My name is Roxanne and I am a 25-year-old lesbian from South Australia. I came out in a small Queensland town named Gladstone, 6 hours north of Brisbane. I was age 15 when I discovered my sexuality and also made the choice to come out to my family and peers at this time. My parents were very supportive and I was quite comfortable with the feelings I was having even before I made them public. When I came out my friends were supportive and most of my high school year level felt unaffected by my recent revelation. However, I did receive a backlash from my ex-boyfriends and their mates. On one occasion I awoke to my mother crying on our front patio. I asked my mother what was wrong and she would not face me but told me to go and see my father. He was cleaning off black spray paint off our driveway and family cars. The word ‘dyke’ had been spray painted around the outside of my home. In addition, dog poo was put in my letterbox and eggs had been thrown onto the front of my house. This incident also occurred a second time. My mother said she contacted the school but they refused to see it as a serious bullying issue.
In addition, I was chased home on a number of occasions and water-filled balloons were thrown at me. One day one boy chased me into suburban bush land, punched me repeatedly in the face and urinated on me. However, it was not only the students that I received harassment from during my teenage years. One female teacher asked me, during a sex education lesson with a number of year 8 classes present if I would stand before them and explain what sex with a girl was like. I refused and did not tell my parents of this incident. In addition, the same female staff member also pulled me aside during a lesson and wanted to know again graphic details of my sex life. I had been dating a girl two years older than me who also attended the school and this was common knowledge amongst the students and staff. Teachers also circled the school during lunch times to ensure my girlfriend and I did not hold hands. We were both threatened on a number of occasions that if we did hold hands we would both be suspended. My mother did complain to the school principal about this incident but again fell on deaf ears. The scary fact is this was at a public school!
Please don’t worry if you are young and just coming out as the above was some years ago and one of the worst case scenarios! The best time of my life was during my first year at university as I was able to be my true self without fear. I became very active in gay rights at university and had a blast! The thing that inspired me to become a high school teacher was that I never wanted students to feel unsafe or threatened the way that I did when I was a teenager. I am now a teacher and have a wonderful partner who I am marrying in January 2012. I believe being gay makes a person a strong-willed, compassionate individual that has a unique in-depth understanding of the need for sensitivity towards all types of minority groups. One point I want to stress to people coming out is that you are not alone. You deserve to be yourself and be loved. We are all waiting to be your friend and one of us will be your future partner. You can lead a happy and fulfilling life and be gay!