Tim Lai Transcript

OUTcast S1, Ep 4 • 18 Oct 2021 • 34:53

[00:00]

Rosie: Welcome to OUTcast, the podcast where we catch up with some of the most engaging, courageous and inspiring LGBTQ+ people from all over the world.

We ask our lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer guests where their coming out journeys began, what they’ve gone through along the way – the joy and the pain, but we promise there’ll be more joy – and what gives them hope.

We all remember when we weren’t out as queer people, and in need of strength and inspiration to make the first step being open about who we are. It’s all about having role models and stories we can relate to, ultimately. 

[00:42]

I’m Rosie Pentreath, your host. I identify as a lesbian woman, and I have shared my coming out story in personal settings, in online articles, and as part of LGBTQ+ panels on coming out and being queer at work. And now – I want to hear other people’s stories. 

I’ll be interviewing people from all walks of life, from hardworking queer people behind the scenes, to more familiar faces you might have never known even had the coming out stories they’re about to share. 

That’s what it’s all about: OUTcast is me and my guests sharing stories, creating a space for us all to talk, to listen, and to celebrate being proud queer people in the world today.

You can follow us on social media @OUTcastLGBT and you can find us online at outcastpod.com.

[01:44]

This week, I’m speaking with Gogglebox Australia star, Tim Lai.

As well as appearing on the popular Australian reality show, Tim is Marketing Manager at The Pinnacle Foundation, a charity that provides educational scholarships and mentoring for young LGBTQ+ Australians.

Tim was born in Penang in Malaysia, and moved to Australia with his family when he was nine. He now lives in Melbourne with his fiancé, Mark, and their Boston Terrier, River.

I first met Tim when I worked for Gogglebox Australia, and I can’t wait to catch up with him again and find out about his coming out journey.

Tim – welcome to OUTcast.

[02:22]

Tim: Thank you so much for having me. I’m absolutely besotted to actually work with you again.

[02:28]

Rosie: Yeah! I loved working with you at Gogglebox, and I’m just delighted to have you here. Thanks for giving us your time. 

Tim, what’s your coming out story?

[02:38]

Tim: Well, my coming story actually happened a very, very long time ago. It was actually in high school. I attended a private all-boys school, Haileybury College. Like all good Asian boys, or Asian kids, I was academic. But I also excelled at sports: I played tennis in summer and I was on the first hockey team in winter. My mum actually played hockey for Malaysia, in her youth.

[03:01]

Rosie: Oh wow.

[03:02]

Tim: So, carrying on the family line. And like other good Asian kids I played violin. But I had an inkling that something didn’t feel right through high school. When my other classmates, my friends, my circle, would start talking about girls and going out on dates, I didn’t feel that urge to comply.

But also, apart from sexuality, I really struggled with my ethnicity; with being Asian. 

I had this, I suppose, internalised racism against myself. I felt that I was continually stereotyped in pop culture, in public, and even at school, for being Asian. 

[03:42]

So I tried to break the mould by playing sports, singing, acting, all my friends were white – I was always the token person of colour in all our social circles. I didn’t want to be Asian.

And my best mate through school actually couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to embrace my heritage, and he said, “Tim, I’m a redhead so I totally understand where you’re coming from, because we are both persecuted equally badly.”

[04:06]

Rosie: Okay. 

[04:07]

Tim: But anyway, I remember I was in Year 12 and we’d just finished our high school musical – it was ’Oklahoma!’ Don’t ask how a bunch of white Aussies and one Asian kid pulled it off.

A bunch of us crashed at my best mate’s mum’s house in St Kilda. It overlooked the bay, it was just gorgeous. I woke up early – I’m an early riser – and I went into the kitchen and his aunt was there. And we started chatting and, all of a sudden, I blurted out to her – I don’t know why I blurted it out to her – I said, “I think I’m gay”. 

[04:38]

And it was actually the very first time I said it out loud. And I was worried because I wanted to get her opinion and her counsel on whether my best mate could handle it, and whether I should tell him or would I risk losing him as a friend?

And at that point she didn’t say anything. She just got up and marched out of the kitchen and I thought, “Oh crikey! What have I done?” But then she came back, grabbed my mate who was still hungover, came in and she said, “you two need to talk, and be honest to each other.”

[05:08]

So I told him I was gay and that I was struggling with it, and that I should have told him because didn’t want to lose him as a friend. 

And at that point he then told me he was gay too!

[05:17]

Rosie: Oh wow. 

[05:18]

Tim: It was like a mutual coming out story and it just felt so right. We’d been in each other’s pockets pretty much through our entire high school. It was so cathartic, and then he said, “Tim, did you know that my aunt is also a lesbian, my other aunt’s a lesbian, my mum’s gay, and my sister’s gay too?”

So, I really won the jackpot there.

[05:40]

Rosie: Yeah, so you really didn’t realise his family had so many LGBTQ+ people in it? I’m guessing that chat went well?

[05:55]

Tim: Pretty much! “I’m not the one you should be talking to. You should be talking to each other!”

And we did, and it was the best thing ever. We clubbed together and pretty much our gay lives were kind of just synchronised. He was like my brother, so nothing happened in that regard.

Probably one of the saddest days for me was when he met his current partner and decided to move to the UK and now lives in Bristol.

[06:14]

Rosie: So you had that beautiful synchronicity with your best friend also coming out to you as gay at the same time as you first came out to him. That meant you could support each other around being out more and more to other people, which would have been amazing. 

But, separate from coming out to people, we do all come out to ourselves internally first: the journey of realising about ourselves, how we might be different, and then the self-acceptance that we all work on being LGBTQ – can you identify when that process of self-realisation and self-acceptance started for you? 

[06:50]

Tim: It was maybe a few months after we moved to Australia, so I was nine. I was an early bloomer, and I remember I was bringing the mail in and I just recall glancing down at the catalogues and I saw the Myer and David Jones catalogues. I suppose they’d be the equivalent to your Marks & Spencer and your Debenhams. I saw a few of the male models and I thought to myself, “ooh, they look good.” Like, it didn’t actually dawn on me what it actually meant. But I know that I wasn’t looking at the female models. I just felt an instant attraction to the men and the boys in the catalogues. 

I think that was the first time I realised that I wasn’t like the other boys in my school. And then I remember, I was still in primary school, and I remember I got a scholarship to attend an all-boys school in high school, and for some reason I felt that I had to go out and find a girlfriend. Because I didn’t want to be a stereotype; I didn’t want people to even assume that I was gay. So I deliberately spent grade six looking for a girlfriend.

[07:54]

Rosie: Aw, Tim. How did that go?

[07:59]

Tim: We actually dated for a few months, through the summer holidays and we kind of just drifted apart before I even started school at Haileybury, but before then I actually then got another girlfriend. I don’t know how I even met her! We must have met on a chat board, and you know, I got a second girlfriend before I even got to high school. And we obviously broke up because I didn’t want a girlfriend. I was using her as I suppose you’d call it a beard, a protection. 

Yeah, so none of that worked out. And it got to a point where I had to either embrace my sexuality or bury it. And, unfortunately for me, I buried it. I didn’t acknowledge my sexuality because I went to an all-boys school. I used my academics, I used my education, as an excuse to not date. I said, “Oh, I’ve got no time for girls, I’ve got to focus on my studies.” Until I came out to my friend.

[08:55]

Rosie: So, when abouts was this, and what was happening around you at the time? 

[09:00]

Tim: It was the 90s, so oh my goodness it was a difficult period. And one of the reasons, I suppose, I had such a hangup about my sexuality was because when I was in high school coming to the point of wanting to come out, it was really towards the ember end of the AIDS epidemic. Here in Australia there was this really God awful, bone-chilling advertisement that had the Grim Reaper spreading HIV and killing everyone. 

[09:28]

Rosie: Oh wow. Of course, there would have been campaigns like that still around then. 

[09:32]

Tim: That was during my formative years. Anti-gay hate was at its absolute height then.

People used religion, HIV epidemic, weaponised it and scapegoated the LGBT community. So I grew up in a time when gays were bashed, beaten and murdered. And the police didn’t help, because some of the police were not innocent and were the ones who perpetrated a lot of the hate, in the name of law and decency.

[10:00]

Rosie: Mm hmm. I’ve got shivers going down my spine right now. It’s just awful. It seems like that should be so long ago, but that’s within your lifetime and within your coming out journey. It’s so poignant and it’s so sad.

[10:15]

Tim: Revolution happens through fire, and we’ve all gone through that, and I want to say we’ve learnt from it. For the most part, we’re so much better for having gone through those growing pains: as a community; as a world.

[10:30]

Rosie: Yeah. During your teenage years, you kept yourself busy like you said. I think lots of us did a similar thing. But the good thing about kids now in school at that age is that people in school are now talking about being gay, are coming out, and being gay in school. Which is so refreshing, so it’s a very hard journey, and there’s a lot of pain, but then you do make progress. And to look at the current generation, kind of yeah being out in school, or probably not having a gender identity even… having this wonderful openness, and this wonderful sort of liberation away from horrible traditional restraint is incredible. 

[11:06]

Tim: I actually foresee a day when coming out stories are no longer needed.

[11:12]

Rosie: That’s ironically my goal with OUTcast Podcast. At the moment I feel like we all need coming out stories, or certainly I do still, to feel I’m not the only one who’s been through this stuff. And I know that so many other people need support. But I’m hoping by telling more and more coming out stories, and by adding to the stories already out there on the internet, on other podcasts, et cetera, we’ll help create an openness and inspiration and role models, that all helps change discourse and experiences around LGBTQ+ people. 

Hence not needing coming out stories any more! One day we can look back and say, “remember when we made podcasts about this stuff? That’s not needed.” 

[11:58]

Tim: Aw, I see that within our lifetime. I feel optimistic. I have faith and hope.

[12:05]

Rosie: Me too.

[12:23]

Rosie: One of my guests Sarah Jones put it beautifully the other week that we’re always coming out, even to ourselves. Where do you find it hardest to be an out LGBTQ+ person, if anywhere at all?

[12:38]

Tim: Well, I’m out to my entire family – here in Australia, and even in Asia. I created this fantasy, this narrative, in my brain that Asians err on the side of conservatism. They’re not very open minded when it comes to sexuality, so I was always fearful about coming out to my grandparents. 

But the reality was that I actually didn’t have to come out to them. My partner and I just celebrated our 22nd anniversary. 

[13:07]

Rosie: Oh, congratulations!

[13:09]

Tim: And I remember one of my cousins was getting married in Penang in Malaysia where I was born. And I invited my partner to join me as a friend initially, as a friend to my grandparents. But all my cousins, all my aunts, they all knew I was out and I was gay, and it was fine in Malaysia. It was just my grandparents. 

And they met him, they were so impressed that he could use a chopstick, they absolutely loved him, and they said, “Oh, you’re a very good friend to Tim.”

And I remember a few years later I was working in Singapore, so I would fly back to Penang every weekend to visit my grandparents and they would always ask, “Oh, where’s Mark? Why isn’t he here? Is he in the hotel room? Tell him that he can come visit us whenever he wants.”

[13:52]

Rosie: Yeah.

[14:53]

Tim: So that was their way to say, “we know he’s not a friend, we know he’s more to you and he’s welcome here because we want to feed him.”

Asians show community and family through the stomach: if they’ll feed you, it means we care about you. 

[14:08]

Rosie: That’s beautiful. 

[14:10]

Tim: Yeah. So once again I was this one who created this barrier by thinking that my family, or my grandparents, wouldn’t accept it. But they did. They did, and they were so embracing of my partner. 

[14:24]

Rosie: I was speaking to somebody the other day and they said it in such a nuggety special way, but they said, “we all seem to have a bit of a blocker when it comes to our grandparents, or our grandparents’ generation, but it’s perhaps the wrong way to look at it because they’ve been through so much. You’re going to have to do a lot to shock them.” 

That hit me a bit, because I had a similar situation with my grandparents. I had lots of close female friends, some would be partners, some wouldn’t be. And I never really came out to them, but they must have realised that I never had a special man in my life the way my sister did. I always had special women. And eventually my, now my wife – she was my girlfriend  at the time – she came to my auntie’s wedding. So my grandparents had it put in front of them and they didn’t seem to be particularly happy about it. 

But, over time, gradually they’ve got used to the idea and they absolutely love my wife, and they’re really supportive and sweet. And I think if I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t have had that doubt and I would have just come out to them. Me not giving them the respect of telling them was worse than just telling them.

[15:34]

Tim: Absolutely. Yeah I have a similar I suppose coming out story to my parents. I once again didn’t give them the benefit of the doubt of that intellectual intelligence to accept my sexuality so once again I created this false narrative about whether they’ll accept me or not. And I remember when I actually did come out to Mum, she’d just picked me up from ballroom dancing – a), that should have been a clue! – and we were arguing in the car. And I used my sexuality as a weapon. I thought that I could hurt my mum and win this argument by saying, “I’m gay, you’re never going to have grand kids!” And in the heat of the moment I threw out my sexuality to her.

And she said, “Tim, I’ve known about it since probably before you realised you were. Like, I have no problems with it. That’s your hang up, not mine. And did you know that your Dad’s best friend was the first person to contract HIV in Australia, and is a huge advocate and supporter of the LGBTQI movement in Australia?”. I had no idea any of this.

[16:39]

Rosie: That’s such a connection and, yeah, sometimes we don’t realise our parents had lives before us and that was your dad’s experience.

Tim: Yeah.

[17:04]

Rosie: You mentioned that through school struggling with your sexual orientation, but also you talked about being an Asian in Australia. What has that journey been – accepting yourself in that context, and then embracing your heritage?

[17:20]

Tim: I grew up in a primarily white environment. Back in my days I didn’t have any Asian friends. At the private school I went to, there weren’t that many Asian classmates in my year, and even if there were, I deliberately stayed away from them because, once again, I had this internalised racism against myself.

I even recall recording Neighbours and  Home and Away and replaying the tape so that I could actually change my accent, so I sounded more Australian. That’s how much I wanted to fundamentally change myself. And looking back in hindsight, that was absolutely so wrong.

[18:00]

Rosie: Yeah, it’s heartbreaking.

[18:03]

Tim: But, the unfortunate thing is racism within mainstream Australia was prevalent back then and it still is.

Rosie: Mm hmm.

[18:10]

Tim: But discrimination within the LGBTQI community was even greater. And it’s hard to believe that when you’re on apps or you’re in clubs, that lines like “no Asians”, “no curries”, even “Gooks go home.” I had that when I went to a gay club here in Melbourne. 

[18:31]

Rosie: Oh my God, that’s awful.

[18:33]

And that actually hurts me because it’s unbearable to think that such a heavily marginalised group of people voluntarily discriminate against another minority demographic.

I just find it challenging, as well, when you look at boards and management teams and decision-makers for LGBTQ+ charities and not-for-profits, and the diversity ends with white cis-gendered men and women.

Rosie: Yeah.

Tim: And it’s just a slap in the face. These not-for-profits are meant to represent all of the Australian community, and represent every colour of the rainbow. And to this day, 2021, I still feel marginalised. 

[19:14]

Rosie: Is it getting better in any way?

[19:16]

Tim: I think it is. It’s definitely better in 2021 versus obviously 1996, because I remember in Australia we’d be driving down the street and people would be winding the windows down, yelling, “go back where you came from, get back on the boat, we don’t want you”.

In fact, I want to say a year-and-a-half ago, Leanne used to manage our social media. So, when we first started Gogglebox Leanne primarily managed our Gogglebox social media, but about a year, year-and-a-half ago, a few months into the whole COVID, coronavirus back then, pandemic started, there was a rising anti-Asian hate.

[19:58]

Rosie: Mmm. I know that happened in the UK and US and elsewhere as well. 

[20:05]

Tim: Leanne actually was at the butt because she was managing our social media. A lot of DMs and a lot of messages and posts about our ethnicity, and it just got so much that she actually says, “Tim, I can’t do this any more,” and she says, “Tim, either you take over our social media or we just shut it down”. 

I took over and I now manage it, and I’ve got a much thicker skin. I won’t hold back from calling BS: I’ll call these people out.

[20:34]

Rosie: Good. I mean, it’s born of ignorance so all you can do really is, in a constructive way, call it out. And I suppose your experience perhaps of being LGBTQ+ gives you that extra experience in dealing with these kinds of comments perhaps. Even though it’s horrible to have to say that.

[20:55]

Tim: Mmm. I’ve got a lot of indigenous Australian friends, so I’m also aware of, whether it’s intentional or non-intentional, the racial microaggression of our First Nations people. It’s painful. So I think it’s anyone who doesn’t fit into this mould of people’s expectations of what they think is ‘normal’ is just scapegoated. They don’t understand us so we are going to be at the butt end of their jokes. 

In fact, it was today I just read an article that a prominent Channel 7 News reporter – and I say that very loosely, you can’t see me use air quotes – but she was off reality shows in Australia, she’s an influencer, and she only recently posted a video of a cat in a Chinese restaurant, saying, “is this a customer or is this lunch?”.

[21:48]

Rosie: Oh wow. 

[21:52]

Yeah, I mean thankfully she was called out, and I don’t like using the terminology ‘Cancel Culture’, but she’s been cancelled. She’s lost all her sponsorships and she’s been suspended.

[22:02]

Rosie: Yeah, I’m the same. I’m sensitive about the word ‘cancel’ because I think people have backlashed against it and used it as a criticism of the ‘Woke Left’ – I’m kind of doing air quotes, for the benefit of the podcast. But it’s good. I think it has to have consequences, because then if you look at the harsh consequence – someone no longer reading the news, whatever it is, losing their sponsorships – you then look at why, and then you might stop and think for a moment, and think actually, “why did they suffer such a consequence to what they just did? Oh, I understand now.” Then the behaviour should gradually stop.

[22:37]

Tim: Hopefully. I think we’re seeing less and less prevalence of this within metropolitan Australia. I think when you go to more regionalised areas where exposure to diversity is less, I think you’ll find more fringe discrimination.

[22:53]

Rosie: Yeah. Yeah. And in terms of the LGBTQ+ community, what do you think the biggest issues facing the community are today?

[23:03]

Tim: Wow. I think there is this huge misconception that since Australia achieved marriage equality that life for LGBT people has become easier. For some, that may be true, but not for many. 

I work for, and I donate a lot of my time to, an LGBTQI+ charity here in Australia, and our research actually has shown that young LGBTQ+ adults are up to 11 times more likely to attempt self harm and suffer psychological distress – in terms of experience of stigma, prejudice, discrimination, bullying and abuse – than normalised youths. And it’s painful. It’s 2021 and we’re still having this conversation, but once again, we haven’t got gender equality here either. There is still a significant gap between the opportunities for men versus women, and until we can have equality across the board, we have not reached equality. 

[24:09]

Rosie: Mm hmm. And you mention the charity you work for. What work do they do?

[24:16]

Tim: I work for The Pinnacle Foundation. We provide scholarships, mentoring and support to underprivileged LGBTQI+ youths here in Australia. And we’ve got some great corporate partners as well as great social initiatives from our board. Our chairman is the CEO of the Arts Centre and we have a very diverse group of executives and leaders, who believe that education is what gives young people of Australia the opportunity to succeed and to contribute back to society.

[24:51]

Rosie: It must be amazing to do this as your day job and get to really fly the flag.

[25:01]

Tim: Well, yeah. It’s a 180 for me. I used to work in big tech. Prior to the Pinnacle Foundation, I was the Asia-Pacific Director for an agency called Mi9 and it was all about analytics and deep-diving into information, and trying to get as much out of people, through data that we’d collected about them. And I felt dirty and I felt that I wasn’t ethically doing the right thing. So much so that I almost gave myself a heart attack. 

I remember I was on site and I actually blacked out. As I went down, I smashed my head against the boardroom table and I came to in the hospital. And that was a cathartic lightbulb moment, “Tim, you need to do a 180 because if you continue down this path you’re going to kill yourself.”

And I did a 180, completely did a career change, moved from technology to philanthropy. 

[26:05]

Rosie: Such a good move. And, you’re on Gogglebox Australia, which is now back for Season…

Tim: Fourteen!

Rosie: Season Fourteen. How has Gogglebox changed your life? 

[26:19]

Tim: It has but it hasn’t. One thing about Leanne and I is we don’t watch Gogglebox. We used to, and before we got on it was one of our favourite shows. In fact, Gogglebox UK is one of my favourite shows. 

[26:32]

Rosie: Ah, so good.

Tim: I love it. We were supposed to have a road trip around the United Kingdom, you know, down from Penzance right up to the Scottish Highlands. We were supposed to go on this massive road trip this year. Obviously with COVID that didn’t happen, so I’ve been re-watching Gogglebox UK, just as a, I suppose, an auditory road trip for me, so I can hear the beautiful accents and all the sense of humour.

But for us, we don’t watch Gogglebox Australia. I just cannot stand hearing my voice. 

[27:04]

Rosie: I know the feeling, and I started this podcast! So every time I edit it, you know, it’s a lot to get used to.

I feel like we’re living parallel lives as well – when we had the first lockdown in March 2020 I went right back to the beginning of Gogglebox UK and started re-watching it, and became such a huge fan, and my lockdown is characterised by these long work hours, from home, in front of the computer, and then moving just about a metre to the couch. And sitting down and binging Gogglebox, and it really did get me through, because you feel like you’re friends with everyone. And it’s the same with Gogglebox Australia: us watching it, we feel like you’re our friends, and we know you, and we’re catching up with you each week. It’s really incredible.

[27:50]

Tim: Well, I suppose that’s the thing, because the main premise is we’re not celebrities. And I don’t see myself as a public figure. I don’t. I feel that I am still your next door neighbour. And I think that’s what’s endearing about all of us – there is that sense of naivety where we’re not media trained, what you see and what you hear us say is not produced, we’re not prompted, we’re not scripted. So whatever rubbish I say, unfortunately is what I said. So I’ve got no excuse or I can’t blame anyone. 

[28:23]

So because of that, I think people feel that they know us. I’ve been approached quite a few times. In fact, a few people actually approach me and say, “How do I know you?”. I remember once at my local Woolworths supermarket, my partner and I were going through the self-checkout and one of the team members walked past, saw me, screamed at the top of her voice, and ran away. And then came back ten minutes later and said, “I’m so sorry. I love you guys. Oh my God, I cannot believe you’re actually real.”

[28:54]

Rosie: Awww. That’s so nice.

Tim: Some people still believe we film in a studio. I said, “no, I live in Dingley. This is in my lounge!”.

[29:03]

Rosie: Yeah. It’s incredible what conceptions people have of the show actually. Some people totally get it. I think they know that film crews come to your house, and sort of how it all works. But others, yeah, they’re sort of… there’s all these, they’re not conspiracies, they’re sort of gentle conspiracies and theories about how the show is made, or why it works and things like that. It must be funny to hear those.

[29:26]

Tim: Yeah, absolutely. I love the ones where people think that Leanne is my girlfriend.

Rosie: Interesting. Interesting. 

Tim: Yes. Which is wrong on so many levels. 

Rosie: Yeah.

Tim: Um, I had this gorgeous old lady walk up to me when I was in the shopping centre once and she says, “Oh, I love you on the Googlebox”.

[29:46]

Rosie: Wow.

Tim: And you and your girlfriend are beautiful. When are you going to propose to her?

Rosie: How did you handle that?

Tim: I actually then just said, “Oh, you know that’s actually my sister. So, probably won’t be proposing to her until I move to Tasmania.” 

Rosie: Oh, brilliant.

Tim: I think that’s the beauty of the Gogglebox followers. They understand that we are normal people.

Rosie: Yeah.

Tim: And for the most part they are so supportive of us, and I love that.

[30:14]

Rosie: Yeah. It’s so beautiful to watch how people interact with the show. 

[30:35]

Rosie: How can we all be allies to the LGBTQ+ community, or the diversity of people within it?

Tim: I have an acronym for this. I call it my L.L.E.

Tim: Which is Learn, Listen and Educate. So this is for our extended rainbow families and our allies. Actively listen when someone comes out to you, or tells you about their life and their story; their struggles and tribulations. Actively listen. 

Be respectful when you ask your questions, and just use your own initiative and actually read up and learn about the LGBTQI+ community: about the struggles that we’ve had to face, and I think it’s through that. Listening and educating yourself I think will put you in good stead with most of us, because there is nothing worse than someone coming up to me, and asking inane questions about sex versus my sexuality. Because, what they really want to know is, “are you a top or are you a bottom?” and that’s just not a suitable topic of conversation that I want to have with a stranger. 

[31:39]

Rosie: Yeah. It’s a really good point and it often goes back to that, which is bizarre because we don’t grow up asking our parents what their favourite position is, we don’t hear someone’s engaged to be married as a heteronormative couple but need to find out what happens under the duvet. It’s very strange.

Tim: It really is. Yeah.

Rosie: I love that. L.L.E. Yeah, once you do know the struggle it doesn’t hurt to try and pass that on as an ally. I love that. 

[32:07]

Rosie: If you could tell your young, not-yet-out self something to comfort yourself, or reassure yourself, what would that be?

[32:16]

Tim: I don’t want to sound cliché, but I actually wouldn’t want to say or do anything to change my younger self. I went through a lot of emotional turmoil, and a lot of self doubt and self hate. 

But I’ve also watched a lot of science fiction horrors to know that the Butterfly Effect is real! And I’m proudly the byproduct of all my experiences: my trials, my tribulations, my pain. I’m the sum of my hangups, my self doubt, anxiety and victories, and if I change anything in my past, I’m not going to be who I am today. I’m not going to have my life, my opportunities. Yeah, I’ve got all this because of who I was and what I’ve gone through. And I wouldn’t want to change a single second of that.

[33:01]

Rosie: Amen to that. That’s a really, really good point. Really good point. And what gives you hope today, or for the future?

[33:11]

Tim: I live in a traditionally non-diverse white suburban community here in Melbourne. I’m surrounded by retirees or young families with children. My partner and I have been here coming on 12 years, we’ve bought this house, and we’ve been embraced by everyone in my suburb and in this street. My neighbours have become my friends. We WhatsApp, we Facebook Chat, and we’re part of the street, we’re part of the community, and I think that’s what gives me hope.

You know, I agree that positive change needs to happen on the Federal level, in Federal courts. top-level down. But, for me, I believe in the macro of the suburban street, and that’s what gives me hope: that I’ve never experienced any sense of homophobia or discrimination from my home and from my street or my suburb.

[34:06]

Rosie: Yeah. It’s really beautiful to find a community like that.

Aw, it’s been amazing to chat. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. 

[34:17]

Tim: No, seriously, thank you so much for having me on. I’ve absolutely loved reconnecting with you, and also sharing my life story with your listeners.

[34:28]

Rosie: Thank you for listening to OUTcast, a podcast with interviews and coming out stories from inspiring LGBTQ+ people. 

I’m your host, Rosie Pentreath. I hope you can join us again next week.

Published by OUTcast Podcast

Coming out stories from inspiring LGBTQ+ people today.

%d bloggers like this: