RU OK Day: Fourteen author Shannon Molloy shares important message


shannon molloy fourteen qpac ru ok day
Images: Morgan Roberts (left), David Fell (right)

Shannon Molloy, the author of memoir Fourteen that’s now an acclaimed stage show at QPAC, has reflected on his harrowing struggle with homophobic bullying at school and said he’s “living proof things get better” on RU OK Day today.

Writing for news.com.au on RU OK Day today, the journalist and author recalled the moment he reached “breaking point” while at school and tried to take his own life.

“If things had gone as I intended on that bleak afternoon in my early teens, when I sat slumped on the bathroom floor, I wouldn’t have lived past 14,” Molloy writes.

While at school, the journalist and author was “mercilessly tormented by the kids at my footy mad all-boys school, in a tiny town in regional Queensland at the end of the 1990s”.

“Someone had penned a graphic love letter to the school’s NRL star, signed my name, and passed it around the room,” he said.

“The teacher read it out loud, word for word, then pointed to me.

“What was left of my miserable world crumbled in that moment.

“And so, once home, in total hysterics, knowing things would get much worse if I ever went back to that school, I decided to kill myself. Fate intervened and I survived, thank God.”

Shannon Molloy is now revisiting that dark period of his life through the theatre production Fourteen. The show, now playing at QPAC in Brisbane, is based on Molloy’s memoir of the same name and stars actor Conor Leach as Molloy.

“So much time has passed since the 90s and so much progress has been made,” he said.

“We’re a more tolerant and inclusive society and gay people like me finally have freedoms that queer people could’ve only once dreamt of.

“But then, we know from statistics that gay, lesbian and bisexual young people are still six times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. For trans kids, it’s almost double that number.”

Shannon Molloy says school is still ‘unwelcoming and unsafe’ for many

Molloy said sadly school remains “an unwelcoming and unsafe place for many kids” and it’s clear “too many are unsupported and go to dark and dangerous places.”

“The regions and outer suburbs are hotbeds of intolerance and misunderstanding, where being anything other than the norm is dangerous,” he said.

In 2016, 13-year-old student Tyrone Unsworth took his own life in Queensland after suffering violent homophobic bullying.

“Help was nowhere to be found, despite alarming warning signs and instances of violence that were ignored,” Molloy writes.

“And yet anti-bullying programs designed to help are weaponised by political ideologues until they’re eventually scrapped. Safe Schools, anyone?”

Shannon Molloy said in Australia today, gay men are still being violently assaulted. A gay man recently went public with a brutal gang assault he suffered on Oxford Street in Sydney’s rainbow neighbourhood.

“Perhaps the fear and uncertainty still felt by so many young people, which pushes them to dark places, isn’t solely about the schools they go to or the towns they live, but about the dangers they see in the world,” Molloy said.

“The horrid debates in parliaments around the country. The nasty words said and written by commentators. The atrocities carried out globally. The push to overturn marriage equality in America. The violence still perpetrated here at home.”

‘I am living proof that things get better’

Shannon Molloy said R U OK Day today is “an important initiative to reduce the stigma that still surrounds mental health issues, to encourage people to speak up when they need to, and their peers and loved ones to make it safe for them to do so.”

But Molloy also urged everyone to “think about how far we still have to go, together, as one community, united, no matter who we are, so that everyone feels valued, included, and safe.”

“I am living proof that things get better and that the darkest day, week, month, or year, in my case, doesn’t last forever,” he said.

He said he hopes Fourteen is “an illustration of how a bit of love and a bit of kindness can instill hope in struggling young people, encouraging them to push on and keep fighting.”

“But at the end of it, when they do survive and thrive, we should work together to make the world they emerge into a better place,” he said.

If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram 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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