After finishing school on the Mornington Peninsula in the late 1940s, Donald Grey-Smith (born in 1931) moved to Melbourne and a clerical job with the Union Steamship Company. He lived in a YMCA hostel in Northcote and joined the Northcote Dramatic Society, where he met a ‘whole new set of people’ and had his first sexual experience with a man.
When I first told my parents, they were very distressed and felt that in some way it was their fault, that they’d done something wrong. Perhaps their troubled relationship had been the cause of all this and that it was something which I would probably grow out of or be cured of. So they sent me to a psychiatrist.
Peter Donovan: So how old were you at this stage when you came out?
Oh, probably seventeen or eighteen. I was in Melbourne. It was only after I went to Melbourne that I had my first sexual experience and it was around about that time that I told them and they sent me to a psychiatrist. Which I regard as a waste of money because all he did really was tell me that I would grow out of it and he didn’t believe that I was truly homosexual. So nothing much came of that. But that was the level of their concern.
Credit: Donald Grey-Smith interviewed by Peter Donovan in the Australian generations oral history project, ORAL TRC 6300/241, National Library of Australia. Recorded on 9, 10 December 2013 in Adelaide, South Australia.
Listen to the rest of Donald’s interview.