Buddy Nielsen (Senses Fail) Opens Up About Struggles With Addiction, Sexuality, Self-Destructive Behavior

Buddy Nielsen

As someone who grew up in the New Jersey pop-punk scene, I have always viewed Senses Fail frontman Buddy Nielsen as a guru and one of the most important voices in punk rock music. Buddy has garnered respect for years because of his abrasive honesty and reputation for calling out the bullshit in our lovely little scene.

In the most recent episode of the 100 Words Or Less podcast, Buddy talks about his anxiety, depression, and substance abuse, as well as the reasons behind these issues. He talks about the spectrum that is human sexuality and where he lies on it, the trouble of trying to label oneself, and how he felt shame over his issues with his own sexuality and sexual addition. It’s a compelling listen, and it takes unbelievable strength to be so open about these topics. We applaud Buddy for his bravery to stand tall as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and inspire others.

You can listen to the full episode over at Buddy’s website. Make sure to read statements from 100 Words Or Less host Ray Harkins and Buddy below.

Ray Harkins:

This is it. I never thought that this podcast would be a vehicle for such open and inspiring discussion, but here we are. Buddy Nielsen who is the vocalist for Senses Fail who for many years, was arguably one of the largest bands in the mid-aughts comes on the show to discuss his struggles. He opens up about his addictions, sexuality and the self-destructive behavior he inflicted on himself for years. He’s never discussed these issues in a public form and it’s incredible to hear the stories as well as the process of moving past that season in his life. I am extremely proud to bring this compelling conversation to you and thanks again to Buddy for wanting to share his story.

From Buddy:

For those that have followed Senses Fail you have come to know some of my struggles with anxiety, depression and substances abuse. In this podcast I wanted to dive deeper into the origin of these issues, as well as share some deeper, more personal topics that I have never spoken about publicly or in our music.

For over 9 years I suffered in a cycle of shame over my sexuality, substance abuse, sexual addiction, anxiety, depression, grief and self loathing. I fell into a pit of despair and did a lot of damage to myself and to people around me. Through most of it I kept a pretty clean and convincing sheet over the messiness of my life, which in turn caused even more pain. I did a lot of things that were very dangerous and put myself into situations where I was putting myself and others at risk Over the coarse of the last year I have been able to find a level of peace that I did not know existed. In turning towards the very things I feared, I was able to learn to be with them and ultimately have compassion for them.

While the above paints the overall tone and picture of what I am discussing, there are a couple of pieces I want to make sure come across. I am coming out and saying that I have struggled with alcohol dependance and abuse, that I have also battled with sexual addiction and that I do not identify as straight but I fall somewhere on the spectrum of sexuality closer to the middle, yet do not feel I identify with a specific label.

I believe that a lot of what drove me to some of these addictions and behaviors was a mistrust and fear of my sexual orientation. I do not identity as straight or gay or bi and that left me feeling very isolated and shameful. In many ways I felt that my sexuality was wrong, disruptive and needed to be secluded. I feel that if I had been more comfortable with who I was inside and more accepting of my sexuality I could have avoided a lot of suffering. A lot of my sexual addiction was fueled by want and need to experiment sexually but doing so in a container of shame and guilt left me stuck in dangerous self destructive behavior. Acting out sexually and then shaming myself for it, led to deeper stronger levels of self hatred.

I want to come out so that other people know, there are people like them. I know there are people out there right now struggling with their sexual orientation, sexual identity or gender, wether they know in their heart of hearts they fall into a label or not, it doesn’t matter, what matters is that we cultivate a world where people can feel safe to be themselves. Our human sexuality is not limited to the extremes of two poles, two genders or a even a middle ground, the range of our emotions and need to connect are much larger than that and the box we are trying to create for people is much to small and limiting. There are so many of us that do not fall into the box and trying to fit into it, creates an unbearable amount of pain and many times suicide.

We have made a lot of amazing strides towards LGBTQ rights in this country over the last few years but I feel there is so much more that needs to be done. The safety net for people that fall into the LGBTQ world needs to grow, one way it can do that is for people like myself to have the courage to come out and truly be authentic with who they are and to demand that the conversation grow and continue to move forward. I want to encourage radical acceptance and radical inclusion on a level that far exceeds where we are at right now.

I want to thank all the people before me who have walked this path in much more perilous times, enduring intense isolation, backlash and violence. I want to thank all the people that have walked this path with me through these struggles and beautiful self realizations. I appreciate you for taking the time to read, listen and share my story.

In Peace,

Buddy Nielsen


Please excuse me if I offend anyone in this letter or in the podcast. I am just learning to discuss these topics openly and am just becoming comfortable with the proper words and politically correct ways to explain things. I do not wish to cause anyone any harm, or marginalize anyone. I wish for this to be inclusive and inviting to anyone that has ever suffered any level of addiction, pain, anxiety, depression or any amount of unwanted stress that was caused by feeling isolated for any reason.

John Bazley

John Bazley was raised in central New Jersey by the romantic aura of the Asbury Park beachfront, punk rock, and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4. He is still trying to figure all of this stuff out.

In addition to UTG, John has contributed to Alternative Press and Full Frequency Media. Follow him on Twitter for pictures of his dog.
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