Forty Years On

In November 1969, as we put our pens down at the conclusion of our Higher School Certificate Examinations, the group of people with whom I shared the experience of journeying from childhood to adulthood – my high school classmates – went our separate ways.

Last Friday, about 60 of us gathered in Sydney as we have done a few times since our school days.  We had last gathered 5 years ago and it was at that reunion that my former schoolmates finally got to see the essential me.

During my school days I felt I had this terrible secret that I couldn’t let anyone discover so my life was spent just trying to blend in – to be invisible and draw no attention to myself.  (I’m aware that many T folk have  memories of a horrid time at school).

As I entered the venue I was warmly greeted by a large group of men – for I had attended a Christian Brothers School.  Time has been kinder to some more than others.  Some I barely recognised while others looked exactly the same.

A couple of our cohort had died in the 5 years since our last gathering and I think that about 7 have died since we left school.  And to think I came so close all those years ago to joining the dearly departed.

A number of us now have grandchildren and talking to the other grandparents there, we all appreciate the joy that our grandchildren bring us.  

Among our group there are many doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, IT folk and other professionals.  What is most satisfying is that so many of us came from working class and lower middle class families.  But the thing is, most of us now recognise that true success lies not in material wealth but in having sound relationships with our families and friends.

A professional photographer was hired for a Class Photo.  We lined up as we had done each year at school  –  tall ones up the back, short ones sitting cross-legged on the ground in front and the rest of us arranged in tiers in between.  I’m looking forward to receiving my copy in the next few weeks.

I’m sure there were one or two present who do not approve of my direction in life.  They didn’t however come near me.  The overwhelming majority treated me with respect and were very warm towards me.  I was able to spend most of the time joking and reminiscing about our school days and having the occasional chat to others who just wanted to know more about transsexualism and how I dealt with it.  I’m OK with that – it’s my form of activism.

We partied on until the wee small hours and I returned to my hotel glad that I had attended and with much appreciation for my old school friends.  I’m already looking forward to the next reunion.

classphoto

In 1964 at the start of high school

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