I’m From Canberra, ACT, Australia.

by Ed Whalan

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I grew up the youngest of five kids in a very liberal Catholic family. By the time I was in my mid teens my parents had separated and were in the process of starting new relationships. I didn’t realise it at the time but I had an amazing group of friends who I guess took for granted. 20 years on I’m not so blasé.

Until I came out I was kind of asexual; it just never occurred to me that I was gay. I had gay friends as well as a gay cousin to whom I was very close. I was actually at the movies watching “Indochine” when I had one of those internal conversations that went something like, “Oh my god I’m gay.” The truth behind the realisation came when I almost threw up with shock and anxiety.

The following couple of years I redefined myself and explored my sexuality and what it meant. I suffered from anxiety and depression, but in the end I realised that I was lucky to be forced to try to understand who I truly was at age 17.

I had spoken to one of my older brothers about how I was going to break the news to mum and he actually offered to have a word.

About two weeks later I was sitting in a café in town when he rode past on his skateboard. I stopped him but he was distracted and took off saying, “I gotta go and see Mum before she leaves work for lunch. I told her you were gay and she is freaking out.” Mum didn’t speak to me for a while.

A few days later I went to see my dad. He was a fairly important person at the time. I walked into his office and he was talking on the phone and had his back to me. He had a large executive desk and one of those huge leather chairs. When he finished the conversation he swung the chair around to face me.

“I hear you’re coming to terms with your sexuality.”

I’m not sure what I had expected but this wasn’t it. I had become very self-righteous and was ready for a big fight I guess.

“I came to terms with it a while ago, it just seems like everyone else is now.”

Dad very quietly asked, “How long has it taken you to come to terms with it?”

“A while I guess.”

“Your mum is a bit more old-fashioned than you are, she might need a little longer.”

He totally disarmed me. And I love him for it. He made me realise a lot about relationships and also how well he knew me and also understood his ex-wife.

Mum did eventually come to terms with it in her own way; she was worried about me being lonely. I don’t know why that keeps popping up, but she was also worried I would have no family or community.

For God’s sake I am the youngest of 5 (now the middle in a blended family of 12) I have 3 brothers, 1 sister, 4 step-sisters, 3 step-brothers, 5 sisters-in-law and 2 bothers-in-law, then chuck in the 13 nieces and nephews I don’t need any more family. I am very lucky to already have one.

About 5 years later my dad marched with me and my partner on The PFLAG float in The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade. He was nervous, but excited. In the first five minutes of the march a young lesbian girl jumped the barricade and came running up to dad and threw her arms around him: “I LOVE YOU! You are doing an amazing thing, my mum is over there with Fred Nile, praying for a thunder storm, to wash out the parade.“ Fred Nile is a conservative Christian and member of parliament; he is infamous for trying to stop the parade every year.

I’m now in my mid 30’s and I live with my partner of 13 years and our dog Kevin.

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