Story about learn­ing to live in hos­tile, anti-gay world

Former East Lon­don nurse’s book out­lines early years of bul­ly­ing, abuse

Daily Dispatch - - News - NONSINDISO QWABE non­sindisoq@dis­patch.co.za

The LGBTIQA com­mu­nity ob­serves World Com­ing Out Day on Oc­to­ber 11 each year, in hon­our of the mo­ment they first shared their sex­u­al­ity with the world.

LGBTIQA stands for Les­bian, Gay, Bi­sex­ual, Trans­gen­der, In­ter­sex, Queer/Ques­tion­ing and Al­lied or asex­ual, and Oc­to­ber 11 was cho­sen as the date be­cause, ac­cord­ing to Wikipedia, it is the an­niver­sary of the 1987 na­tional march on Wash­ing­ton for Les­bian and Gay Rights.

For a former Frere Hos­pi­tal nurse, this day sig­ni­fies how far the world has come with em­brac­ing an al­ter­nate sex­u­al­ity.

Ge­orgie Calver­ley re­cently re­leased a book, A Coloured in Full Flight, which de­tails his life grow­ing up as a gay man in the coloured com­mu­nity. Now based in Lon­don, he re­mem­bers dis­cov­er­ing his sex­u­al­ity at the ten­der age of eight.

“Be­fore I be­came a teenager, I re­alised my at­trac­tion to males was not a pass­ing fancy.

“Emo­tion­ally, I felt like a girl and al­lowed my­self to be treated like one by ev­ery­one around me. I looked like a boy but thought like a girl, and found it con­fus­ing as I tried to blend the two as I grew older. Re­ac­tions from so­ci­ety and the bul­lies made it worse as I with­drew into a shell, hid­ing the real me un­til the dam­age had been done.”

Calver­ley moved to East Lon­don in 1976, and in 1986 be­gan his diploma in Nurs­ing Sci­ence and Mid­wifery at Frere Hos­pi­tal.

He talks about this, and his ex­pe­ri­ence grap­pling with his sex­u­al­ity, in the new book, which he fin­ished writ­ing ear­lier this year.

He first be­gan writ­ing the self-pub­lished book in 2004, and af­ter 13 years of painful rewrit­ing, proof­read­ing and edit­ing he was fi­nally ready to share it with the world.

He said the book talked about his painful jour­ney and was sprin­kled with the bits of ado­les­cent angst that many emo­tional teenagers en­counter in a hard and some­times cruel and un­for­giv­ing so­ci­ety

“My child­hood and ado­les­cent years were rid­dled with a some­times con­stant, bar­rage of ver­bal, phys­i­cal and in­ap­pro­pri­ate sex­ual be­hav­iours. I grew to be a quiet, shy and inse­cure teenager, iso­lated and os­tracised for be­ing dif­fer­ent, mocked for act­ing like a girl.”

Calver­ley’s book is his own com­ing out story, and he said learn­ing to love and embrace him­self while sur­rounded by a com­mu­nity who hated those who were gay, was much harder in the 80s and 90s than it is now. This, he said, caused many peo­ple to fear be­ing os­tracised by friends, fam­ily and so­ci­ety.

“No one chooses to be gay, and the gay per­son has to un­der­stand that so­ci­ety will al­ways look down on them. That’s why more of us need to learn to hold our heads up high in the face of dis­crim­i­na­tion, which takes a lot of guts and strength.”

GE­ORGIE CALVER­LEY

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