The school bell squeals, butterflies rise from the pit of my stomach. I start trembling, bracing myself for the journey across the grassy knolls. Then from afar, that evil cackle – the maniacal, taunting laugh of my schoolyard bully. The gig was up. Nowhere to hide, no classroom in sight.

My bestie, Justine, wasn’t with me. A punk hippie skinhead with a badass reputation; no one ever gave her any crap. My dim-witted nemesis only tried it once with her present. She gave him a wedgie and smacked him to the ground.

He wasn’t so smug after that.

This particular day I was without muscle though. He pointed and screamed with mock laughter, spitting and yelling derisions until I reached the sanctity of the common room. If only the ground would part and swallow me whole. I could still hear that cackle resonating outside. Much like a cockatoo, really.

This was my hell. For many same-sex attracted youth, it’s worse.

That any intelligent person living in 2010 might suggest I ‘chose’ this path of persecution is beyond me. And yet technology has brought bullying into every moment of our lives. Ongoing research into the ‘gay gene’ suggests the development of sexual orientation include genetics, prenatal hormones, and brain structure.

Clearly, homosexuality is not a choice.

I’m  no banner-waving trailblazer, but gay rights are human rights. I’m Damien before I’m Damien: the gay guy with gay genes. If I sound melodramatic, blame my family. I inherited the drama queen gene. Just call me fancy pants.

Many who tout acceptance are full of shite. You can always tell. Yes, progress is being made and people are more educated. But we’re still without equality. We’re still second-class citizens. Those posturing politically correct gestures of liberality soon become tiresome and transparent.

They can be particularly disappointing.

I’m not an especially religious individual – as you may have guessed – but I’d never deny anyone their beliefs. Sexual orientation, as we know it, was unknown in biblical times. Whether you can tolerate the ignorance and hate rife within most Christian clans is another matter.

And you know, sometimes I still hear that bloody cockatoo. It’s ironic, right? Nowadays I don’t mind a cock or two. This was not, however, a conscious choice.

But prejudice is.

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