Hey guys!! My Aussie friend Mike wanted to post about his life growing up as a gay male in rural Australia which by the looks of it is about 60 years behind from modern times when it comes to accepting people’s sexual orientation.
I have lived in rural Australia for most of my life. Being a queer kid in an often unrelenting and bigoted country region has had a substantial impact on the way I have developed as a gay person. Being faced with negative attitudes and a “fear and loathing” towards homosexuality has often been hard to deal with. I have spent a couple of years of my teenage life in the city, but I’ve always found these stigmas to be more prevalent in country life.
In the bush there is a set standard as to how a male is to act and present himself. There is no such thing as individuality and the eccentric people in the community are usually the reclusive, social outcasts. Out here people must fit into a certain box to be accepted. The male ego runs rife with macho competitiveness and conceitedness. Growing up here can be really difficult sometimes.
Most of the gay males I’ve met from rural areas do not fit the country bumpkins’ stereotype of the faggot. I’ve always wondered why so? I read somewhere that humans are the most effective creatures on this planet at adapting to change. Realizing that you are queer in an environment that is not yet willing to accept you can be harsh. Considering the generally negative view of gays, it would be a better choice to move into a groove which doesn’t cause unwanted attention or bigotry. The idea is to conform and be seen as yet another red-blooded male. Conforming, however, can have adverse effects.
Simply take a look back in history and see what happened to the minority groups that were forced to assimilate into another’s dominating society. The future repercussions are definitely not positive. Taking on an unsuitable lifestyle that is maladjusted to your own ways of thinking can cause extra stress, depression and have many more terrible outcomes.
To jump on my soapbox for a second, the government’s financial support of rural Mental Health Services is pathetic. There are too many people suffering and the massive lack of psychiatric professionals is astounding. The rate of country male suicides is extremely high. I begin to wonder, how many of those suicides were actually sexuality related? Because of our social surroundings it seems that we are being swept under the carpet and forgotten.
So how do we create a more safe and healthier environment for the young, gay and rural population? Changing people’s opinions doesn’t happen overnight. Living in the city there are plenty of walks of life. Society is different. To change someone’s point of view out here, there is going to have to be a certain amount of education and tolerance instilled in the community.
First of all, there is a lack of support for queer country kids. Because homosexuality is such a hush-hush issue in rural areas, building a network of friends and allies is quite a difficult task. Making friends is an almost impossible task because a persons true sexual identity is often hidden by a common repugnance of the “unknown”. It is going to take a group of brave, committed people to stand in the face of adversity and make OUR voice heard. There needs to be social support groups formed, an educational committee to inform the general public about the oppression faced by young gays, plus a decent mental health unit to tackle problems concerning sexuality issues.
I believe it’s fair to say that the country’s ideals and their way of living and thinking are far behind in relation to the city. As a country boy i can say there are definitely some good aspects to rural life. But what needs to change is the overall attitude toward selected minority groups and to heal some of the hatred and bigotry. This will be a mammoth task and even though intolerance cannot be eradicated completely, life for certain individuals could be a hell of a lot happier.