Dear Mr Jim Wallace, head of the Australian Christian Lobby,

Picture: Martin Neon

I think I know why so many gay men commit suicide.

Maybe part of the problem is it’s both deeply embarrassing and hard to articulate what it’s like to be the victim of homophobic abuse to someone who has never experienced it. According to the Suicide Prevention Australia, 200 gay teenagers commit suicide each year, that’s about one in every two days.

Let me tell you about what it was like for me at a public high school in a bush town on the fringes on Melbourne’s South East suburbs. 

I didn’t think I was destined to be part of a minority group - as a child I was a dominant personality, white, male, middle class and part of the popular group in primary school.

But in year 9 rumours (true ones I might add) spread at my high school that I had been involved sexually with other male students. That’s when the trouble started.

My old friends who used to stay at my house in years gone past stopped talking to me. I still remember with a sharp pain in my guts the day my best friend thrwe my pencil case across the other side of the room one day in class when I tried to sit next to him.

Left without allies - groups of teenage boys would gang-up on me, push me into metal poles, call me every name under the sun and make a point of ridiculing any male who was brave enough to associate with me. Girls would also exclude me and impersonate me behind my back.

This happened every morning as soon as I arrived at school and most lunch-times.

For a while nobody but the fellow alienated would associate with me – meaning my new friends became the kids everyone else picked on throughout high school (and are still my friends today).

Even one teacher at my old high school joked one day after giving me a hard-time in class “sorry, I’m just a bit homophobic” while turning and smiling to a group of male students.

I recall looking at myself in the mirror a few weeks after the abuse began with my bright-red public high school jumper, freckles, braces, glasses, and tiny-frame. I said to myself “it’s okay Luke, you always have you, you can get through this.”

But it wasn’t okay, it really wasn’t – teenagers are fragile creatures and soon I secretly began to deeply self-loath. Eventually I was forced to withdraw from high school and finished year 12 by distance education.

The homophobic abuse was actually death by a thousand cuts. The damage wasn’t immediately felt. Once I left high school, I just slowly crumbled. I had panic attacks every time I left the house, I became so scared when I was outside I would often hide in toilet cubicles, I didn’t work, I dropped out of University and when I looked in the mirror – I saw nothing but a repulsive, weird failure.

‘Ugly”, gay, outcast, abused nearly every time I left my house by guys from their utes, desperately lonely, dealing with puberty, feeling partially rejected by my parents and totally rejected by my small town community – yes I’ll admit Mr Wallace, at times I did feel like killing myself.

I went from being an outgoing, high-performing person who always wanted to be the centre of attention to someone who was so painfully shy I couldn’t look a stranger in the eye.

I never wanted to show the bullies at school they were hurting me. I never cried, I hid my feelings; sometimes I even yelled back and threw punches. It took some ten years before I was finally able to acknowledge how much the bullying hurt.

I didn’t want to hold onto the hatred forever. I’ve long since reunited with my old friends who rejected me and don’t really blame them for jumping off the ‘sinking ship’ of ‘faggot Luke’ at high school. I’ve even bumped into the bullies and its clear their attitudes to me have clearly changed too. 

However, I know some wounds never completely heal. It’s extremely damaging to a teenager to be socially outcast at a time when peer group validation and affiliation is what a humans to properly individuate from their parents.
Homophobic abuse and the way my friends turned against me has left me often neurotically sensitive to rejection of all sorts in my life.  Although it’s not obvious to people who meet me, I live the perpetual fear of people not liking me and also of being rejected by the group.
My self-esteem and assertiveness skills have improved, but remain brittle and often cloaked with false bravado. Has all this homophobic abuse reduced my life-span? I hope not Mr Wallace, because it’s taken me nearly 15 years to work out how to be happy again after high school - it would be great to live to be a very old man.

Mr Wallace, I am not sure why you and your evangelical base are so obsessed with gay marriage rights.  For me, gay marriage sends the right message to the community - gay and lesbian teenagers are no different to anyone else – don’t bash them, ostracise them or make sexuality a basis for choosing your friends.

Yours Sincerely,
Luke Williams

Comments on this post close at 8pm AEST.

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    • Tim the Toolman says:

      04:26pm | 07/09/12

      The sheer audacity of the ACL is quite astounding in this regard. 

      Step 1:  Encourage demonisation of a group.
      Step 2:  Watch the inevitable social impact.
      Step 3:  Use the social impact as justification for further demonisation.
      Step 4:  Profit.

    • Anne71 says:

      04:58pm | 07/09/12

      You’re so right, Tim. The other thing that really gets my goat is that the ACL never has anything to say regarding the issues of poverty, social justice, refugees or any of those things you would assume that any genuine “Christian” would be concerned about.  All they seem to care about is demonising gay people.  Which is very strange when you consider that the main thing Jesus taught was “Love one another as I have loved you”, not to mention “Judge not lest ye be judged”...

    • Dewey Venlift says:

      05:01pm | 07/09/12

      I can’t tell which of Jim Wallace’s lovely proclamations is worse; this recent one, or the comments on ANZAC day last year.
      Why do we still pay attention to this pathetic excuse for a human?

    • Shaun says:

      06:25pm | 07/09/12

      Thanks for the insight luke it surely puts more understanding on what gay people go through. I can only imagine what it would have been like.  But i am a supporter of gay rights and they deserve the same respect and rights just like everyone else.  People like Jim Wallace are the exact reason why i run rampage at christian groups attacking their beliefs and justifications for their bigotry and narcissistic world view.
      Religion is nothing more than Ego masquerading as humility, I think we all understand the motive assertion behind the religion paradigm so theres no need for my opinion.  The only way we’ll ever depart from our racism, homophobia, gender inequality is to bid farewell to religion altogether and denying religion any media coverage, door to door preachers, posters and billboards.  Religion has silenced mankind long enough in the past with no sign of advancement in technology and education. Maybe by ignoring them they might not go away but it will certainly make a stand that we will not tolerate such superstitious, bigoted, manevolent, intolerable sack of shit religious dogma to guide our decisions.

    • Ten67 says:

      07:23pm | 07/09/12

      @ Anne 71,
      maybe you should visit the ACL website, they have made many submissions to parliaments around Australia about those areas you spoke about. Just because their comments are not reported in the media doesn’t mean that they do not comment or care about them.

    • Al B says:

      04:27pm | 07/09/12

      Queer kids have it very tough in many parts of australia. Both at school and at home, god forbid their families are church going. Its bad enough in middle straya, glad i had minimal religion in my upbringing.

      I grew up in penrith and the only thing that probably stopped me taking a header off the tax office building was fear of heights! Suicide and homophobia go hand in hand, whether it is showing up in the stats or not… it is there….

    • Old man emu says:

      06:49pm | 07/09/12

      Actually Luke’s story sounds exactly like school for 90 per cent of people at school - gay or straight. Teens will always find the point of differences and grind that in. Luke’s difference was his sexuality - what was ours.

    • amy says:

      04:31pm | 07/09/12

      cue the ususal

      “I’m not homphobic but I just don’t want it shoved in my face”

      “I dont see why they make a big fuss over it, its not like we have “hetero pride” parades”

      being the default is different to being the minority

    • JS says:

      04:34pm | 07/09/12

      Good on ya Luke.

      Congradulations on making through high school. You clearly had a strength a lot didn’t.

      I was there when Jim made those comments about smoking and homosexuality, and the pain in the room was clear to see….

    • Tim says:

      04:34pm | 07/09/12

      The things that happen to us in our adolesence stay with us the rest of our lives.
      In some ways, it truly is the most important time of our life.
      Best of luck with your life, Luke.

    • Laura says:

      04:36pm | 07/09/12

      Thanks for that Luke! Problem is with people like Jim Wallace, they are so delusional and ideological that anything you say will never change his mind, nor the thousands like him. They need their heads checked. Unfortunately we will have to settle for their inevitable passing. May god have mercy on them.
      Basically, the gay movement has won the popularity battle. You need not try to convince anyone else of the merits of gay marriage… except the fools we elect to our parliaments. I’m not sure how in this day such views have withstood such a loud chorus of societal change. It’s bewildering really.

      Oh… also I wouldn’t call ‘just outside of Melbourne’ a bush town…. gosh you need to travel before making such claims. Come visit Rockhampton, then you will know how ugly homophobia can be. Having said that, I supported my lesbian friend at the I DO rally in Rocky recently, and was quite surprised with the sheer amount of support that was evident. If a town like Rockhampton is capable of change, then maybe there is hope for our pollies after all.

    • Nick says:

      05:13pm | 07/09/12

      Hey Laura, interested piece of writing, however, I feel you wrecked it when you mentioned “God”. Who is your “God”?

    • Laura says:

      06:11pm | 07/09/12

      God is whoever you want them to be, as long as it is a thing of personal faith, and not whatever it is that drives the ACL. I’m pretty sure god is not compelling them to do what it is they do, probably some sort of psychological disorder more like it.
      I personally don’t affiliate myself with any particular faith, but have no problem with others having one, whoever they might be. ‘God’ is just a word people use to describe the person who invented the meaning of life.

    • nick says:

      06:33pm | 07/09/12

      That’s cool that you don’t have a problem with people who have a faith. Maybe I’m a bigot like JIm Wallace, I have a problem with people of faith, as some of them take it too far, like Jim.  He’s a twat!

    • Dylan says:

      04:37pm | 07/09/12

      It’s tragic what this kid had to endure, nobody should have to go through anything like that.

      But let’s clarify one thing, a disagreement about a moral issue, does not equal “go forth and bully those who practice X”. If that was the case we’d never make any moral judgements whatsoever. And I’m sure Jim Wallace certainly wouldn’t endorse such bullying. True tolerance can only be practiced if people disagree.

      Is it possible for people to hold differing opinions, yet show love towards one another? If so, this argumentation is flawed.

    • Dewey Venlift says:

      04:57pm | 07/09/12

      It is entirely possible to oppose Gay Marriage and still show love towards gay people. It is NOT possible to say the “gay lifestyle” is as dangerous as smoking and expect people who adhere to the “gay lifestyle” to feel loved by you.

      There is a profound difference between disagreeing with someone’s point of view (Marriage Equality) and disagreeing with a fundamental part of who they are. One is debate, the other is discrimination. Jim Wallace has done the latter, and he deserves nothing but contempt from every sane Australian.

    • Dylan says:

      05:33pm | 07/09/12

      i appreciate your comment Dewey. But lets say for argument sake, that what Jim Wallace said was true? I’m not saying it certainly is, but the evidence seems to point in that direction at this stage. There are studies that have concluded that the average homosexual male has a life expectancy that is 20 years less than that of the average heterosexual male, not including HIV/AIDS cases. Should we sweep it under the rug? Or is it more appropriate to make these things known?

    • MyJoy says:

      05:39pm | 07/09/12

      @Dewey Vanlift and Dylan

      I agree with you both.  I am a Christian but I cannot relate to anything that may give the nasties in our communitiesa reason to bully others.  I do not agree with gay marriage, but I have no hatred for gay people.  Nor does Jesus call any Christian to hate anyone, that is in direct opposition to His teaching.

      Mind you some posters in here are quick to condemn any Christian response to social problems and in doing so endeavour to demonise those of us who choose to follow Jesus.  It does not work, but it does say something about how they insist on “tolerance” on their pet themes. but deny it for a group who may not agree with them. Can that be a form of bullying?? 

      The ACL does not represent all Christians.  I did not agree with their decision to lump gay marriage in with anti-smoking.  To me that was foolish. I did not blame the PM for opting out of their conference.

    • MyJoy says:

      05:40pm | 07/09/12

      @Dewey Vanlift and Dylan

      I agree with you both.  I am a Christian but I cannot relate to anything that may give the nasties in our communitiesa reason to bully others.  I do not agree with gay marriage, but I have no hatred for gay people.  Nor does Jesus call any Christian to hate anyone, that is in direct opposition to His teaching.

      Mind you some posters in here are quick to condemn any Christian response to social problems and in doing so endeavour to demonise those of us who choose to follow Jesus.  It does not work, but it does say something about how they insist on “tolerance” on their pet themes. but deny it for a group who may not agree with them. Can that be a form of bullying?? 

      The ACL does not represent all Christians.  I did not agree with their decision to lump gay marriage in with anti-smoking.  To me that was foolish. I did not blame the PM for opting out of their conference.

    • andye says:

      06:29pm | 07/09/12

      @Dewey Venlift - I agree with you. The ambiguity can be dangerous, though.

      What annoys me is that if I was to oppose Christianity, that would be wrong. I actually support religious freedom, just as long as I get to be free of religion as well. That is called tolerance. Some Christian commentators feel they have the right to speak about the rights gay people should be allowed as they wish under the guise of religious freedom. Opposing their right to intolerance is… intolerant?

      Kind of a catch 22.

      Can you see my uneasiness with this ambiguity? I don’t have a right to judge Christians for practising their religion and producing a steady stream of soulful talent show contestants any more than I have a right to judge gay people for going around being gay all the time and having fantastic dress sense. This is more basic than ambiguity or complicated arguments or humorous stereotypes.

      People should have the right to pursue their own happiness as long as it doesn’t trample anyone else’s rights.

    • Amanda says:

      04:39pm | 07/09/12

      I am sorry you had to go through this.  You make me scared for my kids - scared that they will be bullied, but also scared that they will do the bullying.  I hope by the time they hit high school there is much more main stream acceptance of homosexuality.  My best male friend is gay, I have known him his whole life, but he hid it through High School.  he did tell me once he thought he might be, and I didn’t make a big deal of it, but now I kind of wish I had spoken to him more seriously about it, rather than accepting it and not seeing it as a bit of a cry for support/help.

    • Kat McNee says:

      04:53pm | 07/09/12

      Hey luke, know that you are loved for who you are, sending virtual hugs >hugs<

    • Mike Fitzsimon says:

      04:54pm | 07/09/12

      Thanks for writing this, Luke.

      “Full Marriage Equality”. Anything less sends a message that it’s OK to discriminate against gay people.

      How would Jim Wallace like it if my religion required discrimination against those who “choose” to wear glasses?

    • AdamC says:

      04:54pm | 07/09/12

      That is an awful story.

      Despite, I suspect, being a few years older than you, my experience of growing up gay was much less painful than yours. I guess that is one of the few positive things about having attended the most aggressively politically correct private school in Melbourne. (And, perhaps predictably, one of the most expensive.)

      I came out when I was 16. I was the first and only student to do that in my class. I suppose that would seem strange today, as my year level included almost 200 students, but, even as recently as the late 1990s, I was the exception to the rule. Of course, back then it was still de rigeur to use the word ‘gay’ as a general perjorative. I probably even did so a few times. I did cop a few taunts over being gay (I later found out that my straight brother copped worse, just by association) but it wasn’t too bad.

      Actually, the only person in high school who was really mean and nasty to me was the campiest boy in the class. I suppose, in retrospect, that it was an ‘only gay in the village’-type conflict. However, despite everyone simply, and correctly, assuming he was gay, my tormentor remained resolutely closeted until he left school. So my action didn’t open any floodgates, by any means.

      Despite my relatively benign experiences, I still struggled with self-loathing and what I assume in retrospect was mild depression. I like to think that set me up with the coping skills I possess today. And I would take self-loathing over self-doubt any day of the week. My point is, many teenagers struggle with themselves without the assisatance of bigots and bullies. Not that they help, of course!

      Hopefully, one day, kids will have no fear coming out at school. Maybe they will even start bringing same-sex partners to formals etc. Or maybe they already are. Things seem to have changed a lot. Which is something to be thankful for.

    • LC says:

      05:05pm | 07/09/12

      Ah, good ol’ Jim Wallace, whom (along with his organisation) is responsible for:
      - Holding back gay marriage
      - Holding back voluntary euthanasia
      - The internet filter saga
      - Holding back R18+ games for over a decade
      - Opposing ethics classes in NSW
      - Holding back an Australian Bill of Rights
      - Supporting Chaplains in schools as opposed to trained, professional guidance councilors
      - Backing Abbott’s bible-in-schools plan
      - And likely much much more
      Has a free pass to stroll through the corridors of power in Canberra, and gets into meetings with both the opposition leader and the Prime Minister. Read <a href=“”>, and take note of what happens in the comments. Someone like this, discussing things like internet censorship with our politicians? That’s a frightening thought…

      The ACL is the Australian equivalent of the Taliban. They cannot fade into social and political irrelevance quickly enough.

    • John Taylor says:

      07:50pm | 07/09/12

      Actually they are not like the Taliban. You can negotiate with the Taliban and the Taliban have sympathisers.

    • Kwiklika says:

      05:06pm | 07/09/12

      I am a homosexual and I would like to make a challenge to all the women out there for you to try to turn me straight.
      I’m not rely homosexual but I don’t mine if you say I am.
      The biggest homophobics are the men who have some doubts about their own sexuality. It’s ironic that the church has has such a problem with homosexuality because Jesus was most likely gay. Never married, hung around with his mates all the time, pacifist, turn the other cheek, non macho. non tool, friends who were prostitutes. I could go on.

    • Jeffery says:

      05:07pm | 07/09/12

      Luke, I know what you went through because I went through something very similar in the 90s when I was in school.  It was hell.  Yet by some miracle I’m still here.  The wounds really do take years to heal.  I still have a ways to go on that.  Best wishes, thanks for writing this.

    • Nick says:

      05:21pm | 07/09/12

      My “religion” discriminates against Christianity, Islam, Judaism et cetera et cetera. I believe that if you believe in an invisible sky fairy, then you should be put into the mental health unit of your local hospital. I hate many religions and most things they stand for. Will you publish this  I don’t mind being completely honest that I DO NOT respect religious people.  Am I as bad as Jim Wallace?

    • Mark says:

      05:26pm | 07/09/12

      Luke your story truly moved me. I went through something similar. In that I came out in high school (not by choice but when it was so obvious what I was it seemed a little silly to claim otherwise - and i refused to deny when asked). It took me a few years to come to terms with it though and I am ashamed to say that I was one of those gays that lashed out at other people because of their own self hatred. I mistreated a lot of people and hope I have the chance to make amends one day - I have with those I can contact but there were a lot I woulnd’t know where to look for. That same self hatred lead to a considerable drinking problem that I’m still trying to get on top of. There is truth to the claim that our community has its fair share of health problems but its not cause we’re gay its because of a thousand other reasons related to being gay - one of which is douchebags like Wallace that make us hate ourselves.

    • kuro says:

      05:28pm | 07/09/12

      reading this makes me really sceared of what high school might be like for my son if he is gay. im bisexual and my brother is gay. i know the feeling of being the outcast. i ended up bringing a knife to school one day because i was sick of the bullying. and the teaches also helped.

      people like Jim Wallace should take a good hard look in the mirror and ask if they like the person they see looking back at them. the words that he says could be the nail in the coffin. i just hope in future years that there is more tollerance in schools.

      sorry for my spelling have a three year old on my lap.

    • Julie says:

      05:45pm | 07/09/12

      You are a true survivor Luke and an inspiration . You clearly articulated what many in our community have experienced and I am so glad you did not end up another statistic . Cudos to you gorgeous boy x

    • Phil says:

      05:59pm | 07/09/12

      I don’t mean to sound unsympathetic. Your story is really tragic, and I do feel for you in the suffering you have gone through, and many others like you.

      However, your logic is screwed. I guess I’ve probably missed something that Jim Wallace has said recently that offends you. But regardless, Jim Wallace and Christians like myself aren’t encouraging abuse and bullying. We are just saying that we don’t think the gay community should be able to redefine the very important institution of marriage just by campaigning loudly enough. Homosexual relationships are not the same as heterosexual- they are relatively rare, they are rarely exclusively monogamous (which is what marriage is supposed to be all about), and they don’t produce families- which is a vitally important social institution. They are not the same, they are different- that’s just a fact, so you’ve got to give a good argument for saying why we should redefine something as important as marriage.

      In this article, you have shared your tragic story which is fair enough, but blaming Jim Wallace for it is ridiculous, and implying that therefore your suffering means that we should change the definition of marriage also lacks logic.
      Now I know many of you will disagree with me, but please remember that calling me names like a homophobic bigot is not really an argument, and doesn’t advance the discussion, just raises the temperature.

    • Leigh says:

      07:03pm | 07/09/12

      Phil - the thing is that you don’t get is that when parts of society say that it is ok to discriminate against and ostracise homosexuality as some religious types do, it filters down to other members of sicety - the message is ‘it is ok for you to bully gats because they are different’. Religion should just stop interfering in people’s lives and trying to dictate how the rest of the community lives. It does not impact you so focus on taking the log out of own eye.

    • Tad says:

      06:12pm | 07/09/12

      Legalising same-sex marriage will have no effect on what happens in the play ground. Anyone who suggests it will is exploiting gay discrimination to push their agenda.

      Your intentions are good, but as I said, you are exploiting teen victims to legalise something that isn’t even directly linked to their plight.

    • Al B says:

      06:39pm | 07/09/12

      It’ll help those gay kids realise society treats their relationships equal to others in civil marriage at least. It does help normalise a kids self perception. Much of the health problems Wallace references are probably ‘gay self loathing’ related, caused by religious folks often.

    • stephen says:

      07:43pm | 07/09/12

      ‘Gay kids’ ?
      You means toddlers who tiddle their twaddle till tum tums tell all ?

      Kids are not gay, but merry, and long shall they stay that way.

    • gary says:

      06:20pm | 07/09/12

      i could have written those very words luke, albeit a good few years earlier. very eloquent - it’s just a shame that the people who ‘should’ read it, won’t.
      remember, the best revenge is to be happy ... just focus on that, you owe it to yourself - we all do!

    • TheHuntress says:

      06:22pm | 07/09/12

      Nice letter, Luke.

      I’m glad you made it - the world would be a sad place with only idiots like Wallace in it. We can all stand up together and say it’s not ok to make such inane, damaging comments (propaganda is not free speech). Your actions are assertive and clear; let’s fight ignorant bullies such as Wallace and make our world a better place.

    • stephen says:

      06:31pm | 07/09/12

      If you are not in the market for marriage then why feel the need to respond to this ?
      Unless of course your own sexuality defines who you are totally, in which case arguments of the type that the gay lobby’s insistences on equal rights on unions are unsound because gays are unfit, (psychologically and possibly medically) seems to me to be about right.

    • Mike Butler says:

      06:56pm | 07/09/12

      One would have to assume that Jim Wallace (as an SAS commander) must have been some sort of hero in his previous career! I really respect the men of the SAS because as Jack Nicholson said in that famous speech from a “Few Good Men”, someone must stand on the wall to protect us. However, Jim Wallace’s latest affiliations are enough to make a thinking man sick! This bloke has lost the plot!

    • Kaetrin says:

      07:06pm | 07/09/12

      I’m so glad you’re still with us Luke. 

      And because bigoted homophobes like Jim Wallace are drowning out other (saner)  voices, I want to tell you that there ARE Christians who support marriage equality.  I’m one of them.  I hope you have the legal right to marry soon (and I told the Senate enquiry that too).

    • Blair Edgar says:

      07:26pm | 07/09/12

      Well said Luke, a very moving expression of yourself and your courage and belief in yourself which is what all youing boys shoud have…...I also think any politician agreeing to speak at the Conference that Gillard pulled out of should also pull; out until Wallace apologises to the entire counbtry. I refer to Kevin Andrews MP who is schedued to speak. To accept their hospitality at this point in time woulds not be a good move on anyone’s behalf.

    • pa_kelvin says:

      07:30pm | 07/09/12

      Good article (letter0 Luke,One can only hope that the Wallace’s of the world will someday see the broader picture.

    • Doctor says:

      07:48pm | 07/09/12

      I am nearly 50 and have been in a monogamous same sex relationship for 21 years.  I have never used drugs, I don’t smoke, I don’t go to clubs or anything like that.  We live in the suburbs, the same as anyone else.  But according to the so-called “Christians” in this forum (and I see no evidence of Christianity, just judgement and hatred) I am going to die 20 years early because of my “lifestyle choice”.  You people.  Full of hate and righteousness.  Not compassion and love.  People like stephen and Dylan disgust me.  It’s your hatred and repudiation that destroys lives, it’s not being gay that is destructive.

    • xar says:

      07:48pm | 07/09/12

      so glad you are here with us to share your story Luke, the bullies of this world, adult and child alike, need to be told their hate isn’t ok, their actions and words are not ok. We are not fooled by Jim’s attempts to justify his homophobia as “concern for the kids”,  we see his hatred for what it is and we stand beside you to say we wont put up with it.


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