It wasn’t uncommon for me to be found in music class during lunchtime at school, safely distant from a schoolyard teaming with homophobic bullies. I didn’t think myself particularly camp, but the pricks knew. They’d known since primary school, perhaps even before I’d completely realised myself that I was into boys instead of boobs.
Sculpting my hair with hairspray was probably a little obvious. As was my mum’s blusher I’d sometimes apply for that healthy sun-kissed glow.
The taunts followed me into year 10, but I found solace among the smart kids, the artistic and musical kids — the Gleeks as we are calling them at the moment.
I spent my senior years in a selective state school, where it was almost cool to be creative, emotionally intelligent or brainy. But an undercurrent of disdain lingered.
I was different. And I used product.
Bigotry in our schools is rampant, as last week’s Sydney Star Observer article on the Macquarie Grammar hubbub reminded me. I was luckier than most, escaping the bashings. I was strong, and I had the gift of the gab. Ironic, also, that I was crushing on some of my tormenters, which might explain the attraction to bad boy types. I know, Freudian much?
It sucked. But I’m no victim. And my plight wasn’t unique.
I don’t know of any gay-friendly schools, but anti-discrimination policies are a start. HSC results suggest public schools continue to provide better education. Unlike religious private schools where discrimination is rife for students and employees alike.
Elitist breeding grounds for pious dogma, many private schools are little more than dull, myopic institutions where archaic codes alienate students to the point of suicide and motivate bullies to maim and murder. Queer kids can’t take their partner to the formal, gay teachers are arbitrarily labelled pedophiles, and fanatical loons dictate with a tightly clenched wanker’s fist.
I heard recently that Gen Y is apparently less likely to harbour bigotry and more inclined to support equalities such as our right to marry the person we love. And so we have an epic debt of gratitude to the change-makers who fought so hard for the rights we sometimes take for granted. Remember that.
Our rights are human rights, after all.
And while I may have outgrown my girly grooming phase, there’s nothing wrong with a spot of day makeup for the style-conscious student, is there?

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