Bisexual and trans woman Genevieve Doyle, who is from the Southern Highlands, is a survivor of conversion therapy and sees today, May 17 as a day to remind people of the importance of equality and that "hatred does nothing constructive."
The day marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) and commemorates the World Health Organisation's decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder on May 17, 1990.
This year's theme "Together: Resisting, Supporting, Healing" reinforces the importance of the community uniting and supporting one another in times of adversity.
Ms Doyle admitted she underwent therapy and "pretended to get better".
"I would lose my family if I didn't do it," she said.
Ms Doyle realised she identified as female as a child but continued to "suppress it".
"At six or seven years old, I was told not to act girly," she said.
"I lived in a time where people still got institutionalised.
"I was afraid if I told anyone, I would be taken away and locked up."
Despite her feelings, she married a woman and admitted that "the feeling never went away" and was not accepted for it.
She is estranged from her older children and a stepmother to her second spouse's daughter.
The lack of acceptance also trickled into Ms Doyle's professional life as a high school teacher at a religious school once she decided to transition.
Ms Doyle said she was pressured into resigning after informing the school on her transitioning and moved over to the public system.
"For the rainbow kids, it makes a difference for them that there is a functioning adult.
"I've taught these kids and they have such a rough time as it is.
"They often take enormous amounts of time off because they've had a bullying situation where they just can't deal with it."
For Ms Doyle, the Education Legislation Amendment (Parental Rights) Bill 2020 introduced by the Hon Mark Latham is "strange".
The bill proposes that teachers are prohibited from "teaching of the ideology of gender fluidity to children in schools" and gender fluidity not be included in the curriculum across all levels of schooling.
It also outlines that all staff are not to teach gender fluidity and they "engage with students in schools in a way that recognises parental primacy in relation to core value."
"We have the diversity coming through the door - we're not making it," Ms Doyle said.
Child and adolescent psychologist Lauren Kelly found that the Highlands rainbow diversity was "not as obvious" when she returned to the region after living in Newtown.
Ms Kelly said there was "a gap that needed to be filled" in the Highlands and invited some of her gay friends to bring their friends to socialise in 2016.
"I was expecting the Highlands to be conservative and not have diversity," she said.
"When you scratch the surface, it's diverse and thriving in lots of ways."
Five years later, Pink Drinks has become a network of over 460 gender-diverse individuals and their families from across the region and from Illawarra.
She admitted that she is sometimes selective about what she shares with services before she discloses information about her identity and family to see if they are a safe service.
"Some of my fears haven't been realised," she said.
"You're often putting yourself and your family out there.
"I have enjoyed our family structure being welcomed."
"Probably one of the biggest things to overcome is people feeling isolated, particularly in a regional community", said clinical psychologist at Community Links Wellbeing Luke Downie.
"Visibility is what helps people feel like they're a part of a community."
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