The struggles of coming out in a rural town
When did you come out?
I figured it out in year 8, so in 2015. I came out just by telling my friends. I came out to my mum while she was giving me a lecture about needing to support gay people and I just let her tell the rest of my family.
What was it like being gay in your rural town?
It was quite challenging. I didn’t know anyone else who was queer and nobody wanted to talk about it with me. I became really depressed and I felt like my friends at school stopped caring about me. On occasion, they would argue against same sex marriage in class, while I just sat there listening to the people who I thought were my closest friends, talk about how much they hated the idea of people like me getting married. So I secluded myself from them.
As I got into the higher year levels I spent my time with students in the younger year levels who had come to me to talk about their identity and how their mental health was going. I had them on social media too so they could also message outside of school if they needed. This then caused a lot of rumours to spread about me being a pedophile who deserved to go to jail. I was just trying to help others.
We held Wear It Purple day at school where we made a poster which everyone signed to show they supported people in the LGBTQIA+ community and I was the only year 12 to sign it. Everyone else refused to participate. Students cut up wristbands that were handed out and put them in my locker along with pads, tampons and postcards talking about the age of consent and cyber safety. At one point a parent was very angry at me and came into school saying I was influencing their child to be more like me.
What helped you through this time?
Honestly the internet, talking to my friends that weren’t in my town and other gay people. I spent most weekends down in Melbourne either going to Minus 18 events, other random events or just hanging out with the friends I’d made on camps, at church and online. They were one of my biggest reasons for living.
My advice to young people
Don’t give up, your crowd is out there.
Even if that means you need to move away to find it. There’s so many resources online to connect you to people. There’s thousands of people who would love to get to know you for who you truly are. You matter, you’re loved and I promise it gets better.