I felt trapped. If I was to be fully myself, I may have ended up in jail, or abandoned by my family.
After months of daydreaming, I decided that next time our family friend – my uncle – came for a visit to Zimbabwe, I would ask him if I could go to Australia to study.
I was so scared about having this conversation. The thought of him saying no was paramount to him telling me I have no life. I felt it would mean that I would have to go through life pretending I was someone I was not and I could not bear it. After three months, I finally heard back from my uncle. He said yes!
“Yes, you can come to Australia, but we’ve got financial hurdles. We have to find you a school, and we have immigration hurdles.”
Nearly two years elapsed from the time my uncle said yes until the time I left Zimbabwe.
Growing up in Zimbabwe and Writing the Letter That Changed My Life
My uncle approached many schools and finally, Kingswood College offered me a part scholarship to complete Years 11 and 12 with them.
Leaving Zimbabwe and Moving to Australia
Towards the end of Year 12, my future was uncertain. I was either to find the money to pay international fees to attend university, or be deported back to Zimbabwe.
Here, I discovered the wonder of having a community of strangers rise up and completely have my back so I could stay in Australia.
Discovering Life in Australia & Getting to University
In one semester, I did an exchange as part of my French studies and lived in France. My time in France was the first time I had to confront my sexuality.
Although I’d previously fantasised about boys, I thought being gay was evil, as that’s the context I’d been raised in. Nobody had talked to me about sexuality, so I was terrified. In France, I had to confront my sexuality constantly, with many instances of different men approaching me.
Back in Australia, I promised myself I would explore my sexuality. Because I was so scared of being found out to be a gay man, my sexual experiences were always done in secret and they were dangerous. At one point, I got very sick and I was admitted to hospital. The doctors did every test imaginable but they had no idea what was wrong with me. I was bed-ridden for three months as I could not move and the pain was unbearable.
Life at University & Discovering my Sexuality
I began working in property law and quickly discovered the competitive and cliquey culture of this department. I would go into work every day with a sense of dread. After two years, I found the courage to leave.
One thing that inspired me to leave was becoming a volunteer solicitor at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. I loved this work, but it was also heart breaking. Every week I would hear life and death stories, and if the asylum seekers were not granted asylum, they could be detained in immigration detention indefinitely. It was here I discovered that I could be a great solicitor when in the right context and environment, and with so much at stake, I worked hard on all those cases.
Becoming an Australian Lawyer
In a law firm, you have people right at the top dictating every aspect of the organisation, and this structure removes your personality. My whole life was about becoming a successful lawyer, and now I was, but inside I felt alone, trapped and scared. I felt dead inside.
Leaving the Law
I googled black models, and the first people that appeared were white people. I read an article discussing the lack of black models in Australia.
So I thought I would start it –
I would be BAM.
Launching BAM was extremely scary for me. I didn’t know if expressing all of myself this way would impact my professional life. It did. I share more about this experience here.
Black Australian Model
I heard my uncle had started a school in Zimbabwe and the kids had used bricks to build their own school.
So, I felt compelled. How could I, a person who had been given the opportunity of a good education in Australia, contribute to that? I wasn’t wealthy, but I knew I had a community of people around me who loved making a difference. And that’s what I tapped into.
After a number of years, and supporting numerous girls through their education, the Gomo Foundation merged with Action on Poverty in 2021.
Launching the Gomo Foundation
In doing so, I discovered the misalignment in values between myself and the company I worked for. I found the courage to let the owner know I wanted to change our working arrangement, negotiating a change where I would run my own business and they became my first client.
Leaving Employment & Becoming a Business Owner
I would have back to back meetings all day, sharing how I would help clients negotiate deals to grow their businesses. I would take notes, go home and open my laptop to begin creating the proposal, but when it came to typing it, I couldn’t. In those moments, I was struck by crippling self-doubt.
My deep denial about my self-doubt and inaction in growing my business led to me borrowing money from my uncle and reaching the credit limit on numerous credit cards. It led to me accumulating debts of over $100,000. I was so scared and filled with shame. I eventually called a dear friend and shared with them the truth about my life.
Learning to Run My Own Business
In choosing integrity, I dedicated myself to paying back every person and institution to whom I owed money.
Integrity is one of my favourite tools I use when coaching clients – and using this tool myself, I began cleaning up every single area of my life. And as a result of this, I was able to invite wonder and freedom back into my heart.