Ian Roberts: Finding Out

Paul Freeman

adventurous funny reflective fast-paced

325 pages | first published 1997

When Paul [Freeman] and I first seriously discussed doing a book about my life, I knew there was a story to tell, but I wasn't sure I'd be able to be open enough to tell it properly. It's been quite a process of emotional exploration and self-assessment. I've learned a lot about myself through the grillings Paul gave me, and through thinking about the journey I have been on so far.

Many opportunities came my way during much of that journey, such as rugby league, which I didn't seem to have the capacity to enjoy properly. Whenever something was happening in my life that was positive, there always seemed to be a negative overshadowing it, stopping me from being content. In particular, there have been a couple of major disasters that were real eye-openers for me, and which nearly destroyed me financially and emotionally. In the end, though, I was pointed in the right direction by these challenges, towards truth. People and events in my life were like pointers. Although knowing him was immensely painful in the end, Blake showed me what strength and endurance through pain and prejudice really was. Without the love of people like him, I wouldn't be who I am today, and I certainly wouldn't be having my story told.

It took me too long a time to realised that if I had the courage to really like who I was, everything else would fall into place, and I wouldn't keep inviting disaster to happen. I now know that, in the end, whether directly or indirectly, each of us is responsible for a lot of what happens in our life, good and bad, and that it is up to each of us to take control, even when the odds against us seem too great.

It took me too long to realise that I was weighed down by a burden that I shouldn't have had to carry, a problem that wasn't really my problem. I hope that by telling my story I can prevent someone else having to carry this unnecessary burden for too long. I hope it is of help to some kids out there punishing themselves, then they should really be celebrating their lives with as much esteem as everyone else.

Looking back over my life, while doing the book, I realise that obviously not everyone will be as lucky as I have been to have the support and love of a good family to get them through things. But not everyone, thankfully, has their life scrutinised under a microscope. When people always say to me, 'Its been easier for you to come out because of who you are, but I could never do it in my situation,' I laugh to myself and say to them, 'Look, believe me, if I can do it, anyone can!' So I also hope that my story will inspire those sorts of people-especially the people who think their high profile and responsibilities prevent them, because they don't!-to stand up and provide the gay role models that future generations of Australian truly and obviously need.

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