Dean Eastmond has left an incredible legacy. Every young LGBTQ+ person needs to hear his story
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Earlier today, queer journalist Dean Eastmond sadly lost his battle with cancer. At just 21 years old, Dean has achieved more in this short period than most would do in a lifetime.
For the past few years, Dean’s work as a journalist has touched the lives of thousands. In a country where the mainstream gay media puts more emphasis on abs and biceps than hate crime and homophobia, Dean was unafraid to tackle some of the most difficult issues facing our community.
In 2015, Dean wrote an article for The Independent explaining how he was raped by another man at 16. Shockingly, 98% of male rape victims do not report their experiences, but Dean was brave enough to share his words and speak honestly about his experiences.
Whilst at university, Dean wrote regularly for Redbrick (the University of Birmingham’s student newspaper) and he also penned over 60 articles for us here at The National Student. However, his most impressive achievement was starting LGBTQ+ magazine HISKIND.
HISKIND started as a small bedroom project; however, two years later, it’s grown to become one of the most exciting and respected magazines for homoculture. This year, their official website was launched and two print editions have been released, created by a team of writers, photographers, and designers – with Dean at the helm.
With many young people being critical of the mainstream gay media – for fetishizing the male body and failing to pick up on pertinent issues in the queer community – HISKIND has found a way to cut through the crap and talk about the issues that we care about. Created by the community, for the community, HISKIND has tackled topics such as the erasure of bisexual people in mainstream gay culture, misogyny in the UK and American drag scene, and, more recently, Dean has opened up about his battle with cancer.
In 2016, Dean was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare adolescent bone cancer that affects 200 people in the UK every year. As always, Dean spoke about his battle honestly, refusing to leave out gruesome and important details, in order to accurately show people what it’s like to be young, LGBTQ+, and living with cancer. He also did this with a cracking sense of humour; in his own words, he wanted to put “the humour in
But his work doesn’t stop there. It’s easy, as a queer journalist, to write reams and reams about how much needs to change in our community, without ever actually making real changes to social attitudes and the law. But Dean took his efforts a step further.
During chemotherapy, Dean was told that the treatment was likely to cause infertility and that he should therefore store a sample of his sperm. However, he was told that his boyfriend, Adam Packer, would not be able to access the sperm due to the nature of their same-sex relationship. Flabbergasted, Dean contacted the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and, after numerous discussions, his request changed the law to allow all people – regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity – to stipulate who can use their sperm after death. This was not only a personal victory for Dean and his partner Adam – but for the LGBTQ+ population as a whole. Now, although the legal process is still complex, this discrimination has subsided and another barrier to equality has been removed. You can read the full story in this Buzzfeed article.
On social media, Dean remained positive, imbuing his frequent posts with warmth, penetrating insight, and an endearing sense of humour. His body of work is incredibly eloquent and has helped to make real changes to how LGBTQ+ people live in the UK. It’s unsurprising, then, that was recognised at the Attitude Pride Awards earlier this year.
As young people – LGBTQ+ or otherwise – there is a lot we can learn from Dean Eastmond. His work has inspired thousands and will no doubt go on to comfort queer people for years to come – and, hopefully, push towards a better and more equal society. Dean was an exceptional queer journalist and the legacy he has left is phenomenal. He is a true LGBTQ+ hero.