And finally a truly weird story for you to ponder over: in a previous Blog it was mentioned that homosexuality was not a result of “a peculiar life experience” so make of this what you will. Following a stroke, 27-year-old Chris Birch's personality and sexuality altered dramatically. Now he is trying to rediscover who he is and why these changes may have happened. Looking at past pictures of himself, he struggles to remember or identify with his old self. He used to be a 13-stone, beer-swilling, party-loving rugby fan from the Welsh valleys, the life and soul of a party. He worked in a bank and loved sport and motorbikes. After a freak accident in 2011, he says he underwent a big change to his personality. He believes that he has gone from being straight to gay. A stroke occurs when the blood, and therefore, oxygen supply to the brain is disrupted. Without oxygen, any part of the brain can be destroyed as brain cells die, leaving the brain to make new connections, which can affect how a person thinks, moves or feels. “The Chris I knew had gone and a new Chris sort of came along. I came to the realisation that the stroke had turned me gay.” There are few known cases of a stroke doing that, and major personality changes in stroke sufferers are rare. Even Jak Powell, Birch's other half, believes his partner may always have been gay. “People grow up not knowing they are gay and have families and then they realise they are gay, but they don't have a stroke to realise that.” Yet Birch disagrees and is convinced that, neurologically, it was the stroke that altered his sense of self. The moment he realised his feelings towards men had changed was a scary period in his life. “It was a sort of lonely time. It was a time I was afraid to tell anybody because that wasn't who I used to be, so it shouldn't be who I am now,” he says. “You're afraid to tell people, you're afraid to have that conversation or even talk about the possibility that I have even changed in some way, and I suppose I dealt with it by moving out of my family home by myself and having to realise who I was all over again.”
To be continued.