It gets better
It gets better
10 Mar 2011
La Trobe University staff and students participate in the 'It gets better' project, which helps tell young people struggling with sexuality that there is hope, and it does get better. More than 10,000 people around the world have contributed videos to this project. For more information, visit www.itgetsbetter.org.
I think I felt sort of maybe different.
I found out I was gay when I started looking at boys when I was about 11, 12 years old.
I don't think I ever found out. It just was.
I noticed there was something inside of me, something, some sort of something that I couldn't explain at that time.
I don't think it's a matter of finding out. I think I always knew there was something different.
I didn't really put it together until I was about 19 and a girl kissed me and I went, "Ah. OK. That makes sense now."
I was attracted to men, so I wanted to have experiences with them. Not in a dirty way, of course. You know what I mean.
Other people had been kind enough to point it out to me way before I had actually, officially realized myself, which was nice of them.
I was going through physical changes and I had those 'what's happening with your body' books that you get kind of at that age. And I found myself a little bit too engrossed with the male figures in the book.
At school, I was called a 'sissy'. And I didn't like the name so I had to work out being a masculine person. So, yeah.
The school I went to, lesbian was the worst, the worst, the lowest of the low, I still find it really hard.
I had a therapy session where I had to watch women in white dresses sort of walk down the aisle, and this was sort of meant to sort of make me straight, which may have had the opposite effect.
I spent a long time freaking out and fighting against the fact that I liked other guys because I was being taught it was wrong and it was sinful.
You hear the story of the birds and the bees, and I thought, 'OK, it's the story of the birds and the bees, but which one am I?'
I was involved in the first Mardi Gras march that was broadcast and I was on national television, and my mum's friends saw me on national television and did actually sort of told my mum that I was on national television marching down Oxford Street in a gay and lesbian march.
I actually got caught kissing my girlfriend by my mum, and she did not take it very well at all.
They couldn't understand why I had chosen the life that I had. They couldn't understand why I couldn't change back to being what they thought was normal. And they thought I was going to be a very dangerous person to have around my brothers and sisters, so they decided I shouldn't be part of the family anymore.
And so I started really thinking that the only way I could handle people knowing this about me would be if I was dead. You know, after I die, them finding my diaries and piecing this scandalous secret back together.
I actually came out to my mum who, being the gossip that she is, not only told my dad but her entire group of friends.
I turned to Mum and said, "Look, I really believe I'm gay. I don't think there's anything different about it.” I just pretty much broke down in tears and started crying and said, "No, I know who I am."
I think the turning point for me was coming to a point of just being sick of not living my life as I wanted to. I just wanted to be who I was.
Standing on my own two feet and having the support of my family and my friends, which I was scared that I wasn't going to get, was a real turning point for me.
A lot of my family didn't know that I was gay. However, my dad mentioned it in this generic letter that he wrote. And it made me so happy because I finally felt accepted by my own father because it's something for me that I always thought he wouldn't ever accept. But I feel now that he's so proud of me no matter what. And I can finally I feel I have this approval of being gay.
You know, gradually, you just feel more and more relaxed, more and more happy. You meet friends. You meet new family members. You form a community. You have interests. And gradually it's just sort of...being gay is just like a little part of your life as opposed to this massive thing in your life. And at the end, you sort of look in the mirror and you're really quite happy with what you see reflecting back at you.
When I started coming out to my close friends and realized that there were people who wouldn't take that badly, wouldn't push you around, wouldn't think differently of you. In fact, a lot of them actually thought more of me because I'd had the confidence and the courage and the trust in them to confide and then to seek their support and encouragement.
On my mother's birthday, they were going to take a family photo. My partner decided at that stage to go off to the loo. And then when they decided to go and take the photo, everybody went off looking for my partner saying, "You can't have the family photo without Leonore. You've got to have Leonore in the family photo."
And I could talk to my family about my relationships and my feelings without feeling like it was going to alienate me from them.
It took time, but I realized I didn't have to carry this big horrible secret. And it wasn't really a horrible secret after all.
And I didn't disappoint people at all. People, if anything, were shocked or upset that I hadn't told them sooner and were really just loving about the whole situation. I think it was... If anything, I'd probably wasted some good years worrying about something that never eventuated.
You often can't know where things are going to go, but if you're in a loving, supportive relationship and your family and friends are true with you and you can be yourself, then you can take on life's challenges whether it be ups or downs.
And ironically, I have now a very good relationship with my father. My relationship with my mother is still very, very poor. So, sometimes it gets better in bits and pieces. Yeah.
Without that message, if there isn't a sense that somebody is there and you don't know that somebody cares, it's pretty lonely. And you can make decisions that aren't always a benefit to you. But somehow, it gets better.
And never apologized for being gay. I think some people can make you feel like it's something to apologize for, and it's not. It's something to be proud of.
I think the biggest piece of advice I can give is to not go through it on your own.
Talk to someone. Talk to anyone. Talk to anyone who will listen.
You can grow and be stronger than the people that want to put you down.
There are so many organizations and groups and outlets now where you can meet people who are just like you, who are going to understand you for who you are and accept you for who you are.
In time, you will pull through everything and life will seem to just fall into place one bit at a time.
The part of you that produces love, the part of you that falls in love, that is an essential part of you. It can't be squashed. It can't be killed. It's a beautiful human part of you.
It's a big wild world out there that's just waiting to be explored. You just need to hold on and find out for yourself.
Access services, talk to people, talk to counsellors. Search for it, look for it, and reach out, because when you retreat and if you're vulnerable and scared, reaching out is hard. So try and reach out.
If you don't want to talk to a person, go online, have a look and see what's out there. And, you'll never know, you will find something that will help.
This is me, I come from Nigeria, a very conservative country. It's not been easy, but I want to tell you that if you focus and you talk to someone, it's going to definitely get better. So, yeah, it does get better.
It does get better.
It really does. It gets better.
It does get better for you.
We live and we learn. And it gets better.
It gets better.
It does get better.
You might not realize it now, but your life will get better, and it will get better immeasurably.
It really does get better, and it gets a lot better.
It gets better.
It gets better.
It gets a whole lot better.
It gets better!