Advocate
Meet

Daniel Pillai

Daniel faced a lot of difficulty finding the space to express his personality growing up as a child. Surrounded by a very large extended family, he was constantly ridiculed for not “acting like a boy” and was teased by his elder cousins for his love of the colour pink and his effeminate behaviour. At home, Daniel lived with his family in very strenuous circumstances. His parents were in an unhappy marriage, which led to a lot of mental and emotional abuse within the home. As a young child, Daniel was often physically abused as well, and faced almost eight years of sexual abuse by a close family member. His mother did the best she could to give Daniel and his younger sister a solid sense of belonging with the help of her 13 brothers and sisters. As Daniel grew up, he suppressed his sexuality and his feelings, which led to severe obesity, an unhealthy relationship with food, and a very unhealthy relationship with various family members. During his adolescence, he was clinically depressed for four years.

He focuses on the fact that he "survived" and speaks from that space of positivity

Daniel gladly accepted the opportunity to speak at the OECYC Annual Forum because it’s important to him to give back to his community. After having faced various forms of abuse, he focuses on the fact that he “survived” and speaks from a place of positivity. He wants to help others lead an empowered life, and find the courage to get help when needed. Daniel spent much of his life not accepting his sexuality, leading to his inability to express himself openly while being victimized by severe bullying and suffering much anxiety. While those years were difficult, Daniel’s spirit was not crushed. Today, he is proud to share his story and wants to help others in his community find outlets of expression and build the confidence they need to be who they truly are.

In 2010, Daniel found the confidence to tell his family and friends about his sexuality, and open up about the adversities faced during his younger years. With that newfound sense of confidence and power to express himself openly, Daniel landed himself a role on a national TV show in 2012. Since then, he has vowed to make a difference in his community by continuing to be open and honest about who he is, and sharing his experiences. He hopes that those who identify with his story and who are still struggling can be inspired by his journey to explore new avenues of help and support.