Queenslander recounts triumph over homophobia in moving memoir

shannon molloy fourteen queensland memoir
Photos: Supplied

People often dub Australia the “Lucky Country”. However for many LGBTIQ youth, growing up around Australia can simply be the luck of the draw and even a fight to survive as they discover who they are in difficult circumstances. Life in many ways can often feel far from lucky for them, as Shannon Molloy recounts.

Unfortunately for the Queensland journalist, he drew the short straw, as Shannon’s memoir Fourteen details with both gut-wrenching, heartbreaking honesty and gentle optimism. It tells the story of his upbringing in a backwards town.

The year is 2000. Set against the dusty background of Yeppoon, Queensland, a fourteen year old Shannon is about to embark on the most trying year of his life.

Commencing Year 9 at a staunchly Catholic, rugby-dominated all-boys school in a homophobic town. As a smaller, effeminate intellectual young man, it’s as tough a challenge as it sounds.

Shannon tells his story in all its most raw details. The physical beatings he suffers in the streets. The verbal taunts in the classroom. The shocking stories of teachers enabling a culture that pushed him to the brink. Shannon’s life was nothing short of hell.

But however dark the stories may be, his journey is always lined with an element of hope. Persevering through the pain, the reader is carried along by the thought that things must get better. They have to, and for Shannon eventually they will.

Family and friends are the core of Shannon’s story as they coach from the sidelines. They’re his guardians in a world they are desperate to protect him from.

A group of his best girlfriends also cocoon him with their friendship. They provide a faithful escape from his stark reality and also ease him through the pain of unrequited teenage heartbreak.

Shannon Molloy’s Fourteen a captivating journey

The story of Shannon Molloy’s first great love is all too familiar and equally moving. But his perseverance to overcome this pain and take a stand demonstrates the resilience within a young man not yet aware of the strength he possesses.

Determined to make something of himself Shannon sets his goals on a distant dream, international exchange is a chance to escape and reinvent himself.

Simultaneously working towards his future goals and his short term chance to host Yeppoon’s first fashion show, Shannon finds himself on a trajectory towards a chance meeting with an Australian soap star that will forever change his life.

Fourteen is impossible to put down. It’s a captivating journey of a young man struggling to come to terms with himself in town not yet ready to understand him.

Ultimately Fourteen is a story of hope and documented proof that things can – and will – get better.

Shannon Molloy’s Fourteen is out now.

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