The parents of Marcus Collins and Craig Colton, two of “The X Factor” U.K. finalists in 2011, have given separate interviews to the Liverpool Echo in which they talk about their respective sons’ childhoods. Collins and Colton are both 23 years old; they are both from Liverpool, England; and they both happen to be openly gay.
Collins was raised by a single mother, Tracy Collins, who described to the Liverpool Echo how Marcus was bullied for being black and gay in their predominantly white neighborhood. (Marcus’ father is apparently not in Marcus’ life.) As previously reported, Marcus (who makes a living as a hairdesser) opened up in a Sunday Mirror interview about his past experiences with being bullied.
Tracy Collins, who is a teacher, told the Liverpool Echo:
“It has been hard because I was a single mum and could only work part-time. The first time I came across any racism was when he started school because he was in the minority. It was difficult. You just have to rise above it and it was much worse for him because he was the one getting the personal attacks. When he was younger he used to tell me about the racism but as he got older he didn’t want to tell me because he thought it would hurt me. But he has told me about things that have happened when he’s been out in town. One time he was chased down Mathew Street for being gay.”
Tracy Collins also said that her son helped her through the ordeal of surviving breast cancer:
“Marcus was really shocked when I found out I had cancer and it hit him hard. It affected his college work and I had to force him to go. But Fazakerley Hospital was fantastic and one of the breast cancer nurses came to talk to him. He never wanted to talk publicly about me having breast cancer because he didn’t want people to think it was a sob story. But we both knew it would come out because he’s on ‘The X Factor.’
“He is such a down-to-earth lad. What you see on the TV is what you get with Marcus. There is no hidden agenda. He’s a young lad who needs a break and he loves doing what he’s doing. He’s loving being in the house and he wants to make singing his career. It still hasn’t sunk in that he’s on ‘The X Factor.’ It doesn’t feel like it’s happening until he walks out on stage. It’s funny because everyone says he doesn’t look nervous. But he does get incredibly nervous. He gets a lot of help from Gary Barlow and he’s putting that energy into his performance.”
Meanwhile, Colton’s married parents are still together, and they describe his childhood as supportive and loving. In an earlier separate interview with Liverpool Echo, Colton says that he was never bullied for being gay before he was publicly outed on “The X Factor.” In October 2011, Colton (who used to work at the same biscuit factory where his father works) was outed on TV by former “X Factor” U.K. finalist group Nu Vibe, after Nu Vibe was voted off of the show. Colton told the Liverpool Echo: “I’ve been out for a year now and I have never hidden my sexuality … I’ve never had any issues because of my sexuality. I’ve never been bullied about it.”
His parents, John and Annmarie Colton, had this to say about Craig in their Liverpool Echo interview:
John said: “I just cannot believe he is there on the stage and Gary Barlow is his mentor. All the years I bought him Take That DVDs and CDs and now Gary is his mate. I always thought he would make it. We used to watch ‘The X Factor’ together and I thought one day he’s going to be like those people up there.
“He’s been singing since he learnt to talk. He would never sing in front of the family at parties but put him in front of thousands of people and he will do it. And he always used to say ‘when I make it’ and never ‘if I make it’ because this is something he’s always wanted to do. The support he has had from Liverpool and Kirkby is really overwhelming. Liverpool always support their own and everybody in Merseyside has been so good and spoke about him so nicely.”
Annmarie said: “We always knew how good he was but the difference is that other people are now telling us. That’s what’s nice about seeing him on ‘The X Factor.’ He takes it all in his stride. It doesn’t phase him at all. When he got back from Los Angeles he said Robbie Williams had just phoned him. This is life-changing for him. We can’t walk to the shops without someone stopping us. It’s nice to be able to speak about him. He’s like a little superstar when he’s been on television at the weekend. I went to Ormskirk and so many people wanted to talk about Craig I came home without any shopping.”
In related news, Marcus Collins, Craig Colton and fellow “X Factor” U.K. finalist Frankie Cocozza (who is 18) went to a George Michael concert together on October 25 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The three singers are the three remaining finalists in the Boys catgeory, which is being mentored by “X Factor” U.K. judge Gary Barlow.