Henry Yuen (Dux ’12)

UPDATED 11/1/16: The Grammar Way. They are lessons of life that dictate every decision that I made and continue to make. Whether we learn humility by failing miserably at Mr Grover’s exams, or respect by being dazzled by Mr Lee’s dancing, The Grammar Way shapes us into proud courageous leaders.

When we talk about having Pride, we talk about Old Boys who have been touching the lives of thousands from every corner of the globe. We talk about all the shields and trophies that our top-tier academics and athletes attain every year. But we as Grammar men, who will listen, learn and lead in the years to come, truly struggle to understand what Pride really means.

Pride is not calling each other “faggots” or using “gay” synonymously with stupid.

Pride is not denying weakness and vulnerability for the sake of “manning up” or not looking like a “sissy”.

Pride is not struggling to get out of bed every morning for five years because young LGBTQIA-identifying Grammar men cannot speak about their genuine emotions.

I did not come out as gay until eight months after I graduated because I could not uphold both my sexual orientation and my Grammar identity simultaneously. People may be surprised to hear that I was bullied since middle school and for a few years at Grammar for often “acting gay”.

Why should we care about this? Because people like me are dying. Suicide is real.

I have personally dealt with several attempted suicides among my friends, some of whom have felt their existence as an LGBTQIA youth was worthless. No one should go through such affliction, but young Kiwi gay men are going through it right now.

To the Grammar men who currently or may identify as LGBTQIA, we are fighting by your side to have your voices heard. They deserve to be heard, and they will be heard. Speak loudly and take Pride in who you are and who you can be. Success is by no means defined by sexuality: there are many LGBTQIA men who have graduated before you and are changing the world as we see it. If you are ever feeling depressed or suicidal, find help before you do anything you will regret. Please, talk to me, talk to your closest friends, talk to Mr McKain. Building a tight network of support to bounce thoughts off or to unload after a stressful day is incredibly useful.

To everyone at Grammar, think before we act. We can betray the trust of our friends in a heartbeat when we say something off-hand that may be nothing to you, but hurtful to someone else. The Grammar Man is compassionate, loyal to fellow friends and has the integrity to do what is right, and that begins with listening with respect and empathy. Boys become men when they realise that masculinity is not about denying, but embracing their feelings and emotions.

LGBTQIA youth are suffering as we speak. Students, like me three years ago, who appear ostensibly composed, can be struggling to grapple with much deeper issues. Please reach out to me or someone close if this is you.

Three years after graduating, life is more vibrant than ever. University is all about exploring identity and celebrating diversity. Students from all backgrounds are bound together by the pursuit of ethical inquiry and global citizenship. I’m very excited to see what this year will bring as the Headmaster and the student body have put forth fantastic initiatives that will support our LGBTQIA peers and spark discussion and change around the nation.

Per Angusta Ad Augusta.

Henry Yuen

Henry is 20 years old, studying Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Henry graduated from Auckland Grammar School as Dux and Senior Prefect in 2012. 

2 Comments Add yours

  1. OnOn says:

    Go Henry!! Words can’t express how proud I am to be your cousin. I am outraged that you had to suffer during your child hood the ridicule of “acting gay”. How dare they??! The qualities that I know you to possess–kindness, gentleness and humour–has been used against you. The Henry that I love–my beloved cousin–cannot be withheld by old fashioned and bigoted perceptions. I knew you would fight back. I love you just as much if not more for coming out. It must have taken all the strength in you to do that. I am so proud of you.

    Please do not shrink from your criticisers. If you do that I will miss the Henry that I know. Do as you are doing now and rise up for those who are in need of your help. I knew you would do this. Well done.

    See you soon. I look forward to seeing the progress you will make in this world.

    Love your cousin, OnOn


  2. Maggie says:

    Gorgeous men like you change lives. I’m sorry you went through that crap, but please keep reaching out. Much love


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