I prefer to say my sexuality is bent rather than queer. The only reason I don’t say queer, although I do identify as queer, is because I don’t really identify with mainstream queer culture.
When I was 12, there was a girl in my school, and every time I saw her at the corner store I’d get this really sick feeling in my stomach, which I finally identified with embarrassment and an attraction to women. I guess I realised that in a town like Bundaberg that made me fairly bent.
I had a relationship quite privately for about 12 months when I was 20. The only person who knew was my older sister. Not long after that I told my whole family. As I was in a fairly serious relationship, I travelled home to Bundaberg to tell my mum, and I remember having a big lump in my throat about it. She was more upset to find I was smoking cigarettes than dating girls, so that was fairly lucky. Dad yelled out from the greenhouse, “Pass me the spanner; Yeah I always knew.” So it wasn’t really an issue for my family. My brother came ‘round to my place with a carton of VB in 10 in the morning to say, “I love you. I accept you. Let’s drink a carton!” I possibly had the best case scenario coming out story. I have a wonderful family who love me, no matter what and how I choose to love, or how I live my life. It doesn’t matter to them so long as I’m happy. They’re ace people.
I think I was pretty optimistic about telling people because people always thought I was bent anyway, and my sexuality was just in addition to my bentness. I was more shocked that some people didn’t react well. Most people just look at me and go, “Gay.” So they’d usually ask me when I was at work, but I never once tried to hide it. I don’t feel it necessary to walk into somewhere and go, “I’m gay” in the same way people don’t go to work and say, “I’m straight. I just thought you should all know that I’m straight.” I think I was out in all my workplaces and I always took partners along to staff parties. And now I’m self-employed, so I tell myself regularly!
Spirituality definitely affects my work as a painter. I have a sense of letting things be with the universe that sometimes helps me get through certain things. I don’t believe in any particular god. I sift through philosophies from religions, like the Dalai Lama, but I don’t have a particular spirituality as such.
I’ve never really been any other way. I knew I was different even before I started noticing girls, and I’m happy to be that way. I think I’d be really bored if I wasn’t bent. Being just a little bit left of centre introduces you to so much more in the world. Even if you’ve had to suffer as a minority, and there are times when you are marginalised, it opens you up so much more. To me it’s a positive thing. I don’t think I’d have had half the experiences I’ve had if I hadn’t been bent. So I love it.
I guess I’m a little extroverted. I apply creativity to most things in my life, or I like to think that’s the way I am. I like to think that I’m quite individual, that I don’t follow the normal path, but that’s bent I guess. It’s great. I wouldn’t have it any other way.