Forced to leave school at 16 after being outed as gay
ALTHOUGH years have passed since Jason Smith was forced to abandon his education due to bullying, the memories still feel fresh for the former Bremer State High School student.
"I went to high school at Bremer and left when I was outed by one of my friends," he said.
"I was 16 so that wasn't very pleasant. I experienced bullying and left within a week of it happening.
"I was also assaulted at a funeral afterwards by peers. I would have gone through Year 12 if I didn't have that experience.
"It made me grow up a lot faster."
Mr Smith said he felt the city's views had changed, especially when it came to the support shown in the Ipswich Marriage Equality rallies.
"After leading the parade for the last two years running, the support has been amazing," he said.
"Seeing people holding the PFLAG sign as you walk past them and parents explaining to their kids what (the rally) is or nudging their kids to wave harder (is great).
"What I went through in school to what I feel now, especially in the parade, is so different.
"I think Ipswich has a lot more acceptance now. It's definitely progressing but like the rest of Australia it's got a long way to go."