Jean Vianney Cordeiro

Jean Vianney's page

Fundraising for Stonewall
raised of £10,000 target
by 114 supporters
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Event: London Marathon 2022, on 2 October 2022

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We work and campaign to achieve equality for all LGBTQ+ people.


No Longer Running From Myself: Why I’m Running 3 World Major Marathons, in 3 Countries, in 3 Weeks 

Content warning – mental health, eating disorders, weight loss 

During the 1990s, when I was growing up, I heard a lot of hate speech about gay men and the broader LGBTQ+ community from across society. While the daggers from the outside world were sharp, it was the comments in my own household that cut deepest. I grew up in a very conservatively religious family. As a closeted gay man, it seemed that my only option was to live a lie.  

I repressed my sexuality for years. Because I couldn’t be myself, the stress and pressure manifested as obsessive eating. Comfort could be found on the plate. Every bite was a morsel of distraction. I eventually ate away my emotions to the point of becoming clinically obese. 

A weight-related injury in 2014 caused me to hit reset. And after many years of personal struggle, I decided to take the daunting step of coming out for the first time. I told my former boss over a seemingly unassuming lunch. I can remember physically shaking as I worked up the courage to say the words. As I trembled, I realised: it’s now or never. The time between me saying the words and her response couldn’t have been more than a few seconds. It felt like an eternity. I can still feel the sheer relief that washed over me when she accepted me for who I am. This is when life as I know it now truly began. 

Throughout the next year, I gradually came out to friends and family members. Some conversations were easy – friends and family who were swift in their affirmation of love and support for me. Other conversations were difficult – people who felt betrayed that I hadn’t shared this earlier, or in some cases, didn’t believe me. If you think the words “I’m gay” are difficult to get out once, try repeating them over and over when people keep asking, “You’re gay?”, thinking you are joking. 

All of this helped build resilience and shape the person I am today. After a few years on this journey, I came out to the final people of import in my life: my parents. I practiced repeatedly, mulled over the right words, planned my retreat if it went south, even going so far as to ask my brother to have his car keys ready in case we needed a getaway vehicle. No matter how many times I practiced, the nerves and anxiety of that moment still got to me. I somehow managed to get the words out. And although it has a difficult journey with many tears, my parents have come to accept me for who I am. 

As I came out to more people and my stress levels dropped, my eating disorder started to fade, and I lost weight. Comfort was no longer found on my plate, but rather in a deep loving and acceptance of myself. People ask how I did it: “what diet?” or “what exercises?” was I doing. The answer is that I started embracing my authentic self, inside and out. For me, my physical health improved when I stopped living in the darkness of a lie. Overall, I lost about 9 stone (120 lbs or 55 kgs). I wasn’t trying to hit a target – I was just finally being me. The external weight loss was tied to an internal acceptance of who I am.  

In December 2020, I joined the Board of Stonewall. Founded by Sir Ian McKellen, Lord Michael Cashman, Lisa Power and other trailblazers, Stonewall has led fights on behalf of LGBTQ+ rights since 1989. Their many UK successes include an equal age of consent for gay and bi men, the end of Section 28 in Scotland and England and Wales, the right for same-sex couples to get married and, more recently, getting LGBTQ-inclusive teaching in the national curriculum and helping evacuate LGBTQ+ refugees from Afghanistan 

It’s organisations like Stonewall that help move the needle, supporting every one of us to embrace our true selves. That’s why I will be running the 2022 Berlin, London and Chicago Marathons in support of Stonewall. 3 World Major Marathons, in 3 Countries, in 3 Weeks.

Standing on the shoulders of giants and with your support, I will fight my way through 42.195 kilometres (that’s 26 miles, 385 yards) - 3 times over! With each step that I take, I’ll remember my journey, I’ll remember my pain, and I’ll finish my story – it does have a happy ending! 

Until then, please consider donating and sharing this story with your own networks. I’ll see you at the finish line!

#freetobe #youunlimited #berlinmarathon #londonmarathon #chicagomarathon

About the charity


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RCN 1101255
At Stonewall, we stand for the freedom, equity and potential of all LGBTQ+ people. We are part of a vibrant global movement for change made up of LGBTQ+ people, our allies, families and friends. We imagine a world where LGBTQ+ people are free to be themselves and we can live our lives to the full.

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