“Why do you tell people that you’re gay?”
That was the opening line of 17 year old Rich Bartlett’s speech during his school assembly this week, referencing a question he often gets asked.
“For some, it’s been a way to shame me, a reflection on the stigma our society puts on the word ‘gay’. Yet for others, this question comes from a place of love and concern,” he continued.
It was during the school's inaugural Pride Week that the Melbourne Grammar vice school captain used his platform to deliver an emotional coming out speech in front of his entire cohort.
However Bartlett said publicly acknowledging his sexuality had been a struggle in the past.
"“I remember the first time someone asked me why I talked the way I did, I suddenly became very conscious,” he said in the seven minute video uploaded to YouTube.
“Actions that I’d previously taken for granted like walking, something we normally do without hesitation, were on my mind every second of the day.
Watch: The full speech. Post continues after video.
“It was an exhausting process that I kept up in years seven, eight, and nine... By the time I reached year 10, the constant charade that was my life had become too much, impacting my physical and mental."
It was learning more about history of the gay community and the atrocities people had endured simply for being different that eventually convinced Bartlett to do something about it, to prove their actions were not in vain.