Dylan Bendall is a rising star on Brisbane’s drag queen circuit – and his father, Gavin, could not be more proud of his out and proud 19-year-old son.
But the Rockhampton dad just wishes the Safe Schools Coalition (SSC) program had been up and running when Dylan was struggling coming to terms with his sexuality during his school days in Queensland’s beef capital.
“My wife was the first one he came out to… but it would have been nice to have someone for him to talk to at school,” Gavin told The Morning Bulletin.
“At school he did sort of cop a bit of bullying at first. (As a parent) you just felt helpless and like you couldn’t do anything.”
The SSC has been the subject of much debate since Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ordered a review of the program which resulted in several changes, including restricting it to high schools only.
While an avid supporter of the SSC, the changes don’t sit well with Gavin.
He told The Morning Bulletin he was frustrated that Mr Turnbull had bowed to the wishes of the ultra-conservatives on the Liberal Party backbenches and believes the original anti-bullying program should not have been watered down.
“My son had a lot of friends that suffered with depression because they couldn’t be themselves,” he told The Morning Bulletin.
“I know Dylan had to do a lot of Googling to find anything out (about his sexuality). There is no sex education for gay and lesbian people at school.
“They can get all the wrong information from Google. It would be a lot better if there was someone they can turn to.”
While the SSC endeavours to address the issue, Gavin believes it should be compulsory in all schools.
He also is adamant that the government should stand up and be counted regarding marriage equality so he can one day see Dylan walk down the aisle.
“(My wife) Rayleen and I will march at every opportunity we get to support Dylan and support the other members of society.,” he said.
“It just seems wrong and completely out of balance.”
It is easy to see why Dylan told Q News his parents were his biggest supporters.
“They’re loving it. I think they’re my greatest fans,” he said.
In the guise of his drag persona Gayleen Tuckwood, Dylan was a star attraction at Club-Rok’s 9th birthday celebrations at Flamingo’s on Quay on March 12.
Photo: Contributed/courtesy The Morning Bulletin