Wear it Purple Day strives to foster supportive, safe, empowering and inclusive environments for young people  and on August 28th, 2020 Wear it Purple Day celebrates its 10th year advocating, empowering and celebrating the young people in our rainbow community. Wear it Purple Day is about showing LGBTIQ+ young people that they have the right to be proud of who they are . I wish this day was around when I was a young person trying to figure out who I was and how and where I fit into the world.
As a young person growing up in a smaller regional town I had often wondered if I liked girls more than boys. I always told myself that everyone must feel this way when they are growing up. I had grown up in a time (1990’s) where the words “fag”, “gay” and “leso” were used to describe the homosexual community in a more derogatory way and I wasn’t exposed to queer people anywhere. There weren’t relationships between queer people on TV; they weren’t talked about in the media and certainly not in my friendship and family circles. There wasn’t much talk of the LGBT community, in fact, I didn’t hear the acronym LGBT until the mind 2000’s.
Growing up in Bendigo, Victoria, I can honestly say that I did not see many LGBT people in the community (or that I recognised as being LGBT). I spent a lot of time volunteering on local youth organisation committees and boards and even in these spaces there was never any discussion of LGBT services, support, or spaces. As I look back now, at the age of 35, I can see that my confusion around my sexuality was highly likely due to the fact that I wasn’t exposed to LGBT people, organisations or groups and the very fact that no one openly talked about it confirmed that I was a confused teenager.
For many more years I pushed these feelings down; I ignored them; I decided they were just thoughts I had that didn’t mean anything; and, I dated men. I had a few high school boyfriends (you know, the playground ones where you hold hands and kiss) and at the age of 19 had my first serious relationship with a man for 8 ½ years of my life. We did all the things heterosexual couples are supposed to do, study, work, and build a house. Marriage and having kids, part of the heterosexual dream was coming up, until he ended things one day. This relationship breakup took me quite some time to get over it. I moved from Bendigo to Mildura, Victoria to start fresh. Whilst I managed to learn a lot about myself in Mildura, I still pushed down the feelings I had of liking women; and, as Mildura was a small town, there wasn’t much LGBT stuff happening in the community. Or perhaps there was, and I didn’t know about it?
In March of 2019 I took a leap of faith and moved to Melbourne. At the age of 34 years and 8 months old (after weeks of thinking about it; processing it; denying it; accepting it and having a mental illness episode) I finally admitted to myself that I like girls and that it was ok. The first person I came out to was myself. The second person was my psychologist and I won’t forget her words “sexuality can be fluid and you can like whoever you want to like. It doesn’t matter what other people think, and why are you so worried about what other people think anyway?” And with that, over the next few weeks I started chatting to some women on a lesbian dating app, and slowly came out to different members of my family and friends. I was so scared that they were going to disown me when I told them, but none of them did. In fact, many people said “well yeah, I already knew” or “I’m not surprised” which left me thinking, how did they know when I didn’t fully know? I guess being a tomboy for almost 35 years may have had something to do with it!
I then started looking for ways to explore what this meant for me and to find my community. I stumbled across Thorne Harbour Health on Facebook and attended a Scope Peer Ed Workshop on a rainy Saturday afternoon. It was a session in which we explored our identity; queer misconceptions; our boundaries around dating and so on. It was the first time in my life that I was in a room with people who were LGBTQI+ and it felt scary and empowering at the same time.
Shortly thereafter I had my first date with a woman. As we walked along the beach, I knew I was totally into women! After our first date it dwindled out, and that was ok; I didn’t expect the first date with a woman to go anywhere.
I then started chatting with a gorgeous woman. On the day we met I watched her walk down the hill to the little café and she swept me off my feet. 10 months later we are a happy couple and I am the happiest I have ever been. I have finally, at the age of 35, started living my true self and I couldn’t be happier!
So, what is your truth? What is your happiness? I encourage every young person who asks themselves: Do I like someone who is the same sex as me? Am I in the right body? Do I like people of both sexes? to explore this/these question further and what they mean to them. Speak to a counsellor who is either queer (or an ally). Seek out queer people in your community. Do some reading and research on the internet. There are so many more resources available for the LGBTQIA+ community now, than there ever has been, and you have the support of so many people (many whom you haven’t even met yet). I’m not saying it will be easy, and you know your family and friends better than I do; but I encourage you to take a leap of faith and be honest with who you are and what you stand for. You are beautiful, kind and wonderful in your own unique way and you should celebrate your rainbow pride each and every day.
Written by Dani
Dani is a happy butch woman living in Melbourne who enjoys writing, photography and spending time with her family. She came out later in life and is passionate about helping pave the way for younger people in the rainbow community to live true to themselves.
You can support Wear It Purple by wearing purple on 28 Aug to show your support, and you can also donate to them via this link here.
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