We’re a storytelling platform that gives a voice to the unheard members of LGBTQ+ communities across all New Zealand secondary schools.
We aim to shed light on the lives of students and teachers who work tirelessly to make their school a place of safety and pride, as well as the unnoticed struggles of those who remain silenced today. In doing so, we hope to promote a New Zealand in which LGBTQ+ students and staff are not only protected from any form of discrimination, but are also fully empowered by their school communities.
Getting involved is easy. Voice your Pride today.
The feeling of having ‘a piece missing’ is probably somewhat of a universal teenage experience. In high-school, I often felt that there was some kind of disconnect between me and my peers. I’m sure that many teenagers feel the same way, for an infinite number of reasons. For me, the disconnect arose around the topic of boys; I could never relate to my female friends’ passionate ‘fangirling’ over Joe Jonas, Benedict Cumberbatch, Justin Bieber etc. I couldn’t really understand how they could hang out with Joseph Bloggs from Chemistry class, like, two times, and suddenly feel inseparable from him.
Every time I tell the story of my coming out in comparison to others, I feel like my story is different. I remember as a kid asking my babysitter "can two men get married?" and her replying with no. I then went on to tell her I would be the first. Sorry younger me, that did not happen.
Spectrum is an old group as QSAs (Queer-Straight Alliances) go. It initially ran as a sort of underground operation because the response from the staff and students really wasn't great. However with the work that's been done more recently to raise awareness and acceptance, we're looking now at a much more positive response from the rest of the school. One year we had over 800 students take part in the Day of Silence, and there's nowhere near as much insensitivity or harrassment from students as there used to be.
I think I always knew to a degree that I didn't fit into the 'heterosexual' mould that the world forces upon us. I remember never really liking boys but conditioning myself to talking about them like I did because that's what all of my friends did and I didn't want them to think I was 'out of the ordinary'. The thing is, I had never really been exposed to the word lesbian or seen lesbian relationships around me when I was younger. I didn't really know that that was something I could identify with, until I reached intermediate school.
It still astonishes me that there was actually a time when I had lived in fear. Is it fine to say that I feel absolutely ridiculous about it now? I mean, if only younger me had received a premonition. If only I had known about the support I would get from my family and friends, I might have come out earlier. Maybe I could have saved myself from fear and isolation for those few years in high school.
Of course, there were no premonitions, so younger me had no clue.
If I had the opportunity to go back and go through high school all over again, the first thing I’d change is how open I was about my sexuality. Having seen so many depictions on film and TV, in which the token gay kid at school was subject to relentless harassment and bullying, I was always terrified that if I came out at school, I’d ultimately suffer the same fate. Perhaps even more terrifying was the prospect of being known as ‘the gay guy’ in my year.
I am gay, and I have freely admitted that for over two years. Honestly, I wish I had come out much earlier. For LGBTQ youth who have come out, we all know how terrifying the prospect is, with doubts like: “will we disappoint our families?” However, when I did finally pluck up enough courage to come out, it was over so fast and we went back to making dinner! I came out in my second year at university because I felt that coming out at my school was no easy matter.
I went all the way through St Cuthbert’s College – from New Entrants to Year 13. I came out as bisexual in Year 10. I use the phrase “came out” loosely – I told a couple of people that I might not be straight, and they told everyone else. The news wasn’t received well by my peers, but it was never something I denied. I take pride in it as an experience that taught me about myself; about having the strength to be upfront. I put my head down and stuck it out with the whispers and rumours, eventually realizing that it was not worth caring what other students thought about it when I knew I had done nothing wrong.
Ever since around age 11 I had a feeling deep down that something was different. This accelerated with time. The older I became, the more I began to question my sexuality. The more I began to question my sexuality, the more I insisted that it was a phase and would pass soon enough. Yet, it did not pass. From Year 8 I endured frequent negative comments at school along the lines of, “you’re gay,” and, “you’re going to turn out gay”. This confused and terrified me, and only led to deeper denial.
From my early days at school I felt that being gay was not welcomed. There was a conservative trend that celebrated a certain image. Sporty, masculine students were always praised. They were the leaders who always spoke at assemblies and got most of the awards. These students had significant status at school – they were the ones used in photoshoots, on all the advertising, were the ‘cool’ kids and known by everyone (both teachers and students).