This year, Asuria is proud to be celebrating and supporting Sydney World Pride, a global, not-for-profit LGBTQIA+ festival, incorporating Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
As strong advocates for LGBTQIA+ rights, our participation will include listening, learning, acting, and celebrating as we continue to support Asuria's participants, customers, and staff who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
One of our staff members, proud to be part of the queer community, is Asuria Executive Director of Employer Services, Darren Otten.
Asuria Executive Director of Employer Services, Darren Otten.
Darren started with Asuria in 2022, and his role involves managing our Employer Services Team to ensure we can deliver quality placements for our participants. Outside the workplace, Darren is a father of two teenage boys and is only days away from marrying his partner of 4years, Chris (how exciting!).
As a young teenager, Darren knew he was gay, but growing up in a conservative family, Darren felt there was zero possibility of disclosing, let alone acknowledging his own sexuality. So, he chose to suppress his feelings further into his 20's.
"It was really difficult and something I thought about for a long time. I was married, I had two children, so I held that part of myself away for 25 years, maybe longer," said Darren.
Becoming a parent and having a family allowed Darren to further push his sexuality to the back of his mind, as his main priority was always on his family's needs. However, as his sons got older and more independent, Darren had the time and the mental capacity to recognise that he wasn't living a truly fulfilling life.
"I thought about it and was really nervous, especially about telling my boys. I felt like it might be something they would hold against me or that they wouldn't love me as they did previously."
When Darren did share the news with his loved ones, he was prepared for thousands of questions and disapprovals, but instead, his children, ex-wife and family were all happy to see him being his true self.
Darren with his fiancé, Chris.
Now openly gay and a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community, Darren is happier than ever and excited for the next chapter in his life with soon to be husband, Chris.
"I feel like I have all this catching up to do, and I love the queer community! It brings so much joy, excitement and energy and I have this desire to be out and about and involved in that as much as I can. I have this sense of contentment now that I can be my true self in all elements of my life."
Chris and Darren at Mardi Gras, 2021.
Although Darren is in a comfortable place in his life, that doesn't mean he is exempt from discrimination and stereotyping by others.
Darren says that almost daily, people make assumptions about his sexuality. Particularly in more masculine environments, strangers will often assume that Darren is married to a female. Comments such as, "what does your wife do for work?" while at the barber, is just one example.
When assumptions are made about his sexuality, Darren explains that he has two options. He will either politely correct the person or say nothing. Most of the time, Darren uses it to further educate on using more inclusive language, as people don't generally make these assumptions on purpose.
"Be mindful of your language and that your questions are a little more general, like using terms such as 'partner', people will be more inclined to share if you start widening your questions.”
Coming out later in life, Darren has since been able to connect with others who share a similar story to his, alongside sharing his experience with the younger generations to show them that there is nothing to fear.
A hard-working member of Asuria's central services team, and an active member of the LGBTQIA+ community, Asuria is so proud to have Darren as part of the team.
On behalf of everyone at Asuria, we would like to wish everyone from the queer community (and allies) a fun and fabulous World Pride and Mardi Gras and we thank you Darren for sharing your story!