Wendy was my younger sister, who somewhere along the way gained the nickname Wendybird. I’m not really sure where this came from, but it certainly was fitting because like a bird, Wendy had a sense of freedom that I certainly admired and never felt I had.
However, more than my sister, she was my lil’ queer sis’ - because like me, she was gay. Having a gay sister was an awesome experience. From feeling so very alone in the realisations of my own sexuality and having significant anxiety about not fitting in or following expectations, I was suddenly not the only one in my family who was different. Together we became friends, we supported each other, explored the LGBTI community together, even living together on and off over the years.
It’s unfortunate that the story of Wendy doesn’t have a happy ending, but if am to tell it right, I also have to be honest about the parts that aren’t so happy to recall. Wendy, although so vivacious, also experienced extreme sadness and depression and never bounced back after arelationship break-up and became quite disconnected from the things that are important to us all, and she lost her sense of belonging and feeling that she was important in the world. With this clouding her life she attempted suicide twice before dying by suicide a few weeks before her 25th birthday in 2007.
Wendybird wasn’t created to be a shrine or a memorial of Wendy, but is an honouring of this person who existed in our community who felt the way that many of us who are LGBTI do – disconnected, lonely and alone without a place to belong. But rather than let the mental health statistics win, we want to do things differently. Wendybird is creating something new and is reaching out and inviting people to connect, in a deliberate and intentional way to actively create, build and participate in community. To build a community where we all can belong, no matter our identities, labels or experiences of our gender or sexuality, everyone is welcome.
Wendybird has now becoming a word that is synonymous with warmth, acceptance, inclusion, safety and most of all belonging. We hope that you can find a little Wendybird in your life as well.