2018, Australia, Opinion

What Do You Stand For

It’s that time of year again, when  Australia Day, our national celebration comes about.

More and more in recent years, controversy has arisen over this specific public holiday.

Increasingly, the day is becoming synonymous with racism, discrimination against our indigenous peoples and the worst our society can represent, as opposed to a day of civic and social unity.

Newspaper articles are published like clockwork every year on this subject, radio talk show hosts will begin to decry that this is even an issue and blame the ‘do-gooders’ in our society for wanting to change everything.

Many people have come to rename the day Invasion Day, and within certain circles if there is a gathering, it has become customary to at least take a moment of remembrance for what this day represents for an important part of our society, and maybe chip in a bit of cash for donations to an indigenous community initiative or two.

You see, for many of us, and myself included, it is increasingly representing something dark and unhappy. Uncomfortably so.  A day that has resulted in misery for generations for a people whose land was taken from them forcibly, simply as they had a society that was of an alternate make-up to what the original settlers had.

Imagine, if you are reading this in the US, if Columbus’ Day was the United States’ national day of celebration. That’s the crux of what the issue is.

 

Yes, feel free to call us all ‘woke hipster douchebags, but the fact is,

Because they didn’t build permanent structures on this land, they therefore had their lands removed from them.

Because they didn’t have a formal written language [instead a very rich oral and pictorial language spanning back aeons], they had their lands removed from them.

Because they didn’t farm this land in the traditional agricultural Western sense, their land was taken.

This issue has become one of contention and debate.

The one thing that makes me grateful is that we have this opportunity to have a national dialogue about this. Many of Australia’s indigenous peoples abhor this day, and see it as [justifiably] a day of sorrow and remembrance as the start of the destruction of their culture.

We all seem to forget collectively the atrocities that have taken place in this country in the name of civilization and advancement.

The genocide of the Tasmanian indigenous peoples. The waves of disease and sickness of the indigenous peoples due to foreign diseases introduced into this country by settlers. The Stolen Generation, where mere children were forcibly removed from their families in order to grow up ‘white’ and ‘civilized’. The intervention in the Northern Territory in 2007 by the arch-conservative Howard government. The numerous massacres that have occurred.

These are all things that have happened that I feel we have all collectively swept under the rug. Is this the kind of nation we want to be a part of? Is it really what we stand for? Where we ignore the plight of the very people who were here before anyone else?

The upsetting thing is, the defence used by the crowd who do not want to change the date or even have this discussion at any cost is tinged with racism, anger and belittlement.

I don’t think I have heard yet a decent argument to keep the date where it is. Every argument and point in discussion has turned to the following:

 

That the do-gooders want to destroy this nation. 

 

The trope of the ‘woke SJW’s [Social Justice Warriors] aka ‘Do-Gooders’, a term I recall even from when I was a kid and my parents listened to talk back radio, is a point in contention and is a tried and tested stand by. The fact that so many who speak out for moving the date to a less controversial time tend to be younger and urbane has become a bone to pick with the no-move crew.

It’s become popular to use the stereotypical SJW inner city Greens or Labour voter and slam them, as well as paint them as a scapegoat for the fact that many people feel that these types are indelibly changing their society, one which they see as falling apart and losing its way.

This makes no sense, as these people are the ones who espouse free speech, yet decry those who want to initiate this national conversation.

 

The fact is, nothing stays the same. Nothing stays static. For the good of the future and the wellbeing of all, things change. It’s unavoidable. It’s how society develops and evolves.

It’s not the heyday of the 1950’s. Women are not bound by men’s attitudes, and strive hard for the same rights [and pay, still to this day] as men. LGBTIQ people are visible and have the same rights as all others and are making a big impact on society.

It shows just how afraid some are in Australia. How increasingly worried and paranoid some are becoming. Fearful for becoming out of touch; becoming irrelevant, and being pushed slowly but inevitably aside from channels of power.

Some of the arguments made touch upon this as an issue, or use the hipster, coffee slurping inner city dweller wanting to change everything as a negative, when in fact it is something to behold as those under 40 are becoming more and more interested and invested in talking about our national identity, about what our society should be like and represent.

Not to mention the plight of our indigenous peoples whom have been entirely forgotten in this whole debate. Many of us are concerned, and want to change things for the betterment of all.

Did we all forget our protester past, including those heady times in the 1970’s when support for change in the form of the Whitlam Government reached fever pitch? Or the Moratorium against the Vietnam War? Where is that youthful exuberance that was apparent then, now?

What do they think? Why are they so incensed and upset by this?

 

The same people who would have us keep the date then remark on my next point, that:

 

Our society is becoming too precious and sensitive. 

This has been an argument which plays into the above. It is without fail utilised by shock-jocks and certain news outlets of increasingly questionable repute to play into the fear that the segments of society that want this date changed, led by the villainous figures that are the Greens party, are indicative of a society they see as being too ‘precious’ and overly sensitive.

But yet again, this is the very core of people who cry out for freedom of speech, tell us again and again that they have the right to stand up for what they believe in, yet have no recourse or rebuttal that is not tinged with anger, discriminatory or vaguely offensive remarks.

There is a really jingoistic parochial nature to this argument.

 

I have yet to hear of a single clear and concise argument for keeping the date where it is, using logic, rational and analytical thought. 

 

There really does not seem to be one. Browsing relevant posts on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, any rebuttal and reply I have come across has had no conscionable, reasonable and intelligent point.

Really, there hasn’t. Majority of the replies seem to centre on the notion of ‘don’t be so sensitive and harden the fuck up.’

Going up the heights of Australian politics, the assistant Immigration Minister, of all people who should look at this national conversation with some attempted objectivity, had this to say:

‘The assistant immigration minister, Alex Hawke, says he has not heard a “reasonable argument” to support changing the date of Australia Day, saying the national day should not be moved “just because we have some elements of our history that we’re not proud of”. -The Guardian, 16 January 2018

‘Some elements of our history that we are not proud of’, does not seem like a very strong or convincing argument in order to keep the day where it is. It’s a simple flat-out denial of this even being an issue. Despite this dark history that so many of us are not happy to sweep aside.

Again, we are in a free enough society where we can be honest about our politic. Yet, this statement discounts a very important aspect of our history, one of which many of us [myself included] had no real in-depth knowledge of, growing up.

It is a lazy and indolent argument and smacks of a dismissive arch-condescending tone.

But hey, that’s Australian politics for you.

Finally, the last point that is made at times by those whom want to keep the date where it is, is the following:

 

Australia Day has been a part of our national identity for a long time and should stay where it is because of this. 

…Despite the fact that it was only recognised as a national public holiday across the country from 1994 onwards, and has had a history of being a mainly New South Wales-related day of celebration for many years.

Despite the fact that it has jumped about for decades, and there was no official day of recognition for the formation of this country across the whole country until the 90’s. Some states took longer than others to take up this day as an official day of this nation.

 

Clearly my thoughts on this issue should be quite apparent now. To me, there is no great affront to changing this day to something more appropriate and less controversial. It might be a great change for us all.

And that is the thing I’m trying to get at. Sometimes change is an amazing thing.

 

Yes,

You’ll still have your day off and a chance to go to the beach or get pissed or have a BBQ.

You’ll still be able to celebrate a day that would more correctly be about national unity for all, not for most.

So, what do you stand for?

 

 

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2017, Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Thoughts

Manifesto 2017 Revisited.

Back at the start of 2017, whilst on holidays down the coast over New Year’s, I decided to write a Manifesto to live by for the year, as opposed to a set of resolutions. They were a mixed bag of practical, career-based, emotional and personal concepts and ways in which I want to improve myself or commit myself to.

As the year is just about done (!) I wanted to look back and see how my tenets have held up, and reflect as to whether or not I have stuck by them and upheld them in my life.

Manifesto 2017

I will not be taken advantage of. My life is finite and fragile.

When I wrote this, I felt quite taken advantage of by some individuals in my life, in different ways. I was feeling slighted and hurt. I feel that I have improved somewhat, yet I still find it challenging to stand up for myself and stick to my decisions.

I will be honest about my feelings. I won’t hide behind half-truths and passive aggressiveness.

In 2017 I have come really far in this field. I am far more open than I have been previously. I am able to communicate far better and more effectively, and I am willingly pouring my heart and feelings out to those that love me. The challenge has been those hard talks that we all need to have, which can be difficult and gut wrenching, but I am learning to front any issue or problem head on.

I will take my career, or lack thereof, more seriously, and give it focus and thought. In this year, I will knuckle down and work out 3 things: What do I want to do, how do I do it, and where.

I’ve floundered in the career aspect. At this point, having moved away, I was still at the same job plodding along. However, this is mainly due to the unforeseen at the time development of moving to San Francisco, which has meant that there is little point to switching jobs. In a wider context, I still am grappling with just what it is I truly want to do with my life and career. This is something that I am consistently thinking on, yet find myself at a dead-end with regards to what it is that truly would make me happy. It is definitely an area I must work on harder.

I will say yes only when it pleases me to do so, and no when it doesn’t please me to not do so. I won’t let myself be swayed for the sake of a good time or fun.

This year, I have taken this tenet to heart. I haven’t put myself in situations I don’t feel comfortable in, yet have still experienced and done quite a bit. If anyone pressures me into doing something, I am able to firmly say no without guilt or FOMO.

I will not listen to or accept idle gossip.

I still easily fall for what others may tell me about people. I feel that I am incrementally improving and learning not to listen to gossip or dish gossip out, and the major method for me to do this is to fill my life with more of what I find fulfilling or fun: spending time with loved ones, reading more, writing, geeking out and playing Dungeons And Dragons, exercising etc.

I will not lead others on, or let myself be lead on by others.

I have tried my hardest to do this. To state intentions clearly, no matter the fallout or how much it might hurt to. To lay everything out and say ‘No, I am not free for A B or C’. Unfortunately, not all friendships can be maintained, and not all people I have met can be a part of my life for whatever reason. There’s simply been far too much that has been happening. Getting married in New Zealand. Moving away halfway across the world and leaving my home that I have lived in for the majority of my life. It has been a challenge to say to people who I may not have time for them, to have to under promise or decline social gatherings as I simply am lacking any free time.

I will invest my time into those who will reciprocate.

Both my husband and I have improved on this. We are both vary aware of past instances where we have befriended people who have taken and not given. This has helped us both as we have strengthened our friendships with those who give back and reciprocate as well as protecting us from those who may not.

In 2017, I will surround myself with those whom inspire me, and hopefully I am able to inspire them in return.

2017 has been a year of big earth-moving changes as well as inspiration and new energy. I have met some fantastic people who have inspired me, and whom I look up to, as well as continuing relationships with those who have continually done so. On the other hand, I have had some great conversations where I have given advice and thoughts to others.

I will create, produce and generate more. I won’t second guess myself, will output more, and worry less.

My creative output has increased. I have written more and posted more frequently. I still find an obstacle in posting and fretting and worrying about the quality of what I produce, however this is happening less so. I am learning that to be prolific and diligent and practicing this craft in itself means that I am improving. I know my work is improving little by little, and each time I write or post my voice and tone are becoming easier to voice through written thought.

I will not think less of myself compared to others simply because they may have more followers on social media than I.

I am to this day struggling with this. I still can’t get round the fact that I am inherently somehow less than others whom may have thousands more followers or interaction with their social media. Especially in context in the Gay world where those who are perfect in terms of looks are held above all the rest and seemingly given all the perks. I am learning my own self worth, but I am finding it incredibly debilitating.

I will remember to breathe.

Taking a moment to realign and breathing when I feel stressed or anxious is a quick and easy fix for me, I do it at work or at home, and count down from ten in the fresh air and sunshine if there is any. It has helped immeasurably.

I will use the block button on apps more, and argue online less. Low-resolution profile images a good opponent for arguments does not make.

That ‘Block’ button has seen quite a lot of use this year. I have learned to negate other’s potential hurtful nature and power over me by blocking. To not see the abuse written online means I won’t think on it and it won’t put my in a downward spiral. I don’t deserve to be called names, I won’t be called names or have abuse hurled at for whatever reason.

I will not succumb to thinking of myself or others merely as a ‘brand.’

In this day and age it seems I am more and more surrounded by people who think of themselves as a ‘brand’ or ‘influencer.’ I still think of this concept as incredibly toxic and bad for the soul. Not to mention just so silly. Despite the contradiction of me stating this and posting on a personal blog which is branded, [believe me I’m well aware of the irony], I refuse to think of myself and my social media outlets as an exercise in marketing and PR. I write and post first and foremost for me as I enjoy it.

I won’t forget to take my meds.

Some days I’ve forgotten and it’s a disaster. Still working on this though.

I will learn to like myself more, and hate myself less.

I’m becoming more comfortable in my skin, and more confident. This might be from me getting older and more self-assured, coupled with being active and hitting the gym. It’s been really nice to get any compliments, I still have trouble believing them but I’m learning to take a compliment when it is given.

I will write/photograph/contribute to the greater world because I am compelled to do so, not for likes, comments or the affirmation of others.

This is the core of what I am doing. I write because I want to, because I need to, and because like in the above statement, I am compelled to, as though something invisible within me is driving me to create. I do all of this as an exercise in well-being and perhaps in the hope that what I write can start a dialogue or interaction, not for the sake of others validation of me.

How are your New Year’s resolutions or manifesto’s coming along?

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2017, Australia, Gay, Life, Thoughts

Family Ties.

My relationship with my immediate family has been strained of recent, if I can be honest. Moving away to a brand new country soon has made me anxious and nervous, and in all truth, my family haven’t really been as involved or supportive as I thought. There doesn’t seem to be much dialogue happening past the obligatory freak outs about me not being in the same town, or country any more. Mum carries on a treat, loses her cool and breaks down into what I see as melodrama, wishing I wasn’t going, simulating crying over the fact and generally lacking real empathy for me, or the fact that this is going to be the biggest, most difficult challenge I have ever had in my life.

 

I know she’s happy for me  but all she seems to want to say to me or display is the fact that I’ll be going perhaps indefinitely. She will mock-cry and moan, as though I have literally stabbed her. Typical Italian Catholic guilt tactic.. I wish she was more understanding and perhaps took more time out to see me. I get frustrated when I tell her we only have so much to go till we leave, yet we are never able to spend much time together. And when we do, it feels forced and it is always inevitable a short length of time. Maybe I’m just getting older, and have less connection with her, and same with my dad for that matter. The way I’m treated at times it’s as though I’m still 16, not 33. Perhaps if I was a straight man with a wife and a child things would be different. Perhaps I would be treated akin to those cousins I have with children and conventional marriages. More respect, and less sickly sweet condescension. I really don’t know. It just irks me and frustrates me when my mother feigns a breakdown, [albeit a very poorly acted out one] about how she’s never going to see me as much and how she’ll miss me. Not how happy and excited for me she is. It seems as though she doesn’t understand how much this hurts and how debilitating it is, and just makes me see clearer that my family and I really do have a tenuous relationship. I’m simply too far removed these days, in spirit and mind, and soon distance. I’m going to be very far away.

 

Maybe mum will be happy for me when I go. I hope so. Perhaps she’ll not take me for granted. I just wish she would just come see me even unannounced. I feel like this is a natural family occurrence, yet is something my family never does. I’m just as to blame for this. I would never just turn up at my sister’s door for a coffee. And neither would any of them. We’re just not that kind of family. We’re far too independent minded, our lives have simply grown apart, and the truth is we don’t need each other as much as we used to. It remains the fact that my only sibling, an older sister and I are getting older. We’re both in our 30’s, work hard, have partners and a social life outside of family. A life, in short. For me, it has taken a very long period of time to get to this point. I’m sad to leave it all behind, but I know I have to do this. My heart tells me that in my parents eyes, we will always be children that need them and depend on them. Especially so for my dad. I feel so much guilt at the thought that our relationship has grown strained and estranged. The harsh truth is that it has. I rarely see him. He has a way of making me see the bad parts of myself, glaringly and jarringly so. I know he wants what is best for me, but doesn’t get that I think I’m doing OK. He will straight up tell me what I’m doing wrong, why I don’t do something else instead and will do so in a condescending manner. He lectures me on the failings of my life every time I see him. And this makes me feel rather bad about myself. I tend to leave feeling deflated and spiraling into melancholy. It takes me so much energy and will to go see him, and every week I don’t my heart pangs with regret and guilt. I don’t know how much longer the guy will be about for. He’s getting on and isn’t the spry, energetic figure he once was in my adolescence. Hearing second or third hand about his plight and how he’s sad and suffering depression because he rarely sees his kids makes me feel terrible. I sometimes feel as though we shouldn’t even be a family at all because we are such disparate creatures.

 

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. I imagine it will just get worse and worse, as I won’t be about for birthdays, Easters and Christmases and the like. I hope things can change.

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2017, Australia, Gay, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Bad Habits

A habit that I developed as a child and haven’t dropped is picking the skin off the side of my fingers. It upsets me to write this and say that for some perverse reason I enjoy doing this. I still can’t say why this is so, after pretty much two whole decades of doing it, and having fingers that bleed and are raw and sting with pain. Not to mention the fact that my fingers and hands look like, as my friend once described, ‘crackhead hands.’

It is an offputting habit. I know this. I every now and then will meet people for the first time and they may notice the state of my horrific bunged up fingers and say remark, usually ‘what happened to your fingers are you ok?’ or ‘Dooo you need a band-aid? Your finger’s bleeding.’

Yeh, I’m fine, don’t need that band-aid cheers I just have a lot of anxiety and neuroses that manifest themselves in this nasty literally self destructive habit that makes me bleed and feel pain.

Perhaps that’s the reason I do it, on some leavel maybe I enjoy this sort of pain. My soul is still in 2006 emo territory clearly. Or more correctly, it is simply a mechanism for coping with anxiety. Like a cat with bald patches that is over-grooming out of stress, I feel as though my habit in particular is borne of anxiety and stress.

Whenever something bad happens, whenever I feel stressed out and manic, I go for my fingers and start peeling back that skin and it feels glorious and I forget all about how scared and nervous and anxious I feel.

It’s all become an ersatz barometer of sorts; my husband will always be able to tell how I’m doing by the state of my fingers. He makes me feel like I’m back at school some days when we had uniform and grooming inspections by our teachers. Yes, I went to a private all boys school that was basically a holdout pocket-outpost of the British Empire, where boys had neat short hair, wore suits with piping, played Rugby or Cricket [Soccer was for the ethnic underclass of which I was a part of] and of course had immaculately shined leather shoes and cut fingernails. Just like my indomitable old school teachers he’ll demand to see my fingers, and he knows when I’ve been bad as I’ll be hesitant and act like one of those guilty dogs that have done something wrong on Youtube. He’ll berate me and I’ll promise to be better.

I’ve tried for years to stop this stupid behaviour and done so many different things in order to ward it off, or at least manage it. The latest was the Fidget Cube. A mighty invention indeed. A small cube that fits in your palm with all manner of fidget-busting tools such as a mini joystick, a plethora of buttons that go ‘click’ satisfyingly, a steel ball bearing you can run your thumb across. A soft pad to rest your thumb which lets you really click the shit out of these buttons. It really has it all and I was enthralled for a whole fortnight yet inevitably I’m back to pulling the skin off my fingers.

I know that I’ll put this terrible habit behind me one day, and that I will work on the root causes of this problem that has trans-mutated itself into a bad habit. Why do we have habits that are self-destructive? Why for some is it so easy to stop? Yet others in some context it is extremely difficult?

 

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2017, Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Life

Change

 

In a few short weeks I will be packing my life up and moving with my husband Adrian to not just a new city; but a new city in a new country that is on the other side of the world. A city that I have only ever been to once, a couple years ago. Almost directly opposite of where I currently sit …Well, that may be an exaggeration as the exact opposite means I would be dunked into the Atlantic ocean.

In truth, I’m scared shitless about this. I haven’t been sleeping well, I’ve been quite anxious and I’ve been unable to turn off my worried internal monologue.

Life seems to be able to grab you, pick you up and shake you about sometimes. And it always seems to be at the most inopportune times, like when you feel you need this change to happen and am ready for it. But maybe in this instance I need this. Perhaps it’s a good thing for me to be able to cut my ever growing ties with my home, and those around me like friends and family, and simply start over again with my now husband in a new place. An exciting change of scene, and a chance to start over.

At times living here in Sydney has begun to feel a little like Groundhog Day. Everyday is pleasant, safe and enjoyable, yet it is starting to feel as though the days are simply melding into one. It is easy to lose track of time here. My home town of Sydney is a very desirable place to live. I do love it here. The weather is generally quite temperate, [says I as I sit on my balcony during an extremely warm Spring day, with the city in view], there is a great balance and mix of work and personal life, you can be quite active and healthy, food and cuisine is great, and one can generally live a quite comfortable existence.

So why then would I ever want to leave this?

The truth is that my home town can be so blissfully bucolic and serene. Life here can be so easy, and maybe this has lately made me feel some unease and boredom. Or perhaps more correctly, aimless. I don’t know what I want to do in life still to this day, and I know that the day is fast approaching where I need to find my purpose. Relocating I hope will offer me this chance.

You know what time of year it is here in Sydney by what events are being held for one thing. Vivid, a light art festival marks the start of winter. The night noodle markets mark the beginning of summer, and the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras marks the high point and finale of the Summer party season in the city. It is a town that runs like clockwork. I do find myself at times getting restless, and wanting at the very least to run away from town and be out under a big blue sky for a day. I am totally aware of how self entitled this sounds, believe me.

Since finding out that my husband was going to be transferring overseas to the US, I have felt an array of emotions. Shock initially, then excitement that it was possibly to happen, as well as fear and doubt, mainly over difficulties and challenges that will have to be met. I’ll be going without a job for instance. I have no idea what I will be doing or where I’ll find work. I really hope that something will come up for me there. I’ll have to really lay on my Australian accent thick and charm the fuck out of people. It can be hard for me to have much faith in the future. I wish I was one of those people that truly believe that the universe will provide, and that it has your back. I, on the other hand, feel that this kind of thought process is unrealistic and can in fact be somewhat damaging, as it could lead one to believe in their own entitlement being inherently worthy of success, and not to mention leading to inaction due to the belief that somehow, ‘things will make right organically and naturally.’ The universe works out of it’s own volition based on logic and rules, most notably cold hard science. In my mind there is no value in this kind of thought. But, I know I’m going to have fantastic adventures there, and that we’ll meet some great life-long friends.

I’m exceptionally lucky and privileged to even have this opportunity to move somewhere that is and has been historically the centre of LGBTIQ culture globally. San Francisco has such a high reputation for being the most gay-friendly city in the entire world, with Sydney being a very close second. Sydney is an antipodean rival that to me does things far differently. San Francisco really does put my Sydney to shame. I have so many advantages over many others, for example my husband has a job set up when we get there. His company are organising to move all our belongings over. I speak the language as a first language unlike many other people migrating, and I like many Australians, have grown up with a heavy American influence on our society via media, of which the majority was American programming. So growing up, many of us as kids harbored dreams of one day making the long journey to the childhood utopia of Disneyland; which for most of us growing up in the 90’s was a fantasy that rarely played out in reality, as many families like mine struggled through the recession in the early nineties. It hit us hard. I remember being so envious of my cousins going to Disneyland and coming back with luggage bags bursting with Disney merch. The closest I could get to Disneyland was watching the Saturday morning Disney cartoon show that I would tune into with almost a religious reverence. America was a shining light on the hill for many of us. It represented so much of what was modern and free and good in the world. It really was a beacon of optimism and hope. It’s funny how perception has changed.

That once bright and shining light has decayed and lost it’s sheen. It scares me slightly about the current socio-political climate there. I worry about what I will do, or how people will perceive me. I worry about my husband who will be under a lot of pressure from his new position. I worry about my dad who is over 70 and that I may not see him for a long time. But the fact remains that this is going to help me in ways I can’t think of at this point in time. I don’t want to have unreal expectations in this venture. I want to go with humility and an open heart, as well as with more of a ‘yes’ attitude. This is a lesson I need to learn for myself. To say yes more and to experience more out of life. It’s become far too easy for me to say ‘no’ to so much here in Sydney, that perhaps moving far away will mean I will jettison so much of this negativity and fear. I wish I could simply hit a fast-forward button and go forward 6 months into the future, where we will be settled and enjoying life and having fun.

It’s this kind of interference or for a lack of a better term ‘curve ball’ that life actually does throw at you that has surprised me, especially recently. In my mind, I’ve finally come to the decision that this is happening and that I have to do this. I have to leave my comfortable home [that I love!], my fantastic friendship circle that I have built over years, as well as a stable job, and venture into the unknown and unexplored. But I’m also pretty excited by what could be. I think this is what is making me able to be the slightest bit positive about this whole experience, the fact that potentially so much could change in my life, hopefully for the better. Time will tell.

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Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Marriage Equality, Opinion

A Plebiscite Of Hate

This time about a week ago, I sat for an interview on a TV show called The Project, in New Zealand. I was asked out of the blue if I wanted to appear on it to talk about Marriage Equality, or the lack thereof in Australia, and how many of us, for whatever reason, have to fly across the ditch to New Zealand in order to do so.

 

It was one of the most challenging things I think I have ever done. It was a tough day, and a tough week. In one week, I received a visa to go live in the USA, had a funeral and then this. My social network feeds such as Facebook and Twitter were endless posts by friends and acquaintances regarding marriage equality. Each and every voice was pained, emotional, disappointed and bitter, with some angrier than others, yet more were dissenting and apathetic, yet others constructive and collaborative in tone. Day after day more posts, more articles and more dissension filled the space.

 

Suffice to say there was so much in my mind as the hosts [who were so lovely and sweet], asked me question after question.

 

I feel drained. I feel such nervousness and anxiety, which crescendoed last week at the end of the week. I also feel angry, in fact quite so. I cancelled out on my weekly Dungeons and Dragons game which is one of my highlights of my week as quite simply I was exhausted. I feel terrible having had to do this, but I really couldn’t see any other course of action being prudent. I feel like I’m wallowing in my own self pity with all of this, and so much of what has been happening has essentially equated to 1st world problems.

 

Imagine if I was 16 years old, and seeing all these opinions on this issue. Imagine being at your family home, and if like mine, you had parents who were conservative and whose father back then twenty years ago was vaguely homophobic. I was a kid in a household where dad ruled it with an iron fist. People only ever saw the jovial side of living with him, and I recall friends and relatives saying one and all that they wished that they lived in my house. But it wasn’t always so. Thinking back, he was a hard man at times, and his political and social views could be seen as just as problematic and unforgiving.

 

I guess I was always afraid that I was different. Now picture if you or I were this insecure kid today, with all of this arguing to and fro regarding this issue. It would probably drive me into the closet more so. I worry about the psychological impact all of this will have on us, and not just us but those coming to terms with sexuality, or kids of lgbtiq parents.

 

A postal plebiscite. It’s almost too much for me. I feel so plaintive in my emotional state, and I can feel it fast drying out, like a seasonal lake. Having to explain to the lovely hosts of this tv show how enraging it was that we had to go through this really reverberated in me. It feels like society for the most part in this country doesn’t want us to be happy, yet they will gladly take advantage of what our community gives to the greater society.

 

It’s been tough to explain to non-lgbtiq people why I am not on my game for the moment, or why many of us are suffering this malaise. It’s been hard not to snap at people at work. I wish I could explain to some how frustrating and upsetting and demoralising this has all been. I don’t want to play the victim but I really can’t help but feel lost.

 

And, this is exactly what the other side wants from you and I. They want us to be unfocused, sad, upset, confused. They want me and countless others to lose steam, to give up and flounder. They want us to cave in. They want us to fail. They have been given all the cards in this situation, yet in my heart I know they are on the wrong side of history. History is a harsh judge, and I know they will be judged harshly as the side of hatred, the side of backwardness and unyielding refusal for change.

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Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Being Present.

Being present feels like such a toxic wellness culture buzz phrase, along with the term ‘…journey’ or ‘centre-ing’ ones self.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good self-help book, article or podcast, but yeah sometimes it gets a bit too much even for me.

How do you define ‘being present’? It’s such an abstract and rather esoteric concept. Perhaps it means being mindful of the present and those around you in your current surroundings, as well as maybe not being in your own head too much, and letting your thoughts and internal monologue take over.

This is something that I seem to struggle with far too much. I let myself become overwrought and fatigued with thoughts and emotions and worries in my head which then leads me astray, I lose focus and or I get down and sad, which then is followed by wallowing in my own self pity. I miss out on whats happening around me as it manifests in social anxiety or being in my head too much. As many friends can attest, as it is simply so easy for me to decline going out in favour of staying home. Yet in doing this I stop and halt my growth in life. I need to learn to not let this happen, and I am at least becoming adept at recognising when this does. For example as I type this I am feeling anxiety. Anxiety over an upcoming trip overseas which I feel unprepared for, anxiety over moving overseas in a couple of months and again feeling unprepared, and anxiety at not seeing my parents enough lately, and how soon I may not for long stretches of time. I worry as I don’t know how long my dad will be around. I worry because I think of all the remaining logistics that need to be worked on and resolved before we pack our lives up and move to San Francisco. I worry about not being around my friends and loved ones and in my nice comfortable flat, and I worry and become anxious when thinking upon what I will be doing in San Francisco. In my mind, I have far too many channels of thought going on simultaneously. I think of it like an electronic circuit board, and how pulses of electricity run between all the different components near instantaneously. I have far too much in my mind currently, and it is getting more and more difficult to stem or even just divert some of this thought into positives and calming mantras.

I try to calm myself and negate this buzzing and internal monoluguing through several methods, or strategies and tactics as I like to think of them. As an avid strategy game lover, I tend to think in terms of strategic objectives and manouvres. Working on my mental health and being present is part of this. Some of these strategies including thought modification: the moment I hear that whisper of negativity and anxiety I need to recognize it, and tell it to simmer down and try to change that thought into something positive. Which is easier said than done. I hit the gym regularly, and have been for the last couple of years now, which has been an immense help in calming my nerves and lowering anxiety. I like to say that I go to the gym first and foremost for this reason, and most people don’t seem to believe me which is fine. It’s not all narcissism for me, rather it genuinely helps me become more ‘present’ and ‘centred’. Of course, it’s awesome to see the change in my body as well, and to have others remark. Some people swear by meditation, yet my meditative space is when I exercise and exert myself. As much as I despise the saying ‘My body is a temple’, I can glean the truth and wisdom that this saying imparts. You really have to take care of yourself physically, and the rest will follow. Like building a bridge or house or other structure, the support and foundation needs to be there to build upon. If it is not sturdy and strong, chances are it won’t stand tall and will collapse.

Writing as reflection has also been immensely helpful for me. Look at me now. I write almost daily, and reflect upon my thoughts. This helps me as a process to work through any issues and problems I have. And, in conjunction with it being a great exercise for mental health, I am practicing a craft that I am learning to love and have passion for, and I am [hopefully to you, dear reader], becoming more and more versed and skilled at framing my thoughts and communicating them to you. It really has helped me a lot. I keep coming back to this quite often with my blog, especially posts about my mental health, which are fast becoming the majority. Picking up a little Moleskin A6 journal which you can take about with you in a bag or even pocket if need be and regularly penning any thoughts and/or ideas and vexations can be so incredibly helpful. Sometimes there’s nothing nicer than taking my journal out to a park and sitting in the sun and just writing for even 5 minutes, and letting the sun’s warmth wash over me, and surrounding myself in the smells and sounds. I’ve been journaling for about 7 years now. Pretty much since meeting Adrian. The journals over time have gotten dark, and back to light. It’s almost as though a film transitions from grey monochrome to vivid Technicolor. Don’t worry, I still have my grim and dire days. Yet it’s a great tool and method to get through your bad times. By penning your thoughts, they become real and alive, yet it also as though you’re giving them a finality, as though you’re saying to these negative thoughts. ‘Ok, I’ve created you, put you down in my book, and now it’s time for you to go’. Every day I write I feel a bit better, and a bit more present and aware.

Being present for me equates to being mindful, empathetic and taking full advantage of your life, and not letting it simply run through you. I have to remind myself to let those thoughts out of my head and simply love the day, no matter how mundane it is or how difficult I find it.

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