in-chief Cliff Joannou.

“I am so proud to identify as a gay man” – Ben Kaye (Image: Attitude)
“I am so proud to identify as a gay man” – Ben Kaye (Image: Attitude)

What I have learnt from our wonderful guests and the feedback received so far from some of our listeners who have reached out, is that we all feel and go through similar emotions and have similar feelings but we tend to suffer in silence, with so many not knowing who to go too, who to talk to and unable to find safe spaces to share our stuff. I was initially concerned about ‘going there’ with our guests but am really pleased we did! The strength, resilience and sense of community really has blown me away and I am so proud to identify as a gay man.

Silva and I believe that the best way to thrive as a queer person in a world that is often hostile towards us is to truly love ourselves and each other unapologetically.

By having real conversations, we hope to continue to break down barriers whilst encouraging and helping others to shed light on their shadows. Let’s nurture connections, share our stories, laugh together and support each other. That is what Really Queer podcast is all about!

The Really Queer podcast is out now.

The post Ben Kaye: Meet the man who overcame chemsex addiction to help other LGBTQs and men who have sex with men who need support appeared first on Attitude.