THE BIGGEST SECRET YOU MAY EVER HAVE
My Experience Growing Up Queer In Australia, by Todd Fernando
It is my obligation to say that this article is my own personal experience growing up queer. I cannot speak for every LGBTQ person, although our stories are similar, our journey is our own. The experience of many young people growing up Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Queer (LGBTQ) in Australia may not be pleasant. I lived in a world where fundamental human rights were discriminative and indifferent, and the lack of social inclusion of not being counted as equal. Within our own homes and communities, the failure to understand these rights - can leave many LGBTQ people, feeling disconnected and withdrawn. A report recently published by Young and Well CRC in conjunction with the University of Western Sydney and Twenty10, highlighted a high number of young people facing this problem on a daily bases. More than 1000 young people aged between 16-27 participated in the research, with 42% having thought about self-harm and/or suicide. Overlooking hatred, abuse and denial, many LGBTQ people are resilient in facing these indignant challenges head on - expressing the right for optimism about tomorrow’s possibilities. One of the hardest things we [LGBTQ] do, is expressing the one thing we have guarded for a long time. Coming out as Gay, is one of the biggest secrets you may ever have, and it is our right to share or not. I am a proud Aboriginal man, from the Wiradjuri Nation in Central West NSW, but it has taken me a long time to be a proud Gay man. At the age of 17 I contemplated suicide, suppressing who I am as a result of growing up in a country town with no LGBTQ presence. 5 years later and much more prouder of my lifestyle, I spurted out the four words I longed to say, but feared so much - Mum, I am Gay! With a smile on her face, and a tear in her eye - she hugged me saying how much she loves me, leaving me with a feeling I have never felt before. I felt...
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