Ongoing Transformation of Micah Johnson Tour with Guest Post by Sean Kennedy

I’m officially an Old.

I used to fool myself, but as I turned 41 this year I realised I should be picking out caskets for the inevitable. But stay with me, because this is actually going somewhere.

When I was a gay teen it was in the early 90s and AIDS hysteria and homophobia were pretty rife (not that I’m saying it’s eradicated now, but as they sing in Hairspray, “We’ve come so far but we’ve got so far to go.”) and the internet wasn’t even in mainstream existence for one to find knowledge or history about The Gays. One had to do old fashioned things like go the library and try to find books. And Perth, Western Australia, was a little less cosmopolitan in its books choices for public libraries than its bigger sibling cities. So my choice was pretty limited.

And let me tell you, it was pretty bleak. Most of the fiction I found was about AIDS, and it always ended in tragedy. Even if the one of the characters survived to the end of the book, you know they probably didn’t last long after the final page. And YA wasn’t much better. Pan Horizons were eagerly devoured because there were some gay characters to be found within – but man, it was almost always the same fate. One had an older brother who had AIDS and died before teaching his younger straight brother Valuable Life Lessons. Another had a romance between two boys that went sour and then, BANG!, one of them died in a motorcycle accident. There was never a happy ending for a gay character. The closest I ever got was Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, but even Louis seemed to want to be left by himself and Greta Garbo it out in a deserted mansion.

But kids today, WOW. There is a wealth of LGBTQ material out there for them to find, and the internet has made it even easier for those not out to their family. And believe me, I’m not being all get off my lawn about it. I’m so happy that they have it. And sure, there are still the tragic stories sprinkled out there, but there are many more with happy endings and assurances that being gay isn’t an automatic death sentence.

I will admit, however, to a little jealousy. I wish these books had been around when I was a teen. I might not have been so scared of being who I was. So go forth and read, guys! Happy endings are great.

There is no Plan B.

After being outed in an especially brutal way and briefly running away from home, Micah Johnson has sworn to get his life back on the straight and narrow.  Well, not so much straight, but you know what he means.

Unfortunately the path to redemption is not an easy one.  With fights at school and on the football field and an all-round snarky attitude as his number one defense mechanism, will Micah survive the school year and the training camps to achieve his dream of making the national draft and becoming a professional AFL player?

His mentor, Declan Tyler, believes in him, but Micah wishes he had the same confidence in himself.  Only time will tell if the ongoing reformation of Micah Johnson will be successful.


MY NAME is Micah Johnson, and I guess you could say I’m a former arsehole.

If they had meetings for former arseholes, this is how I would introduce myself. I would have to stand in front of the group—I assume it would be a fair size, as there are many former arseholes, and even more who refuse to admit they are one—and freely admit my shame.

But I think I’ve overcome this shame now, or at least, I’m improving myself. I was once described as having “a chip on his shoulder the size of Uluru.” This cannot be understated. I was angry at the world, and truth be told, I sometimes still am. There is a lot to be angry about in the world. But there is also a lot to like.

You just have to find those things.

I felt I had a lot of reasons to be angry. The main one was that I was outed under what some might say were less than ideal circumstances, but the less said about that the better. I felt ashamed, and exposed, and rather than try to deal with that and move forward, I turned it inward. I thought it was better to act like a total shit and make people dislike me straightaway than have people come to dislike me of their own accord. Because I didn’t feel like I was likable. It was normal self-esteem issues, which I’m sure all of you sitting here understand. No teenager ever feels completely good about themselves.

It can be harder when you also happen to be gay. Peer pressure at high school is the worst, and you can find yourself doing or saying things to protect yourself rather than draw attention to yourself. The spotlight was already on me, so I was always on the attack.

I’m probably going off track here, and I know your teachers are probably shitting themselves at the amount of times I’ve sworn during this speech already, and I guess, like Britney, I just did it again. Oops. But I am here to use my powers for good instead of evil, and that’s why I’m doing this talk at your fine school today.

Maybe if I’d had a GSA at my school, like your principal is proposing, I would have found other ways to deal with it. Maybe not. But knowing it was there, that would have made a hell of a lot of difference.

I’m also a jock, as shocking as that may be to some of you who believe in the stereotypes associated with gay people. I’m sure you’ve heard of Declan Tyler, the ex-Bombers player. He runs a charity called GetOut, which has agreed to sponsor your GSA when it begins. GetOut have helped me a lot, especially when it comes to dealing with bullying in school.

Gay students, or even those who are suspected of being gay, are amongst the worst bullied in schools. GetOut wants to help those kids, gay or straight, and combat bullying both on the sports field and within the school environment.

I’m here because I know it works. If you had asked me six months ago, I would have said it didn’t. But that was because I wasn’t really giving it a proper go. Chip the size of Uluru, remember? The thing is, we all need help in our lives. And we have to know when to ask for it, instead of just thinking that we can deal with it by ourselves. Some issues are too big.

So if a GSA sounds like a thing that could help you, I encourage you to join it. If you are a member of the Friends of Dorothy gang like I am, GetOut also holds meetings and get-togethers where you’ll get to meet students from other schools across Melbourne. It may have started out to help gay kids who play sport, but it has become much more than that. And you’ll also get to meet Declan Tyler, and I know from experience that’s a pretty big drawcard.

I also know from experience that he really cares about the kids he mentors at GetOut. I would not be standing here talking to you today if he didn’t. But before I start singing “Kumbaya” and asking you all to hold hands, any questions?
Chapter 1

“I HAVE one” came a voice from the back of the auditorium.

Micah inwardly groaned and shielded his eyes from the light shining directly into them, so he could at least see her better.

Emma Goldsworthy, her long auburn hair tucked into a no-nonsense ponytail, stared at him without remorse. A veritable spider leading the fly into her web. Lucky she was actually his friend.

“Do you even go to this school?” Micah asked.

She waved that concern away. “As a former arsehole, what have you done to redeem yourself?”

At this line of questioning, the principal jumped up and pushed Micah aside from the lectern. “I think we’ve had enough of the foul language. From both the speaker and the questioners.”

“There’s only been one question,” Micah pointed out.

“Regardless,” said the harried-looking woman, who Micah had only been introduced to an hour before. “Maybe you can rephrase your question, Miss?”

“It’s Ms., actually,” Emma said with a wide smile that broached no prisoners.

The principal shook her head and allowed Micah to come back to the microphone.

“I said I was still trying to improve, not that I had magically turned into a better person overnight.”

“Oh, okay. So you think you are better than you were six months ago?”

By now the students were watching with more interest than they had when Micah was speaking before. Of course, they had perked up when Declan Tyler was mentioned, but they soon lost focus again. “I like to think I am,” Micah replied.

“And you think this has been due to GetOut?”

“Yes. I know it has.”


“Maybe we should let another student ask a question?” the principal yelled out, her voice carrying amazingly far throughout the auditorium even without a microphone.

“I didn’t know there was a limit?” Emma asked before she was silenced by a young-looking year eight boy standing up in front of her.

“You have a question?” Micah asked. “Hopefully not about me being an arsehole?”

He heard a strangled protest from the principal.

The boy grinned without guile. “What’s Declan Tyler really like?”

About the Author

Sean Kennedy lives in Perth, Western Australia, but his heart still belongs to his hometown Melbourne—which is also the home of Simon Murray and Declan Tyler from his series Tigers and Devils. A disciple of cult leader David Lynch, Sean is breathlessly awaiting the revival of Twin Peaks in 2017.