Cameron (James Hargest College)

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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.

In high school when my guy friends talked about “how hot” certain girls were, and asked my opinion, I tried my best to mimic them. I was completely petrified at the thought of them seeing through my “act”. Whenever anyone brought up the topic of being gay I felt physically ill, praying the topic would change quickly before anyone could question me. By the middle of high school, the idea that I might be gay was something I feared. This was largely due to my experiences of a heterosexual and often masculine dominated school environment. Homosexuality was never discussed in or outside of class, and I knew of no friends or acquaintances who were openly gay. It’s that inherent high school fear of not fitting in. The effects of coming out were completely ambiguous to me - what would actually happen if I were openly gay? The lack of precedent made me fear it would be negative. It was easy to convince myself of this because, given the lack of openly gay students and discussion about homosexuality, I determined it obviously wasn’t ‘normal’ and so it would therefore be safer for me to remain closeted.

I finally came out to a few close friends at the end of Year 12. After telling them I was bi (thinking it was easier than coming out as gay), rumours began to circulate over summer and into Year 13. Late in Term Two of Year 13 was the point at which I officially accepted myself as being gay, after which I told my close friends.  Of course by this time many of my classmates knew I was at least bi, which I guess made it easier to be openly gay around my friends.

I only came out to my close friends, and classmates that asked. After I told my closest friends, I felt no obligation to come out to everyone else – if they wanted to know, all they had to do was ask. While I still agree with my decision to do this, I do think back on it as being a lost opportunity. I frequently feel I should have used my position of Head Boy to publicly come out so that other closeted students would feel more comfortable being open. I feel as though an openly gay Head Boy to a school of almost 2,000 students would have been the perfect opportunity to heighten awareness of homosexuality within my largely hetero-school, and bring it to the forefront of everyday conversation. It would be one small step in continuing the necessary nationwide open conversation about homosexuality. It’s not that the majority of young New Zealanders are homophobic, but simply that many are not personally familiar with homosexuality. If it were something that had been taught to me in class alongside my fellow classmates I know that I would have been more comfortable with finding myself and coming out. The more integrated the topic becomes in our daily lives, the less people will think of homosexuality as different. I personally hope that one day coming out will be a choice instead of a requirement, as it is today. To me, coming out insinuates that homosexuality is abnormal, declaring yourself into a basket of eggs different from everyone else.

I myself was very lucky with my experiences. Instead of being treated differently, as I had feared, I was accepted for who I am. In fact, a main reason I believe homosexuality should be incorporated into school curriculum is the change in language I experienced once people knew I was gay. Still to this day when people around me use the word gay in a negative, insulting tone, many often apologise and correct themselves in their language after they see me. I believe this is a small but positive change for equality. The more students that become familiar with homosexuality, the more I believe that small changes like this will take effect in many people’s lives.

Cameron has just completed his second year at Canterbury University studying an LLB/BA, double majoring in political science and media communications. He has a strong interest in international relations and hopes to eventually work in the field of foreign policy and/or refugee law.

During high school he was involved in a wide range of extra curricular activities and leadership positions, such as the student council, hockey, drama performances, and involvement with the school’s international exchange student welfare club.

In Year 13 Cameron served as Head Boy, which he deems as easily the most humbling and rewarding experience of his schooling career.

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One thought on “Cameron (James Hargest College)

  1. Congratulations courageous Cam! You have always been a brave young man. I am so delighted that you are happy and I hope that you are living the dream.
    Continuing being Cameron – perfect, just the way you are.

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