CORONATION Street star Shelley King has revealed how she tried and failed to have romantic relationships with men before coming out as gay.
The 65-year-old actress – who plays Yasmeen Nazir on the soap – says she came out to her parents at 42.
Shelley has opened up about her sexuality and living as her authentic self in a new essay published in the Metro.
She explained how growing up without seeing lesbians represented in the media was damaging and she "tried to have relationships" with men.
As a teenager she was drawn to books, films and plays that were "all about women who were attracted to other women".
But, she explained: "This was the early 70s and nothing I stumbled across seemed to have a happy ending."
After becoming a professional actress, Shelley thought she would "come into contact with women" in the industry.
But instead of finding a girlfriend, Shelley says she harboured "self-destructive crushes on women who would never return the feelings".
She said: "I tried to have relationships with straight men but I had no emotional connection and it only ended up hurting them."
Shelley had two failed relationship with women before meeting her "soulmate" Trilby James.
Shelley is now in a civil partnership with the actress and director and the couple live in London.
"After we got together, I 'came out' to my parents aged 42," Shelley said.
"They were not in the least surprised.
"I want to tell other people considering coming out to never be afraid of who you are.
"Whatever the circumstance, the people who really love you will support you."
The actress made her debut as the grandmother of the Street's first Muslim family in 2014.
Earlier this year Shelley told The Sun on Sunday how she struggled to switch off after filming her character’s harrowing coercive control storyline and could not stop thinking about the real-life victims.
Shelley said some of the darker scenes took a toll on her emotionally — but added that she is “proud” knowing how many people she has helped.
The hard-hitting plot, which saw her character Yasmeen Metcalfe suffer at the hands of twisted husband Geoff, played by Ian Bartholomew, 65, was one of the most talked-about in years.
And it could not have come at a more relevant time, with a sharp rise in domestic violence since lockdown.
“The past few months were tiring to film," she said.
"The storyline has been going on for two years and at times it was difficult to unwind.
“I felt a heaviness. It was a feeling that not everything is right in the world.
“But in a strangely positive way, I am getting messages from people all the time.
“I’ve heard the most distressing stories from women and men from so many different backgrounds and cultures.
“One woman of 80 shared her story with me. It’s not something you ever forget.
“Corrie is informing people there is help out there. It’s such an important issue to tackle — that’s why I love it.
“A lot of the messages I’ve been getting are from people saying, ‘That’s happening to me’. They’re watching the storyline and are now seeking help.”
Her storyline helped Coronation Street pull in more than eight million viewers throughout the lockdown.
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