‘My mum passed away when I was about 19 so I had to look after my brother and sister on my own. They were 12 and 13 at the time. I don’t know how I did it. It’s hard looking after teenagers at any age. I managed for about 4 years and then I couldn’t do it anymore so my sister went to live with my family up in the country and my brother went to my dad.’

What do you miss most about your mum?

‘The fact that I didn’t have to be responsible. I miss her all the time. Every day.’

‘The saddest moment in my life was when I went to Long Bay Jail. I spent 2½ years in there. I robbed a 7-Eleven in Matraville. I was an alcoholic and a drug addict.’

What did it teach you?

‘Gratitude. Loss of freedom. It taught me to be humble. It taught me to respect others – that you can’t take other people’s money or belongings. I’ve turned all that around in my life. I now go down to Mathew Talbot every Tuesday and feed the homeless. I give back; try and make up. I haven’t been back to prison since 1999. I intend not to go back. I’ve got 3 businesses and I went to acting school.

‘It’s hard when you’re in prison because you’re judged by the police first and you’re judged by the judge and jury. Then you’re judged by Corrective Services and then you get out of prison and you’re judged by society.’

What was the hardest thing when you came out of jail?

‘Getting accepted again by society – them not knowing that I’d changed. There are some people in society that want help; that want rehabilitation. I’ve learned my greatest lessons from my biggest mistakes.’

‘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.’

 

‘I remember going towards the station and then everything goes black. I had a traumatic brain injury and was in an induced coma for 6 days. They weren’t expecting me to be walking or talking very much at all but miraculously I got out of hospital about 2 weeks later.

‘I was crossing at a pedestrian crossing and was run down by a station wagon. A year and a half later, I’ve finally been able to think about things like this and try and find the person who saved me.

‘The only information I have is that her name starts with an M – Melanie or Melissa maybe. I’m told that she gave me first aid – possibly CPR – and it very well saved my life. She called the hospital in the first couple of days probably 3 or 4 times just to check in and the hospital staff tried to take her name but it all got lost in the paperwork.

‘Not only did she probably save my life on that night but knowing that there was someone like her out there has helped me recover and has probably saved my life throughout this year. It’s given me faith to pull through.

‘I just want to let her know that the person that she stopped and saw that night covered in blood is alive and incredibly grateful. I hope to meet her one day just to say thank you. I’d like to be able to explain it with a deeper meaning but in the end it just comes down to two words. There are a million ways to say it but the message is just “thank you”.’

‘They always thought I was a freak – that I wasn’t normal. I just wasn’t the average Joe as they say. It pretty much lowered my self-esteem and I thought I can’t dress this way or be this way and I have to look the same.

‘I used to live in a country town but now that I’ve moved here I have the chance to be myself instead of hiding away. It’s like I’m free now.

‘You can’t let other people’s expectations get you down. Just follow your heart and what you really want in life. If you want to be yourself then why not do it? Nothing is standing in your way. It’s only yourself that’s stopping you.’