• David Koutsouridis is taking part in Tough Mudder to raise funds for LGBTIQ+ young people. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
After coming out to his family, 27-year-old David Koutsouridis decided to take part in Tough Mudder, hoping to raise funds for LGBTIQ+ phone counselling service Switchboard Victoria.
By
David Koutsouridis, Presented by
Samuel Leighton-Dore

18 Oct 2019 - 10:14 AM  UPDATED 18 Oct 2019 - 10:23 AM

I was in denial about my sexuality for a long time.

A few years ago I started coming to terms with it, and it soon became apparent that I had to tell the people I cared about most. I felt like I'd been living in the shadows for so many years - it was time for me to come out and tell people.

So, earlier this year I came out to my family, one by one. Mum took it really well. My siblings were great. However, I was most nervous about telling my dad, a pretty traditional Greek man. He was the last person I sat down with, purely because I was so afraid of telling him.

However, recently I've been trying to live by a saying: "If you think you can't, then you must."

It might sound corny but in that moment, I didn't think I could do it, so I knew I had to.

I needed the words to come out of my mouth before my brain had a chance to stop me.

I needed the words to come out of my mouth before my brain had a chance to stop me. I told him there was something he needed to know - that I'd been dating guys. At first, he thought I was joking. He paused and smiled. Silence.

So I repeated myself, and then it dawned on him. That's when he reached out across the table to shake my hand, saying that so long as I was happy, he was too. Then we had a little cry together in a very public space.

Now, I know I'm in a lucky position, and that other members of the LGBTIQ+ community aren't as fortunate. But while I might be lucky, I'm still working through it all. I still find myself feeling uncomfortable occasionally, like when I go on dates and feel people staring at us - even in Melbourne.

That's one of the reasons I feel so motivated to raise funds for Switchboard Victoria, a phone and web counselling service for LGBTIQ+ people. It's a service that I wish I had the courage to engage with when I was questioning myself.

And I'm raising the funds by taking part in Tough Mudder this weekend.

 

I feel like the best way to grow is to challenge myself, and taking part in Tough Mudder was the best way I could think of to challenge myself. I used to be very overweight, but my weight issue was directly related to me not being myself. That was my way of dealing with it - I'd eat. My unhealthy habits were tied to me not speaking my truth.

As soon as I came out, the weight started to come off - and I've lost 25kg so far.

However, aside from the physical challenge, there's a bigger reason for doing it - I want to help others like me.

Aside from the physical challenge, there's a bigger reason for doing it - I want to help others like me.

I can only speak from my own experience. I've heard stories of people in similar situations to me who have been disowned by their families. I guess that's the reality, it's part of it. But it's not a reason to hide who you are. Even if you are rejected, there is a big community out there for you, people who will support you. You are not alone.

To my younger self, I'd say: speak your truth.

Not everyone's going to understand who you are, but the sooner you speak your truth, the sooner you can grow. You stop yourself from growing when you suffocate who you are.

Not everyone is going to be on board, but you'll belong.

If you're a member of the LGBTIQ+ community and need support, you can call Switchboard on 1800 184 527 or chat online between 3pm and midnight every day of the week.

You can donate to David's Tough Mudder fundraiser for Switchboard Victoria here.

Tough Mudder takes place on Saturday 19 Oct and Sunday 20 Oct in Lardner Park, Melbourne. Sydney is the next stop for Tough Mudder, on 16-17 Nov 2019.

As told to Samuel Leighton-Dore.

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