WHEN a Bundaberg country music singer took to the stage to audition for this year's season of the X Factor, fame and fortune wasn't the motivation that put him in front of a national audience.
In the back of Justin Standley's mind was the glimmer of hope that the publicity might help him find the teenage children he hasn't seen for 12 years.
"When I was young and naive, I had a relationship with an older woman and we had three children, four actually, one passed away," he said.
"I was extremely close to my children, however the relationship with my partner eventually broke down.
"Soon after we separated, my ex-partner took the children and vanished."
Mr Standley said he tried unsuccessfully for a number of years to find them.
"Eventually I ended up suffering from bouts of deep depression, partly due to the separation from my children and the feelings of grief and loss, but also because I was struggling to come to terms with my sexuality," he said.
"I began to tell myself that I deserved the pain of separation and of loss, and that I didn't deserve to be a dad because I'd turned out to be gay.
"I tried to bottle up my feelings and my pain, but there has never been a day when I have not thought about and prayed for my children, and wished that I could be a part of their lives."
Teaching a choir in a maximum security women's prison in Sydney to support himself while he studied education, the idea of the X Factor was discussed.
"Some of the women in the prison choir suggested that I go on the X Factor," he said.
"I initially dismissed this idea because I've never had an interest in being famous or being on TV, then something else occurred to me.
"I realised all my children are teenagers now, my oldest, Ophelia is 18, Charlotte is 15 and Caleb is 13 and teenagers love watching the X Factor.
"I thought if I could get on the show, and sing well enough, I could also get my message on national TV that I'm looking for my kids, I could let them know that I've never tried to hide from them, I just couldn't find them."
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