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Coming out isn't easy but it has been positive for many Defence members

2017 10 13 Mardi Gras 2017 Gay Flags 2709

Coming out to family and friends can be stressful and terrifying – and it is something Defence LGBTI personnel do time and time again to serve with pride.

For national coming out day, DEFGLIS members shared their recollections of coming out and the impact that the experience has had on their lives and their relationships.

Bonnie said she was bullied in high-school for being a lesbian even though she had no idea that was. Her coming out wasn't positive at first, but it brought her closer together with her mother.

I came out at 18 when I was at university and lost all my friends was kicked out of my shared accommodation shortly after the announcement.

I was left stranded and homeless for a month.

It wasn't until three years later where I had daily phone calls from my mum, asking me if I had a boyfriend yet, that I finally found the courage to come out to her … and it turned out that my parents were extremely supportive.

We grew a lot closer and today, we can have real conversations about relationships, fears, excitement, and first dates.

It took a while for her to get used to but she's very proud of me and who I am, and gets that idea that gay, lesbian, straight, we are all human and looking for understanding and love.

Rob, a bisexual member of Air Force, said that he felt he had to live a lie to his family for four and a half years and keep his intimate feelings under wraps. Coming out has given him a sense of pride and greater confidence.

I had experimented from my late teens, but it took a long time to come out to myself as bisexual.

I got married, I had two beautiful children. Shortly after coming out to my parents, I told the children.

My nine-year-old son probably took it the hardest. He, like my mother, felt he should have been told sooner.

That said, my six-year-old daughter thought it was great, she even joked with her mother who was single at the time that daddy had a boyfriend and she didn’t.

My friends at DEFGLIS and fellow ADF members have helped so much with my journey of coming out.

They’ve always had my back, and I am now very proud to be a bisexual man in Defence.

Becky said that she came out around 15 years before she started her military training and was very comfortable with who she was. While initially uncertain how she would cope with coming out to a group of strangers, her service has made her an expert in the process.

When I joined as a reservist, I was sent to initial officer training with 40 younger, heterosexual trainees.

I was much older than most, and was one of only five women on a challenging 18 week course.

I arrived four weeks after they had started together, and noticing a rather masculine culture, I instinctively kept my sexuality on the down-low.

I worked hard at being a good trainee and reliable course-mate first, and planned on being more open once I felt accepted into the group.

While she was ready to come out after a few weeks, she never got the chance because the right moment never seemed to come up.

I’ve been open about being gay since graduation, and every ADF member I’ve worked or played sport with has been supportive and welcoming, and treated my sexuality as nothing out of the ordinary.

After never having the opportunity to come out during initial training, she now finds it a slightly process coming out every time she is posted to a new work environment.

But I'm always accepted and respected when I do ... I’m glad that the Defence reflects the best of Australian society in this way.

Harry remembers being bullied at school for being gay, making him want to isolate himself even after graduation.

After his traumatic experiences during high-school, coming out in the Navy to help rebuild his confidence when he was accepted and respected by his fellow sailors.

During my short time in the Navy, for the most part identifying as gay, wasn’t an issue.

However, after what happened in high school, I kept it quiet out of fear … not to say there wasn't a few colleagues that weren’t a little homophobic towards me.

With such strong support from the ADF and DEFGLIS, I felt like I could be myself and have a secure support network around me, including the on-base chaplain.

While coming out can be hard, it can be burdensome and exhausting to keep your sexual orientation or gender identity secret under wraps.

In Defence, LGBTI people are thriving, leading and delivering amazing capability, well supported by their families and friends.

If you need assistance, you can chat anonymously with experienced counsellors at QLife on 1800 184 527, from 3pm to midnight in your state, around Australia, any day that you are ready.

Image by Daniel Spellman

About the Author
Author: Steven Dwayne Bruni
Steven Dwayne Bruni is a member of the DEFGLIS communications team. He has a passion for public relations and enjoys videography and film editing in his spare time. He has completed a communications degree and works in public relations and community engagement.
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