One of Britain’s infamous “demon children” has revealed that a major contributor to his acting out as a child was the torment of hiding the fact that he is gay.
The term “demon child” isn’t thrown around loosely — you’ve got to really earn that one.
But two British lads, Danny (right) and Ricky Oakley (left), put in the work to gain the title. Together they racked up more than 40 arrests and a criminal record by the age of 12.
They also became Britain’s youngest recipients of anti-social behaviour orders.
They abused their neighbors, set fires and broke property. In 2006 they both suffered serious burns after a can of foam they threw into a bonfire exploded.
Danny, the elder brother and now 21-years-old, is working hard to right his wrongs. That includes opening up publicly about his difficult childhood and internalized homophobia.
“I knew I was gay but didn’t want to be,” he told the Sun. “I was a criminal and didn’t want to be.
“By the age of ten, I regularly smoked cannabis to blank out the sadness. It was a coping mechanism but I’ve given that up now.
“I don’t drink, either. The new me is sober, clean and on the right side of the law.
“I wish I could go back to our neighbours — everyone who was scared of us, everyone we hurt or whose property we damaged — and tell them I’m so sorry.
“What we did still haunts me to this day. I had a lot going on at home and I took it out on the streets. I have no happy memories of my childhood, at all.
“Being gay wasn’t something I could share with my brother Ricky, who is currently behind bars, so I kept it to myself.
“Dad would have hated me if he knew, so at 14 I tried to kill myself because the secret was torture. When you’re a thug on a council estate, being gay isn’t an option. I was living a lie.”
Danny adds: “At 16, an uncle caught me hooking up with a lad and frogmarched me to my dad.
“Dad was ashamed of me. He told me I was a poof and a queer. It was no wonder I’d kept it secret — as the day he found out, he said I was no longer his son.
“It was in my friends that I found acceptance some years later, when I had come to terms with losing my family.
“My new mates don’t judge me for being gay. To them, it’s just part of who I am. I disappoint my dad but I make my friends proud.
“I still struggle to fully accept I’m gay because, in my mind, I hear Dad’s voice, telling me I am a worthless f*****, that society hates me.
“I’m slowly realising that if I accept who I am, then I can be who I want to be.”
While Ricky is still in and out of prison, Danny is committed to turning his life around, one step at a time.
“I was naughty because I craved attention, but at some point you have to take responsibility for your own actions.
“I made mistakes but was crying out for help and support. I had no parental guidance. No one ever told me they loved me.
“But I’ve found love in each one of my friendships and will turn all my negative experiences into positive ones.
“I don’t want to be known as the Asbro kid any more. I’m sorry for what I did and am ready to be a better man.
“I want to be known as Danny, the guy who turned his life around and the guy who helped other kids turn theirs around.”