Recently, Dan O’Neill wildlife presenter with BBC spoke with U.K.’s i news, revealing that he faced harassment and discrimination as a gay man in the field.
“Like most LGBT+ people, I’ve been called names all my life,” O’Neill said. “I’ve been advised by people in my industry to ‘play down’ my sexuality — and I have done.”
He recalled how the homophobia impacted his career, saying, “Once, I was in a meeting at a production company in London to pitch ideas for a new program. I guess I was getting excited about an idea and talking about it in an excitable way. I found out afterwards that one of the leaders of the meeting said: ‘He’s gayer than we expected.’ I never got a call from them again.” O’Neill said that experience was a “huge blow,” and caused him to worry about how being out could limit his career.
By being out, O’Neill hopes to be inspiration for the next generation. He recalled as a child, “I loved David Attenborough documentaries and wanted to be a biologist and wildlife presenter when I grew up. But there was nobody like me on screen — that I knew of. As the saying goes, you can’t be what you can’t see — and so I couldn’t see a possible future for me in that field.”
Despite those roadblocks, the wildlife filmmaker earned a PhD, explored the world with BBC, and founded the Wilderland Festival, UK’s first touring wildlife film festival. He's most recently been working on Snow Leopards: Ghosts in the Snow for BBC.