I grew up in a small country town in Northern Victoria (Tongala). Population 1200. I always knew I was different but did not understand or want to understand why for a very long time. I ran from my sexuality for many years. More from just not wanting to accept it than anything else, and not because I was ashamed or overly concerned about what others may think.
Growing up gay in a small town is very isolating as there is no one to turn to and no where for support, hence a high rate of depression and suicide amongst marginalised teens and young people. Being different is not the done thing in the country.
I threw myself into my career and it wasn't until the age of 26 that I came out. The catalyst came when I was working as an HR manager. I was lucky enough to have someone gay in my team and although I had no issue with them and valued them as a worker and as a person, at first I found it confronting as it forced me to face my own sexuality. I fell into a very deep depression to the point that I organised and planned a trip away, never to return. Yes, I had planned to kill myself. I was very fortunate that the universe had other ideas and rescued me from the torment and pain. At the time, it threw me a lifeline of distraction and a glimmer of hope that I could find peace and happiness. I consider myself one of the lucky ones as it could so have easily gone the other way.
Whilst putting on a brave face I got myself some support and confided in my colleague at work who also helped me.
The next confronting thing......coming out. I had built myself a support network who I knew would stick by me, and if the family rejected me I knew it would be tough, but I would be ok. Thankfully my family were really good and didn't care at all as they saw it for what it was. My sexuality is only one small part of who I am. A couple of family members have even participated in Pride March a couple of times with me and Mum and I marched in Mardi Gras one year with PFLAG (the crowd loved her).
Whilst my journey hasn't always been an easy one and there are some battle scars, it has very much shaped the person I am today, full of fight and compassion and living a life of service, supporting and caring for others. I consider it a very rich life and am blessed to have a wonderful circle of family and friends.
I reflect sometimes that the place I went to, to end my life, was the place I found it again, and today it is one of my favourite places that I often return to to recharge the batteries. In fact, it is now somewhere I take my friends and family to find some peace.
I am a firm believer in equality and believe that All people should have the right to marry the one they love and that be recognised in law.
We need to fight until we achieve equality so that everyone in the LGBTIQ community, particularly the young, isolated and vulnerable can see that they are valued, loved and equal in all aspects of their lives and can be proud and free to be who they are.
If this post raises any issues for you, please feel free to contact me or one of the following services below.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
Switchboard Victoria: 1800 184 527