Story about learning to live in hostile, anti-gay world
Former East London nurse’s book outlines early years of bullying, abuse
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.”