September 2001

It's a quiet winter night here in Brisbane, and I have the urge to write ... so, here goes. I've never submitted anything to a website before, so I'm curious to see how it goes.

I guess the obvious beginning is, as always, an introduction of sorts. My name's Micheal (yes, the 'ea' is intentional), and I'm a 19 year old gay boy in Brisbane, Australia, though it's not my place of birth. I popped into this world in a small, sleepy country town named Grafton, five hours south of where I now sit typing this.

It feels strange to present a piece of writing to the GLBT youth community, because in many ways, I can't say I share their experiences. This may take a little explaining, so bear with me.

I was never popular as a kid. By the time I reached 6 years of age, everyone in my grade had marked me out as different, the nerd, the person who wouldn't play with the others and preferred a book to their company. I certainly didn't do much to dispel this, so I guess I have only myself to blame for painting the target on my forehead ... but that's not really relevant right now.

As a result, I was teased unmercifully for pretty much the entire duration of my time in school. I never feared violence of any kind (the men of our family are pretty big, or as mother puts it, "They're piling the shit higher with every generation"), but it wore on the soul ... for a while. Then, it stopped hurting. I simply wrapped myself up in a comfy little shield of contempt and hobbies, and summarily ignored the majority of my peers for the next five years or so.

Right, fast forward now, to when I was 16. Puberty had come and gone, and I still wasn't particularly interested in either gender. Sex seemed excessively messy and sweaty, and I still didn't feel comfortable enough with my peers to try to find out any more about the process.

That's when I started having feelings toward other males. A crush on a schoolmate (nothing ever came of it, but I still think fondly of him for understanding), a quickly developing obsession with pro wrestling (hey, where else can you see a bunch of big, muscly, sweaty men groping each other in public and be able to get it on regular television?), and I had pretty much come to the conclusion that, at least for the moment, my interests seemed pretty much focused on the boys.

Oddly, it wasn't a struggle to come to this realisation. I'd been pretty firmly agnostic for a number of years, so religious beliefs didn't worry me. I already had ceased to give a damn about the opinion of family and peers, so social disgrace didn't mean a damn. I guess in that respect I should be thankful for being so much luckier than many GLBT youth, for whom coming out to themselves is the hardest struggle they ever face.

I still wondered if it wasn't just one of those ubiquitous 'phases' people talk about, but another event pretty much sealed the case for me.

In a favoured online chat area of mine, I met a fellow from Ohio, a 29-year-old computer technician. We started chatting about some common interests ... met the next day, to talk some more ... and before I knew it, a week had passed in a happy, heady whirl of shared hearts and feelings, and I got the uncomfortable feeling that I was falling in love with someone I'd never even seen. This worried me more than the fact that it was a guy ...

That relationship lasted the better part of two years, before distance eventually convinced us both that things just wouldn't work out. We still talk, and exchange presents on birthdays.

In the meantime, I started to quietly come out to the society around me. In what was perhaps a mistake, I came out to a few trusted friends (yes, I did have a few) before coming out to my parents. But you know what they say about country towns ... everyone knows everything about everyone. The gossip grapevine in our town was more like a noxious weed, and mother soon knew everything.

Took it well, too. She always seemed to trust my judgement more than the other kids she cared for. Her only worry was that I was doing what was best for me, and I'm thankful that she trusted me.

Granted, coming out in a small town perhaps isn't the wisest of moves, and there was the odd lout in the schoolyard and on the street who would have something to say as I passed. But my little personal hate-shield was already well-built, and the insults slid away. I was felt 'fag' was a good bit classier than 'worthless go-nowhere school-dropout career-unemployed', anyway...

Finished school, moved to Brisbane to enter university, and here I am ... no worse for wear after the experience. It always gives me reasons to count my blessings after reading the horror stories of other GLBT youth's passage to freedom.

Well, I hope someone gets something out of reading my ramblings. Feel free to drop me a line at s1707403@student.gu.edu.au ... feedback is always welcome.

Love to all,


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