Mez Newman felt she had to hide her true identity from the world, until a myth from the ancient past helped her find faith in a better future.
An upcoming special event in Hobart will see Mez and six other LGBTQI+ Tasmanians take to the stage to share stories of their experiences of being queer this November.
Mez said life was extremely difficult as a queer woman growing up in the late 70s and 80s - she was kicked out of home at just 17 years of age.
Professional life was just as difficult - the stigma associated with being queer forced Mez - who worked as a nurse - to draw into herself and become a bit of a loner, unable to be open about who she was.
"We had to hide everything in those days, because it was just too dangerous," she said.
"If you came out in a work situation, you were immediately put off.
"All of us (queer community) were really hidden, we even made up stories about having husbands and wives."
One day, Mez received a phone call from her father, asking if she would come home to visit her mother, who was very sick. Mez agreed to the request.
"I'd been very close to my mother (before the falling out), I think they both regretted the decision to throw me out.
"I think what they realised is, the child they always thought was a bit of a wrong un, actually turned out to be alright."
While Mez was ultimately able to reestablish a strong relationship with her parents, the stigma in her workplace environment persisted.
"When women are younger, they often have a lot of responsibilities and find themselves operating in a world where they really don't have the opportunity to reflect on who they are - you just focus on the peripheral stuff all around you," she said.
"You feel like you're just drifting in a world of other people who are straight without anything to anchor yourself to."
It was not until she was in her 50s that Mez and her partner Cate Warren decided something needed to change.
Mez quit her job and the couple moved to Bryon Bay, where they would go on to open a book store called Persephone's Window.
Mez said the ancient Greek myth of Persephone - a goddess who is abducted by Hades and forced to live as his queen in the underworld, helped greatly with her transition from someone living a secret life, to someone who is comfortable being open about her identity.
"One of her (Persephone's) things is she brings you awareness when you're sleeping," she said.
"In my case, my journey was about doing something that was different, which made me come into myself."
Then there is the fact that according the myth, when Persephone was abducted, her mother Demeter froze the world.
"We go through that period where we're really frozen and can't let ourselves go.
"In my case, what I decided to do is step out of professional life."
Persephone is ultimately forced to live in perpetuity between the two worlds, spending six months in the upper world, then six in the underworld, leading to the formation of the seasons.
"We move in and out of ourselves, we are positive and moving through our lives, then things happen and we go underground," she said.
Since fully embracing her identity, Mez has worked hard to support others in the queer community.
After moving to Tasmania, she helped reestablish PFLAG in the state in 2015.
The Tasmanian branch of the organization - which unites parents, families, and allies with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer - was first established in the early '90s, but had since lapsed into inactivity.
Outside of the queer space, she also did some pioneering work in the field of dementia care.
She played a pivotal role in helping establish one of the nation's first dementia friendly care facilities in the mid-90s, In her role, Mez received the Churchill fellowship and travelled around the world studying current best dementia practice with a view to establishing the new facility.
Mez will share her perspectives on the myth of Persephone and how it helped her embrace her identity at Queer Momentum - a new work which aims to explore the stories of people from a a broad cross-section of the queer community.
People of many different ages, sexualities, genders, cultural backgrounds and abilities will share their stories in a one of a kind performance which will incorporate pre-recorded interviews, spoken word, poetry and yarns from queer Tasmanians.
These stories will be layered onto a soundtrack of original jazz compositions by non-binary composer and conductor Stevie McEntee, to be performed live by some of the state's finest jazz musicians.
Presented in conjunction with Hobart Council, the work will be performed from 5.30pm-7.30pm on November 8, 9 and 10 at Hobart Town Hall.
To book click here.
Our journalists work hard to provide up-to-date news for seniors across Australia. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.