Write Your Story 💜

  • 9 mins

Earlier this year, we celebrated Wear It Purple Day, a time to stand together and support the LGBTIQA+ community.

The theme for 2023 was “Write your story”, and we invited our LGBTIQA+ staff to submit their stories to help celebrate the day and allow them the opportunity to share their narratives.

Shared anonymously, the stories below have come directly from our staff, with each individual sharing a unique perspective and journey.

We thank our staff for submitting their stories and appreciate all who participated in Wear it Purple Day.

Story #1

On thinking about Wear It Purple Day and contributing as a part of this, I reflected on the array of pride/positives I’ve been able to experience in more recent years, however also on some personal and broader challenges earlier in my life and some ongoing.

Growing up in regional SA in the 2000s, as a teenager I was terrified of the others’ perceptions, and the implications of, me coming out as a young gay male.

In my experience, a feeling of generally negative (or in the least minimally-affirming) attitudes by many towards non-heterosexuality was still largely pervasive in the community I grew up in. This ranged from casual (often at times unintended or unconscious) general attitudes or ‘off-the-cuff’ remarks experienced in everyday conversation to, at times, actions or attitudes much more intentionally derogatory or malicious.

During this time, I was exposed to little reference or examples of role models that provided truly positive representation toward and fostered a sense of acceptance of Queerness.

I was worried about what it would mean for my relationship with my friends, my family, and overall support network to express my sexuality – which I was very much only in the beginnings of figuring out, and for a long time, I had not come to accept myself and was uncertain of how to feel/be safe in navigating this.

Therefore, I felt I had no choice but to minimise and hide this part of myself.

I spent many years self-moderating and masking – including a near-constant state of self-vigilance in how I spoke, moved, and acted in general – as to try to hide, or at least reduce others’ attention to and risk exposing of my ‘gayness’.

Eventually, I couldn’t continue to hide (as cliche as it these terms may sound) my true, authentic and whole self – something which I could not change (but for a long while had wished I could), and by this point, felt I could not go on suppressing every day of my life.

The impetus behind this, in some ways, aligned very much with my moving to a larger city (Adelaide), where I completed my tertiary studies. Through this, I experienced some powerful learnings, including relating to social determinants of health and wellbeing, and some (personally revelatory) concepts of ‘doing’, ‘being’ and ‘becoming’ in the context of growth, expression and further realisation of one’s own identity and place in the world.

Furthermore, through these experiences, I was very fortunate to meet many new people from different walks of life in an environment that felt, on the whole, very supportive of diversity in most regards.

In my final year of my undergraduate degree (I was 22 at this point), I progressively came out to the people I felt this was important to share with.

To their credit, my family and friends were generally very much accepting and supportive with my coming out. However, it took me some time (and is an ongoing journey in a way) to then figure out how to navigate where-to from there, and in a way how to ‘be me’ (in a ‘truer’ sense of the word).

Fast forward a year or so, and I was fortunate to have met my now Husband. However, during this time, I recall some of the very damaging and divisive vitriol that occurred as part of the national Marriage Equality debate and plebiscite.

However, for the first time that I had personally experienced, I also remember feeling a unified community support for and by the Queer community.

In the last few years, I’ve been fortunate to connect with others in the LGBTQIA+ and ally community through attending an inclusive running group (Adelaide Frontrunners). Through this, I’ve been able to meet many people of similar, varied and diverse experiences and journeys, and personally have been able to foster a greater sense of pride and self-acceptance.

I now feel very lucky to have a loving partner, an ongoing supportive family and friends, and (not least) in my professional life, to work in a team that accepts wholeheartedly without prejudice, the diversity in our team (including my own sexuality and identity). However, I remain aware of the ongoing challenges the LGBTQIA+ community faces and that not everyone has the same experiences.

Positive representation and visibility are so important in promoting positive change and acceptance in the community as a whole. Furthermore, it helps to show others (including those who may be figuring things out in their own journey, uncertain in how to navigate this, or feeling unsure or unsafe in coming out to people in their life) that there are people and communities they may be able to connect with, or simply draw courage and example from, as a part of their own journey.

In writing this, if I were to give any advice to anyone struggling or unsure regarding their sexual identity or coming out, it would be to try to seek out and connect with positive and affirming examples and communities. Futhermore, never to feel pressured or that you should be at a certain point in your own process of acceptance and (hopefully) pride.

I hope in sharing my story above, this can contribute, even in some small way, to ongoing positive change as a whole.


Story #2:

I first identified as part of the LGBTIQA+ community in my early 30s at the height of Sydney’s strict COVID restrictions. Although it seemed an overwhelming sense of self that I had never experienced before, it was a very lonely time as the only way I could engage with the community was through social media. I also couldn’t see those closest to me; it wasn’t the news I wanted to tell them over the phone.

I entered a relationship based purely online for almost two months; under normal circumstances, it would be entirely out of character. I could not wait until the COVID restrictions ended so I could finally meet them in person.

Unfortunately, the persona they were displaying online was not who they really were; I was repeatedly bullied by them and their friends for “not really being part of the community”, as I had not identified as part of the community for very long.

After the relationship ended, I joined various LGBTIQA+ community groups such as meet-ups, dancing and even rock climbing. I have met some amazing people through this who have shared their stories, and they have really created a space where I feel a sense of belonging. I even went to a coffee meetup- where everyone’s LGTBQIA+ story started after 30, which was a very reassuring experience for me. I am very lucky to have very supportive friends and colleagues, and I am proud to identify as part of the LGTBQIA+ community.


Story #3:

12/6/2020 was a new day for me; it was a moment where it was time for me to set myself free. Everyone has different coming-out stories, and many of them experienced the other side of life to come to the realisation that they bat for the other team. I came out as a lesbian at 35; in the community, anyone who comes out as LGBTQIA+ later in their life is a late bloomer. Before my realisation, I did experience relationships with males and got married. The question always asked, and it’s not only me that gets asked this, “When did you realise you were gay?”.

My story took place after a psychologist session; at the time, I was on my own, free from my family and DV marriage, mental health breakdowns and suicidal thoughts and attempts. I knew I wasn’t straight, but I needed to question if I was the L or B in LGBTQIA+.

My psychologist told me to get a notebook and sit in my lounge room, no music, no TV, just me, pen, notebook and silence. Silence, which would be interrupted by my inner self. I sat on my couch and started to zone into the inner me; I saw myself in a dark room, and in front of me was a ten million-piece jigsaw puzzle; this was my life. Piece by piece, I sorted them into groups and started to put the pieces together. Going into my 4th large square of the puzzle, I had the click of realisation that I was the L in LGBTQIA+.

I had no idea how I was going to shout it from the rooftops; the coming out process is not an easy one. So social media it was, and the support I got was phenomenal; my best friend said, “I knew you were gay in high school.” I asked her “, Why didn’t you tell me?” She said, “If I told you, you would’ve defended it, and you were under your family’s thumb with who they wanted me to be and value”.

I have cut off my family, and a lot of people in my community do as they are not supportive, but for me, removing myself from the wrong people in my life was the best decision for my mental health and leading me to the right people that support my journey as a Single Lesbitarian Independent Genderfluid Female.

In May 2022, I changed my pronouns to She/Her/They/Them; physically, I am a female, but mentally I was a mixture of genders. I am a tomboy and love video games and boys’ toys.

My journey is still going as I approach my 40s; we still have a long way to go to include and accept LGBTQIA+ communities in mainstream society, especially supporting our younger generation who come out as early as four years old to celebrate and support who they are, their pronouns and preferred names.

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