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In this digital story Stephen talks about growing up and dealing with depression.

Audio and Text Transcript Download mp3 Download HQ mp3Plain Text (for Gen AI)


This story is available on the Rainbow Touchstones DVD. Please get in contact for more information.

This project was funded by a NZ Mental Health Media Grant and proudly supported by the Ministry of Health's Like Minds, Like Mine Programme and the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.


In the recorded piece titled "Red - Rainbow Touchstones", narrated by Stephen Denekamp and recorded in Auckland, New Zealand, on April 25, 2010, the storyteller shares a poignant personal journey through the landscape of self-discovery, internalized homophobia, and the harsh realities of depression. Set against the backdrop of the 1990s, the narrative offers deep insights into the struggles faced by an individual reconciling their sexual identity within the confinements of a conservative, Christian upbringing.

The individual grew up as the only boy among siblings, embedded within a family and community where attending church and adhering to its values was the norm. Within this environment, any references to homosexuality in media were met with disapproval, which left a lasting impression and inadvertently seeded a growing sense of internal conflict. This discord crystallized at the age of thirteen when the individual recognized their own sexual orientation but also owned a profound desire to deny this self-awareness due to its incongruence with their familial and societal values.

The narrator details the onset of teenage years marked by extreme self-awareness and attempts to suppress any outward signs of their homosexuality. Despite the support of friends, the internalized stigma and self-loathing began to take a toll, leading to withdrawal from interests and a general sense of despair. The feelings of hatred initially targeted at just one aspect of their existence soon enveloped their entire being, eventually spiraling into self-harm and suicidal ideation—a private torment that was not a consequence of external bullying but rather an internal battle with an unrelenting inner voice of condemnation.

A particularly vivid account describes the individual offering a school presentation about the tribulations of teenage life, during which they engaged in self-harm as an expression of inner torment. The turning point came when, out of despondency, the individual veered away from usual superficial online conversations to confide in someone from school, who suggested sharing these burdens with close friends and a school counselor. This marked the first step towards seeking external support.

The journey to recovery was painstakingly slow. Interventions included the guidance of a psychiatrist and the administration of antidepressants, which provided the stability necessary to begin healing. The narrative underscores the life-altering revelation that their experiences with depression were not a defining trait but rather a condition one endures and can seek help to overcome.

An apex moment was the individual's decision to come out to their parents, described as the most nerve-wracking yet ultimately liberating episode in their life. It signified a critical shift towards authenticity and acceptance, and though the battle with negative thoughts persisted, the individual highlights the importance of conversation, education, and reaching out for help as essential steps towards recovery.

In closing, the recording serves as both a personal testament and a beacon of hope, conveying the imperative message: depression is not an identity, but a transient and treatable aspect of one's life—to be addressed and ameliorated through support and open dialogue.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.

Record date:25th April 2010
Interviewer:Gareth Watkins
Location:Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-004559).