Trolls send me hateful homophobic abuse everyday – I’m a protective shield for my kids, says Steps’ Ian ‘H’ Watkins | The Sun
STEPS singer Ian 'H' Watkins revealed he's targeted by hateful homophobic trolls everyday.
The pop star, 46, is a proud gay man and single parent to twin boys Macsen and Cybi, six.
He isn't afraid to confront bigotry on his social media accounts and hopes by doing so it will educate those who hold offensive views.
But while H has broad shoulders when it comes to the vile torrent of abuse sent his way, he draws a line when his children are mentioned.
In an exclusive interview with the Sun, he said: "I've learnt to grow a thick skin, but I'm only human. What really gets to me, and I will always speak up, is when they question my parenting or bring my children into it because social media is a vicious place, it really is.
"It would be nice to have some laws in place to stop that happening, but I don't think that's going to happen."
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H has raised his boys to be aware of diverse family structures from families with gay parents, to single parents and families of colour.
But not everyone is as accepting of non-nuclear dynamics and H is keen to protect his twins from harmful criticism.
"I don't talk to them about the abuse I get," he said. "I'm very much their shield, but they are very aware there are all different kinds of families."
Recently H drew attention to an Instagram troll who called him "queer" in a derogatory manner following Steps' performance at Birmingham Pride.
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He received an outpouring of support from his friends and fans and defiantly spoke of his pride in being gay.
"We're all about celebrating education and I will always call a troll out," he told us.
"I get hate messages on a daily basis about me being gay, about me being a gay dad, but I know for some people the word queer doesn't sit very well because historically speaking, it was always a slur, but a lot of the LGBTQ+ community have embraced that word, not all, but I definitely have. I use that as my armour now. It's a very positive empowering word, and I use it unashamedly."
The Dancing on Ice star, who appeared in the show's first ever same sex pairing with pro skater Matt Evers, has now teamed up with Play Doh for its first ever book: Notes on Messy Parenting.
The fun and honest book is filled with anecdotes from famous parents such as Ferne McCann and Vogue Williams and dismantles the false notion of 'perfect parenting'.
H said: "There's great representation in the book. There's a gay dad, you have two dads, there are single parents, there are families of colour. You need representation. My children are very aware of the diversity of the world."
The Steps star's anecdotes are particularly focused on the benefits of messy play and keeping it real on Instagram.
He said: "Nothing really prepares you for any kind of parenting until your children arrive.
"I wish I had this book. It gives you lots of top tips, anecdotes and just to take the pressure off you. Things that I find really annoying are people giving you advice when they don't have children. You have no idea."
His big takeaways are: "Don't judge, celebrate the small wins and take one day at a time, that would be my advice."
Parenthood with twins is all H knows, so he admitted he doesn't quite know how it compares to only children and siblings with age gaps.
However, he said: "The one thing I will say, which I can see from my friends that have children, is that mine are at the same developmental stage, physically mentally, socially. It's a constant battle. There are constant arguments. It's a constant power struggle.
"Whereas with siblings, where one is older than the other, that dynamic is very different. For me, I have to police 95 percent of everything they do because everything ends in a squabble. I'm just painting it as it is [laughs]."
Despite the hardships, he isn't ruling out having more kids and is proud of the routine he has instilled in his boys.
"Never say never," he said. "Babies are hard work.
"I was very lucky I had my children in a military routine. They've always been 12 hour babies from two months, I reckon.
"It's because I did the tough love, tough parenting. A lot of people don't agree with that and a lot of people would judge me for that, but I would never judge their parenting. But I would say my children at six years old still have 12 hours, so I've done something OK."
Filled with anecdotes, daily dramas and ball drops from well-known parents in the UK, Notes on Messy Parenting is available to read and download free.
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