Wednesday, 3 October 2012

‘I haven’t always been a woman, I lived as a man for the first 50 years of my life’

I haven’t always been a woman, I lived as a man for the first 50 years of my life and on weekends I would ‘dress up’ and go out on the town. I didn’t always ‘dress up’ to go out and the term ‘dress up’ isn’t quite right.  It is more like becoming the real me. I would leave behind the male me and become who I should have been born, PAM.
When I was younger it was not as easy to change sex without going overseas, but then I don’t think it is ever easy. On a personal level you just have to be ready and don’t let anyone stand in your way. It took until I turned fifty to be ready and now I am alive. 
I wasn’t living a lie as a man, I just wasn’t really alive, I would come to life on some weekends after putting on my lipstick. Now I am alive every day (with and without lipstick). I am proud of myself for discovering the beauty of living a truthful life and not being afraid to shine. 
Life is to short to live it for others or try to blend into society. Be yourself and you will find a place in society/community, or make one. Each day is a blessing no matter which sex you decide to be.

‘I had to go through different experiences to earn my place in Sydney’

Jay , was Singaporean now Australian.

I first arrived Sydney in 1993; it was the time when the news announced that Sydney would host the 2000 Olympics. At that time, I was touring with some finest performers to promote Singapore. Sydney intrigued me instantly. In 1996, I came for Mardi Gras and fell in love with Sydney even more. After much consideration, I called Sydney my home in 1998.  It’s such an irony – I was supposed to encourage foreign investors to Singapore, but Australia stole my heart instead.

Like most immigrants to Australia, I want a better life for myself. Growing up, I felt sterile, restricted and suffocated by the system in my country. I couldn’t be me. All I want is to feel liberated and be comfortable in my own skin. I found just that here. We have the freedom to express ourselves. We have support groups within the gay communities, which give me that feeling of acceptance.

But nothing comes easy in life. I had to go through different experiences to earn my place in the society.  I followed what was right in my heart. I chose freedom over financial affordability. I made some sacrifices through my journey, as I had to be apart from my love ones. I took a huge pay cut and accepted work in junior positions. I worked very hard, and never take anything for granted. I became a manager and fashion buyer within few years. I live comfortably, pay my tax and enjoy the quality of life here. I had my citizenship in 2005.

Unfortunately, I have many challenges being a minority. I faced the odds, not only experiencing discrimination at work but most disappointingly, within the gay community. I was unfairly dismissed from work based on my race, gender and sexuality. I need closure and seek justice. Fortunately, I found a great team of multi-national solicitors and lawyer who fought for my rights. Most importantly, I met people who really care. I am indeed blessed to have a partner who loves me unconditionally.

Through my experiences, I was searching for some answers. Recently, I found Pride In Colour team; formed by a small group of volunteers and supported by the City of Sydney. They asked me to share my stories - well, here I am sharing and being heard.

Planting the seeds of understanding is what this group is all about. We hope to raise awareness on tolerance through nurturing and educating the community. This could help eliminate ignorance, hatred and discrimination. Like so many of us in the Pride work group, we care to make the difference. We hope to give people the chance to be heard, feel proud of who they are and encourage them to share their stories with PRIDE IN COLOUR. 

‘Australia is a good country, Australia is a lucky country for us wogs’

YANNI  - Greek Migrant

When I first arrived in Australia I didn’t speak English, I travelled by ship rom Greece with my older sister, we were both in our early twenties and we came here in hope of a better life and new opportunities.

Maria my sister met a Greek man named Peter and was soon married, I fell in love with a Spanish woman named Gina and we married a year later . We lived in Redfern in the seventies with all the other Greek families looking for a new start. It was a little Greek ghetto, we owned our own home.

My first and only job was with the railway and my wife worked part time in sandwich shops to bring in extra cash. We were what the Aussies would call Wog’s and most of them hated us because we stole there jobs and smelled of garlic. We didn’t care, we didn’t talk to them, we didn’t speak good English.

Every month I would send money home to my family in Greece and eventually my brother Nick and his wife Connie came to Australia. When they arrived they lived with us, they had a bed in the front room until they could afford a deposit for a house of their own.

WE now had a chi9ld, a little girl, she was so beautiful and in this country has every opportunity to be anything she wants. Something I never had in my small village in Greece. Australia is a good country, Australia is a lucky country for us Wog’s.

“there is no set rule to the family unit, Charlis best friend has two mums’

KELLY – Wurundjeri Australian
Business  Woman, single mum, 42

I had Charli Louts Lili (my daughter) when I was 37 and she is the love of my life. I will never forget pumping milk during my lunch break out the back of the florist and then running it down to Charli at the child care center, that’s a fond memory. I had to deliver milk twice a day.

I didn’t really realize what it meant to have a child on my own, but I was surrounded by love and I now cherish every moment, at times it’s a struggle juggling a small child and my business and now that she is five (in October 2011), it’s a little bit harder.

I love diversity, it’s a necessity, a wonderful thing. There is no set rule to the family unit. Charli’s best friend has two mums. At her childcare center there are other single mum’s, single dads, families with two dad’s, its very diverse. Which is great for Charli because she doesn’t stand out, she is accepted for who she is not what society expects her family unit to be.

She has a deep relationship with her father, he is Maori and they are close. There is no set rule to our family unit and I don’t think there should be. I could cry right now when I think about the first time I held her.

We just found out recently that we are decedents of the Wurundjeri tribe,, when I visited them I discovered all the elder women were gardeners which is great because I’m a florist. We all have flowers in our hearts.

‘Not having a womb between us we decided to foster’

Craig (35 Australian), Anthony (39 Italian) and Sam (8 Vietnamese)

Anthony and I met 19 years ago, we worked together, me as a manager and he as an accountant. It was love at first sight for both of us. One year later we moved in together and lived in Darlinghurst

We both worked really hard and saved our salaries to buy our first home in Summer Hill ten years later. We have a good life, filled with love and communication but there was something missing. We both wanted a child. Not having a womb between us we decided to foster, and that’s when Sam came into our lives.

We met him when he was 5 and now he is part of the family. He is a great little guy, really happy and full of energy. So now it’s the three of us and also two dogs, a cat and two gold fish. Life is full.