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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2017, Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Marriage Equality, Opinion, Thoughts, Uncategorized

A long way to go.

Dear Australia,

 

We have a long way to go. A long fucking way. I’m angry as I type this because I, unlike most, have had to go to a foreign country to marry the man who I have had a relationship for almost a decade, despite us having endured as a relationship far longer than the majority of our friends and family.

I’m angry because of the wave of unyielding bickering politicians who are dangerously out of touch with the reality and exigencies of this issue, and of their negating to include the fact that this issue is something that can be resolved so easily and simply, and will bring our country up to speed and standard with much of the developed world.

I’m disappointed that I don’t live in a truly free and egalitarian nation that will allow me to marry the man who I love and have committed to, fought for and treasured these last 8 and a half years. There is something very wrong.

 

I’ve been struggling with my feelings on this issue, as yet again there is more talk of plebiscites, postal votes and parliamentary action. Timing has dictated that my [now] husband, which still sounds strange to me, and I have had to leave to go to New Zealand to get married due to visa issues, with all the new wave of talks and buzzing might equate to marriage equality finally being passed.

 

I feel as though we as Australians have much to learn from our cousins across the Tasman Sea. It is so easy for us to dismiss New Zealand and treat the people as a joke. But the truth is we the joke, and we are lagging behind them. They were so warm and genuine. The looks of surprise when I informed the locals in Auckland that unlike New Zealand, marriage equality wasn’t a thing in Australia crushed my heart and made me feel bitter with grounded up disappointment. Disappointment at my home, my country of birth, my society and community and those who would deny me this which by all rights should be mine to have, just like everyone else in our community. It really is time.

 

We aren’t the cosmopolitan society that we think we are. We aren’t the dynamic, progressive culture that we are known for globally. We present the image [a very WHITE one at that] of a society of modernity yet in truth we are guided by those who would seek to turn the clock back decades. We are led by those whose beliefs have not changed for 50 years; our apparatus of leadership has become stagnant, traditionalist and static, jingoistic, parochial and cabalistic. These are the very people who would have us never change, yet these are the very people profiting off our talents. We seem to have this aura and veneer of sophistication, yet this veneer is thin and it is peeling and it is cracking with every year and every decade and every moment we don’t acknowledge that things are not ok here and restrict true equality.

 

The insidiousness  of this side of us scares me. The lackadaisical and overly relaxed attitudes we have [and by this I include myself] have caused us to fall farther behind, and give permission to those whom are the most strict of traditionalists to dictate our destiny. We are renowned across the world for our generosity of spirit, our arts, our fashion, our produce, our immensely talented and skilled ones of this place, who bring so much to the world. The truth is, this feels all like a sick joke and a bad PR stunt. Or rather, a diabolical one. We have so far to go.

 

We forget, so much of what we see as sophistication and cosmopolitan culture comes from me. It comes from my sisters and brothers of the LGBTIQA community.

 

WE are the ones that have lent ourselves and have created.

 

WE are the ones who experiment and take risks, who put ourselves on the line, WE are the ones who are at the forefront, WE are the ones that thus suffer and get tormented when walking down the street holding hands or wearing attire that isn’t seen as conventional or breaking what is deemed as the status quo re gender and sexuality.

 

Yet those that would dismiss us or abuse us are the ones that will wear the clothes that we design, consume our food or coffee, follow trends that were inexplicably started by someone of LGBTIQA or at least someone involved.

 

WE are the ones that beautify our suburbs only for others to come in and make them staid and urbane.

 

And WE deserve more.

 

I don’t want to be angry and disappointed anymore. I don’t want to hear well-meaning friends or family say it’s just a piece of paper, or that marriage is a failed and heteronormative concept anyways. I haven’t had the luxury of choice in this matter. If I didn’t do this, I would be unable to follow my husband overseas as we are relocating and would have to stay in Australia and let him go.

 

With every news byte of another country legalizing marriage equality my heart sinks as I then see our parochial politicians quagmired in the sensibilities of the middle of the last century respond and go to and fro in what stinks now of desperation. These are the ones who would deny women choice, who would let the indigenous peoples of our country suffer endlessly. These are the ones who would happily close our borders from those who would be looking for a better life and keep us in a time warp forevermore. They realize they are fighting a losing battle and are now simply playing interference and buying time with their perennial calls for a non-binding plebiscite or [incredibly] for a postal joke.

 

But, I know the future will be a better and more accepting time and place than now, and I need to promise myself to be more active, to go to demonstrations and to talk with friends and family about how I feel.

 

We may have a long way to go yet I feel the finishing line is fast approaching, and it is very much worth it.

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2017, Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Snap The F*ck Out Of it.

I’ve felt like absolute shit over the last day. Things inevitably tend to fall apart as the unyielding sadness yet again washes over me like a wave. Despite my best efforts at consciously and thoughtfully rallying myself against this tide, I’m swept in among it. Awash in this deluge of melancholia, yet again. And yet again, it wins and takes me away.

I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I was having such a great weekend, and a couple things happened which made me crumple and disassemble into a mess of tears, uncontrollable sobbing and ragged breathing. I’m not really going to divulge on the schematics of what caused me to feel this way, all that you need to know is that my emotions have been running quite high, as well as my anxiety levels and a couple events really helped sparked it off. I really and honestly thought I was far past all of this. As though I had finally reclaimed a part of myself. It seems as though this great sadness can so easily cause my undoing, and that this is something that will quite possibly in my mind always be hanging around for the entirety of my existence.

Sometimes I listen to Ru Paul’s podcast with Michelle Visage, mainly it’s simply those two cackling away in delight [which in truth is really quite fun to listen to], yet at times they delve into more serious and consequential issues such as mental health and well-being. Both characters, like many in the entertainment industry, and therefore by consequence in life, are involved heavily in the idea of self improvement. Michelle Visage is all about therapy and doing whatever is necessary to stay well. Ru has this zen-like affinity with bettering oneself, and is quick to dispense advice on what to read, how to be mindful of yourself and others, or what to do when you get down. Ru talks quite a bit about this concept of the ‘inner saboteur’, which yeah, I still find so horribly cliche and silly, yet there’s a grain of truth to this idea of the inner saboteur. Each of us, and some far more than others, have this ‘inner saboteur’ whose sole objective is to tear us down and crumple. It’s that voice in the mind that says you’re never good enough. Ru’s advice that is imparted is to not let that voice dictate your reality; to not let it take over.

‘I see what you’re doing, and I’m not going to let you do this,’ Ru mentions a number of times across a few of these podcasts. It’s just something recently that has made me pause and reflect.

It’s easier said than done, not letting that little voice inside your head ruin everything. It takes a lot of strength to fight it and cast it aside, and to give it no attention lest that attention feeds it and it becomes engorged on this attention and grows. Recently I find myself able to brace myself against this voice, yet this time I failed. It was just too hard I guess.

I need someone to tell me to snap the fuck out of it, truth be told.

I reached out to Twitter which has helped me quite a bit. Like the gifs I got sent, I need Cher in Moonstruck to slap me and tell me to snap out of it, and that grand doyenne who embodies a larger than life, go-getter personage, Gina Liano of Real Housewives of Melbourne [a show I have ZERO interest in besides the scene I’m about to describe], in her hair and makeup and busty as all hell to scream ‘SNAP THE FUCK OUT OF IT’ to me, over and over again.

I really do have to just snap the fuck out of it.

This needs to be an internal mantra for me. I have so much going for me. I have a lot to be grateful for. I hate typing these words as they seem so so very self involved and arrogant. Saying to yourself to be grateful for what you have feels so bizarre and artificial, yet it seems to be the truth. I really hate the whole burgeoning ‘welness culture’ that has come to the fore in recent times. I worry about the intention of this kind of rhetoric, and whether it is genuine or not. And this is part of the issue. I’m so far gone down the path of self hatred that I can’t see the wood for the trees. I need to not let my own worst enemy, myself, get the better of me. I need to be more aware of this ‘inner saboteur’ [and I still feel ridiculous even typing that phrase], and shut it out when I hear that voice of dark nihilism fill the void.

I also need people around me to tell this to me as well. I need someone to pretty much slap me and be hard on me. Which is what my tweet was great for. Kinda like that character from Bridesmaids played by Melissa Mcarthy. You know the one. She steals all the puppies from the bridal shower and comes over to visit Kristen Wiig’s character, tells her to get over it and pounces on her and starts hitting her and saying ‘this is life you need to fight!’

Annie: I can’t get off the couch, I got fired from my job, I got kicked out of my apartment, I can’t pay any of my bills, my car is a piece of shit, I don’t have any friends. Umm…

Megan: You know what I find interesting about that Annie, it’s interesting to me that you have no friends, you know why that’s interesting? Here’s a friend standing directly in front of you trying to talk to you and you choose to talk about the fact that you don’t have any friends. No, No I don’t think you want any help you just want to have a little pity party. I think Annie wants a little pity party. You’re an asshole Annie, you’re an asshole, I’m life, is life bothering you Annie? I’m life Annie, I’m life Annie, is life bothering you? Fight back for your life. You better learn to fight for your life. I’m life and I’m going to bite you in the ass. It’s not me, I’m your life. I’m trying to get you to fight for your shitty life. And you won’t do it, you just won’t do it. Stop slapping yourself, I’m your life Annie, I’m your shitty life. Smack. Nice hit.”

This one scene in this picture spoke so much to me. Megan’s right. Life can bother us, and bite us in the ass.

Wallowing can only do so much, and it can cause more pain in the long run. We do need to fight for our lives no matter how shitty we see it, otherwise we sit and wallow in a pity party. I need my Melissa Mcarthy character to set me right.

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2017, Australia, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts, Uncategorized

3 Things I’m Not Telling Myself Enough

 

Sometimes, you need to keep a mantra that you repeat to yourself in your mind. Something to help catch yourself when you’re not feeling so great. Between a chant and a statement. Something to prop you up on particularly bad days. They say that our thoughts create reality, and if that’s so, it’s easy for me to drift towards negativity and pessimism, which in turn can manifest itself in negative experiences. It’s a concept I’m starting to believe in, the idea that your thoughts create your reality. You really do manifest your existence by your attitude. In saying this, I’m not a fan of the whole claptrap ‘The Secret’ idea, where if you think of money constantly it will come to you. This kind of deluded activity can only inevitably result in further disappointment and loss. As self-helpy as it is, however, trying to think positive thoughts has been something that I have attempted to insinuate in my life. I try to tell myself things that will either calm me down and destress my mind, or give me a boost of confidence.

I keep little notes about my flat in places that I will always see: bathroom mirrors, Fridge doors, next to my desk. I’ll glance at them occasionally. They say things like, ‘I’m willing to change’, or ‘I speak and think positively’. They become familiar maxims that have in turn grafted themselves within the recesses of my mind and the shape of the words become burned into my mind’s eye. As crazy as it sounds, it helps keep me above water and to keep paddling along.

Despite all this, there are always times when I feel defeated, and that crushing sense of anxiety and doom persist. It’s not a great feeling. I can be my own worst enemy at times; it can be so easy to simply crumple into nothingness and become recalcitrant and lazy. I’m learning to be able to detect these moments and to deflect these feelings, and to really work on being aware of my moods, as well as external influences.

So what are 3 things I’m not telling myself enough?

It’s never too late, and you’re never too old

 

Being 33, I sometimes feel that I have squandered so much of my time and life. I feel as though I have wasted years of my life, and I really don’t have much to show for it. I spent my 20’s being lazy and indolent, and now I sense that I am paying for it. My workplace is full of young, 20-something go-getter types who exude youthfulness, vibrancy and a sense of excitement at life that is so far removed from my existence. I always wished to be this kind of person in life. The energy level is always high and everyone’s personality cheerful and bright. I look at myself and consider myself over the hill occasionally. I think at times that I have wasted the greatest gift that could be given to anyone, being life.

…However. As I get older, I begin to find myself meeting and interacting with people of similar age or older than myself; many of whom have changed careers, transformed their lives, and have found prosperity and success not in their 20’s but later on. It’s such a gratifying and inspiring thing to behold; to be in contact with people who have done so amazingly well for themselves, and it goes to show that it is not a prerequisite to be a precocious 20-something in order to be successful. This has in turn made me rethink that no, life isn’t over once you hit 30: in fact, I feel it’s just really getting started. I know how cliché that sounds, and that it’s *such a 30-something thing to say. But I need to tell myself more that it really is never too late, and that no, I’m never too old for anything at all. For heck’s sake I’ve just successfully mastered the art of skateboarding [grazes and scratches on my limbs not withstanding] at 33. There really is something liberating to knowing this, yet it is something that I really do need to tell myself more and more.

 

Be kind to yourself

I know that I am far to hard on myself I tend to self analyze and self criticize far too often, and far too harshly at that. I don’t know how people could not be hard on themselves. It seems innate with me. Maybe it’s a result of parenting, and a strict Catholic education. This harshness and strictness results in me easily and without any restraint belittling myself in my mind. I can spiral out of control with the thought process of ‘I’m not good enough‘, ‘I’m not worth it‘ and so on. It’s really become something that has been almost second nature, this trashing of myself. Because that’s what it really is. I’m figuratively trashing my whole existence. Like a snake eating its own tail. It may feel good for a short while, it might fill you up as there’s something intoxicating about talking yourself down, ripping your own self to shreds, yet it won’t in the long run keep you full. I guess it’s been liberating, being cruel to yourself, as it becomes a tool and justification to simply just ‘giving up’, and not working at the issue of being kind to myself.

I don’t know if this is something that you yourself, dearest reader, has ever possibly experienced. Maybe this sentiment is foreign to you. I don’t know if you’ve spent the nights unable to sleep because you’re filled with regrets about choices made or not made in life, or that you can’t help but feel inadequate, too fat, too short, too ugly. Or that during the preceding day, you think you’re an idiot for saying this, or doing that. I don’t know if because of these ugly and maligned self-harming thoughts it’s resulted and manifested itself in physical form, or mental illness in yourself. It really is like a drug, talking shit about yourself. It’s easy to do, and not so easy to stop. It can manifest itself in so many ways outwardly as well. Mannerisms, general outlook. Personality and humour. Even posture.

I’m learning to be kinder to myself, and to give myself some slack in life. I give myself time to do what I want, and what makes me happy. I’m also learning that it’s not a great idea to dwell on thoughts far too much, or to compare myself endlessly to people that I will never be, for whatever reason. I still trip up like many of us do, and have my bad days, yet this is something that I am aware of.

 

I must create.

 

As the two points above are preoccupied with the mind’s well-being in a nurturing,  self-healing and self-aware respect, this point is something that I need drummed into my mind like rote, endlessly.

I  must create.

The need and desire to make something, anything at all, to produce and be prolific with what I come up with is a definitely tangible feeling within me. Like a tendril of smoke that is somehow able to pull at my psyche, willing and urging me to continue on. An invisible string pulled by some great puppeteer in the sky looking down on me.

I always feel the sensation and need to create. Whether it be a simple line in a journal, or taking a photo, or writing a blog post, there’s this fantastic sense of accomplishment as well as release upon the completion of something that I have worked on. I don’t know what will come any of it, if anything at all. I’m not too sure I care. If I don’t do any of this regularly my mood declines sharply. Creating something has become a bulwark of life, colour and imagination against the demonstrably drab reality of work life. Don’t get me wrong, I really like my job as well as my colleagues. Yet at its core, it is a very physical, task-based job that does not give itself over to creativity or imagination. Which again is fine, as this is what I wanted in a work place. But there is really something to be said of having a side project of my own apart from day-to-day life, something which I feel I can get so much out of by putting so much in. I must create because I must put back out in the world, and not just consume. I must create because I feel this inherent need to, it is very much a part of me.

So, these are the 3 things I need to tell myself more of everyday. I don’t know how successful I am at telling myself these 3 things, yet the good news is that I’m aware.

 

What would your 3 things be?

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2017, Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Sydney, Thoughts

My Ideal Day

If money was not an issue, what would your life look like today? How would you fill your days?

For me, if money was not an issue [as it would be if Utopian Socialism worked], I would fill my days with learning and trying to make myself better and improving myself. Yup, super cliche, I know. I would still try to wake up early and hit the gym, as it’s become a place that I enjoy going to and exercise something that has really helped me grow and become a healthier person inside and out. I know this sounds so self-indulgent, and typically self-entitled millennial of me, but really, without the need to work to provide for oneself, I would make my life about being better as a whole, and experiencing the most out of life.

I would go for nice breakfasts, maybe eat something sweet like pancakes [because why the fuck not] with coffee, sit outside al fresco if it was a sunny day, perhaps sit inside if it was cooler or wet. I’d have an Ipad loaded with paid-for subscriptions like The New Yorker or Time magazine, and I would spend an hour just reading, eating breakfast, sipping my coffee, and then planning my day ahead and what I wanted to accomplish, work on or get out of my time for the day. Maybe some days I would go to different cafes for a change of scenery, maybe I would have weeks or even months of frequenting that same favourite cafe that does coffee just how I like it, or cooks a great breakfast.

After reading through an article or two in New Yorker or Time, or perhaps a newspaper, I would take out my journal or perhaps go on Daily Page and start writing. Maybe I would be with Adrian, or maybe alone. I would then work out my day and break down what I would want to achieve or get out of the day.

Maybe one day would be spent reading, or playing computer games, or maybe having lunches with friends and loved ones. I might go visit my nonna and hang with her, or go for a drive up to the mountains. I know some days all I would do would be anything I want. Like even playing World of Warcraft for endless hours. Maybe I would simply while away the day in the sun at a park, or a beach or pool. I would try to gauge how I felt, and do whatever my heart desires. I’d like to think however that I would try to learn something or create something no matter how small each day. Perhaps a little blog post, or a journal entry. Maybe I would walk about the city and take pictures. I guess because currently with the need to work and pay bills and rent, I don’t have this luxury. I envy people who come from wealthy backgrounds as this has afforded them something more important than money, rather it has given them the freedom of time.  Many of these people take this luxury for granted and squander their time. I wish I didn’t have to work 9 hours a day five days a week. I wish I could emulate that archetype of the Renaissance era person of art and passion, and had the time to muse and delve into creating things.

If money was no issue, I would make sure to have my own workspace away from home as well. I would use this as a base for inspiration and production, as I tend to work much better when away from the many distractions of home. In my head, I picture my ideal work space to be a light-filled large converted warehouse room with high ceilings and tall windows that let in lots of light. It would be somewhere not too far from home, perhaps a ten minute walk, so I would have no excuse not to go, and maybe situated around the corner from a cafe, where I would grab myself a mid morning coffee. The walls would be a pure white, unadorned, and the floor would be either old and worn wood flooring, or polished concrete. I picture a desk set up in front of a window, with a nice large desktop computer, as well as plenty of writing materials. I would keep this desk as organised as my current desk is at home: everything would have its place. It would be here that I would write or create or build or work on something, at my own pace and in whatever direction I felt. I would have a large inspiration wall where I would pin anything that I found inspiring i.e. posters, prints, magazine clippings etc.

 

In the middle of the space would be a big old vintage work bench table, the ones that have thin long drawers underneath to put all your bits and pieces like stationary in. I would have stools set up around it, and I can imagine it being loaded with open coffee table books, magazines and all manner of bric a brac. I imagine myself spending time pouring over a new book I bought, or simply jotting down brainstorm notes.

Spread about the space would be studio lighting and equipment, and maybe some props as well, as I would hopefully be organising photo shoots when I could.

I would try to spend as many days as I could here with the intention of experimenting, exploring and producing anything that I was inspired from. I think that would be the sum of my days, working towards being inspired and prolific. But heck, the place could be sitting empty and unused for days on end if I felt like doing something else. I think that’s what I would want from my days: the luxury of freedom and abundant time.

Every month or maybe weekend I would aim to get away with my boyfriend, and we would do little trips and adventures. I see myself taking him on trips to the countryside and driving for hours on quiet roads and stopping in sleepy country hamlets and staying in quaint B and B’s. Perhaps every few months we would go away on longer trips further afield, and go places that we would never usually be able to.

My life would be one of contemplation, exploration, experimentation and joy. I’m lucky with life as it is to have some distilled and minute form of this life I picture. I’m able to have a small fraction of what I describe above, and I’m eternally grateful that I do.

If money were no issue in your life, what would your ideal day look like?

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2017, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

The Social Influencer

‘Social Influencer’, he had stated at the top of his Instagram.

Or more correctly, ‘S O C I A L   I N F L U E N C E R’

A [very] handsome early 30’s guy living in my town, with thousands upon thousands of followers and fans of his who fawn over his looks, with endless pic after pic of him pouting his perfect lips in perfectly put together outfits in front of abstract chic city backdrops of walls and alleyways. I’m not jealous. Much. A perfect beard and handsome perfect face, under the term ‘Social Influencer’, in this guy’s description. Perf.

I don’t have fans, nor do I like the idea of someone like me having ‘fans’. Or more critically the idea of a person being a ‘brand.’ It seems awfully self-involved and entitled to think of yourself as some kind of ‘brand,’ star, diva or celebrity when you’re not, especially in my case. I work in a warehouse. I lift and move shit all day, Monday to Friday. I am in short an unimportant, miniscule barnacle in an infinite ocean. Not even a barnacle. Plankton. I am not, nor will I ever be the centre of the universe. And I’m ok with this.

As time goes on, I find more and more that I am disconnected from things I’m not really into. I guess pop culture and the importance and influence of social media being one of them. Don’t worry, I still love aspects of it [Star Wars Star Trek Game Of Thrones anime etc etc], but lately I’ve started feeling fatigued and a malaise with so much that is new or fad-based in pop culture, not to mention trends in social media. Maybe it’s my age. Perhaps I’m suffering from what was termed as ‘Future Shock‘ in the late 1960’s, wherein it was predicted that technology and the influence on technology would ramp up faster and faster, and transform and change all our lives. It would become more and more imperative for us to keep up and follow the rapid changes in technology, and many of us would inevitably suffer from ‘Future Shock:’ being unable to keep up with the latest and becoming outmoded and obsolete. Sound familiar? If you haven’t read this book, please do, as much of what is spoken of and describes in the 1960’s has chillingly become reality.

For instance, the idea that people are a ‘brand‘ or refer to themselves as ‘Social Influencers‘. They’re both terms I find so repellent and repugnant, as they smack of self-indulgence, arrogance and entitlement. They now pigeon-hole people into the category of ‘Douchy priveleged Millenial’. But that’s the time we live in. Maybe I AM becoming an outmoded creature.

I know this sounds contradictory, as I have an Instagram account, a Twitter and this blog I write on. I post shirtless selfies and tag myself places. Believe me I’m just as much to blame. I guess I am ‘branding’ myself as a commodity after all for consumption.

I’d like to think that I am at least aware of this. How many others aren’t? How many are caught up in this world of ‘Social Influencers’ and followers and likes. A world where  people spend thousands of dollars in order to go to a festival that was heavily marketed with non-sensical buzzwords and phrases , and packaged as a ‘transformative’ experience where goers will rub shoulders with models and social influencers. For instance. Only to find that they were dumped on a deserted island with no infrastructure or even running water.

A new Lord of the Flies. Pictures of great looking predominantly white Anglo-Saxon people enduring what so many countless millions do every day felt, unfortunately and admittedly, so satisfying. I couldn’t help like many others feel a sense of ‘serves them right’. I found this whole debacle so fitting for this new era we are living in, where people spend and spend to experience something exclusive and then show off their exclusivity via Instagram and Twitter et al, all in the hopes of what? Likes and followers? Displaying your sense of superiority? There is so much today that feels toxic to me, yet I know I am a willing participant in this ridiculous mousewheel of face filters and gym selfies. What is the logical end point to all of this?

I find myself becoming more and more politicised, whether that is a good or bad thing, I’m still unsure. But I do think on the concepts of fame, wealth, power and popularity, and how much of our receding and declining Western society is built and placed around these concepts more and more these days. The entirety of Los Angeles as an example appears specifically constructed around fame and the pursuit thereof. A nexus and cornucopia of ‘me’ culture. I know it sounds dramatic and almost sensationalist, but I really do feel that things aren’t getting better for us, that we are becoming more and more concerned with the self as opposed the welfare of our fellow human beings, and that as a society, we are headed down the path to as similar scenario to the world depicted in Brave New World: a world where the masses are forever distracted and diverted from the problems of their society and world around them by drugs, new fads and media.

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2017, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

The Mean Gay.

Get OUT Of My Way.’

I looked over my drink, grasped in my hand in the darkened and loud club, the air filled with blasting music, a horde of assorted people of any and all genders and sexualities enjoying themselves and dancing the night away.

Glancing up, the holder of the voice that so incisively dictated to myself and my friends standing by the bar to part way after having just got ourselves a drink and surveying the club we had just arrived up, had already stormed away, a flash of a colourful shirt in the otherwise dim and yet intoxicating intimate space.

A cisgender  and what I may perhaps wrongly assume gay man, replete with a full and even beard, wearing a colourful shirt, nose held high in what would classically be referred to as a display of arrogance. His tone also belied a cutting sense of belittlement and self-importance. Almost as though his desire to be away from my group of friends and I were far above our enjoyment of this space. We were an impediment, a speed bump to this person’s enjoyment of his night, simply due to our position relative to the bar.

And then, my heart sank and I shrank down.

I couldn’t help but start thinking on this. I know it’s only a minor case, but why was it necessary for this young, and again what I assume is a Gay or at least Gay-allied individual to say this to a group of people? Especially so with regards to context. The event was proudly Queer-centric and known for being open and accommodating for all, regardless of gender-identification or sexuality. It struck me as strange and puzzling, and it felt starkly out-of-place, and a bit mean. It felt so contradictory to what this event stood for, and all my past experiences with this event and others like it: promoting acceptance and love in a safe space for all. As though yet again, the archetype of the mean Gay man had singularly and effortlessly placed a hierarchy upon this space and dictated this to others through his behaviour.

I don’t know if this guy was having a bad night. Perhaps he was having a rough night; perhaps he was quarreling with friends or a loved one. Perhaps he had one too many drinks. I don’t know. What I found disconcerting was the tone of this person’s voice, the derision and dismissal and frustration that was loaded in this simple statement as well as body language. It’s obvious to all who know me that I am a creature of analysis and deconstruction. I live to take apart, find and derive meaning in all things. Everything to me has an explanation and context. For me, every phrase, every word selected as well as body language and mannerism has inherent, visible meaning within it.

‘Get out of my way’

I don’t think I have ever in my life said this to anyone, whether in a club. bar or event, or anywhere else really. Even at peak hour trying to get home or to work at a train station, I’ve never told anyone to get out of my way. Usually, in an intimate environment like a club night, I offer up a meek ‘excuse me’, and a nod of the head. Even if I’ve had too much to drink and am barely able to stand. Like my mum used to say, being polite doesn’t cost a thing. Should I have stood up to this about him saying this to my friends and I? Should I have simply asked him why he needed to say that to us?

I kept reflecting on this small event the day after. I kept returning to the fact that this behavior really did come back to the trope of the ‘Mean Gay’. As a community, it can be so easy for us to judge, tear down and reject each other based on appearance, sexuality, ethnicity, or even social identifiers ie where we grew up, what we do for work etc. It’s harder to see the value in others. It’s even harder it seems for some to treat others within this a modicum of respect. When someone says something like ‘Get out of my way’ to me, it can have the effect of making me feel about a centimetre tall. I know I’m far too sensitive. But this is not something that I expect in a place and event like the one I attended. It harkened back to the behavior of the young gay men I recall associating with and wanting to be like, over a decade ago when I was desperate to be a part of a circle of Gay men.

For some reason back then, as a young 20-something Gay man it seemed quite normal to throw shade and criticise and act superior. And not always in a jovial sense. It seemed like a sign of intelligence as well as control, and not to mention the norm in terms of social behaviour. Maybe this was due to most of us being rather poor; many of us were students and some of us just skirting above abject poverty. I never really got into this whole mindset, as I was always far too fragile for this world of Arq-attending twinks and their ability for non-stop partying and non-stop judgment.  But this kind of mean-gay attitude appeared to be the norm for the time and place it felt. The context seemed right for the time for this kind of cutting, rebuke-filled demeanor. I recall a lot of judgement, criticism and bitchiness taking place. And yes, I took part mainly in the desperate bid to be a part of a friendship circle, but I know it was also directed at me. It was a world of who fucked who, who was hot, who had the biggest dick, who was going to what party and who cheated on who. For some, it appears that this mindset has stuck.

What makes the Gay man take on this attitude and persona then? For some, it seems as though this kind of attitude is the normality of their social circles. The irony that this behavior can be so prevalent within the community, yet we as a community face criticism and abuse from outside of it is compelling. Is this kind of attitude a sign of the mobile, app-fuelled, insta-perfect Grindr culture and time we now find ourselves in? I certainly hope not. It seems for many Gay men that it is the reality of life to simply throw shade at other Gay men. Perhaps this is in order to curry favour within their friendship group and to gain social standing and stature. It worries me to think this.

I asked the Twittersphere and close friends what their thoughts were, and the overwhelming response was that many people had endured this kind of ‘Mean Gay’ behavior. One person best summed it up that:

‘Unfortunately some Gays behave like they’re on the set of Mean Girls or Drag Race

Which is telling as Drag Race is a cultural and money-making juggernaut. It would seem that a knock-off effect of this show has been for Gay men to raise the stakes as it were in their cutting wit. Another described that:

‘They also have this image that being gay is an ok pass to be mean without realising what they say could hurt’.

I’m extremely fortunate to be in a very diverse friendship circle. A friendship circle that consists of Gay men, Gay women, bi of both sexes as well as other LGBTIQ groupings or identifiers. I recall a friend once remarking whilst we were on holidays with many members of this group that it was of paramount importance for Gay men to have some female, trans, queer Gay friends or even acquaintances. That we as Gay men cannot cloister ourselves solely with other Gay men, as that trope of bitchy mean Gay man seems to come out of this lack of exposure. This in hindsight has changed much in my own behavior to others, as being in contact and exposed to other people who lead different lives than I has meant that I am hopefully a more empathetic and open person that is less judgemental, and doesn’t need to use being mean or bitchy as social currency, as in this group, being wantonly bitchy or mean will get called on.

To me, I look to those who go against this disparaging attitude and demeanor, and see them as the role models and the future of our community. It’s time to stop being the mean gay, and be more thoughtful and aware of others and the effect we can have as people to others.

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