Spotlight On: Gavan Hennigan

With so few successful LGBT members in the media, it is important to recognise and support the openly gay stars that we do have. Gavan Hennigan is the Irish-born Extreme Environment Athlete that has taken the gay community by storm this year.

A champion rower, he has set international records by rowing solo for 49 days at a time. Competing endlessly in new challenges, he is the primary LGBT figure in extreme sports.

During his most high profile race from La Gomera in Spain to Antiguia, as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, he finished third rowing for up to 19 hours a time, burning 8,000 calories a day and losing 20 percent of his body weight.

Henningan has travelled all 7 continents climbing, snowboarding, surfing, and mountaineering across the world while competing in the longest, and toughest challenges – always finishing ahead of the pack.

He has worked worldwide as a deep-sea saturation diver for over 10 years, diving to depths of 200 m to perform heavy construction on oil rigs.

His life hasn’t always been a series of grand adventures. In his youth, Gavan became embroiled in drug, and alcohol addiction living in a squat in Amsterdam at 18 years old. , Addicted to heroin he wound up living in London in an unfurnished flat until he overdosed on MDMA powder at 20. He acknowledges that he couldn’t deal with the fact that he was gay and the extreme behaviour masked it all.

“I was afraid to admit I was gay, I had huge abandonment issues around my Dad’s behaviour and it was only when I hit rock bottom that I could look up and try to deal with it.”

At 21 he got clean and found great solace in sport, which kept him on the straight and narrow. Now he pushes himself both psychically, and mentally in new and exciting challenges – while doing work for mental health awareness.

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