RONNIEL Argente spent most of his adolescence unsure about himself and his sexuality.
The Bendigo man, who was born in the Philippines, spent his teenage years studying to become a priest. It was only when he left the seminary at 17 that Mr Argente realised he was gay.
"I wasn't aware because they don't teach sexuality in the Philippines," he said. "You see it in the media or on TV or in films, but it's something that's not discussed.
"So I didn't know what I was until I left the seminary and I realised that I had these urges - the attraction to other men - and I knew somehow I had that when I was much younger as well.
"So when I left the seminary, that's when I knew what it was. And that was a really big thing for me. It was a struggle. I associated it as like a monster inside of me that needs to come out."
This story - and Mr Argente's subsequent migration to Australia and relationship with husband Daniel - has been featured in a new animation series about Bendigo's LGBTIQ+ residents.
The videos, which were created by John Richards and illustrated by David Blumenstein, are being shared on Monday to recognise the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.
The May 17 event marks the anniversary of the World Health Organisation removing homosexuality from its Classification of Diseases and Health Problems.
Zara Jones, who also features in the animation series, said the day recognised that difference should not be treated as a disease.
"For a long time, people have seen it that way and that's why it created so much phobia in the community," she said.
"This is just how some people are born and the only thing that creates issues for us is peoples' attitudes."
Ms Jones, who is the president of Trans and Gender Diverse Bendigo and Beyond, said she still faced discrimination living as a transwoman in Bendigo.
"Every one of these stories is an opportunity for people to learn and understand what life is like for some community members," she said.
"It helps people to connect more and to have a greater understanding and respect. Visibility is important, but people need to feel safe to be visible."
Mr Richards, who created the series, said the purpose was to highlight the shared human experience.
"It's about conversation," he said. "These people are part of your community. Hopefully this makes you think and opens your mind to new things.
"It was about trying to find a non-confrontational way for people to talk to each other."
Mr Argente said he hoped the series showed young LGBTIQ+ people that they were not alone.
"There are gay, migrant, Asian people like me who have been fortunate to go through that experience and come out as strong and in a happy relationship," he said.
"A lot of young people who are struggling, just learn from that and it will get better. It does get better."
Mr Richards said people could watch the video series here.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: