'I was reminded that my darkest secret - that I was gay - was wrong': Shaun Fuchs on writing 'Fush'

27 September 2020 - 00:00
By Shaun Fuchs

Published in the Sunday Times (27/09/2020)

I chose to write my story because I felt it was both a good and positive story. Being surrounded by negativity on a daily basis cannot become our norm. The good stories were not always there. As a youngster growing up in the late '70s and becoming a teenager in the early '80s, bullying and segmenting individuals based on the language you spoke or the colour of your skin or your sexual orientation was sadly a given, and something that needed to be challenged.

As a teenager, I was becoming aware of my sexuality. I attended an all-boys school, played in every rugby A-Team and made the 1st XV in Standard 9 and Matric. Yet, despite being a "normal" teen, I was constantly reminded that my deepest darkest secret - that I was gay - was wrong.

Imagine growing up knowing that who you are as a human being is seen by those around you as sinful, and not the way "real men" behave?

My book is about crushing those perceptions. It's about reminding the reader that no matter who you are, above everything you are a human being who loves, hurts, creates, nurtures and matters. It's about reminding us that schools need to be safe places that are diverse, and where mutual respect and tolerance are part of our existence.

One of the themes in my book is about inclusive environments. I wanted people to understand that inclusive environments in schools and workplaces are doable and important.

Unfortunately, student wellness is not always an area that schools tend to focus on with all the challenges they face on a daily basis. This was one of the motivating factors for me to establish S2 Innovations. Together with partners in Holland, we have developed a tool that effectively tracks wellness in schools (students and teachers) and businesses (employees). Anxiety, stress, harassment and discrimination are a few of the areas that can now be effectively dealt with. As far as I am aware we have nothing like this in South Africa. What has been even more exciting for me is that my co-founder of S2 Innovations, Stephen Tyszowiecki, is a past student of mine.

Truth be told, writing this book has been one of the highlights of my life journey.

Fush: A Story of Pride, Respect and Leadership by Shaun Fuchs with Tudor Caradoc-Davies is published by Burnet Media, R320