As you can imagine, I wasn’t the butchest kid on the playground. Granted, I was a short fattie, but I used to skip and play with my girlfriends without a care in the world. It wasn’t until I got a little older I started to notice others watching/staring at me. Some would send out the stock standard homophobic comments, others would just stare.

My skipping soon slowed down and I took refuge in the library. There were years I felt like a freak and had to behave in a manner that wasn’t me.

After a couple of years and a handful of amazing friends, I came out of my shell and was just me. But I swore to myself I would never be stared at again.

As a performer there is a fine line, but as soon as I see the audience aren’t there to have fun, but rather to stare at the queens, things change straight away.

I tell these stories because over the last couple of years it’s starting to happen again. At first I thought it was a little funny, still made me feel a little strange, but I just went with the flow.

I am talking about the busloads of tourists who stop in front venues to take pics of people inside – like they are zoo animals.

On Sunday night, we counted 11 bus loads of tourists ushered down the road. I was working at the Midnight Shift and started to get annoyed at the amount of times I would turn and see 40 people at the window or doorway, peering in with cameras.

Is this right?  Should the gay community be sold as zoo animals?

It doesn’t happen once or twice, these buses are pulling up every day. I stopped myself and stepped back a little, thinking maybe I was being precious, but shouldn’t there be a little respect? I understand tourism adds money to our economy, and it’s good to experience other cultures, but there is no money going into the gay community from these tours. They are not doing any real harm, but should they be allowed to continue?

I’m not sure if it’s those terrible memories of my past or just the uncomfortable feeling you get when something isn’t quite right. What do you think?

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