Michael (he/him) is a recent international graduate and has been working in the university and youth space for two years, mainly advocating for international students and LGBTQI cohorts. He likes living a peaceful life in Boroondara with his cat.
IDAHOBIT is a very powerful day for me. It’s a day where I can really stand out and voice my pride for myself and others who are standing behind us. It is a day for embracing everyone for their unique and valuable selves.
In Melbourne, this day also means a lot to multicultural immigrants and international cohorts. It is a reminder for us all to ensure we make them feel safe and welcomed, where they can all be their real selves, and celebrate equality and diversity.
When I came to Australia three and a half years ago for my studies, completing my degree was my only goal. I did not expect to be recognised and welcomed as a gay person. I still remember the first time when someone asked me if I was gay and I immediately said “No, I am not gay! How did you know?”
I came from a country where LGBTIQ+ people were bullied. I was so sensitive and ashamed to talk about sexual orientation until I joined an NGO (non-government organisation) which supports international students to share their authentic stories.
I was impressed by other likeminded students who shared their stories about coming out and fighting for their future and self-identity. I could not believe they were so brave to share their own story with the public, and I now know there are other more beautiful things that I can chase here in Australia rather than just complete my degree.
I chose to be a real person, instead of the person my parents wanted me to be. The transition from rejecting myself as a gay person to being proud of who I am took two years. I stood on the stage last year and shared my own story for the first time.
This is a result of the endless support from the LGBTIQ+ community, the university and other organisations. Nowadays, I am very proud of my identity and am always seeking opportunities to support other young people. I am also a finalist for the LGBTIQ+ Person of the Year in the GLOBE Community Awards.