Joe McElderry has been driven to success by years of battling school bullies, the Sunday Mirror can reveal today.
He was relentlessly taunted over his sexuality - dubbed "mummy's boy" and "gay boy".
Joe, 18, had a string of girlfriends, but that did not stop his tormentors.
Carly Dilbert, 19, who went out with Joe for two years, said: "He hated it. It really upset him.
"He was adamant he wasn't gay. But they kept on saying it. It was just kids being cruel, but it was hurtful to Joe.
"He had tons of female friends. He wasn't into sport or anything like that - and he got bullied because of it. The boys would call him names like 'mummy's boy' or 'gay boy' - and laugh at him for hanging around with us girls.
"All the girls liked Joe more than other boys so maybe it was jealousy.
"It started when he was about 13 and carried on until he was 15 or 16. Eventually it died down and, by the end of school, everyone loved Joe.
"He won the bullies round with his sense of humour and his funny nature."
But Joe - raised in a tiny flat by mum Eileen after dad Jim walked out when he was one - really was a mummy's boy, Carly revealed.
She said: "He was really affectionate to Eileen. She spoiled Joe rotten. He got away with murder with his mum because he was an only child and had no dad.
"He had all the latest stuff: nice clothes, computer games and the best trainers. He had a huge projector screen in his room to play computer games on. She lavished attention on Joe. But it did make him a bit of a mummy's boy.
"He would sit of the sofa and give her a cuddle, even when he was 16."
Carly added: "Joe was brought up by his mum, his nan and his auntie and all his friends were girls. I suppose it made him a bit more effeminate and sensitive than most guys. People thought he was gay, but we knew the truth."
Carly, a barmaid in her mum's pub in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, went to school with Joe at nearby Harton Technology College. The pair became an item in 2004 after they were made to do detention together in year 10.
"He had the most infectious laugh I've ever heard," said Carly. "All the girls would crack up laughing just at the sound of it. We used to mess about together and make everyone laugh and get into trouble. We were the class clowns.
"We had our first kiss outside the PE block. One day, not long after we started going out, Joe leaned in and kissed me when we met for lunch. It was the first time for both of us. He had really soft lips and it felt great.
"We became one of those couples in school everyone knows about. We were always kissing. Teachers were always telling us off for it. Joe had the most beautiful eyes and the best smile. He told me he liked me because I was funny... and he loved my long dark hair.
"He was quite chubby at the time but then so was I. I think it bothered Joe. He used to cover up in baggy clothes.
"We used to eat junk. We had curry and chips from the canteen every single day. Then Jamie Oliver changed everything and the food tasted rubbish. I remember Joe being really annoyed by that. He loved junk food."
Carly reckons Joe is teetotal after getting drunk just once, in a park. "We got some older kids to buy us some bottles of cheap Lambrusco. Joe was so drunk we had to take him home," she said. "He was sick everywhere and his mum caught him, he was being so loud. After that he said he would never drink again and, as far as I know, he hasn't."
The pair discussed sleeping together but Carly said Joe wasn't ready to lose his virginity.
"Everybody at school kept asking if we'd had sex," she said. "We told everyone we had, but we never did. We talked about it, but neither of us was ready."
Carly broke up with Joe when she left school at 16. She said: "We just drifted apart.
"He's a brilliant, funny guy - and I've been voting for him every week."
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Posted By: BestChance |
11/21/12 11:31 AM
I have always thought that if you can make your bully laugh they will eventually leave you alone.