Beau, in his own words: ” Being gay to me means that I’m a dude who likes dudes. To me it’s a small part of who I am. Its like having brown eyes or red hair – it can help define you – but in reality it’s just a small part of who you are as a person. When someone asks me if I’m gay I will always ask them why. Why do people need to know such an intimate detail as in its more a question about who I sleep with rather then who I am as a person. But I always say after I answer “know you know just a little bit more of who I am.”
I regard three points in my life as my success stories: the first being when I won student of the week in grade 2. After a really bad week at school me and mum had a talk and she told me if I was really good at school she would get me a suprise. So that week I convinced myself that my vitamin C tablets would make me concentrate and make me be good and I took one every morning and snuck one in the afternoon so I could do my homework and on Friday after morning tea my teacher gave me the award and I was able to put my name up on the board with all the other kids. The second time was on Australia Day when I won my award for “the betterment of the region” and listed all of my achievements over the past 12 months and I was so pleased with myself and even more pleased that my grandfather was telling everyone that’s my grandson and all of the older people came to shake my hand and afterwards mum let me hang the award in the hallway so as soon as you came into the house from the backdoor you would see my award hanging there. The third time I felt successful was when I took my partner to my brothers partners parents house for Christmas to meet all of my family – it was the first time my parents had met a boyfriend and I just felt so proud because I was so scared of what they would think of him and me but my dad shook his hand and my mum gave him a hug and it was just like all the times my sister brought her boyfriends home. It felt great.
Like most teenagers I was bullied horribly. I was concussed three times in grade 7 and pushed down a stairwell because I was “a faggot” but after primary school it got better and I have moved on from caring what most of them thought of me because I know now that it’s up to me if I let their words hurt me and sometimes they do but mostly they don’t which is good.
My coming out story begins in grade 8 when my teacher gave us an assignment on two weeks with the queen – a novel – and we had to write letters from one character to another describing what is happening and how they felt and when I handed in my first draft he said to me why don’t you change who is writing to who. Why don’t you try the gay couple in the book and write about them. The gay couple are in their thirties and one is dying of AIDS. I told him I didn’t know anything about gay people and he told me to google coming out stories and start from there. That weekend the family was out and I googled coming out stories and reading every story was like looking into my own mind and connecting the dots as to why I was different. It made no sense to me before that and now I had a word to describe my feelings and I felt so grown up but I had no one to tell. A few weeks later I went to my local youth group camp and met a wonderful girl who was a few years older and she was the first person I told. We would email each other ever day and it was nice to have someone to talk to. My mum got worried and thought this older girl was taking advantage of me and asked my youth group leader to talk to me about it because I wouldn’t talk to them. And then I told him the truth and it was awkward and I asked him not to tell my parents and that I would so that afternoon I told my mum because dad was at work and what I remember most was I was standing at the sink and I drunk a cup of water after each sentence I said. And then she sent me to my room and her and dad talked when he got home and all I heard from their conversation was as long as he is happy. That made me smile.
The gay community in Brisbane is small but very diverse. It’s well represented of all the different colours of the rainbow but everyone knows everyone and most won’t let you forget if you slept with their ex. In the six years I have been in Brisbane now things have changed a lot but the people stay the same and I find that comforting as you will always get a hello down at the pub.
What would I tell my younger self? I would tell me not worry. The people who make your life hell now will not always be around and you will get to choose if and when you speak to them when your older and when they request your friendship on Facebook you will smile and accept knowing that it was them who wanted your acceptance and not the other way around. The second thing I would tell myself is it gets better and you will make so many new friends you won’t remember all of their names but all you have to do is say hi first.”