How I reclaimed my full power
A few years ago, I created the ‘Black Australian Model’ project.
Being told by your parents that you should become a lawyer, engineer or doctor is typical in migrant families. But some migrants desire to become fashion designers, film makers and directors.
So I created this project to inspire migrants to pursue their passion for the creative arts.
This involved me organising and taking part in professional photoshoots and publishing them weekly. I was taken completely beyond my comfort zone – wearing tutus, dresses and high heels.
I partnered with various bars in Melbourne, and with the ancient Greek Society. Modelling companies began to express interest. It was a wonderful opportunity to bring different people and cultures together.
Then I received feedback from the HR department of the organisation I worked for that this project was not consistent with the company values and that I should no longer continue with it.
I was shocked, angry and confused. I didn’t know what to do.
As I write this now, I am crying. I now see it was then that I decided to stop expressing myself in the business world.
Without being aware of it at the time, I had decided that who I was was not okay. I suppressed my expression, my creativity and who I truly was.
But I was a flamboyant, black, gay man. I love wearing colour. And yet I was only wearing conservative suits.
So I took my power back!
I did this, not only for myself, but for everyone who cannot be themselves for fear of persecution.
For the Ugandans who, if they choose to be openly gay, would go to jail. For the people in Northern Nigeria and Mauritania, where being gay is punishable by death.
Here I am in Australia, able to freely be myself. And I will not hide anymore.