Life outside the closet

Caitlin Nixon would trade lip gloss and ponytails for muddy soccer boots anyday. At the tender age of 14, she started to question her sexual orientation. Caitlin discusses her story of coming of the closet to her family, friends and most importantly, herself. She also speaks up on gay marriage rights in Australia.

Q: When did you first realize or discover you were attracted to the same sex?

A: Probably around fourteen-fifteen years old, I went to an all girls’ school and couldn’t help but notice how different I was to everyone else. I didn’t like gossiping, reapplying my lip-gloss every minute and talking about what I bought on my shopping spree over the weekend. I was always the first one on the oval to play soccer, AFL or Oz tag and had a boyish attitude to everything. However, I always enjoyed the company of other females and was very protective of my friends. It wasn’t until I left high school where I didn’t feel as pressured to make up my mind about what sexual orientation I was.  Eventually, while working and playing sport in my gap year after graduation, I met my former girlfriend Katie. She already knew she was gay, and we bonded very quickly. One night down the coast, she courageously made the first move – and from then on then, I knew I liked the opposite sex.

Q: How did you “come out” to your family and friends, and how did this make you feel?

A: I was very happy after finally discovering myself. My parents noticed my change in attitude and behavior. I was nervous but more excited to make the announcement. I didn’t really think of how my parents and sister would react, as I was too preoccupied being in a state of euphoria. One night at the dinner table, I told my parents and sister, Courtney, that Katie had asked me out. They knew Katie as my close friend who shared the same traits as myself. I remember my Dad creasing his forehead, thinking he misinterpreted what I said. My mother just looked at me shocked, and Courtney put her fork down. There was no arguing or crying, just some questions here and there. It was clear to me that even my own family could tell I was somewhat gay.

Q: What about your friends? How did they react?

A: I didn’t really feel the need to tell them to be honest. If they saw me with Katie, I would introduce her as my girlfriend. There was always that awkward minute silence, but then the conversation would carry on. But yeah, I didn’t feel as though I needed to contact everyone and be like, “Hey guys! Just letting you know I’ve turned lesbian!”

Q: Have you ever been discriminated against or treated differently because of your sexuality?

A: Not really. But then again I’ve never been in a situation where I could have been. Although I do get quite a lot of stares from people when going out in public, holding hands with my most recent girlfriend, Sam.

Q: What are your thoughts on legalizing gay marriage in Australia?

A: Being gay, I’m obviously a hundred percent for legalizing gay marriage. I’m also an atheist, so I don’t believe marriage should be just subjected to a female and a male. If two people want to be together and make the commitment of marriage, so be it. It’s like telling a fat woman she can’t marry a skinny man because it looks funny. Or not letting a rich young man marry an elderly, poor woman because that’s not what everyone else does. If we’re not going to allow same-sex marriage, we might as well have guidelines for marriage including all of the above, appearance, wealth, age and so on.

Q: Have you considered your options of marriage in the near future in Australia?

A: If Australia doesn’t pass the bill by the time I’m ready to put a ring on it, I’d be more than willing to travel to the UK, get married and perhaps even settle in over there.

Q: Are you involved in any community organizations or attend special events held specifically for LGBT Individuals?

A: In the last three years, Sam and I have gone up to Sydney to celebrate the Mardi Gras with a bunch of friends – gay and straight. We make it a big weekend and usually stay overnight there. This year however, I was in Melbourne for soccer during mid August, conveniently at the same time of a big protest pushing for marriage equality. I immediately joined in and it felt empowering! Sam and I also participated in another protest for gay marriage in September at Sydney’s town hall. The event was disrupted however when a group of Christians, who apparently travelled all the way from Adelaide, came and preached about Jesus Christ and about how being gay is a sin. The police came on horses and everything! It was a very inspiring and memorable experience for me. Other than that, I used to be quite a regular at Castro’s in Wollongong (laughs).

Q: It sounds like you’ve been very fortunate to have such supporting family and friends.

A: I am very lucky considering the amount of awful stories I’ve heard from some of my friends who are gay, bi or transgender. I am also very lucky to have my girlfriend of three and a half years, Sam. I have never felt alone in this world while being with her.

ImageCaitlin (right) and her girlfriend, Sam.

Click here for an article on the Melbourne protest pushing for marriage equality early this year that Caitlin mentions in the interview.

Click here for a video of the Gay Marriage Equality Rally at Sydney’s Town Hall in September 2013.

References:

Christian Fundamentalists clash with Marriage Equality Rally, Sydney Town Hall, 1 Sept 2013, 1st of September 2013, YouTube Video, kurvapicsa, Sydney Town Hall, https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=X0UVYt3osK8#t=167

Elder, J. and Tomazin, F., 2013, ‘Voters coming out in droves to back gay marriage’, The Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 19/11/2013, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/voters-coming-out-in-droves-to-back-gay-marriage-20130817-2s3yx.html#ixzz2leXQofF9

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