Melbourne rower Christopher Bush is trying to make a difference.
Once one of the best under-19 rowers in the country, Bush came out as gay earlier this year to family and friends and now wants to help other young people struggling with their sexuality.
“I do believe I can help change perceptions because — this is sad and true — I don’t fit the stereotype often attributed to gay people,” he told the Star Observer.
“At school I thought I was the only kid having these thoughts for guys.”
Bush, 22, a self-described sports jock started rowing in Year 9 for his school, Carey Grammar. Earning his stripes at 18 he eventually made the Victorian rowing team which won the nationals competition that year.
Rowing with Melbourne’s Mercantile Rowing Club (of ‘Oarsome Foursome’ fame) Bush set his sights on the Australian team, just missing out by one place.
Last month he graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce from Melbourne University and he’s turned his hand to coaching high school students in the sport.
But it’s not just the finer points of rowing Bush wants to help students to learn.With same-sex attracted teens several more times likely to self-harm than their heterosexual counterparts, Bush has been in contact with Melbourne private schools in the hope he can speak to students about his experiences coming to terms with his sexuality.
“I was the jock you know, so it was parties on a Saturday night and you were with girls. You certainly didn’t hook up with boys, it just wasn’t done,” he said.
“I didn’t get bullied directly but of course I got it indirectly, and that’s one of the things I want to change.
“While you’re paying out the drama kid, which happened time and time again in my friendship group, you’re also potentially hurting your best mate’s feelings who’s standing next to you on the footy field.”
Bush said he believes there is a lack of diverse role models for young gay men.
“Sadly for young people, the only mould gay people fit is perhaps the flamboyant one Hollywood often portrays,” he said.
“I thought if [openly gay English wicketkeeper Steve Davies] can do it, he’s still playing, I could probably do it as well.
“I know the 15-year-old version of me, if I heard that, I would have gone, okay, so it’s alright.”
INFO: To get in touch with Christopher email, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Ari Neubauer