Local Hero : Addison Barbera
About a month before Addison Barbera told his mum about his depression, he had told his friends and family that he was gay. He reckons ‘coming out’ may have triggered his depression because he was still trying to accept himself.
“I was trying to find acceptance in others to accept myself,’’ he says. ‘‘Today I’m doing pretty good. I’ve been lucky with family and friends [but] I know a few people who aren’t living at home. Their parents have kicked them out because they are gay.”
“Homophobia is a form of bullying. 68% of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender) secondary students experience homophobia within the school community, and 30% of LGBT youth get bullied to the point that they try to take their own lives.”
His experience, which includes the devastation of losing friends to suicide, and knowing that others were going through the same struggle, compelled him to act. Addison became an advocate within his own school community, Craigieburn Secondary College, petitioning the principal directly with suggestions of how to encourage a more tolerant and understanding school community.
Addison became a Founder of SSAFE (Same-Sex Attracted Friendly Environment), with a major
leadership role helping to mentor, support and educate young people within the community around
Same-Sex Attracted and Sex/Gender Diverse (SSASGD) people’s issues.
In 2013, Addison was elected a Vice Captain of Craigieburn Secondary College and continued to work towards social change within Hume while completing his VCE.
Photo credit: Martina Gemmola