Attitude’s Bachelors of Year 2017 is brought to you in association with Blued.
Ross is a menswear designer from Yorkshire who took his passion for British wool and manufacturing and turned it into a lucrative clothing business. With supporters such as The Prince of Wales and the prince of male models himself, David Gandy, Ross’ designs certainly get the royal seal of approval. He runs his brand with a key ethos of “giving back” so you’ll often find him travelling the country, speaking about his struggle to come out, which led to suicidal depression, and working with a plethora of charities. Trust us, even your nan will love this one.
Ross tells us about being open about his mental health struggles, his experience being outed at school, and his surprising hidden talent.
Bachelor of the Year position: #57
You are open about your mental health. Do you think it’s something that more guys need to talk candidly about?
Yeah definitely. I was so honoured to help with a campaign The Prince’s Trust did called #TakeControl which encouraged people to take control of their mental health and discuss it more. I used to bottle everything up and it almost killed me – literally – as it lead to suicidal depression. I was hiding and internally fighting myself in regards to my sexuality. It was only when I learnt who I was – who Ross was – that I was able to open up on so many different levels. It was only then did I actually begin to heal and accept myself.
How long have you been a bachelor?
Too long. For about two years now. But my last long term relationship was about 7 years ago… Basically, I haven’t had anything serious since I launched my business, Ross Barr. Starting a brand and dating don’t really go hand in hand.
What was your coming out experience like?
Well, it was a dramatic and long drawn out process. I was ‘Found Out’ at 17 at school after I left my phone in our study centre and some class mates found it. They found some messages whilst investigating who’s phone it was, and it revealed all. That was a pretty traumatic experience, as my private life was treated as gossip and everyone at school knew everything within a few hours. But, I got myself a good group of friends and another guy had come out previously and his strength and attitude of “I don’t care what anybody thinks” has always been really inspiring.
I came out to my family when I was 22. My brother and I went to the local pub one evening. We got drunk and he asked me if I was gay. I just took a deep breath and I told him. He said he’d known all along. I then thought it would be a great idea to text every member of the family, even cousins saying I was gay. It was a hangover I wont forget, but generally everything was ok. My mum and big brothers have been especially amazing.
What are the top three qualities you look for in a man?
I don’t think anything beats that immediate connection you have with someone. It’s been a while, but those butterflies in your gut is the best.
Empathy is pretty important as I am on a rollercoaster with the business where you can be on a high jumping around the room one moment then be on a massive downer where you hate the world the next. But someone who gets the pressure and understands that being in the fashion industry isn’t all glamour. It’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears. But it is amazing.
They’ve got to make me laugh. I have quite a dry, sarcastic sense of humour but love good rubbish joke.
They have to be passionate in both work and play. As a creative person, passion forms a major part of my personal and professional life. But it’s also good in other areas of life as well.
Best date you’ve ever been on?
That’s a hard one. I organised a date for one of my first proper boyfriends. I hired a boat and took a champagne picnic down the river. Full of corny cheesy moments. But the funniest date was when an ex took to me to what was supposed to be a comedy night. First two acts were comedy, but then the next speakers were medical talking about bladders, cancers, etc. It quickly dawned on us (and several people there), that it wasn’t a comedy night. He couldn’t apologise enough but I found it hilarious if you can imagine the setting.
…and the worst?
The cardinal rule of any date is to never discuss politics or religion. The worst with a guy who had just graduated from quite a prestigious university who only wanted to talk about those two subjects. As we talked about what I studied at university, he said my degree was worthless (I studied Theology, Philosophy and Religion), he disagreed with everything I said and even though I tried to steer the conversation, he didn’t get my hints or refused to take notice. The stickler of the night was “…the time of you and your kind is over.” I am still trying to figure out what my kind is but he was the biggest hypocrite I have ever met. I drove him back and he asked if I wanted to come in for ‘coffee’. I not so politely declined.
What’s your favourite part of a man’s body?
The eyes. Windows into the soul and all that. It is the part of the body you communicate with the most I think without saying anything.
Arrogance and a hatred of animals.
Do you have an *ahem* ‘three date rule’?
Errm not really. I don’t believe in rules especially when it comes to romance. I have heard people have like a plan like “this needs to happen on the 3rd, then this needs to happen by the 5th”, I’m just like why? Go with the flow and see what happens. Keep all bets off and don’t put pressure on something that doesn’t need it. That way you can enjoy it – whatever it is – even more.
Who’s your celebrity crush?
I don’t really have a thing for celebs as such. BUT if I had to choose, for me it is an old teenage crush I had on the actor Christian Cooke. He was in a 00’s show called ‘Trinity’ not ITV. At one point he was just there naked, stood in a doorway with the camera showing his bum in all its peachy glory. It was that moment that confirmed I was gay I think. Google it, you will see what I mean …
What’s your hidden talent?
Well, I have two. I am a grade eight cellist, but more impressively I can sing ANY song in a chipmunk voice. Even the top divas such as Whitney and Mariah. Although people think the cello is a more acceptable means of expressing my musical skills.