Today, I spoke with Tamara. She is a fifteen-year-old Aussie. I have informed her that she does not have to answer any question that she is not comfortable answering and she has consented to this interview.

If I may ask, which labels do you identify with?

For my sexual and romantic orientation, I have labelled myself as a lesbian in the past. Now I would probably say that I am questioning, but I would probably prefer not to use labels.

What do these labels mean to you?

Trying to find a label to put on my sexual and romantic orientation has been confusing and difficult. But that’s mostly because I don’t really understand the way I experience attraction to others yet.

I have decided to try to embrace how I change over my lifetime, including any changes to my sexual and romantic preferences and anything else. However, sometimes I feel a lot of pressure to find labels that I identify with.

Do you wish to explain how you came to learn about these labels? When did you begin to identify with these labels?

At first, I learnt the most from searching for things on the internet. I first learnt of what a lesbian was when I was about 12 or so, and a kid in my class said the word. I later searched it up and instantly felt that I identified with it quite a bit, as I knew that I was only (I’m not sure about that anymore, though) attracted to girls.

What are your preferred pronouns?

I go by she/her pronouns.

Are you out socially or to your family?

Yes. I am out to my immediate family, some close friends and some others as a lesbian. I have also told people online and my best friend that I have been questioning my sexual and romantic orientation.

How was your experience coming out?

Most of the people I have come out to responded positively. My immediate family were completely fine with me not being straight (I told them that I am a lesbian), and so were most of the friends that I’ve told.

Since I have already come out to my immediate family and some friends as a lesbian, I’ve been kind of scared to talk to anyone about how I have been questioning my sexual/romantic orientation. This is because I fear that they will not take me seriously and think that I am just choosing to be this way and choosing and changing how I feel whenever I want.

What barriers do you believe are in the way of LGBTQ+ Community members coming out?

I am not out to some of my friends and some members of my family.

A significant barrier is the enforcement of heteronormativity, gender norms and stereotypes that exist in society. This occurs mainly because of people fearing the unknown and how we, as humans tend to believe that the way we live our own lives, who we are and what we believe in are the best and the most correct ways of doing so.

As a result of this, people judge others and ridicule what they do to prove their own superiority and the superiority of the groups they belong to over people who they view as different.

For you, what has been the greatest challenge of being a part of the Community?

A lot of the hate and ridicule from some people outside of the Community, especially in school and from other kids. Some adults, too, are very stubborn with their views and refuse to see how they could be harming others in both physical and psychological ways. And some people do see how they are affecting others, but don’t care.

There are also people who just don’t know that they are harming people by doing things like not using correct pronouns or using slurs and so on, and this is why representation in things like media is important, and why these things should definitely be discussed in school environments.

For you, has there been anything positive about being part of the Community? Has it brought you closer to anyone or allowed you to understand others better?

When I was first beginning to understand that I wasn’t straight and was part of the LGBTQ+ Community I started researching more and listening to others about their stories. It helped to teach me how to be more empathetic and to understand that everyone is different, and that’s okay.

It has also helped me meet many wonderful people and friends, both online and in person. It was actually how my best friend and I became good friends and grew closer. It was something that we could discuss with each other easily.

What would be your advice to a younger you or someone struggling with their identity?

You aren’t alone, and there are many people out there who feel the same way as you, and people who will support you and love you unconditionally. You matter. You are beautiful the way you are, and you deserve happiness.

Do you believe society has come to a point where people are generally accepting and welcoming to LGBTQ+ people?

There have been many positive changes around the world in how accepting people are of the LGBTQ+ community. And in Australia, being an LGBTQ+ identifying person is generally accepted. However, this differs between countries and groups of people. In some regions it still isn’t accepted by most people and it is even becoming less accepted in some areas.

What do you think are the biggest contributors to that? What are the building blocks/movements that have brought us to a time where LGBTQ+ are accepted for who they are?

Advocacy and LGBTQ+ visibility in media. Representation in media is important, as positive representation can increase support and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community and normalise LGBTQ+ people.

Do you believe that there is enough representation in media?

I think that there isn’t nearly enough positive representation in media. The percentage of people in real life who identify as LGBTQ+ is a lot higher than in media and TV. For certain groups there is also far less representation than others.

Also, having positive portrayals of people in the LGBTQ+ community is extremely important, as audiences tend to see LGBTQ+ people in a positive way when positive representation is available to them. Positive representation can help to change the attitudes towards the community.

Do you think there is enough education on the terms and labels and respecting LGBTQ+ people within the school curriculum?


What has your experience been that leads you to believe that?

During my time at school (from Kindergarten to Year 9), there has been nothing in the curriculum that I can recall that discusses anything to do with the LGBTQ+ community. Even in PDHPE, there has been near to no explicit mention of the LGBTQ+ community and issues surrounding it such as respecting LGBTQ+ people.

What would students benefit from learning as a part of the curriculum? What would a sufficiently representative school curriculum look like?

I believe that it would be beneficial for general terms and labels to be discussed with students and also for questioning of sexual/romantic orientation and gender to be made known as being completely fine. Another thing that would be beneficial would be to discuss with the students more about respecting others’ identities and pronouns.

There are more things that I think would benefit students, but I don’t think it’s my place to go into those issues, so I won’t.

What is your biggest peeve? Is there anything that people always get wrong and it gets on your nerves? If so, why does it peeve you? What is wrong with the expression?

I dislike stereotypes about people and gender in general. I also dislike stereotyping of different groups of people.

Do you believe that being a part of the Community has an effect on your mental health?

I think it has affected my mental health in both positive and negative ways. Identifying as an LGBTQ+ person has affected my mental health. It isn’t the actual being an LGBTQ+ person that affects my mental health, though, but the stigma and contempt that is aimed at the Community and individuals such as myself.

On the other hand, having a wonderful community to be in and people around me in the community who support me and who I can discuss things with openly has affected my health in a positive way.