Growing up Gay in New South Wales
Darren Edwards writes: In my series of interviews on how gay guys grew up all over the world, I chatted with Samuel, a 23 year old from a small country town called Deniliquin in New South Wales, Australia.
How easy was it to be gay in the place you grew up? Is there a gay scene?
My home town had a population of about 7,000 people and was located in a very rural area of Australia, it’s not somewhere you “come out” as gay.
Everyone knows everyone, and you definitely would be looked at differently for being gay. I did not “come out” as gay while living there as I was worried about my personal safety and the safety of my family.
Deniliquin has increasingly become more accepting of gay people and also of other minorities, but it still has a long way to go.
What are the laws on LGBTQ people in your country, eg age of consent, same sex marriage etc?
In Australia, the law of consent is 16 years of age. As recently as this year we have finally achieved same sex marriage equality in Australia!
It is great to know that all our efforts have paid off, and I will enjoy looking back on this time knowing I was one of the people campaigning and attending the rallies to provide a more accepting country for LGBTQ people.
How old were you when you realised you were gay, and when did you realise there was a whole LGBTQ world out there?
I realised I was gay when I was about 13 years old. I never worried about being gay, or thought it was not “normal” that I started googling images of men rather then women.
I knew I had an increasing attraction to men and I never thought anything was weird about it. It was a preference I couldn’t control and I was happy and proud of who I was. I knew I would be treated differently in the world, but I was okay with that and prepared myself for the future.
Coming from a small town, I had no idea about the gay scene or the gay culture out there. It wasn’t until I moved to Melbourne when I was 20 that I realised how big the community was and how supportive it is. It feels fantastic to be a part of the Melbourne gay community and also a part of a larger gay community across the globe. I feel like I have brothers and sisters everywhere, its fantastic!
When did you come out? And how did your family react?
I was scared to come out to my family. I knew they would support me, but I didn’t want things to change, or for them to treat me differently, or more importantly try or feel that they needed to treat me differently.
I was 21 when my parents came up to me and made me “come out” because they wanted to hear it from me. They knew, but they wanted my confirmation.
They were really supportive of me. At the end of the day nothing changed, except I grew in confidence to truly be myself and be happy because I knew I had their love and support.
My dad completely shocked me by being extremely supportive. He still asks me every week if I have found a partner and I have to always tell him, dad I wish! But it doesn’t happen that quickly.
Have you ever had any issues with being gay at work or out in public?
I have not really had many issues with being gay. I have never felt it has affected me socially or at my work.
You sometimes get the odd person who may make a drunken comment down the street, or you can feel uncomfortable in certain situations, but for the most part I can easily shrug it off it’s an unjustified comment and is not relevant in today’s society.
Do you have a partner? What was your longest relationship?
I am very much single, and sadly have never been in a relationship.
I do love my independence and I would never jump into a relationship unless I was fully committed. It would take someone pretty special to take me off the market :).
I was obese up until I was 19/20 years old. Since then, my self-esteem and a lack of confidence hasn’t helped me in finding a partner. Now I am healthy and studying to become a Personal Trainer. At the end of the day, if it comes along, it comes along, but I am not going to force it to happen.
What are your views on open relationships?
I do not think I can really comment on open relationships because I haven’t been in any relationships. I think if it works for a couple and they are happy to do it, then that is their decision.
Personally, I am a bit old-fashioned. If I am in a relationship with someone, I have committed myself to being with my partner and they have committed themselves to me, that to me is what a relationship is. So for myself I could never be in an open relationship, I would also be too jealous!
Do you remember what your first sexual experience was like?
My first sexual experience was a really bad experience, we only did oral until his Thai food was delivered. He wanted us to finish quickly so he could eat his food before it went cold and I was kicked out!
The next experience was in the same week when I went for dinner with my neighbour who was moving to the other side of the city. We watched the “Orange is the New Black” programme and then had sex on his mattress on the ground as his bed had already been packed up. It was such a fun night and experience, and I usually think of this night as my proper first sexual experience.
Who is in charge in the bedroom?
Not me! Although I have my kinks that I like my sexual partner to do and will ask them to do it. I prefer to be a more a submissive partner and follow their direction.
I like experiencing new things and everyone is different, so you always learn new techniques and ideas from other people and it keeps it interesting and fun.
I also really get off by seeing them enjoying themselves and having a great time and enjoying their kinks and fetishes in a non judgemental environment.
Do you use Grindr? If so, what’s the dirtiest thing someone said to you?
I use Grindr… and Scruff and Hornet and Tinder. I have been told a lot of dirty things from people and sometimes I think they sound pretty interesting but some are down right gross or rude.
If I had to pick one, I think it would be that recently someone was telling me he had lined up at least 15 people to “breed” him in one night. He then wanted to come over and switch to being a top and he would finish off by “breeding” me.
To me even if it’s a random hook up, it still is a special experience between two people, so no I didn’t want to hear that, or be apart of that.