‘I last saw my brother at Manchester airport 20 years ago when I was 7 years old. He was leaving for Australia. I clearly remember giving him a hug and saying goodbye and that we’d see each other again.

‘We communicated by hand written letters over the years. All his letters were always so loving and positive. Whenever he used to phone at Xmas and would say goodbye to me, he could barely talk he was so upset. I really remember not understanding why he was so sad. I think it became easier over the years not to make that call and just to cut himself off a bit.

‘He didn’t phone at Xmas in 2003 and we got a bit worried. He’d been travelling around Australia and promised he’d be better at keeping in touch. He was always at this one address at Stanmore so we always knew we could get hold of him there.

‘Shortly after that, I got the last letter I’ve ever had from him. It was really sweet. He said never to worry about him and he’s very happy. I carried on writing after that but we didn’t hear anything for a while.

‘In 2009, I got every single letter I sent him to Stanmore sent back to me unopened, altogether in a big package.

‘I came out last year for 2 months to look for him. I’ve contacted the Salvation Army, Missing Persons Register, Red Cross. I went to the electoral roll and visited every Martin Roberts in Sydney. I wrote to every single Martin Roberts across Australia. I’ve checked the death register. Nothing. Immigration says he hasn’t moved on so I know he’s here.

‘I’ve given up my life, my job, my partner, everything to come out here again to look for him. Police have confirmed there is a Martin David Roberts with his date of birth listed to an address in Newtown. That’s the best news ever because it means he’s still alive because there is a part of you that starts thinking something awful happened to him.

‘He was seen 4 months ago at Newtown station and around 9 months ago at Town Hall station and apparently he’s a bit of a regular in pokie rooms around Newtown.

‘I don’t want to judge him for anything he’s been through. I don’t need a justification or a reason. None of us do. I just want to tell him that I love him and that he’s loved and missed.’

PLEASE SHARE TO HELP FIND MARTIN. IF YOU KNOW OF HIS WHEREABOUTS, PLEASE CONTACT NEWTOWN POLICE OR HIS SISTER VIA http://www.facebook.com/helpfindmartin

‘Families come in all shapes and sizes. Gay-parented families are just one type of family. We should celebrate families for who they are – a group of people that love one another and care for one another and are sometimes raising children together and sometimes not raising children together. For me that’s actually the thing that government should be trying to support and enable is that loving connection that gives people health and wellbeing and a sense of belonging and not trying to make judgements about what type of family is best or isn’t best. I think that all families are doing their best and none of us are perfect.

‘Some of the most powerful advocates of marriage equality are parents of gay men, lesbians and transgender people. They’re incredible advocates when they say they don’t want anything except for their son or daughter to be treated like everyone else. Every story helps with the realisation that this is a very normal thing and the world isn’t going to collapse. All that’s going to happen is that people that love each other can get married and just get on with it.’

 

‘Salvador Dali said something interesting. He said, “The only difference between me and a mad man is that I’m not mad”. Agreed he used a term that is now offensive to people but his point is well taken that you can be as eccentric as hell; really eccentric to the point that colleagues and friends call you weird, right? But that’s not mental illness.’

Would you consider yourself eccentric?

‘Oh, hell yes! I cultivate it. I do it deliberately.’

Why is that?

‘People remember.’

 

‘I used to be a high school teacher in maths and geography. 30 odd years ago I went to England and I was teaching over there for a long time – long enough to get married, have a daughter, get divorced. You know…the usual story. When I came back they’ve changed the rules on me. I’m no longer qualified. They consider me a new starter. I haven’t got a specialist teaching qualification so despite the fact that I’ve got 30 years’ experience including head of department I can’t teach without going back to uni for another year. I can’t afford that so I’m making scarves to keep myself above the streets rather than below them.’

‘If I sell a few scarves a week, I’m happy. The first couple of scarves buys all the wool I need. The next one buys me food for the week and the next one puts some petrol in my home.’

What’s been your biggest challenge in life?

‘Doing my first degree when I was 38 which I loved and sailed through and I got a first. I studied Drama.’

What advice would you give to your 20 year old self?

‘Aim for RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London) – do the degree early! That is where I wanted to go but my parents wouldn’t let me. I became a registered nurse when I was 18 instead.

‘I’ve only stopped performing on stage in the last five years because I’ve had a lot of problems with my teeth and I won’t go on stage with no teeth. I can’t annunciate properly but I’ll have new teeth in soon.’

Will you go back to stage then?

‘Only to do cabaret – I love cabaret. I didn’t find cabaret until I was actually doing my finals project. I love singing and dancing. I shall return!’

What’s the best thing you’ve learnt about yourself while you’ve been studying psychology?

‘I’m not that different to everyone else. When I was young I had traumatic experiences. I have a complex traumatic disorder and so for a long time I was such a depressed person. I’d get anxious and feel like I was so weird and so different and didn’t fit in.

‘But just about everyone has their own issues and problems. It’s just about how those problems combine together and that means that some people are depressed and some people are just sad sometimes.

‘I think everyone’s a little socially anxious. I’m probably more socially anxious than a lot of people I know. In the same way I would reserve judgement when meeting someone else, I try to reserve judgement about their judgement. I try to assume they’re not judging.’