67. Skye Lacy

5 Jul

Skye

In a mere 17 years, Skye Lacy has managed to contribute so much to their school and community. Skye is agender, using they, them and their pronouns. They are an open, engaging and passionate person who attributes their journeys in the past few years and into the future to a wide variety of influences and a person who finds meaning in helping others.

But as Skye says coming to where they are today has been a long and arduous process, beginning when they moved to Victoria from Emerald Beach, a small town on the central coast of New South Wales before moving to Victoria in 2014.

“When I was younger, I had no idea about the world,” Skye says.

They describe moving from a town with “3000 max” people to 4 million as a shock, especially as they had never been exposed to the LGBT community before – something that is now an integral part of their life. They recount using slurs frequently, not knowing what they meant.

“Even when I go back there now, my friends say stuff like ‘that’s so gay’ and it’s confronting,” they say.

Skye cites Minus 18 – an organisation dedicated to LGBT+ youths – and their school counsellor as two things that opened their eyes “the world beyond what [they] knew” and their own gender and sexuality.

They recount becoming aware of sexuality before gender, coming out as bisexual first.

“I vaguely use pansexual now but I go out with whoever I want to go out with at the time,” they laugh.

“Gender came a few years after that, around the time that I cut all of my hair off and started wearing whatever I actually wanted to wear. My views on the binary genders changed to more than just male and female.”

Skye identifies as agender, meaning that they do not associate themselves with being male, female or both.

“If you’re thinking about a line as a spectrum [of male and female], draw a little dot away from the line and that’s of where I am,” they say.

As Skye began to realise and understand their gender identity, they came out to their family.

“My parents are really accepting so coming out to them was really easy and my sister, coming out to her was really easy as well.”

Skye recounts that coming out to others wasn’t as easy though as they were “forced out” of the closet.

“I wouldn’t say that it was a coming out story for the ages or anything but I told a couple of people that I was bisexual (which is what I thought I was at the time) and the next day the entire school knew… It was confronting having everyone know and having that vulnerability thrust upon me but I was at a point in my life where I thought ‘I’m just going to take this in my stride, I’m just going to deal with what I have been dealt.’”

Skye regards coming out and developing confidence in your identity as a long process that they are still going through.

“It’s been years of challenging my ideas on the world. It’s been years of people challenging me for who they think I am and who I think I am. It’s been years of facing stereotypes and years of facing judgement.”

Skye began to work with Banyule Youth Services’ Rainbow Space (formerly known as Queer Sphere) around 2 years ago, attending the weekly/fortnightly meetings, although with a busy year 12 work-load it is difficult for them to attend as regularly now.

Skye has run workshops for the Rainbow Space with other group members. In 2015, they ran one of the first IDAHOT day workshops but Skye says that it wasn’t as successful as they all hoped it would be.

“We tried to cram too much into one day,” they explain.

“The year after that, we did a poetry workshop which is probably still to this day probably one of the most beneficial things I’ve ever done in terms of poetry,” Skye says, adding that they go to live poetry events now as they love it.

“It was really interesting and what [poetry] people came up with on the day was so diverse. It was still a small group but it was such a diverse group of people.”

“We’ve made Banyule a safer space in the 3 years I was there. I know it’s been running longer than that but just in the three years I was there we’ve done so much for the community and I just can’t begin to imagine what we can do in 3 more years.”

As well as being an agent for change in a community space, Skye has been an integral member Viewbank College’s Stand Out group as part of the Safe Schools Coalition. After Skye first came out, they contacted a teacher at the school to put up anti-homophobia posters around the college. The teacher later contacted Skye to ask if they would be interested helping to create a group for LGBTQ+ students, an offer that Skye quickly accepted in the hopes of helping other students like themself.

“If I can do anything, it’s helping people – that’s what I love to do,” they say.

“2015 is when we officially came together as a group and I don’t think we had a name for a very long time. It was just me, Mr Murray and Ms Moss for about six months with the help of [school counsellor] Rose [Gray] with Ms Craze [principal] coming occasionally.”

“We went to our first pride march in January 2016 with a school banner and around 30 people, which was really awesome. We ran our first IDAHOT day [at the school] which by all means was like the first Rainbow Space IDAHOT day – too much stuff on one day. This year’s IDAHOT day ran a lot smoother,” they say.

At this year’s IDAHOT day, there was a pledge against homophobia and transphobia printed on a large canvas that was signed by the whole school, students and teachers alike. The pledge now hangs on the wall of the school library where is can be seen by everyone.

“That being signed by the whole school is a great thing to be left behind and doing Pride again this year with double the amount of people [than last year] shows how far we have come, especially with our principal marching with us in the first year,” Skye says.

“Having the head of the school marching with you at the Pride March is such an awesome experience and having people shouting things from the side-lines, like ‘yeah, Viewbank College,’ [is great because] schools are so well received and there aren’t many schools there,” they explain.

Skye has also recently been fundamental in Viewbank College’s decision to un-gender the school uniforms.

“That started with me around the time I was coming to terms with who I was in terms of gender. I started asking Rose (school counsellor) and the assistant principals if I was allowed to wear the shorts and every time I got told no. Not particularly by Rose, who was very supportive and probably one of the main reasons why I was so comfortable with being ‘out’ at school. It was being knocked back for about 2 months but [the issue] was finally pushed to Ms Craze’s desk and she said yes. I remember being pulled out of class, into the science corridor and Rose was there and she told me I was allowed to wear the shorts to school. It was one of those moments that doesn’t really sink in until later so I was walking home from school and I started crying,” Skye recalls.

“From there I began seeing more people around the school wearing shorts and I thought ‘this is awesome’. It wasn’t just guys, everyone was allowed to wear shorts. That moment of pure relief that I felt really motivated me, I wanted it for everyone.”

“When the Stand Out group began talking about wanting to change the uniform I was like ‘yes, let’s really try.’ I remember Ms Moss creating a Google Doc for us to put our arguments in and she was expecting dot-point arguments and I remember going in there and writing out an entire 1000-word essay on why we should have ungendered uniforms at school, and what that would mean in terms of physical activity and relief, I included as much as I could to make it persuasive – I looked at my persuasive techniques for English,” they laugh.

The petition was then sent to one of the school’s two assistant principals who passed the motion immediately.

“It was really relieving, her saying ‘you’ve done it, we’re changing the uniform.’”

“It was another one of those moments. I went home and called my mum and dad and said ‘listen, look at what I can do.’ It was like I was leaving something behind that everyone else can use. The next step is getting it formally published. We were all ready for a fight and the fact that it came so easily has us on edge as it hasn’t been announced yet.”

Skye cites their biggest achievement as “working hard towards something” but they have small achievements on a day to day basis.

“It could be getting 3 hours of study done without stopping, which is a great achievement for me considering how much my anxiety [can] affect my life.”

“[The ungendered uniforms] stand out as my biggest achievement for the school,” Skye says.

They also do other volunteer work outside of school for Arts Project Australia, a non-profit organisation and gallery that showcases the art of artists with intellectual disabilities. They have been volunteering there for two years, going in on every Saturday from 10am to 12pm.

“I go there and I help with everything that the two workers can’t cover at that time, whether that be assisting artists in getting paper, cutting paper, cutting out something, printing things, cleaning their workspace, getting paints, et cetera.”

This volunteer work has helped Skye to realise a future career path – Art therapy, saying that it is combining their two favourite things, “art and helping [others].”

“It’s not highly paid… it’s not the profession you go into if you want to earn a lot of money, it’s a profession that you go into knowing that you’re going to benefit the world around you. That pretty much explains the kind of person I am.”

Skye says that their volunteer work at Arts Project has taught them many things, like human differences.

“Everyone is the same, everyone just wants love and acceptance, everyone just wants humanity shown to them. I think my idea of disability and LGBT has changed so much having done the things that I have done and having met the people I have met. My acceptance of difference is probably a lot higher than other peoples are.”

Words: Eloise Derrett

Photo: Luca Johns

 

 

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