Friends, family and fans all over the globe have paid tribute to the writer and LGBT activist Dean Eastmond, who passed away earlier this week. Dean was just 21 and was diagnosed with a rare bone and soft tissue cancer in 2016.
Sharing his experiences of having cancer as a young man in the LGBT+ community earned Dean a huge online following, and the internet has been filled with messages of love and admiration following his passing, with his hashtag #DeanEastmondSLAYS trending on Twitter as fans reminisced about his impact.
Celebrities sending messages of support to Dean included Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls, Nigella Lawson, and a whole host of famous dragqueens from one of Dean’s all-time favourite reality TV shows, RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Though tributes from his celebrity fans serve as a touching memorial to Dean’s feisty spirit and infectious sense of humour, his most lasting impact will surely be his writing. His online magazine HISKIND, and publications including The Guardian, The Independent and Teen Vogue, all featured a range of his thoughtful, articulate pieces on the effects of cancer on his identity as a young gay man. One of his most shared articles, written for The Guardian, deals with how men going through cancer might feel a loss of masculinity, an issue not often written about:
“Of the hundreds of side effects of chemotherapy – intense fatigue, nausea, memory loss, sores, a strained immune system, waves of anxiety, weight fluctuations and the constant feeling of burnt fingertips – the stripping away of masculinity is one of the most surprising and it seems, for many men, one of the most difficult to deal with. As a fellow patient on my ward bellowed one day: “I’m not a f**king man any more.””
Dean was full of praise for the NHS staff who supported him throughout his treatment, as well as his boyfriend Adam, who featured in many of his Twitter updates. He also cited the sense of support and belonging he gained from being part of the LGBT community as a source of hope and strength during his illness.
Rest in power, Dean – your writing and presence will continue to touch people for a long time yet.
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