INTRODUCING THE AMAZING
MODEL, ACTOR, DRAG QUEEN, TV PRESENTER, BRAND AMBASSADOR, MEDIA PERSONALITY - AND VICTIM OF BULLYING
A: Skye High first came to life after being told that her "creator” was too tall to ever do drag. I thought about this for many months and thought, "well, why cant I?".
So one night back in the late 1980's I “frocked up” and took myself off to the only gay bar I knew at that time and walked in with my head up and shoulders back. To be honest, I was dying on the inside, just in case people didn't take to it as well as I would have liked. All that stress for nothing, “she” was a success!
Today, I'm known as one of Australia's leading mainstream drag queen television presenters, brand ambassadors and media personalities. With over 20 years experience within presenters, brand ambassadors and media personalities. With over 20 years experience within the media and entertainment industries, including print, television, radio and charity work.
I have been fortunate to work with some high profile brands both here in Australia and overseas.
2 Have you always wanted to be in ‘showbiz’ or what were your aspirations when you were a child and teenager?
A: Yes. I studied drama at high school and thought the whole industry seemed so glamorous and wanted to be apart of it. I hounded my parents to let me take drama class after school, as I thought at that time I was going to be "the next best thing". Ha-Ha!
I would often get dressed in my best suit and ask my mother to take "portfolio" pictures of me in the lounge room of our family home. Needless to say, they never saw the light of day once we got the film developed. Ha-Ha
As I got older and my interests changed, I still loved the idea of being on a stage and feeling the freedom I did when I was involved with our drama school amateur productions.
I vividly remember watching the movie "Cabaret" when I was younger (maybe 12 or 13 years old) and used to hang curtains up in out back room at home and perform for my family and friends, miming along to the songs, thinking I was Sally Bowles. Ha-Ha
If I'm completely honest, not much has changed these days, except I don’t hang curtains and it's only my beautiful animals that have to endure the impromptu shows. Ha-Ha!
So in answer to your question, yes being in "showbiz" has always been my aspiration.'
3 What inspires you?
A: I love to hear stories of everyday people that are confronted with adversity and somehow find the strength either through others or indeed find the courage themselves to get through and turn a situation around to get back on track. Positivity is empowering!!
I'm also inspired by people who “have a go” and try new things. I think sometimes we're afraid to get up and try something we're passionate about, due to the fear of failure.
I take my hat off to anyone that can overcome their own thoughts of doubt and get up and give it their best shot, whatever they choose to do. Not to sound cliché, but life is too short not to try.
4 You are a person of many talents, including drag queen, TV presenter, brand ambassador and media personality. Do you have any more to add to that list?
A: I'm a proud animal activist who fights for the rights of animals, but more importantly fights to have those who are cruel to animals to be convicted.
I also do charity work and have previously raised money for the AIDS trust of Australia and Beyond Blue. Two causes I'm very passionate about and would love to take on the role of ambassador for either or both of them. They work tirelessly and are often under valued for the work they do.
5 Is any one else in your family in the entertainment industry, now or in the past?
A: Many years ago, during my "drama lesson" days, my father was host/MC for an old time musical theatre group which would travel all over Victoria, performing shows for many various well known and high profile organisations.
He was also a trained magician and I would often be his assistant., which was a lot of fun as it was another outlet that I loved being apart of as I meant I was on a stage, doing something I loved to do.
6 What made you decide to follow this particular path?
A: I realised a long time ago that being in the entertainment industry means that you have the choice to use your voice to positively help people understand many different things.
I love hearing the views of others, plus I love to share my views with people who are engaged, even if they believe my point of view is slightly controversial.
For me, it's knowing I can make a positive difference, even if it's just to a handful of people. We all have to start somewhere.
7 You have mentioned that you have been bullied. Do you want to tell us a little about that?
A: During my school years (both primary and secondary) I knew I was different to the other kids. At that time I couldn't identify what it was, but I just knew that I felt differently and as I look back now, I did act slightly more effeminate than most of the other boys.
Although there was always some teasing back in primary school, I never really understood about sexuality, so I used to think they were picking on me because I was an overweight child.
It wasn't really until I started Secondary school that some of the kids in my class and older kids would still continue to pick on me about being overweight, but they would also use derogatory words such as "fag" and "poofter"
I guess I was still a little sheltered because at first I never knew what these words meant, nor did I really have any way to find out.
As I continued through Secondary school, the teasing increased and the names became more prolific. It was to the point that as I walked down the school corridor, people would push me and call me these names which I still really didn't understand. I couldn't escape as there was no-where at school I could go to find a safe haven.
Some of the "bullies" of the school would not only physically attack me but emotionally abuse me on a daily basis. As time went by and I understood the names they'd call me, some of the older boys thought it would be a good idea to blackmail me and tell me if I didn't give them material items, they would tell my parents I was gay.
At this time in my life, I knew I was attracted to the same sex and was terrified that I would be "outed" to my family, who also had very mixed feelings about gay people.
I remember I spoke to the school Chaplin about my "differences" and whilst he listened, I look back now and don’t feel that he was well equipped to deal with homosexuality. He told me it was a phase I was going through and suggested I see a psychiatric councilor who would take the thoughts of perversion out of my mind and then passed the comment that he would "keep an eye out" for me while I was at school.
Needless to say the threats, abuse and sometimes extremely demeaning behaviors of others continued, even after I spoke to several teachers about what I was going through, but it never seemed to be dealt with nor was there any disciplinary action taken. It was almost like the school thought it was acceptable for students to bully others.
It was during Year 9 I decided I wanted to drop out of school and go into the work force. My parents really never understood why I wanted to drop out when I was only 15 years old, but they knew I didn't enjoy school and my grades weren't the greatest, plus they must have seen me withdrawing and changing from a once outgoing boy, so they agreed. I, like most kids that get bullied was too scared and ashamed to tell them the real reason I wanted to leave school.
Although even in the work force I was still the subject of teasing, but I felt I was more equipped to deal with those who thought it was ok to call me names. In some ways, I felt more protected being in a work environment than I did at school.
As years went on and I grew into myself and accepted my differences, the biggest lesson I learnt was to take on my own self acceptance and the belief that if you don't get the answers from one person, go to another until someone validates you and your feelings.
The turning point after I discovered myself was returning back to a different high school, more empowered than even, and completed my high school certificate.
There's no need to be isolated and afraid. Sometimes I think we are our own worst enemy and what we perceive others might say is very different to what they actually do say.
In this day and age there are many resources available and ready to assist. I've gained the confidence to know if one person can't or wont help me, there will be another 10 who can and will help. This applies to anyone who needs to have their voice heard.
8 In your opinion, do you feel the governments and schools are doing enough to combat this problem?
A: To be honest, no. I think it's only in more recent years that governments and schools have stepped in and been seen to be proactive. For many years I don't believe they considered bullying to be any more than just "kids being kids" or classing it as "harmless teasing" or simply "growing up".
I believe schools need to take a closer look at the curriculum they set out and assess weather kids at school are being made aware of topics such as, but not limited to, racial and cultural differences, same sex attracted people and gender diverse people.
In turn, it also needs to be supported by the parents who truly need to foster and embrace that human diversity is something that should be "celebrated", not frowned upon or swept under the carpet.
I also understand that for some, change is a hard thing to get their head around, but if we remain stagnant then the cycle continues and there's no benefit as no-one is truly enjoying the quality of life they deserve.
In an age where there are so many mediums to bully a person, an individual may not be targeted directly in a school yard or workplace, they are exposed to bullying through other avenues such as social media, which again is just as damaging and needs to also be monitored and addressed further.
9 What further do you feel they could do to either decrease or stop bullying altogether?
A: If people are given the right tools to get through life from a young age, they are more inclined to adapt to people that may have differences to themselves. I think the government could spend more money on anti bullying campaigns and educating society about the long term effects that bullying can have one any individual.
I would like to see more federal government funding for schools and agencies to tackle issues such as depression bought on from bullying. I think if we can understand more about why bullies do what they do, we will be better equipped to assess their needs on an individual basis and act accordingly.
To be honest, I'd also like these bullies to know what the consequences of their actions can be, especially when we consider the high suicide rate we have in Australia alone.
In my experience there seems to be some double standards within society that determines what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to bullying. There should be no grey area.
That is why I believe it would be beneficial if we all take responsibility in our own personal communities to set the examples we would expect the governments, schools and greater society to adhere to.
A greater emphasis also needs to be placed on those who employed in either the workplace or schools to ensure they have the correct training in order to deal with this kind of conflict and address the issues when they arise.
The key is to educate people so when they come in contact with people that have differences to their own, they can overlook any kind of diversity and accept the person for who they are, not what they believe makes them different.
We are all accountable for putting an end to all forms of bullying. I would like to think that humanity as a whole could unite and move forward, together.
10 What do you enjoy doing when not in the public eye?
A: To be honest with you I'm very much a home body, however I do love travel and exploring new places and cultures. I also love spending time with my partner of almost 20 years and our animals (2 cats, 2 dogs). I also really enjoy catching up with friends for a coffee or five. Ha-Ha.
I don't mind the occasional night out, but really I just love being surrounded by those things in life that mean the world to me. It allows me appreciate the things in life that I work hard to hold on to.
11 Where do you see your career in ten years’ time?
A: WOW! 10 years? Ha-Ha! I'm hoping that I can still be a voice for those who need it for a long time to come.
Ideally I would like to think that's society will evolve enough within that time that I can be seen presenting a television program on a commercial network. The television show that I currently present is very topical and it gets people thinking about a vast array of topics, such as bullying. I like to evoke thought into people and sometimes challenge their views in a positive and constructive manner.
I'd also really like to be involved with radio and have a few books published........Oh wow, there are so many different places I'd like my career to go in 10 years..... Ultimately though, I hope to still be educating and entertaining not only the gay community but mainstream society too, as I think that's just as important.
12 What is next in the pipeline for Skye High?
A: There are no definite plans for what's coming next. I'm really enjoying the work I'm doing right now. I'm hoping to be back in the studio filming again next month so that'll keep me busy.
I guess my next step is to find an agent that's willing to take a chance on a 7 foot 5 drag queen Ha-Ha! Seriously though, I love what I do and I would love to be represented by someone who shares my passion for fun, education and entertainment.
I believe the more visibility I have in greater society, the less stereotypical ideas there are about the GLBTIQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer) community, and to me that's a great way to work towards the end of many phobias, including bullying!
Never say never I guess! Ha-Ha! Watch this space...........
13 You mention that you are a TV presenter. Does that include interviewing people and if so, would you be interested in interviewing some of the people on my blog?
A: Yes, that would be very interesting and something I would like to discuss at some point. It's always good to have a visual story with the written story. It makes it more three dimensional.
A: My message is simple. Always be true to yourself, open your mind and learn about different ways of life, respect those who are have differences and embrace diversity.
Everyone has a story, so make sure you take the time to listen.