Singer-songwriter wants all voices to be heard

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Sydney musician Jack Colwell has released a song in honour of Tyrone Unsworth, the 13-year-old boy who took his own life last week after being bullied for his sexuality.

The proceeds from “No Mercy” will be donated to QLife, a national LGBTI Health Alliance program that provides counselling for people of all ages.

Colwell wrote the song earlier this year in reaction to the debate around the Safe Schools program.

Based on his own teenage experiences with homophobia and fear, Colwell says the song aims to reassure young people within the LGBTQI community they are being heard, hoping to empower them.

Tyrone was bullied by his peers for being gay, enduring homophobic slurs and being hospitalised after a vicious altercation with another student. Colwell said the Year 7 student’s death struck a chord with him.

“When you’re that age, you’re not really equipped to deal with bullying and all the changes that are going on in yourself,” he told The Newsroom.

“People are just trying to work out who they are and looking for a safe environment, to exist and to be themselves.

To couple that with being an outsider and feeling you are different, it can seem that during those teenage years that your path is endless, let alone to have such ferocious bullying on top of that.”

Colwell was fortunate to attend a performing arts school which taught students to accept different sexualities and respect a range of cultures.

“It was OK to debate and think independently but we were taught to do that with respect and kindness,” he said.

“Outside of the world of my education, I did receive homophobic bullying and harassment from strangers and at parties and people on the street, having abuse yelled at me from a passing car.

“Still to this day, even as a fully out and proud adult, those sorts of homophobic slurs leave me shaken when I hear them.”

Colwell believes programs like Safe Schools can only implement positive change.

“It’s through education of young people that I think we will create that change and that aspect of harmony. I think it is true today that the overall percentage of young people seem to be more diverse and friendly than perhaps in the past,” he said.

“I believe that we’re born into this world free of prejudice and we are taught to view our differences as being competitive rather than harmonious.

“It is my belief that the Safe Schools program can save lives and educate people not to fear the unknown.”

Colwell has already raised almost $1000 from proceeds of the song, 100 per cent of which will be donated to QLife.

“There are things out there to assist young people, like QLife, Reach Out Australia and Beyond Blue and I hope those services have allowed enough voices to reach young people if they are feeling desperate or at a time of need, that they would turn to one of those services or turn to a friend or a trusted teacher or counsellor,” he said.

You can listen to the song below and buy it or make a donation on the singer/songwriter’s Bandcamp. – Ashleigh Cant

Photo courtesy of Jack Colwell

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