Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words? They’re way worse.

I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the country on which I live - the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations - and give my respects to their Elders past, present, and emerging.

Am I too gay? Or am I not gay enough? It depends on who you ask. If I walk down the street wearing my Birkenstocks with my toenails painted, I’m afraid I might offend someone for expressing the personality that lies deep within me; the one that’s struggling to come up for air. I’m afraid I’ll get called the infamous ‘F’ word or some other slur for my sexuality. Sometimes I’m so afraid that I’ll carry keys in between my fingers just in case I cross the wrong person at the wrong time. I know this feeling so well that when I’m approaching a woman, I act extra gay in the hopes that they feel safer knowing I’m unlikely to harm them. I’ve become so good at knowing when to play up the gay, and when to play it down; act straight. But why should I feel the need to adapt to different scenarios? Why can’t I just live the way I want to live? I often see other queer people who aren’t afraid to express themselves and I look on with admiration. Perhaps they are afraid but they’re happy to take the risk if it means they get to be their true self. Either way, I’m envious of their bravery.

It took me a long time to realise how uneducated society is on the LGBTQI+ community. Yes, the world is progressing, but not fast enough. I want to make it clear that whilst I personally haven’t encountered the brunt of abuse, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and intersex people in Australia still experience discrimination, harassment and hostility in many parts of everyday life. Whether that be in public, at work, accessing health and other services and securing proper recognition of their sex in official documents. I would argue that homophobia continues to be a major barrier due to the global AIDS epidemic. The global HIV epidemic has always been closely linked with negative attitudes towards LGBT people, especially gay men. Homophobic people are often unaware of their hurtful words, playing them off as ‘jokes.’ But there’s a fine line between a light-hearted joke and damaging words. It takes a strong and educated person to understand the difference, and an even stronger one to call out others.

Society has a hard time understanding that we aren’t just begging for acceptance from them, but from ourselves too. For a long time growing up, I suppressed the thought of being gay. I had convinced myself that I was ‘straight’ because I knew that life would be easier that way. I spent countless nights crying myself to sleep because society had left me thinking that being gay was wrong. Heck, same-sex marriage wasn’t even legal yet! How was I meant to think that being gay was ‘normal?’ I often wonder, why did I have to come out as homosexual? Why don’t straight people come out as heterosexual? These are things that the majority of society doesn’t have to think about, let alone deal with.
Speaking personally, being out and proud in today’s society is not all as bad as I’m making it out to be. These are just observations that I make in day-to-day life. Homosexuality is my identity and it is a wonderful thing, especially if you’re lucky enough to have the support of your family and friends as I do. I have the chance to be my true self around the people I love. I get to love my beautiful boyfriend. I now get to (one day) get married and have the family I’ve always dreamt about. If you’re a member of the LGBTQI+ community and you’re not as blessed as I am, then you know where to find me. My door is always open; my ears are always listening; I see you; I hear you. I just feel that there’s room for change in the way society views us. It’s time for society to understand that the inclusion of pronouns is normal, that my trans brothers and sisters have the right to be whoever the F*** they want to be.

It’s time that I stop having to ask myself “am I too gay, or am I not gay enough.”

You can keep up with Trent on Instagram - @trentsinclair_

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