Kia ora, Ayubowan, Hello.

I am uncertain where to begin this blog journey but I have finally decided to sit my fine ass down to get something out on ‘paper’. The thought of creating this little platform of storytelling has been on my wee queer mind over these turbulent years of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

These moments of mandatory social deprivation have stripped away my security blanket of avoiding what has truly been brewing in me for most of my life. Whilst I was slightly delighted at the fact that I can have a little holiday, the doom and gloom of this pandemic soon simmered down into the belly of my thoughts – stirring up some familiar anxiety. A type of anxiety I only read in books and saw depicted on mental health awareness campaigns. 

I swear for years I thought that my coming of age was my undergraduate years at University, my coming out of the closet during these years was your textbook coming of age story. And then came March 2020, what I always thought I was destined to do and who I thought I was born to be was completely shredded in front of me. It was a very long and tiresome realization and coming of age, in which I realized we are all not restricted to A moment of transformation, but as humans, we are capable of shedding new skin at each and every turn of our lives.

My intention for this blog is to share my layers, my stories, and my lived experiences. This storybook will have absolutely no chronological order, but I am sure you will clock a theme or two from what I write. I identify as a queer south Asian bi-racial man, who also calls Aotearoa New Zealand his home as an immigrant in this plentiful country. These accounts and shared thoughts of mine will be me sharing rather raw and real parts of me, some of which not even my closest friends know. 

Through this journey I would like to hold just one selfish ambition, to heal myself of trauma that I have retained deep in me. Trauma that I am not even aware of yet, I am hoping that sharing memoirs will be my own therapy so that I can be a better version of myself toward those closest and those who I am yet to meet. 

This is my pursuit of a butterfly effect, here, the blog is dedicated to the voice I wish I had growing up, to all you special people seeking comfort in a common story. 

Nana and Papa holding yours truly, oh if I only knew what was ahead

Nails, hair, hips, pray

*Trigger warning: blades/sharp objects*

There was always something about nail polish that caught my attention. My nana (my mother’s mother) was a fabulous woman whose uniform was her drawn-on black eyebrows and her bold ruby lips. Occasionally she would dip into her assorted collection of nail polish. Whenever her sisters used to visit from the western realms they would stock her up with nail polish and vitamins. 

After her shower, Nana would get her polish out and a handful of cotton buds to catch any mistakes. I would watch in pure awe, this ritual of a glamorous woman, definitely not attainable to a little brown Sri Lankan boy. This little brown Sri Lankan boy would sweat beads even being in the same room as Nana indulging in her glamour, as I did not wish to give my father more hints that I am not like other boys. I had already heard my grand-aunties ‘advising’ my mother and nana that they are turning me into a sissy. 

My mother thought very highly of her aunt’s opinions, so I didn’t want to further add to their file of evidence. 

This particular memory only very recently came out of my cupboard of skeletons. I am finding that since I have allowed my soul to feel more than a very surface level of feeling, the most random instances trigger very particular memories. I can’t articulate which web of thought led to which memory but I hope you can relate. Essentially, I have a very loud mind and I am constantly in a state of being overwhelmed. 


On one particular very humid afternoon in nana’s house, which was perched down a very narrow squiggly lane populated with houses in a collage of pastel colours, I was in need of an afternoon nap. Nana’s room was the coolest (in terms of temperature) so I would often retreat there for a snooze between coordinating some very exhausting play sessions (I am the oldest grandchild). I tossed and turned in her bed but I could not bring myself to doze off. 

I looked up and nanas’ church attire was hanging up by the window, all pressed and paired together with her accessories for the next day. The afternoon sun glimmered through the lace and gave life to the sateen detail in her skirt, it was almost like a wedding dress hung up ready for the photographer to grab the moment before the nervous bride slips it on. 

I wondered, “What nail polish will she pair with it? Surely a deep maroon to contrast the pastel (yes, these were the thoughts of a seven-year-old).” I proceeded to sift through her collection and thought maybe I could save her the time and pick one for her. This was the excuse I had planned in mind if I were to be caught red-handed. 

Since I had come this far, I convinced myself that it was safe for me to try on one of the reds on my own nails. I had absolutely no clue as to how I was going to take the polish off. 

I painted my tiny nails away while I hummed tunes from The Sound of Music. I got off the bed and pranced around in the dark room only lit by what was now an orange hue across the floor. As a kid I developed this habit of transporting my mind and body to otherworldly scenarios where I was the main character in the movie, leading the charge of fellow citizens in song and dance. 

I was snapped out of my dreamscape and sunken back into reality when I noticed my parents had come back from a trip of errands. I scrambled to find a rag to remove the polish while beads of sweat rolled down my back and forehead. My wee gay heart was beating out of my ribs and my palms were no longer useful as I ran across nana’s room looking for nail polish removal devices (I had no idea that the solution was acetone).

The rest of the story is a bit blurry as the anxiety of my dad finding out I wore nail polish scared me to the depths of my being. I vaguely remember using a razor and a blunt knife to scrape it off desperately, after this did not work I grabbed nana’s Bible and proceeded to pray intensely while rocking in a fetal position. 

I prayed the polish away but deep in my heart, I knew I was praying the gay away.

I don’t recall much else, just that I fell asleep curled up in a ball. There are a few memories now with deep holes in them. Moments where I genuinely cannot remember how the story ends. But what I do remember is the deep anxiety and *gay* panic I felt before a pivotal moment.

Non-Binary? Yeah. 

“Kia ora! As most of you know I am Shawn and I sit across the Human Centered Design and equity teams… and *unexpected need for a deep breath* I am non-binary”

Oh god, I have never said that out loud before… 

I scramble together the rest of my sentences and move on with the objective of my day. 

Why does this feel like I have to come out again? Do I make a deal out of it? But I am not like other non-binary folks, I only feel feminine some days, and other days I want to dress like a finance bro.

FYI dear readers, this little brown boy memoir is a recent happening, as in like last week. September 2022. 

I have had more defined waves of this mindset ever since I moved out of home. Removing myself from the cushions of home and into a new city unveiled a heavy shroud I was unconsciously wearing as a barrier to really seeing into myself. Coming out was hard enough, and I was just not emotionally prepared to discover anything more about myself. 

Countless nights I spent thinking, “Why can’t I fit in this world so comfortably like my brother can? Is this world not built for me?”

The confronting but sad reality is that this capitalist society we participate in is not built for those who identify as LGBTQI+ and/or gender-diverse, and there is an even deeper sense of displacement for my fellow BIPOCs who identify as blossoming members of the rainbow community. 

I need to practice what I am preaching here but it is important that we immerse ourselves in places where we as beautiful beings of the LGBTQI+ and gender diverse folk can thrive into an authentic beings just like those who live a hetero-normative white life. 

I have this internal battle now where I am questioning this new discovery about myself – “Am I doing this to be trendy? Are my oppression points at its current state, not enough?”. I haven’t reached a point of solace in this internal conflict yet but I am trying to find solace in the idea that this is a new road on my journey to reaching my most authentic potential. I am rather fresh on this new journey of defining myself against the binary, so I am still in search for….I really don’t know what I am searching for, but I will keep looking. 


7 months ago when I moved out of home I would have never considered wearing velvet-heeled boots, rocking long acrylic nails, and droopy earrings that match my shirt. It’s these little fragments of societal rebellion that have got me thinking a little broader out of the box I was forced into, empowering my beautiful brown soul through it. 

This box is still very tight but I am unapologetically making dents to set myself free. – (bigger text)

I know it is easier said than done but the first step (that helped and still continues to be my cornerstone) is to be meticulous in who your friends are. These friends should be your own little safe haven family. And the rest of it will file in naturally. 

I have set up myself for guaranteed personal growth by surrounding myself with the best of brown excellence and allies.

My mind is always riotous, always scheming, and always debating with its two halves. Before the more masculine thought process took over and I would swiftly dismiss any ‘other’ thoughts that did not align with the hetero and gender normative realms I grew up in. It was somewhat like a good angel and a bad angel on my shoulders. 

They’re both good angels now. Both sides equally contribute to my whole being. 

Hey, I am still getting to know them and will keep ya’ll updated. 

Healing my inner child II

Opportunity. That’s all we need to showcase our superpower and spread our caged wings. 

You cannot expect one to soar in life without giving them the opportunity and the choice to show you their worth. This was brought up at a recent panel where the folks up front were speaking on the challenges of decolonising exhibition spaces and when I tell you I wept, GURL I WEPT. 

This was in the middle of last year when I was 1.5 years into trying to find a job that aligned with what I wished to leave behind in this world. Something I wished I had while I maneuver through this monopoly of life. 

I struggled to find work even with a First Class Masters Degree under my belt. Some folk, especially those who identify with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and Peoples of Colour), just need an opportunity. A foot in the door, a hand to reach out to, or whatever else you might call it. 

This opportunity may be through established programmes that support youth post-study or even leaders in the industry willing to share their knowledge and reach out to the pool of folk who struggle to find their feet in this rat race. It could also be through sustained support while they make their way through their employment because being BIPOC in a system that is built for the white man is no easy feat. 

After two years of tears, anger, medication, meditation, heartbreak, and depression, I made it out.

I am currently employed in a dream opportunity where I am surrounded by brilliant minds with similar life goals. This job has also brought me to a new city where I am growing and glowing into the person I was brought to this earth to be. I am still pushing for equity within the system (oh, I’m pushin alright), it is tiring but the fruits will come to bear.


On the contrary to this, my parents had no such luxury. They did all they could to create this opportunity for me in this country. The land where my roots lay was not left in a state by its colonialists for its people to thrive equitably. So for some, the only way is out.

As mentioned in my last blog, they were thrown into adulthood before they could truly enjoy their youth and “do what people in their 20s do”. They were born into the generation where travel was finally made accessible, but not for my parents. Stepping on a plane was almost like stepping on a stairway to the heavens. 

Me, at 23 having stepped on many a plane exploring the world. This was taken on the Mediterranean shores of Malta, an opportunity I would not have had in my reach if not for the sacrifices of my parents.

I must admit that when I see my friend’s parents who are now CEOs, CFOs, Partners etc etc… I get jealous. Not for the money, not for their lifestyle but for the opportunities their parents must have had that led them to where they are right now. Yes, most of these friends I speak of are white and/or highly privileged in one manner or more which aided them to where they are now. 

I am aware that I do not have the power to alter the past but I am where I am because of the sacrifices of my parents and all I do is for them. To show them that it was all worth it. Yes, it was hard navigating through and building the relationship I have with them today, but… 

Let me do the work now mama and dada, go play amongst what life has to offer. Reap the riches you worked hard for despite the barriers and obstacles thrown at you. 

Healing my inner child

“Healing your inner child”… I heard this term very recently and I haven’t been able to shrug it off. I never imagined my inner child as a different being which probably explains why I have always refused to answer the question:

“If you could say something to 10-year-old Shawn right now, what would you say?”

That kind of inner confrontation sends panic through my body and right through to my soul. It was an existential panic, confirming that I was certainly in no form to answer. I still hold a sense of shame toward my inner child, a feeling that I still have not done enough to make up for what we had gone through in my impressionable years. 

I am not delving into the nuances of healing your inner child, instead, I will break it down in my own thought process and hopefully some of you folk can relate.

I really don’t know what I am aiming to get out there with this particular post but this thought/phrase has been hovering in my peripheral for WEEKS now. 

Prior to moving to Aotearoa to establish more stable roots with my family, my parents were often high-strung, overworked, and unappreciated. They showed up every day for the purpose of leaving my homeland, in order to ensure a more stable future for myself and my brother. I now realise they had a greater sacrifice of forcefully leaving behind their own childhood and having to grow up faster than they expected to. 

Me, fresh off the boat at 12.

At my current age of 26, my parents were married and they had already been blessed by yours truly. I can’t even begin to imagine that responsibility now. The excuse I carry with this thought is that “I want to enjoy my twenties”, and I am pretty sure that resonates with a lot of you folk reading this who were born in my generation (who share the privileges I had)…

It’s almost like because we saw our parents lose their inner child and now we are subconsciously protecting ours. Counter to this I feel like I am protecting this inner child so much that I am smothering it and in turn repeating the same behavior my parents were forced to concede to. 

My parents never had the privilege to dream, my mother who came from a working-class family, was thrown into the role of breadwinner right out of high school for a variety of reasons. My father was predominantly raised by his Nana who only barely scraped by to feed either of them. These two people had no access to a family trust or were a beneficiary of an inheritance or dowry. Aspirations for higher studies past high school were also squashed due to survival instincts kicking in to cater to their own family and also to their future family. 

When my body clock stuck at 18 I had the world in my hands and further education at my doorstep. This is a stark contrast to the options my parents had. Moving our life to the land of the long white cloud almost immediately released a weight that lay on my parents’ shoulders.

I began to see the glee in their eyes for the first time, I saw them dance and twirl more than I had ever seen before. Their laughter and giggles now resonate through our family home, and this shit just warms my heart. 

Even spending time with each other was the absolute last priority for my parents and now it warms my heart to see them go on date nights and even take local dance classes! They worked tirelessly for our future and now it’s time for them to heal their inner child and recover their sacrifices. 

So in conclusion… I am yet uncertain how I might mitigate my own inner child and actions to set him free but I know I want to start with helping my parents do so first. 

This is only part one, I gots more to divulge.

The boy loves Barbies

Where I grew up, a real boy was preoccupied with cricket or other contact sport, was uninterested in anything remotely creative, and was outside with the other boys in the blistering heat while the girls played wedding inside the house during family parties. 

I was the oldest cousin on both sides of my family. I enjoyed the attention while I could until my cousins and little brother started soon rolling in. Being the oldest male in this situation brought over my head unsought responsibility. As I never portrayed the desired characteristics of your average Sri Lankan male, my presence was automatically deprioritised once my sibling and cousins came. But I was still the default blame when someone would get hurt during playtime.  

I was captivated by female cousins’ dolls, playhouses, and their sparkly hair accessories. Every time my parents would announce a visit to my Aunty’s house I would absolutely fizz up with excitement. My aunt (my mother’s brother’s ex-wife) was always such an advocate for me and would love me like her own son, always (I will write more about her soon!). 

Anyway, I would greet the family and rush to play dress-up with my cousins. Much to my family’s dismay I would sit gossiping with Trisha and Tashya while braiding their hair and admiring their Barbie collection. I remember they had a few out to play with and they had seen better days, but a good handful of them would be kept in their original packages, like pristine priceless collectibles. 

This used to be the play room at my Nana’s house, this was taken in 2019 when I last visited home.

Trisha, Tashya, and I would create the most elaborate stories where the dolls would take center stage to play out our scripts. I quickly became a pro hair braider and would soon take my position as lead creative director for all playtime. We’d play on the veranda while the boys burnt off their lunch in the sun throwing around an aged tennis ball with a second-hand cricket bat. I can still hear my nana’s screech as the boys would throw the ball against her gate and it would ring like a church bell on Sunday morning. (For context, My nana, my family, and my Aunty’s family all loved down a very small private lane that only a Suzuki swift would fit into). 

Wow, ok, so another memory just flooded in from when we were visiting some family friends who had two daughters I was close with. We were playing in their room and I remember resisting not being too indulged in their barbie dolls or fabulous accessories. We were on the topic of birthday cakes and they had asked me what kind of cake I wanted and I blurted out:

“A Barbie cake !” 

I still remember the roaring cackles that followed this and the deep pit in my stomach I felt. 

It was the feeling of, oh wow this is not normal, I am not normal, why am I not normal. 

It’s a strange feeling reflecting back on these rainbow fuzzy moments, at the time I would think these were intrusive thoughts and the devil was trying to stray me away from what a real man is meant to be.

I faced a demon 

A couple of weekends ago I faced a demon, a fear of mine that presented itself in a human form. The kind of fear that sent my body into sharp chills, making my fingertips royal blue with shock. It’s funny how much your body stores reaction from a time when the trauma was first felt, and in an instant all of that can come flooding back in. Sometimes even before your mind has a moment to register what had just happened. 

This particular event was somewhat of a boiling point for me, a point where the battle between my sexuality and my spirituality came to a standstill. I was thrown into this sort of dark abyss where I was forced to think about my decisions, thoughts I had been burying away hoping to never stumble upon the roots that it grew. 

Well, that’s enough metaphor to paint a picture, I won’t divulge the details of what happened YET. I feel like I need to unpack the happenings and the feelings in the months and years prior to this turning point before I can truly bring myself to write down what actually happened. I will try to stick to somewhat chronological order with these happenings. The happenings of me first realizing, neglecting, more realizing and more neglect to where I came to that night. 

I can recall my first rainbow fuzzies all the way back to the late 90s or early 00s at kindergarten. I went to a kindergarten that was semi-attached to a church (most of my school life was affiliated with some aspect of a Christian denomination), it was also a stone’s throw away from a train station that ran parallel to the golden coast.  

I still recall the early morning sea breeze as I would get dropped off at school, the crows were just waking up and the air was crisp enough to snap you out of your morning fatigue. My five-year-old body had yet to depend on the fizzle of caffeine, so I had to depend on environmental stimulants (and a lot of it, hence me not being diagnosed with ADHD up until now as an adult).  

I always gravitated to the flock of girlies gathered in the corner engrossed in very critical kindergarten chat. I would always do my best to avoid playing whatever it was with the boys as I didn’t want to get my outfit ruined by sweat and mud before school had already begun.  

I consider this my first rainbow fuzzy. Come to think of it, I would also avoid playing with the boys as I was well aware (even at 4 years old) that these legs were not built for sport and only built for strutting. I did try sport throughout my school life, just so that I could potentially dig into my genes to find even an ounce of sporting ability my father and my grandmother spoke of being in my blood. It was also an attempt in trying to get closer to my own father. 

Anyway, yes, so the rainbow fuzzies. 

I describe this sensation as these little sparkles that fly off your skin when you know you are in the right space at the right time. But at the same time, these were sparkles of nervousness and shame as I would always anticipate being told off for spending too much time with the girls and to go play with the boys. 

So to wrap it up, society said no to these sparkles and thus began my journey to flipping this script on its head. 

Xoxo your friendly neighborhood brown boy 

Finding Identity

I am not sure if most of you readers have kept up with the recent addition to this world’s extensive list of crises, the plummeting of the already fragile Sri Lankan economy. Being a 16-hour plane journey away from where your roots first saw light brings a very complicated relationship with finding one’s identity (well for myself at least). 

There is a heavy sense of guilt that weighs on me. Guilty that I got the chance to move out of the unstable reality of making means in an economy like Sri Lanka’s. 

It’s taken me a couple of days now to get to this point with this particular post, in my mind lies a battle of whether I am worthy of speaking on this topic. Am I worthy to write about this on my expensive laptop while sipping a barista coffee? Does my privilege allow this?

While fighting these intrusive thoughts, I recall some advice that was given to me, that declared something along the lines of…if you are silent, you are as bad as the perpetrator, and politics is personal. It is extremely personal if the current misogynistic, sexist, and racist systems exist only to serve the rich, the man, and the ‘dominant race’. 

What is happening right now on my beautiful little island that comprises a truly colourful culture? A culture that tickles your taste buds with culinary bliss, a culture that will send goosebumps down your spine from stories of pre and post-colonial times, and a landscape that will bring your eyes a tear and jaw to the floor? All of this is currently hanging in the balance of a very corrupt and greedy family who has robbed this precious land of all it has.

It has pushed those already on the edges of society over the edge, they wonder each night if they can get their hands on a loaf of bread or some milk to sustain their health. I am no expert at the math of this but the economy is essentially fucked, and essential resources we take for granted in New Zealand have become so scarce that precious lives are standing in lines for countless hours to accumulate what they can to survive. 

This is not a plea for you readers to send donations to Sri Lanka or a ‘pick me’ plea to highlight this crisis on your Instagram feeds. I write this selfishly, and also perhaps to encourage you to ground yourself to appreciate the basic necessities we have such easy access to. The freedoms we have to pick up a loaf of bread for under $1, the freedom to switch on your bedside table with guaranteed light for your nighttime read, and the freedom of a steam shower after your day at work. 

So maybe as a wee exercise, step away from your screen, take your shoes off, close your eyes and press your feet to the ground. Connect your entire being to the ground, and reflect. Use this moment to be present, and appreciate all that you have. 

And maybe try to practice not normalizing unrest and terror in countries that do not present as white. We can dismantle these subconscious categorizing by simply just talking about it with your family, friends, or to that stranger who always chats while both of you wait for your oat milk coffees.

BOOTS the house down

Alright, let’s do an activity… go to your closet, dresser, shoe rack, or even bathroom cabinet. Now pick out an item from there that you save for those feel-good moments, where when you put it on you feel on top of your game and subsequently on top of the mother-tucking world. I don’t know about you, but this feeling is better than any other type of serotonin I have ever encountered.  

For me, it has to be any of my heeled boots (closed-toed). I am 6 feet tall so I am not wearing these to exactly compensate for any height insecurity, it’s more the clip-clop melody as I kick and prance over a tiled or wooden floor. This paired with a tune that exudes the energy of a queen walking amongst their subjects, *chefs kiss*. 

Coming into my sexuality, and also discovering my personal identity has been shrouded by many hurdles with mental health. I think is it now safe to say that almost all queer people carry a considerable load of trauma and baggage along with them. Throw in battling barriers of being a person of colour and an immigrant, then bob’s your bloody uncle. 

My own coping mechanisms through this enlightenment (trying to sugarcoat it here) have been through my daily routine of dressing myself in the mornings. This masquerade routine has become pivotal in treating myself with care while I navigate this discovery about myself. Nothing gives me more social power than strapping on those heeled boots I spoke of and plugging in my smudged earphones, shuffling through the entire repertoire of Nicki Minaj. I grew into a devoted daydreamer, wishing so hard to not be where I was. I had no idea what I was running from, however, I now realise I was just desperate for the ground to swallow me up and remove me from all real existence. To dip out of the restraints of the colonial and capitalist society we live in. 

I have recently started a new career in your standard capitalist machine of a company. Yes, this was a choice because I am blessed to be in a team where a bunch of epic humans is huddling together to make even more epic changes. The air of an aged oiled machine still leers over me when I am at work; the blue suits, gelled down hair, and loud phone calls. I have had a handful of the up and down looks from these suits. There was once a time when I would take offense to this, however now I take pride in my difference.

I am extremely grateful for my current employment, I believe I am in the right place to do my part in disrupting the system. Let’s normalize by challenging the ‘normal’, how do we expect systemic change when we settle for the typical? 

Below is another excerpt from my thesis I wrote a couple of years ago. This was written around the beginning of my addiction to daydreaming.  

‘As I set foot on yet another commute back home on Auckland’s temperamental public transport, I switch off for the day and prepare myself for this purgatory in-between work and home. Being in this space is what I most look forward to as I reflect on my days’ doing and what lies ahead… I place in my earphones to flush out the noise, both visual and audio. I enter this dream world where I am infatuated with my own cinematic rendition of the commute. At this moment in time, I am the lead, the protagonist, or the antagonist. As I strut my way down Queen Street, I am the most fabulous in this hustle-bustle metropolis. Removing myself from where I am strolling in this lifetime, I ask myself ‘imagine that’ or ‘imagine this’. Imagination and nostalgia are my temporary releases from my more defining obstacles. Obstacles of sexuality, relationships, self-care, family, and education. Whether it be the golden oldies, instrumental, or even Broadway’s finest, I switch my brain into a trance-like phase of ignorant bliss and neglect. Just for a moment.’

March 2019

Trigger warning: terrorism 

This week marked three years since the Christchurch terrorist attack in Aotearoa New Zealand. Words cannot describe (and certainly won’t be able to for decades to come)  the ripple this appalling act has caused the families whose loved ones were stripped from, their wider Islamic community and also to the minority communities that span through the length and breadth of this country.

A common reaction to this event was a moment of realization of ‘wow I can’t believe this happened here’. Regrettably, this is a result of the normalization of events of this nature occurring in the Middle East or non-Western states where war and terror is the only characteristic we see associate them with. While there is a large discussion to be had about the decade’s worth of media and political influence that has led to the current stigma, what I do know is that there is an exponential amount of unlearning and internalizing to process as privileged nations in the Western world.

15 March 2019 to this day still stirs up knots in the pit of my stomach. Coming from a country torn and polarized by civil war, it was a moment of realignment for me. Just like in the movies where the camera zooms out of the main character to show how minuscule they are compared to the rest of this very coloured and entangled universe. 

As a family we made the move to this far away land that promoted greener pastures and happier times, my parents wanted to plant roots in a place where uncertainty was a second thought. Less ‘what ifs’ and more ‘how abouts’. The day of the attacks shocked the very core of our intent. For the first time since moving to Aotearoa, my father told me to be careful out there. At this moment almost all my security was ripped from us in front of our eyes and we were exposed to the realities of the society we live in. I remember crying on my way to my car and trying to pull it together before work. 

Now please don’t get me wrong, this country has given me a fantastic education and also the opportunities to pursue my passions, however, the racial bias and systemic racism that have founded these systems still need to be internalized and decolonized. 

It is appalling that it took an event like this to cause society as we knew it to stop and think. It reflected that behind our picturesque mountains and adventure parks, we have those horrific thinkers on the prowl to terrorize, in our own backyards. It revealed a very unsettling culture of ‘casual’ racist jokes. Stereotypes that diminished the worth of those who did not sit at par with the privileged became humorous talking points in most of our conversations. I have to admit, even I had to deeply internalize my own behavior toward this. 

At the time, as someone who had moved to this country 12 years ago, I had felt (and still do) acceptance by some of my closest friends and teachers. But sadly I had realized for over a decade I had been the target of a casual racist ‘joke’. While these seem harmless, this is where the seeds of hate sprout for those who have not walked the same path as you have. 

I am uncertain what my intention was for this particular blog post, I just needed to vent and share my thoughts, I guess. Although I spent a good few days where I found myself weeping in agony for those lives lost, at the same time I felt proud to be a New Zealander after seeing the outpour of support from people across the nation and from those closest to me, even my lecturers at University. (shout out to the superstar of a lecturer and friend Emily O’Hara – I will never forget your love and support). At these moments where pockets of love emerged from the dark, I knew there was hope for change.  


A common thread in my self-discovery has been my relationship with religion. I was raised almost conservatively Christian, and those values and traditions still dictate my everyday routine. I guess it was all I knew. I say almost because my childhood was based in a society where the Western World was esteemed as the pinnacle of society. 

I had Catholic education for all but two years of my schooling life, and boy do I have a LOT of unlearning and internalizing to do. While I write this I am reunited with waves of anxious memories. I still consider myself a Christian, however, I am still trying to re-invent what this means for me and how it influences my life. I have had way too many run-ins with the occasional ‘Bible-bashing’ situations where I was made to feel less than worthy of any spiritual love.  

Identifying as someone in the LGBTQIA+ community, I have always (and still am) been pulled into two different scopes of spirituality. Christianity has a turbulent relationship with the LGBTQIA+ communities around the world. The battle to feel welcome and loved by the communities we grew up in is greater than ever. Yet I remain conflicted. While Christianity and other Abrahamic religions have given their followers “commandments” to follow which have caused division, they have provided the world with notable traditions that celebrate time spent with those closest to you, which can be beautiful. I can only speak for Christianity but all other religions spread across the globe bear so much power and influence over the population, whether it be through food, dance, fireworks, or song. 

I mean look at me … does this not scream 👠 👜

Through all this beauty and glee I have seen the depreciative implications on those who live on the margins of society. Unfortunately, these belief systems have drawn up boxes for all of humanity to sit in, and the fact is there are those among us who just don’t sit comfortably in these boxes, just for the sake of societal expectations. Personally, at 25, I am on my own journey of understanding my sexuality and gender identity. Wearing a pair of heeled black boots and putting on a bit of sparkle on my eyelids would have been so alien to me a couple of years ago. I recall even the suggestion that I was gay by someone else I would immediately lash out and take offense, it was almost like someone had spat on me. 

I reflected on my spiritual confusion in my Masters’ thesis a couple of years ago, below is an excerpt of how I would try to convince my soul to find peace in the unknown. 

“Purgatory is an apt term to visualize the present ‘in-between’ space, as it is an overlapping of realities. Raised as Christian, ‘Purgatory’ was almost always a word threatened upon me. Not necessarily in a horrific way, it was more a term stipulated unto me to discipline in my primary school years. It was portrayed as a space where you would go if you had unfinished or unfulfilled affairs. In my late teenage years, I hardly had an existential thought, my unfinished business consisted of not having my prized Faber Castell pencils in perfect rainbow formation. Although the dooming reality of floating in limbo for eternity was threatened upon me for these unfinished tasks in life, as I grew into the person I am today I became more drawn to this space of limbo. Being immersed in a space where I was consumed by incomplete doings didn’t seem so distressing. Often described as a state of temporary punishment, the thought dooming limbo seemed exhilarating in the depths of my adolescence. A moment or a walk away from the pressures of the current endurance to survive, perhaps my purgatorial moments have become a key tool in my survival tool kit.”