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Aaron Ellis on How Seeing Kurt & Blaine Kiss on Glee Helped Him Survive High School

Aaron Ellis on How Seeing Kurt & Blaine Kiss on Glee Helped Him Survive High School

Aaron Ellis

The 21-year-old British filmmaker reveals hard truths in his debut feature, Beneath the Skin

Aaron Ellis, a 21-year-old gay English filmmaker, is having quite the whirlwind month. His first feature film, Beneath the Skin, is currently being screened along the festival circuit, and is receiving a rapturous response from critics. He's also on a "teen horror film," and just wrapped a short film, titled Each of Me, about what he went through when his father committed suicide.

Beneath the Skin, which Ellis wrote, co-directed, and starred in, was just awarded the prestigious Best LGBT Feature Film award from the Filmmakers Showcase Film Festival in Los Angeles, where he attended and collected his award this past weekend. In addition to that accolade, the film has also picked up a global film award for Best LGBT Feature Film, an IndieFest Best LGBT Feature Film honor, along with Ellis scooping up a Best Actor in a Leading Role prize.

Ellis is from the working-class town of Slough in the U.K., and he recently sat down with Attitude's sister pub, aTeen magazine, and gave a candid interview filled with brutal honesty and the unflinching candor a true artist about sexuality, being bullied, and how Glee gave him hope after high school. (You can download the issue with the full article here.)

Aaron Ellis

On the inspiration for Beneath the Skin:

"I've always wanted to write an LGBT film but I never thought it would get made as there's so little funding support out there for LGBT films. The idea of the film Beneath the Skin is mostly inspired by my teen years as a young gay man and I wanted to create a romance/drama using my experiences. However, unlike a lot of LGBT films I wanted to it to be teen friendly and not too sexy.

On coming out:

"I never actually came out to my mother. I knew she knew! I mean, she had raised four children: a straight, a bi, a gay, and a mum is proud of all of her children. She was even more proud of us for coming out gay."

On grappling with his father's suicide:

I was only 10, so I didn't really understand what was going on. I understand now that no 10-year-old boy needs to know the full details of how it had happened but being kept in the dark just made everything more confusing for me, especially as I got older. So I freaked out. My life turned upside down and even now, at 21, I don't think I've really finished picking up the pieces.

On being bullied:

"I was bullied by many different people ...they began picking me apart for it, verbally abusing me and calling me queer and poof. Then the bullying became physical. I had chairs thrown at me, I was pushed down the stairs, punched, kicked, held up by my neck whilst the others punched my ribs and been in the centre of a bully circle whilst eight boys punched and kicked me simply because it was my birthday. The teachers did nothing to help...some of them even laughed at me when the bullies were attacking me."

On the power of Ryan Murphy's Glee to find self-acceptance:

"It wasn't until year 10, when Glee first started. It was very popular at school and the gay characters on the show made everything much easier in school...the Kurt and Blaine storyline made me like the idea of kissing a guy. I knew then that I was a little different to the other boys, and though I didn't come out until a few years after this, I had accepted it. Accepting who I am made me feel invincible to the bullies and that's how I beat them."

Watch the trailer for Beneath the Skin below:

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