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Real Life

REAL LIFE: This Amazing Race contestant is on a mission to inspire fellow LGBTQIA+ youth

''I’m showing others there’s no shame in being you.''

By Claudia Poposki

Dwesmond Wiggan-Dann, 33, from Kununurra, WA, shares his story with Take 5's Claudia Poposki:

The boys began shouting at me as soon as I walked into school.
"Gay!" one of them yelled.
They were pointing at me, but I was confused about what they were saying.
It was my first time in Perth, aged 13, and I had never heard the word gay before.
So later that day, I did some research and as I read the description, I nodded.
"Oh okay, that must be what I am," I said to myself.
Me as a little boy. (Image: Supplied)
I grew up in a remote Indigenous community in the Kimberley.
Gender or sexuality was never discussed with me.
If I wanted to spend time with my mum, my aunties or girl cousins having a yarn, I could.
But if I wanted to go turtle-hunting with the men, I could, too.
I never felt boxed in by them.
In Perth, I made friends within the LGBTQIA+ community.
Even though a lot of them had negative experiences in coming out to their family and friends, I knew I had to do it.
My grandfather teaching me how to fish for turtles. (Image: Supplied)
The next time I went home, I was sitting at the table when I looked up at Mum.
"I'm gay," I told her, rushing my words out.
She just smiled.
"Dwes, I've known since you were little," she said. "I love you so much."
Relief flooded through my body.
My family had known all along and had just let me be me.
My family gave me the room to be myself. (Image: Sarah Duguid)
I think my naivety growing up was actually quite special.
I was never told what a gay person was supposed to behave like or what they are supposed to enjoy.
I could figure that out on my own.
I was so grateful to my parents and community.
There hadn't been a lot of young gay Aboriginals around when I was a kid and I saw that even today young people lacked role models.
So I became a social worker and an advocate for LGBTQIA+ youth.
I travelled around to remote areas talking to schools about my experience of finding myself.
Taking part in a pride festival. (Image: Daniel Njegich)
"No matter what your sexuality is, you just need to be kind and compassionate to those around you," I said.
I applied to go on the TV show, The Amazing Race, so I could show a wider audience that there are other gay Indigenous people out there and was stoked to be selected.
Since appearing on the small screen, I have gained a big following on social media.
I've lost count of the number of young people who have contacted me to say a post has resonated with them.
They often ask advice, too, and I'm always happy to give it.
My fans started calling me 'The Kimberley Icon' and it makes me proud.
I'm thankful to my parents and my community for letting me be myself, and I hope my story inspires others to be themselves, too.

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