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Wearing it purple and growing up rainbow

Telstra News

Posted on August 24, 2017

8 min read

Today is Wear It Purple day at Telstra. We’re wearing purple with pride, to help raise awareness and stop bullying of young people based on sexuality and gender identity.

I was born and raised in rural New Zealand. My high school had a few hundred students and being anything that wasn’t a straight teen was foreign. In school I was bullied and struggled coming to terms with being gay. Over a decade later I am grateful I can look back see it does get better. I really cherish what Wear It Purple stands for. As a teen, the people and environments that enabled me to be myself and made me feel safe were invaluable. My only hope that as the world becomes more accepting and supportive towards our rainbow kids, the next generation won’t have to be afraid to express who they are.

I reached out to other Telstra staffers to share their experiences of ‘growing up rainbow’ and why Wear it Purple Day is important to them. Here are four stories, from four different walks of life.

This is me as a “flamboyant” teenager

Tara’s story

“I didn’t want to be the centre of attention.”

I grew up in a small rural village in England – population 100 people. I knew I was different from as young as 10 and felt more at odds with my peers when puberty hit. There was nowhere to go and no one to talk to about how I was feeling and what it meant. There was one teacher at my small country high school who kissed his male partner in the car park one day. This was talked about for months, and I suspect for many of us represented the only time we’d ever seen any evidence of the ‘gay lifestyle’. That was my first understanding of same-sex feelings, but the way people gossiped made me determined to keep my news to myself. I didn’t want to be the centre of attention but I also couldn’t bring myself to be something I wasn’t.

And then the rumours started – why didn’t I have a boyfriend, why did I turn down those who asked me out, was I scared or frigid? At no point did anyone assume I was gay – I guess because I had long blond hair and wore a skirt so didn’t fit into their view of what a lesbian looked like. I was in a situation where I was popular at high school, with lots of friends and boys who were interested in me, and that turned out to be my biggest challenge. I felt very confused and isolated and my only outlet was to act out at school. I became the disruptor, the challenger and the bully. And that continued until I moved out of home at a young age and was able to find a world where who I was made sense.

Tara’s home village in England

Clinton’s Story

“I was 17 and I had nowhere to go.”

By the time Year 12 arrived I was bursting to admit who I was, but as far as I knew I was the only gay person in the town I lived in. I had wrongly assumed all gay people lived in Sydney (there was no educational programs at that time, or accessible internet). I came out to my mother, just shy of my 17th birthday. I was then promptly asked to leave the family home.

I was only a semester away from graduating at school. I was advised that due to not living at home I was no longer welcome at the school. A teacher advised me to simply withdraw what I had said and to say that I was not gay and the school would happily take me back and assist with repairing the family living arrangements. Needless to say I declined and it was my last day of Year 12.

I was 17 and I had nowhere to go. I move from my home in Northern QLD to Brisbane, where my Aunt took me in. Sadly when my aunt’s partner of 9 years discovered I was gay, he told my aunt that she had to choose one of us as he could not live in the same house as me. I couldn’t bear the thought of being the reason her relationship ended, so I left. I started couch surfing and sleeping in parks. There were other younger adults that looked out for each other.

Eventually I found my voice and my confidence. I created my own “family” of supportive friends. I finally wasn’t ashamed of being gay, that this was the fabulous person that I was and was just meant to be. While my family took many years to “come to terms” with me being gay. They are now supportive of not just me, but also my husband to be.

There may be an LGBTQIA+ person who believes that they are truly alone. Seeing strangers ‘wearing it purple’ goes a long way in saying that you are not alone and you are accepted for who you are.

Luciella’s Story

“The most normal experiences, didn’t feel normal to me.”

Growing up asexual was the strange experience of wondering why puberty never happened – because puberty was supposed to involve a sudden “awakening” where boys would look different to me, and that moment never came.

The most mundane of conversations, and the most normal experiences, didn’t feel normal to me. I didn’t understand what made a particular celebrity “cute” or “hot”, and I found myself mystified by the words and actions of my own friends as they found their first boyfriends and went on their first dates. I smiled and nodded, and kept waiting for that moment when I would suddenly realise what all the fuss was about. A part of me was terrified that the moment would never come.

When I was in my early twenties, I finally stopped waiting. This was when I first learned of the words “asexual” and “aromantic”. Suddenly, I wasn’t alone in my secret – suddenly, there were others like me, both within Australia and across the world.

It is estimated that around 1% of the population is asexual, however many of those people still do not have the words to describe their own experience. Due to that lack of awareness, many health professionals still treat asexuality as a disorder. In the early days when I was still struggling to come to terms with my identity, I sought out a therapist who understood asexuality – and ended up in an argument with the doctor about whether or not it needed to be fixed. I don’t think I convinced the doctor that day, but I managed to convince myself: this is who I am, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Weeks later, I marched with the ‘Australian Asexuals’ at Midsumma, Australia’s Premier queer arts and cultural Festival. This was the first time I truly celebrated my difference, instead of denying its existence.

Luciella at Midsumma earlier this year

Ross’s Story

“My parents and family are supportive of who I am”

It took me a few years before I realised I was gay and came out to myself. To be honest, coming out to my parents wasn’t as hard as it’s made out to be on TV. Instead, there was lots of hugs, lots of “We always knew”, and after that moment nothing really changed. It paved the way for my younger sister to come out a couple of months later, which, was a little strange for me at first – one rainbow child was big enough, but two? Like for me, this news didn’t change anything in my household other than everyone knowing the truth and it was so liberating.

I thought it was a sign of the times, that things were getting better for LGBTQIA+ people, but I’ve learned that other people aren’t so lucky. I’m very grateful that my parents and family are supportive of who I am and it isn’t something I take for granted. I never had to fight for acceptance, I never got picked on in school (I was the first openly gay school captain). I’m aware my story isn’t a common one. In my own way, I’ve tried to help others who are still in closet. I’ve tried to lead by example and confidently express my identity in the normal way I feel it is.

In my career, I’ve never had to hide who I am, or my partner, and my sexuality and relationship has never been something I’d had to apologise for. I’m proud to work for a company that embraces who I am, for management that supports who I am, of my wonderful partner Brandyn for constantly inspiring me, and of myself for trying to be someone else’s rainbow on their stormiest day.

Ross and his partner Brandyn at Midsumma earlier this year.

At Telstra, we’re passionate about creating an environment that’s inclusive and supportive; a place where everyone can truly be themselves. We are proactive about making sure our workplaces give our people the chance to shine. We do this with specific practices about diversity, fairness and flexibility. We encourage all our people to be active champions of equality and inclusion. 

Click here to find out more about diversity and inclusion at Telstra.

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A Real Housewives Christmas

Telstra News

Posted on December 9, 2016

2 min read

Real Housewives fans are counting down the days until the premiere of the Real Housewives of Sydney in 2017. We caught up with Nicole O’Neil and Melissa Tkautz to find out what’s makes Christmas magical to them.

Nicole O’Neil

Christmas for me is steeped in a rich history and tradition. Having a Lebanese father and a Swedish mother, Christmas has always been an exotic blend of magical moments and the fusing together of many different cultural traditions.

Three things that I find magical about Christmas are sun, sand and sea. Living in London for the last 6 years means that I’m accustomed to a lower climate, so coming home to the Sydney heat for Summer is so special as it brings back good memories of my childhood growing up in Sydney. Traditionally we have a big Christmas Eve dinner at home and then head to Palm Beach for Christmas Day, where we spend the day, eating, swimming in the sea and soaking up the sun on the sand- my idea of the perfect Christmas, a day spent with family, friends, great food and of course lots of presents!

Melissa Tkautz

Christmas is the most magical time of year and for me there are three thing that make it special. Firstly, I love how everyone makes an extra effort to bring joy to others through messages of love, food, decorations, cooking and gifts. Secondly I love that everyone focus’ on family because that is all that really matters. And finally I love Christmas because it gives us a chance to reminisce, watching old movies and reliving memories with friends and family….Christmas is just the best!

 

The Real Housewives of Sydney will screen on Foxtel’s Arena in 2017. 

 

This holiday season’s Hottest Entertainment Bundle comes with Foxtel Entertainment Package included. 

Things you need to know: Foxtel from Telstra: Service not available in all areas or homes. Non-standard installation fees apply. You need an eligible Telstra Home Phone, Post-Paid mobile or home broadband service on a Single Bill or active Telstra Pre-Paid Mobile or Mobile Broadband Service.

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What’s on my phone: Jordan Stenmark

Telstra News

Posted on November 16, 2016

1 min read

Our phones are more than just communications devices. The apps, photos, music and more that we put on them are a reflection of, and extension of who we are. This week, Jordan Stenmark, model and mentor on Australia’s Next Top Model shares his must-have apps.

ESPN – As huge sports fans it keeps us update to date with all the sports around the world.

Heart Watch –  It’s a great way to monitor everything you’re doing from sleep to exercise.

Snapchat – Who doesn’t love a face swap!

Magic Sea weed – Offers up long range surf reports from thousands of beaches across the globe.

Live Traffic –  Best way to be on time – it gives live traffic updates with cameras footage from all over Sydney

The finale of Australia’s Next Top Model airs on Foxtel’s Fox8 Tuesday 7:30pm.

You can follow Jordan and his twin brother Zac’s adventures on Instagram @jordanandzac

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Best of the web – Pixel – A phone by Google

Tech and Innovation Devices

Posted on November 2, 2016

1 min read

Recently the Pixel, made by Google launched in selected countries. Telstra is the exclusive telco partner here in Australia and we couldn’t be more excited.

Since Pixel’s release, early-adopters all over the globe have fallen in love with the device and it’s game changing features.

Take a look at what everyone is saying about the Pixel and Pixel XL, A phone by Google.

 

I’ve been consistently surprised at how accurate its voice recognition has been…” – Engadget 

 

This phone’s camera can haul ass.” – Gizmodo

 

 “It’s just good to note that at it’s first time at bat, Google hit a home run.” – The Verge

 

“In five days of testing I’ve experienced no lag across the phone” – The Telegraph

 

 

Sold on the new Pixel? We caught up with Shane from Google for a hands-on during a Facebook Live stream. Check out our video above.

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