Bruce, in his own words: “(In Brisbane) it’s actually OK (to be gay). When I was growing up it was very different. That was back in the eighties, and then there were laws about being gay. You couldn’t be served alcohol in pubs, and those sorts of things, so it was a very different sort of situation to what it is now. It’s a lot more open and accepting and things like that. Everyone here knows we’re gay and it’s no issue. We even have people from the local Evangelical society come and visit us and they know about us and it has never been an issue. It’s just a sign of the times, it’s all changing.
I grew up near here, it was all very closeted then too. You certainly didn’t come out easily. I think the only place in Australia where you could have comfortably come out and be open about your sexuality was maybe Sydney or Melbourne. Really even in Brisbane, you had cliques and circles that you mixed with and you were completely out in that group, but generally it wasn’t something that was embraced openly. The government didn’t do it, the media didn’t do it. I think the big thing that changed everything was the AIDS epidemic, and that just put a real focus on gay people and the struggles–besides HIV and everything else–that they go through.
When (the epidemic) first started, I was about fourteen or fifteen. I lost a couple of people that I knew, but not a lot. I wasn’t really involved into the scene at that stage and it didn’t really hit (Australia) as much as it did in the States or the UK. Certainly there was a lot of people who didn’t survive the AIDS epidemic in Melbourne or Sydney. But growing up here in Brisbane, it wasn’t as obvious. And the government, to their credit, did a really good job identifying that there was an issue and telling people what we needed to do to try and avoid it.
(Costas and I) have been together fifteen years now. We met on a chat line on a Wednesday, and then (he) already had a ticket to come to Brighton where we were living in the UK and we caught up on a Sunday, and then (he) moved in two weeks later. So we’ve been together ever since.
I think the option of marriage is important. (In Australia, we) have civil registration in a couple states but it doesn’t have any legal withholding or anything like. I think whether you call it marriage or civil union, I think the ability to have that is important for gay people, because otherwise it just makes you feel like you’re not the same as other couples. And I’m not suggesting that marriage is the end all be all, I don’t think you have to be married, but I think you should have the option if you want to.”