Aussie bum

The 27-year-old Queensland “jackeroo” (Aussie for “cowboy”) and former model made it to the final four on Australian Big Brother this summer, just months after surviving a vicious gay bashing.

BY Advocate.com Editors

September 11 2006 12:00 AM ET

When I was 19 I
went to Sydney with my mates, and everywhere we went
model agents came up and gave me their card. My mates said,
“Look, this is an opportunity to do something
and get off the farm.” A week later I was in
Italy doing the catwalks, surrounded by supermodels. I was
like, What the hell am I doing here? I didn’t
handle it very well; I didn’t understand that I
was there because I looked good. I thought I was there
because I looked strange. I had to go back to my farm. It
was all too scary.

In January I was
beaten up by a gang of guys who left me for dead. They
were taunting some gay guys, and I tried to placate them. I
told them that I was gay, and they started beating the
shit out of me. I thought, Now I know what it’s
like to be absolutely hated to the point that people
will risk going to jail just to vent their hate on my body.
I felt as though I was a real gay man.

Soon after, I met
my boyfriend, Sherif, in Sydney. He is definitely the
one for me. He came to the farm and was a horseman in half
an hour. That takes years. He just fitted on the
saddle and fitted on the farm. He fits in my life.
Everything I ever wanted I found in one person.

Ninety percent of
the reason I went on Big Brother was to break down that
wall of prejudice, especially for country people. I thought,
Holy hell, this is the best possible microphone to
middle Australia. Coming out on TV was one of the
hardest things I’ve ever done. I couldn’t even
do it standing up—I had to sit down because my
knees wouldn’t hold me up. An hour later I
broke down. Holy shit, what the hell have I done? The
reality of 2 million people watching the show hit me.

Recently three
guys said to me, “I was the biggest homophobe, I used
to bash gays, and now all I want is gay mates.”
That put the icing on the cake. They couldn’t
say enough about the change they’d gone through just
by watching, understanding, and getting to know me. Before I
went in the house, I got abused: “fucking
faggot, poofta…” Now I get “Hey guy,
love you, mate!” Suddenly, Australia loves
gays.

Tags: Commentary

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