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Wear it Purple Day: George’s Story

August 30, 2019

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Today is Wear it Purple Day and we recognise the unique experiences of LGBTQIA+ young people in Australia.

As a student-run, not-for-profit organisation, Wear it Purple also aims to change societal attitudes and to ensure that the wellbeing of queer individuals is equal to that of their peers.

batyr speaker and Program Support Coordinator George shares his story on the importance of standing up and standing out on Wear it Purple Day to celebrate and empower all rainbow youth:

Feelings of celebration and empowerment are ones that have taken a long time for me to embody within myself; in fact, for most of my life I felt the very opposite of these things.

When I started to realise as a teenager that I was gay, I felt scared, stressed, ugly, unworthy of love, and deserving of what I realised was the homophobic bullying I experienced as a child.

These feelings that I was ‘wrong’ in some way were made even stronger by the traditionally conservative and heteronormative cultural background of my upbringing. The resulting repression of my sexuality, as well as the competing identities I experienced at home with family, at school, at university, at work, and with friends, gave way to anxiety, depression, dissociation, and body image difficulties.

Through a large amount of professional and personal support over the last few years, I no longer experience the mental ill-health I once did. I am blessed to have a wonderful group of friends that were steadfast in their loyalty, in their constant presence, and always checking in with me. They linked me in with professional mental health support (in the form of EMDR therapy), which gave me the strength and internal resources to come out to my family, move out of home, and change my career path to one that now gives me a great sense of meaning and purpose. Today, the relationship with my family is the strongest it’s ever been, I feel so proud to be a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, and I practice self-care through practising loving kindness to myself and others.

These feelings of connection and affirmation can and should be felt by all rainbow young people. We need to make sure all social, educational, and work environments are safe, inclusive, respectful of difference, and are run by groups of people who are open to growing in and doing better for diversity and inclusion. We need to acknowledge and validate the unique experiences of discrimination and marginalisation of LGBTQIA+ youth, as well as their strength and spirit, and call out instances of violence and oppression directed towards them when we see such things occur.

We need to offer support and active allyship through awareness of our un/conscious heteronormative and cisgendered biases. And we need to make sure that rainbow young people know that they are beautiful and loved, they are not alone, they have an innate resilience to live their best life, and they can help change the world if they want to.

Such messages and measures save lives. That’s why a day like today, Wear It Purple Day, is so necessary.

Wear it Purple Day can be so empowering for some, but can be really tough for others, so if you or someone you know is struggling and would like some LGBTQIA+ safe and friendly services to reach out to, check out the below:

  • QLife – Call 1800 184 527 or use webchat 3pm-midnight everyday.
  • Reach Out – Find a LGBTQIA+ services in your state/territory.

If you’re looking for a more specific service, get in touch with us and we can let you know about some of the services that exist in your region.

George will also be sharing his story at batyr’s mental health workplace presentation on supporting LGBTQIA+ young people next month at Serco Asia Pacific.

If you would like to learn how to share your story, register your interest to attend a ‘Being Herd’ workshop.