Calum McSwiggan

Finding My Voice

In Eat, Gay on September 10, 2013 at 6:30 pm

YouTube

‘You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve, and I have always buried them deep beneath the ground.’

– Bastille

When I was a teenager I had a crippling hatred for my own voice, living in a world where I saw people beaten up on the daily for being gay, I was terrified that my camp rasp would give away my biggest secret. A lot of people hate hearing a recording of themselves back on tape, but I despised it so much that it made me want to cry.

It wasn’t until after I found a more accepting world and came out as gay that I began to be able to accept my voice for the high pitched monstrosity it was. With the support of a close group of friends, I built up the courage to join a gospel choir and, hidden beneath a dozen powerful vocalists where nobody could hear me, I quietly began to embrace my inner voice.

There would still come the time where somebody would make a joke about the way I spoke and I would recoil with disgust and embarrassment, but for the most part my voice and I began to get along just fine. That was until I overheard two of my friends mocking me after hearing me practising singing at the piano. Hearing their hurtful words stung so badly that I never sang in front of anyone again, and just the thought of holding a karaoke microphone was enough to make me succumb to an overwhelming panic.

It was something that never really went away, and when I moved  to University it made me want to shy away from all of the arising opportunities to perform and speak publicly. I had this social butterfly inside of me bursting to get out but this on-going inner conflict seemed to keep bringing me to a standstill.

I continued to push down these inhibitions, successfully sweeping the problem well under the rug, until my best friend one day extended the opportunity to join her in starting our own radio show. Not wanting either of us to miss out on the chance, she relentlessly poked me in the ribs until I hit breaking point. Releasing all of my pent up fear and anger in one sharp burst, I snapped at her and we both fell uncomfortably silent.

It was the only time we ever had anything even close to an argument, and it was in that split second that I knew that I had a problem that I had to overcome. With ample encouragement and support, she convinced me to take up her offer and join her in that radio booth where we worked together in creating our own show. It was the confidence this gave me that lead me on to performing regularly and taking up a job in teaching English that saw me commanding the attention of dozens and singing in front of hundreds.

I noticed a performer inside myself that I had never before met, I now had the emotional stability to speak out but as soon as I finished teaching I had no outlet to share it in. I carried on staying quiet, reserving my stories to be written on my blog or to be shared with friends and strangers around the camp fire, until I became intrigued by a friend from the radio station who had started his own vlog.

His first video had gone viral and reached over 100,000 hits in a matter of days, and not only was I impressed by him personally, I was amazed by the untapped power of YouTube. It was this that inspired me to create my own videos, and working underneath the It Gets Better project and Out4Marriage campaign I published my own videos. For the first time I had exposed myself and my voice to the malicious world of the internet where insults and hurtful words are no holds barred, but I was fully prepared to brush off any unwanted and pesky comments about my womanly voice.

Making videos wasn’t something I could do very well, but it was something that I adored, so after moving to London and being again inspired by the YouTube community, I knew that the next step to take would be to learn how to create my own video blogs, fully embrace social media, and pursue creativity in every way possible.

I cleaved my savings in half by buying myself a new computer and a camera, promised myself that I would stay in one place for at least a little while, and began working on my first video. It’s a nerve racking experience to put the entirety of yourself into something and then push it out to be judged by the masses, but it’s also thrilling and rewarding, and after only a few days I’m already beginning to see the results.

The response I got was relatively small, but for an individual with such a tiny following I was amazed at how much a short video can bring to the table. I only received around 700 views, but scores of strangers were not only hitting my subscribe button but also coming through to my blog, reading my stories, and emailing and tweeting me at a rate I couldn’t keep up with. It’s like vlogging has been the missing link and now everything is beginning to come together.

I’ve only created a single video introducing myself, and even though I still haven’t figured out how to use a camera or a piece of editing software, exciting things are starting to happen. Already I’m collaborating with designers and illustrators and so many talented people who have come forward to offer up their talents, and it’s all stemmed from me putting faith in my own voice.

My only regret is that I let my inhibitions control me for so long and didn’t start a hell of a lot sooner. I can only imagine how amazing it would have been to film a vlog from the inside of a tiger cage or from the back of an elephant, but although it’s only a side project, I’m already excited about things I can potentially shoot in the future.

I’ve finally overcome that fear of my own voice, and although I still won’t take up a microphone and join you in singing a karaoke rendition of Beyoncé’s greatest hits, if you’d be so kind to indulge me, I’d happily share with you a bit of nonsense in my first ever video blog.

  1. I have the same feelings about my own voice. After being teased a ton growing up for having a high pitched voice, I very much do not like my own voice. In fact, I refuse to record a voicemail greeting for my phone because I can’t make it not sound high pitched, gay and like I’ve been hanging out with valley girls for the last 10 years. But whatever, it’s my voice and I own it as much as possible…Valley girl and all.

    By the way, you totally have a beautiful, sexy voice!! And that accent is to die for!! Just saying!! 😀

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