An Irish man, who weighed nearly 307 pounds, lost weight and gained the courage to come out and meet “the man of [his] dreams.”
Ger Fleming, 27, told the Independent that he shielded himself with a “party boy” image and big personality, using food to comfort himself.
“I would eat my feelings away and I was just becoming bigger and bigger,” Fleming told Independent.ie.
"From a young age, I knew I was gay but I just didn't want to accept it. I never wanted to explore it," he said.
While on the trip back from vacationing with his friends, a flight attendant asked Fleming if he needed a seatbelt extender.
“It was really embarrassing and I made a pact with myself to just get that sorted when I got home.
"I started small, making an effort to eat less take aways and sweets, and I tried to go for short jogs a few times a week,” Fleming said.
"After I lost a bit of weight I started getting a bit more female attention and I actually went out with a girl for a while but I just knew it wasn't right," he added.
After 25 years of hiding, Fleming “bit the bullet” and told his parents he is gay.
“They had always said that if we were gay it wouldn't make a difference, but when it comes to actually telling them it's another thing.
"They responded to it so well, they said there was no need to be worrying as much as I was. It took me so long to accept myself though I panicked about other people accepting it."
In 2015, while out with coworkers, Fleming met his partner, Mark.
"I've been the happiest I've ever been and I've met the man of my dreams, really,” Fleming said. “When I was at my heaviest I just had no interest in exploring myself. It is a relief to finally have had the confidence to be myself, and Mark is amazing."
Only 13 pounds away from his goal weight, Fleming said his anxiety has gotten better. Fleming told Metro via email that he hopes his story reaches “out to someone in a similar predicament.”
"When you feel like giving up remember why you started, nobody can do it but yourself,” he told the Independent. “When I look back now compared to a couple of years ago, I couldn't be in a better place."