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

‘Runaway’ JOUR206 Audio Emotional History Assignment

Undertaking this Emotional History assignment has given me an insight into radio journalism and has taught me several lessons when conducting an interview.

On paper, I didn’t find this assignment interesting. However, it was when I started to plan for it and do it that I found myself really enjoying it. To go out and actually be practical is so much more satisfying at the end of the day. I discovered that after conducting my interview earlier this week. This Emotional History assignment also taught me how verbal communication can really create a strong, emotional impact on an audience. The tone, the language used and the pauses in a person’s dialogue can really create just as much impact on a listener than an image can for a viewer.

There were several barriers I had to overcome while interviewing my Baba (grandmother). As she is reaching towards an elderly stage in her life, her memory has started to fade. Although she remembers everything about her past, which is what I interviewed her about, she has trouble concentrating and telling a story in sequence. Lucky enough, I was able to fill in the gaps with information provided by my mother. Another concern for me was my Baba’s language barrier, which isn’t a problem for me as I understand her, but for future listeners. To avoid the confusion, I included some brackets in my interview transcript, stating what she means for future listeners who have trouble understanding her. My last issue concerning this assignment was, and I’m sure like most others, the cutting down process. From 20 minutes to two minutes, I struggled to determine what parts of the interview were stronger than others. My Baba speaks very slow, so deleting her long, silent pauses was easy, however it was making her sound like she wasn’t speaking without a breath a problem. I resolved this issue by adding fade ins/outs to make the transitions smoother.

Lessons I learnt from this assignment were to do with interviewing. Even though I have previously done Journalism subjects before which stress the importance of interviewing techniques, this assignment was a good reminder of how important those techniques are. As most students like myself already hate the sound of their own voice on tape, its better to speak clearly and avoid “ums” and “ahs” when recording to sound more clear and professional. It is also important not to interrupt the interviewee out of courtesy, even if what they’re discussing is irrelevant. And finally, the most significant interviewing tip I believe is, to be prepared and write out a set of questions before any interview. This way, you can ensure yourself that you  asked the right questions to get the right answers for your work.

If I had the chance to approach this assignment differently, I would most defiantly take into more consideration proper time management. I can see the potential in my work and with proper time management, I could of been able to achieve a better result.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this assignment and look forward to completing this Journalistic subject. I am hoping to apply my learnt skills from this assignment into my future work and achieve higher than average results.

To listen to the interview, click here

To view the transcript of the interview, click on the link below

‘Runaway’ JOUR206 Audio Emotional History Assignment

Full Background Story –

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My Baba, Simica Glavan, was born in 1935 in communist Yugoslavia. The Independence of Croatia was declared in 1991, the same year the Croatian War of Independence against Serbia began. However, both these events happened long after Simica had fled the country.

Simica, being the youngest of five, was born into a strict, Catholic family. During this time in Yugoslavia there was little employment, and education any further than second grade was a luxury. Simica worked on her family’s farm alongside her father while her mother performed domestic duties. They raised pigs, chickens, goats and lambs and grew vegetable gardens and grape vines. The only income they ever earned was from the sale of grapes for wine making, sold in the town market.

This became Simica’s daily routine for years. Living in a poor economic country at the time, Simica was lucky enough to wear the rags she had as clothes.

At the tender age of 21, Simica longed for a better future and proposed the idea of leaving to her family. Leaving Croatia was not an option as escaping from the country was illegal. Her brothers and sisters and father forbid the idea. So, without saying goodbye, Simica escaped with her boyfriend, Vinko, in the dark of the night. They jumped into rowboats and sailed across the Adriatic Sea. Eventually, they successfully arrived in Bari, a coastal region in Italy.

After 12 months living and working in Bari, Simica and Vinko were given the option to travel to Australia under the Migration program of the 1950s. They sailed by ocean liner from Italy to Australia in 6 weeks. There, Simica and Vinko were separated into gender segments because they had no children together.

Since arriving in Australia and making a life of her own, Simica has never heard from her family. Although she appears to be proud of her background and previous life, she refuses to travel back. Luckily for her, she has her daughters and grand daughters to relive her eventful past. Simica, Anne, or Baba, is a woman of many qualities. She is brave, courageous, kind, loving and humorous. From leaving one family behind, she made her own on the opposite side of the world. Her generous nature is infectious and her story is one to be told for many more years to come.