A lot has changed for the queer community in Australia, those who identify as LGBTQIA+ have seen a greater shift towards more inclusive practices, community awareness and social norms of acceptance. BCD understands the importance of learning directly from our customers, listening to their experiences and stories, and building a greater sense of belonging in the community through one on one support services.
Through sharing one of BCDs customers’ stories, we learn how Cece is no longer shy to identify as LGBTQIA+ and shares how she is leading the way in spreading love, acceptance and her true colours, in an ever-changing world.
Colours of the Rainbow, by Cece
As someone who is living with a disability and identifies as LGBTIQA+, being myself is sometimes a challenge and some days are tougher than others. There are days where it is dark and blue and others it is bright and yellow.
I come from the Southern Highlands, you might have come across me in Bowral’s High Street shopping precinct having a coffee or at the Highlands Marketplace Shopping Centre getting supplies for my next outfit project.
But my free spirit in the community wasn’t always like this. For me, this journey began long before I joined BCD as a customer, but having the right support that is warm and friendly helps to make the journey easier.
I was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) at an early age and felt that I wasn’t given the support or chance to succeed in life or excel in a career as I was seen as different and felt socially out casted. Education and training were a challenge, and with little support for someone who didn’t really fit into the mainstream schooling box, I often felt like I was speaking another language and that no one around me understood how to help, it was a new colour they had never seen on a rainbow before.
Change is not my strongest suit and comes hard, for someone who is on the Autism Spectrum they heavily rely on routine and things that are familiar and constant. When I entered into the world of the NDIS and was bounced around from provider to provider as they didn’t want to do one to one support, I once again felt lost and let down by the system. Then I joined the BCD (Better Care Delivered) customer family in 2018 as they were able to support me on my journey the way I wanted and the way I needed with one to one support services.
At first I was shy, quiet, and at times anxious and fearful of the world around me and the judgement of my choice to transition from being a male to female and how I fit or belonged in the community I lived in. At the time, no one, even the home care workers knew of my transition and I played two leading roles in life, one as Ronald and one as Cece. It felt like I was hiding and keeping my true colours and being out of sight and under the radar, at times I didn’t even know who I was anymore.
In 2020, I decided to build the courage to rip the band aid off and come out to one of my care workers and confide in them, I finally lifted a huge weight off my shoulders that I’ve had to carry for so many years simply by sharing and saying it out loud. I felt heard, accepted, and liberated.
From that day I pressed on and built up my confidence to live and lead my everyday life as Cece. I no longer hid in the dark and started to go out in the community at parks, gardens, cafes and shopping centres with the support of a care worker and then on my own. My true colours and being was lit and began to shine.
A pivotal memory for me was at Tulip Festival in Corbett Gardens, I came dressed in a colourful ensemble and achieved a lifelong dream of wearing what I wanted, as who I wanted, on my on terms without worrying or thinking about what others thought of me. I felt bold, bright, colourful and stood out from the crowd with a splash of yellow, I was my own sunlight lighting the path ahead.
I’ve been proud to be with BCD as a customer over the years as I have grown and changed from that person who was once shy, quiet and often anxious to someone who is confident, out there, loud and proud and is not afraid to show off my true colours.
Follow Cece’s journey at @ceciliajaner