GRAFTON paramedic Tim Bestwick has dedicated his life to protecting and saving others, but two years ago he decided to save his own life from his "inner-demons".
"I only came out to everyone a couple of years ago," he said. "I never faced the troubles of external homophobia it was more dealing with my own inner-demons.
"A long time ago I thought I had to hide that side of myself. In my era and even today being homosexual can be seen as a negative. I was completely ready to take it to the grave with me.
"But through speaking with a counsellor I was able to see that I could not ignore it forever. It was a part of me. It would be like having a left arm but never using it."
Mr Bestwick has been a paramedic at the Grafton Ambulance Station for more than 23 years, servicing the community and saving lives, but he said there has been no hindrance in his worklife since coming out.
With ambulance drivers being some of the most unjudging members of the community he copped nothing but respect from his colleagues.
"The workplace has never been an issue for me," he said. "We are heavily protected by codes of conduct that ban anyone from discriminating in the workplace.
"Coming out to my friends and family was the hardest part. 10 years ago, I thought my world would collapse around me if I was honest with them.
"But I have been awed by the sheer amount of positivity and support shown toward me and the lack of negativity.
"When you go to be vocal about it you just get this overwhelming feeling where you think there will be massive ramifications. People will bully and shun you, the old ladies I care for will turn on you and the community will ostracise you.
"But it is honestly just a storm in a teacup. It is never as bad as you make it out to be in your head."
For a lot of young members of the LGBTIQ community, they are faced with more obstacles including rampant homophobia amongst teens.
"I have attended a lot of suicide instances in my career and just being there on the spot, you don't know the person's story, or what they have gone through.
"My one message to those young people who are dealing with deep depression or god-forbid contemplating suicide is; even if you create an image of horrendous backlash for being who you are, it is never as bad as you think it will be.
"Acknowledgement by speaking to someone about your sexuality is a big step towards acceptance. Those struggling need to find someone they can confide in because doing it alone is just too difficult."
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