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David’s Story - Part One: “I think I’ve always known I was different.”

David is fifty years old. He grew up on a farm in country NSW. He was married for 21 years before separating from his wife and has two adult children. He had inklings from a very young age that he was gay, and like many boys, particularly in rural areas, suffered growing up in a strongly homophobic environment.

I think I’ve always known I was different. I certainly remember at around nine, forming this really warm, strong emotional attachment to one of my male friends at school. I certainly was aware of being attracted to boys in high school, but I grew up in a small rural town where the stereotypical masculine blueprint was in operation. A lot of the guys came from farms, there was a strong male culture and homophobia was rife. Being the macho type was classically what was expected.

I was much closer to my mum, I was much more comfortable around the home. I used to enjoy cooking, gardening, creating beautiful gardens. I learnt the piano and played it for church, and I played the organ for church. We lived on a farm, my younger brother was much more the farmer, and I didn’t really fit that context at all. I certainly didn’t enjoy sports, particularly contact sports.

In sixth class I started getting negative comments, and that really became accentuated throughout the first four years of high school. They were directed at me because I didn’t fit the stereotypical mold. I didn’t even have to be gay as such. I just didn’t fit the masculine blueprint, of being strong and enjoying sports. Because I was perceived as being different, that was when a lot of the homophobic violence, and the psychological and verbal abuse really started. I was called poofter, pansy, faggot, weak, wuss, those sort of terms. I can’t remember them all, but there was a good selection.

I don’t know if my parents really knew what it was actually like at school. I remember coming home on several occasions with this incredible pain that would come up my shoulders and neck, and give me headaches. I now look back and understand that that was about the emotional stress of being exposed to a lot of this stuff in school and living with the constant threat and fear of violence.

Schoolyard fights were not uncommon and change rooms were dangerous places. I used to hate going to sport and having to get changed. It was always a place of great tension because I was well aware of being in a room full of boys and guys changing, but at the same time feeling really afraid of being seen to be looking at the other kids.

Being bullied due to your sexuality isn’t okay. Here’s where you can find help: qlife.org.au