RAMONA WORKSHOPS: PERIOD WITCHES

Growing Up Queer

Writing by Lucy Hotchin // Photograph by Sandra Lazzarini

I’m 26 years old and identify as a queer cis-female. However, growing up I was straight, then bi, then gay, then straight, then gay, then bi and so on…

I grew up mostly in Melbourne, Victoria, in the eastern suburbs; I went to a private high school and then a public one, then onto university and basically seeing if I could find a way to study forever.

Growing up, I was rather naïve in believing that everyone was exactly the same as me; especially going from primary school to high school, it was a rather huge shock to discover that not everyone loved music and art as much as me, and not everyone didn’t actually like sports and everyone wasn’t interested in being friends with each other.

I was incredibly naïve when it came to assuming that everyone generally always told the truth and I guess I went along with what everyone else was doing because I assumed that was just how everything was. I believed that sex was invented when I found out about it when I was 11, I also believed that Posh Spice was an imposter because I didn’t know she was in the Spice Girls until after I’d learnt about the “original” members; I still can’t picture her as an original member. I kissed lots of boys in primary school– we would purse our lips and hold them against each other for as long as we could while other kids timed us on their watches; I did it because I thought that’s what everyone did. It didn’t make me feel all tingly or funny inside, it was just something I could do for the longest; I got called a slut for this. I’d confided to some girlfriends in year 9 that I had started masturbating and of course they told some other friends and from their reaction I assumed that masturbating was dirty and gross. I didn’t meet someone non-hetero and “out” until the later years of high-school, and by then I had fallen in love with many boys and had my heart broken truly and thoroughly. I was also growing up with a biological vulnerability to mental health problems. I was diagnosed with a personality disorder when I was around 22, but looking back, I was probably struggling with certain traits from around the age of 14.

Look, let’s just acknowledge that going through puberty and the teenage years are going to be intense and fraught with high stake emotions and changes that you did not predict or possibly want. But we all have to go through this stage of our lives and it’s probably not going to be the greatest time of your life, but it has to happen.

For me, growing up queer didn’t really start until I was 21 and at university; it doesn’t happen this way for everyone. A lot of schools are fraught with bullying, with the not so nice opinions that if you aren’t “the same” as everyone else (which generally means straight, cis-gendered and more often than not, white) then you might get picked on. However, I remember SO MANY good times I had with friends; I was a musician, an artist, an actor, and a writer. I had my first real kiss and it was with a boy, and it was still incredibly special. I remember my friends with fondness, and my enemies with disgust, but also with a sense of superiority because I made it and I’m out and proud and I have an amazing group of friends and a wonderful family and a greyhound who loves me unconditionally.

I guess I’m still growing up and learning about myself; specifically as a queer female, you might always be learning. If I could offer any advice, it’s to stick with your friends, be kind, and make sure you’re honest with yourself and value who you are, because you are wonderful and incredible and powerful. Be honest and kind and be yourself.

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Sandra Lazzarini

Sandra Lazzarini is an Italian photographer who loves flowers and photographing girls with their faces covered or with their backs to those who observe them. Find her on her website and Flickr.

Lucy Hotchin

Lucy Hotchin grew up mostly in Melbourne and spends most of her time now hiding out in her room with her life partner greyhound named Roy. She has a Bachelor in Performing Arts and plans on being a student forever. Besides her love of all things dog like, she spends time writing, reading, watching tv shows, drawing/painting and being a homebody. When she leaves the house you may find her directing, writing or acting in the odd piece of theatre every now and then, working as a Barista and drinking too much coffee or studying Creative Arts Therapy where she hopes to continue on into Masters. She is an advocate for mental health awareness and destigmatisation as well as an avid feminist and equal rights advocate. She is queer and a lover of all people who enjoy a coffee and a chat, most of her time is spent managing her mental illness and enjoying the small things and writing sentences that are maybe too long.

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