February 05, 2011


Suzie, age 2
Kalgoorlie, W. Australia (1993)

Even as a child, I always hated pink. I point blank refused to wear it. I could live with dresses, so long as they were not pink. It didn’t take mum long to realize that I liked blue much better. Because of my masculine face (so similar to my fathers), people were always saying 'what a pretty little boy he is!'. Still today, I get called Sir on a regular basis.

By the time I was age 8, I chopped off all my hair off refused to let it grow back. Although, I tried when I was 12 to let it grow a bit to try and fit in better. That lasted all of two years. My lack of hair is now the bane of my mother’s existence.

Growing up in a country mining town on the edge of the desert, the men were manly men, and the women were housewives. End of story. There was no room for a girl with short hair who refused to conform. When I started 1st grade, the kids at school would call me ‘Susan Gay’ instead of ‘Susan Day’.

I guess they knew before I did.

The library was my haven. Originally it was a place to escape the bullies and the summer heat, but as I grew older and realized that I wasn’t the same as the other girls in my class, I found a wealth of information, comfort and inclusion.
I read books like "Keeping You A Secret" by Julie Ann Peters, "Annie On My Mind" by Nancy Garden, and the amazing Rainbow Boys series and "The God Box" by Alex Sanchez, which helped me find peace between my faith and my sexuality.

All the while, I was bullied. I even tried dating a guy (one of my worst mistakes ever). It took me a long time to move on from those experiences. Eventually I attempted suicide, and thankfully, I survived.

To all young queer people out there, suicide is not the answer! I eventually got out, went to Europe and to university, got a chance to go to a gay bar, march in a parade, meet girls, and do everything I never could when I was growing up.

Just hang in there, because it WILL get better!
Keeping You a Secret Annie on My Mind Rainbow Boys The God Box


Ms Amanda said...

Your librarian should be commended! Not every small town library has such a variety of LBGT books.
The ability to escape into a book saved many us from our childhoods.

Anonymous said...

He he, thanks. They had some good titles, but when I was 16 I started working at my local library, so I could influence the book orders. Librarians really don't realise how important they can be to young queers in the country. I did a presentation on it at the last WA Library Unconferance, and people were shocked. These books can literally save lives!

Cacau said...

I mentioned your story to Julie Peters, who lives near me, and she emailed me back: "...to know they [her books] have a global impact is incredibly rewarding."

My best to you, Sonia

Mina said...

I read your story and comment. A few other people profiled here also mention being bookworms or turning to books. My senior paper for my B.A. was about the influence of reading on the civil rights movement, or more particularly many of the black authors, speakers, and advocates from around the time. You can see similar messages in the writings of women from different cultures at different times. It's amazing how much power is contained in a book, and how much it can lend us.

Kailee said...

Wanted to comment and say hello to a fellow gay Day. An employer of mine would always write my name down as "Kailee Gay" instead of "Kailee Day". Though she never treated me badly, so I assume it was just a Freudian slip on her part.

I used the library as an escape too, but more so from people in general. I didn't realize I was gay until I was nearly 18, so I didn't face too much ridicule in high school. In fact I stayed so far below the radar that when I came out my senior year, (or rather, was forced out by my then girlfriend), it made it the one thing that most people remember about me in general.

Cristina Kok said...

Books were also my hideaway when I've realized there was something different within me. Here in Brasil when I was a kid there weren't much libraries available. Luckly my father loved books and I always had new ones at hand. Time passed and I've learnt those feelings weren't so damnfull wrong, it was just a matter of pulling them out. So, that's what I did. I would not say I didn't swallow much pain but in the end it couldn't be otherwise, for I simply couldn't be other thing than proudly being GAY.