Australia: Young Aboriginal LGBTI people are killing themselves. We need to protect them

Realising I’m gay was almost too much to bear through my teenage years, writes NITV journalist and IndigenousX host Allan Clarke. We need to stand up to homophobia

The small township of Bourke in far western New South Wales is a small speck of dust swimming in a vast ocean of ruby red dirt and is home to the Barkindji people since time immemorial. Every summer a wave of heat unfurls over the region, coming in from a flat scrub thick with twisted saltbush and gum trees. I was born and bred on this magnificent country, and summertime is one of my most cherished memories. 

The other memory that I hold from my childhood is not as endearing. Often it’s a nightmare that still wakes me in a cold sweat in the dead of night.  It’s the memory of feeling like an alien in the country that my ancestors have been caretakers of for millennia. Of not feeling like a man, or what I thought an Aboriginal man was supposed to be. I vividly remember starting to be attracted to other boys when I was around 12 years old. It was a feeling that made my blood run cold.

I often thought of death through my teenage years. The thought of being gay was almost too much to bear. I used to imagine all the ways I could kill myself, every conceivable scenario, what I would write on my suicide note. There was a dark jungle of confusion inside me and I couldn’t see my way clear of it.

I stood alone, frozen with fear, for a very long time at the intersection of racism and homophobia.

“Abo, faggot, poofter, coon, half-caste.” I was singled out by all and still carry scars left by volleys of verbal shots levelled at me by angry boys and men throughout those years. Even now, as I write this, a tear balloons in the corner of my eye. Read more via the Guardian