I kept my secret, and channelled energy into music and the arts.

 

Sissy That Style’s Byron Watson, creative sissy, talks about growing up gay.

 

 

I grew up in the working class city of Campbelltown, Sydney, and considered myself one of the lucky ones at school – I only got beaten up three times. I figured that was pretty good for an overweight, effeminate and artsy teenager.

Pretty regularly I was taunted and teased for being a ‘faggot’, or ‘poofta’. I understood the words like ‘fag’ were used were meant hurt and diminish me, but I didn’t really know what gay was. It was confusing.

In some ways, I withdrew. And in other ways, I used their words to motivate me to be better than them, channelling the energy I had into those very things they used to tease me for.

 

What is a faggot?

Well, to start with, it’s a pretty shit word. For bullies, it’s a term they use in an attempt to belittle someone they perceive as being gay.

Ask Google, and their first search result tells you it’s a bundle of sticks. But ask Wikipedia, they’ll acknowledge there a multiple meanings for it, but it’s primarily derogatory and shouldn’t be used. It’s pretty gross as a word, but if you just think of it as a bundle sticks, it has no power. If you acknowledge that the largest websites in the world think it’s a shit word, those same organisations are saying the bullies who use that word are just assholes.

 

Find your own Renee

I was lucky enough to go to a school which had a really strong music program. Being surrounded by people who sang, played instruments, did musicals and drama meant there were bound to be a few sissies, and sis-sympathisers in the hood.

Whilst I didn’t really knowingly know any gay boys, I found strength and celebration in a great straight girl friend, Renee. Renee was in the year below me. She was outgoing, hilarious, smart, street smart, musical, popular, and had a cool boyfriend.

Other than the music connection (we both loved to sing and were in the school concert band), we had the same sense of humour. And I trusted her implicitly. We never talked about being gay, boys, being bullied, or anything like that. We would make just make music, make prank phone calls (on landlines – you couldn’t trace a call then), and laugh like twinks on a fresh bottle of poppers.

What I got from that friendship, without any deliberate effort, was unconditional friendship and love, safety, and reliability. Find your Renee. They usually know you’re gay, but either way just love you for you.

Renee Gaskell and friends of Byron Watson at school

Invest in what you love

Music and drama were my outlets. I was lucky to have those things. I played the clarinet – how my mother didn’t twig at 9 I was gay… hello! – and I sang, did drama. I loved all of those things. I was fortunate enough to have an ability which was identified early on

I was so passionate about it, and I did it non-stop. I became more skilled, and over time in the eyes of my classmates, and I eventually the bullies, it elevated me. They began to see me something less of a target, and in some strange way, someone they admired.

I started going outside of school to perform around the region, and eventually made my way to the Sydney Opera House to perform. After that, I appeared on national television. By that time, I really didn’t even think about the bullies – I was basking in amazingness of the highly talented and aspirational friends I was making. A couple of years later I was in London on scholarship at one of the world’s best musical institutions. I didn’t even think about the bullies anymore.

 

Keep your head up

Sometimes, having to be strong and brave is hard. It sucks. Sissy gets it. Most LGBTQI kids get bullied. But, if you can, try to see what makes you different as what makes you unique; as someone special.

If you’re reading this and you’re thinking, “I don’t know if this is me or not”, or you’re like, “Yeah, I’m this guy”, remember, you are not alone. You have sissies older than you who have experienced what you’ve been through. There’s light, and there’s love. And we’re here.

If you need support and advice on any of the topics discussed in this blog article, please contact:

Support and advice for LGBT community https://lgbt.foundation/
Support for friends and family of LGBT https://www.fflag.org.uk/
Support and advice in your area https://www.stonewall.org.uk/help-advice/whats-my-area