Activist Rodney Croome pens moving letter to younger self


Rodney Croome writes beautiful letter to his 16-year-old self
Images: Supplied

Tasmanian LGBTQIA+ rights champion Rodney Croome has reflected on his years of activism in a powerful and personal letter to his younger self.

ABC Radio Hobart invited the longtime gay rights campaigner to write and read out the personal letter for a regular segment with presenter Ryk Goddard.

Tasmania was the last state in Australia to decriminalise homosexuality, in 1997. The island state also criminalised trans people with laws against crossdressing until 2000.

For years, Rodney Croome and others were at the forefront of that fight for change.

In just one generation, the island state has gone from having the worst LGBTQIA+ human rights laws to the best.

Now, in the letter to his 16-year-old self, Rodney vividly recalls the “anxiety and fear” of growing up and wanting to leave Tasmania.

“For me, that desire to flee was forty years ago. But I remember it like it was yesterday,” Rodney writes.

“The prejudice you see around you is even deeper and crueller than you fear.”

But as the gay teenager would grow and learn, he’d make a crucial decision, Rodney writes.

“You will make the decision that Tasmania is too important to leave behind,” he wrote.

“Your parents are ready to support you. So is everyone [who is] tired of grim history ruling our lives.”

Rodney warns his younger self that he “won’t pretend it will be easy”. But he recalls that when “you take on the prejudice, it dissipates faster than you could’ve imagined.”

“Like an old and weary dictator, it wants to be overthrown,” he said.

Today, Rodney explains, he lives in “a Tasmania which gay people move to rather than away from.”

In 2015, Rodney Croome was named Tasmania’s Australian of the Year in recognition of his decades of work on LGBTQIA+ rights.

Scroll down to listen and read Rodney Croome’s letter in full:

Rodney,

Are you watching the ferry leave from the mouth of the Mersey again?

You can see it from your bedroom window and you wish you were on it.

I know because I am your future self.

For me, that desire to flee was forty years ago. But I remember it like it was yesterday.

I want to let you know you don’t have to feel that way.

You shouldn’t sacrifice another minute to anxiety and fear.

I live in a Tasmania that has some of the best laws and attitudes on gay people, not the worst, like yours.

I live in a Tasmania which gay people move to rather than away from.

You know that competition you won, the one about writing a letter addressed to your grandchildren to go in a time capsule?

You thought, well how stupid will we all look when it’s dug up.

But now gay people can marry and raise families. I can’t say if you’ll have grandchildren. That’s in my future too. But I can say it’s quite possible.

What you will find hardest to believe is that you, working with many others, helped make all that happen.

You will read, you will meet people, you will grow. And you will make the decision that Tasmania is too important to leave behind.

I won’t pretend it will be easy.

The prejudice you see around you is even deeper and crueller than you fear. Hundreds of years of history is behind it.

But there is more love and friendship than you realise. Your parents are ready to support you. So is everyone who is tired of grim history ruling our lives.

And when you are ready to take on the prejudice, you will find it dissipates faster than you could have imagined.

Like an old and weary dictator, it wants to be overthrown.

 

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Right now, your mind is probably on something, or someone else, that guy at school who is so handsome, sporty, kind and a little bit sad.

He’s not meant for you. Nor is the next one, nor the one after that.

There will come a time when you meet the man who is, and you will wake up every morning wondering how it is possible to be so happy.

He and you will come back here. (Yeah, I was surprised too.)

You’ll hold hands as you watch the ferry slip out of the river.

I’ve probably said too much already. But before I go, here’s three more pieces of advice.

Write down those stories your grandparents tell when you’re travelling with them through Tasmania. One day you’ll realise they are the most precious things you possess.

Buy every book you can afford and read from a new one every day. It’s the best antidote to the tedium of work and the pettiness of the world.

Finally, always walk the paths most difficult, to the destinations most distant. That is how history is changed and where real joy awaits.

For the latest LGBTIQA+ Sister Girl and Brother Boy news, entertainment, as well as community stories in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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