2017, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion

FAGGOT

FAGGOT.

‘He’s become a snob now. The kid’s dad is a faggot and they don’t even know.’

This simple yet hate-filled and poisonous sentence is one I overheard, waiting with my boyfriend for our takeaway Pastizzi in King St, Newtown. Obviously a family man, sitting at an al fresco table, wife next to him, another couple and two kids. This sentence spilled out of this 40-something’s mouth as flippantly and easily as if he were simply remarking on how nice his plate of food in front of him was, or something that had happened during his day or week proceeding.

We stood there, mouth agape, eyes wide. Shock isn’t something that really is a part of my life these days. I feel as though I’ve gotten to a point in life where things rarely warrant me being shocked over anything. A bit of ‘been there, done that’ attitude that many of us attain by the time we reach our thirties. We just stood there, as this privileged man ranted on about someone in his life who seemingly moved from one area to another and, according to this man has gained the airs and trappings of a snob.

His mannerisms when proclaiming this person a FAGGOT were just so laid back and casual. His flippancy, confidence and casualness when using this word disturbed me, and still does as I type this. And this is the problem. So many of us in this world are simply happy to use words like this which can have real damage in such a purely easy and casual way. Something like a stroll. Ease to do and no consequences.

I don’t know how many of you who may be reading have been called a faggot. It, along with the word ‘cunt’ and ‘poof’ make me upset, angry and bitter. Being called a FAGGOT for so many of us in the LGBTIQ world seems a part of our lives, heck even our upbringing and adolescence. I still recall it being hurled across the playground like a grenade. I recall flinching and recoiling internally with fear whenever I heard that word uttered, whether or not directed at me. Like an explosion. It still gives me chills, recalling how pubescent children in an all-boys school, a Catholic one nonetheless, where piety and righteousness and protection of the meek were espoused and regarded as virtues, yet would so easily and simply use this word in particular, without fully understanding the utter complete damage this can cause.

I’ll never forget the kid at my school who started in year 10, and promptly left by year 11. He was as queer a kid as could be, short, slightly pudgy and the antithesis of the lithe, tall and athletic Anglo-Saxon blonde Aryan kids my school seemed to regard as the peak of the school body. I remember chatting to him briefly in Art class once, then subsequently getting picked on and questioned if I was gay, ironically by boys who would later in life come out as gay themselves. In hindsight, my school was rather fascistic and monolithic in it’s approach to education at the time. We all had to play sports, either Rugby or Soccer, or Debating for the non-athletic ones. Athleticism was held in the highest regard. Academia was a second, only in order to produce more students entering universities by the end of their school careers, nothing more. This school wanted to be high up on the list for HSC results. It was for all purposes an academic factory, and I was one of those unspoken, un-catogorized kids that wasn’t great at sports, wasn’t a great academic, and was particularly mediocre and managed to always go under the radar and slip through the cracks. I strived to become unseen, unnoticed and invisible. I wanted nothing but to simply get through the days and weeks without attracting any attention. I regret this now, in hindsight, as there obviously is such a large world out there where being true to yourself is not only valued but necessary in order to live a full and rich life.

The word FAGGOT was scrawled in bright red Posca pen diagonally across the queer kids locker. It was mid morning, when I walked past hurrying on my way to class. I still feel the sentiment of my heart clenching in it’s casings. I don’t know if I identified with being Gay back then, I guess I knew that something may have been different about myself but I wasn’t at that point to be confident in facing this. This single word branded over this poor kid’s locker had in hindsight a terrifying affect on me. I can only imagine being this kid whose locker it was on. I have that image burnt indelibly in my mind, forevermore. I wish I was there for this kid. I was just so scared for my own safety.

Suffice to say, this unnamed student promptly disappeared shortly after this. I still regret that I didn’t try to make friends with him. I regret that I was so paralysed with fear at having the ‘faggot spotlight’ pointed at me and being singled out, that I would rather hide in the shadows while this poor child was vilified and called a horrific name. The last thing I heard was that he ended up at a far more liberal school on the North Shore. I can only imagine the hurt and pain this would’ve caused. I still recall that not a single word of this whole event was mentioned by the staff and faculty.

The use of this word and others like it hurt. They can change people, into ghosts like I was as an adolescent, or conversely, it admirably can steel an individual and make them even stronger and give more conviction to their identity, and to fight back. I wish I was like that. I wasn’t. For some, it can drive to depression, self hatred and low self-esteem and ultimately for some, lives taken away needlessly and cruelly.

What worried me in this most recent instance was the cool and casual use of the word FAGGOT. I stood there, unsure of what to do. In the past, I’ve been called that name among others. Walking down the street, holding hands with my boyfriend. Or on my own. Lately it hasn’t happened, I haven’t been singled out and called a FAGGOT. Why, I don’t know. Maybe my appearance is more threatening or less overtly Gay these days. As if. Tonight as I write this, I can’t say that as I wore platform shoes and a very bright multicoloured shirt. But I don’t know. I wish I was strong enough to confront this weak man and call him out on this. I wish I stood my ground not for myself but for others whom may be younger than me and still malleable and possibly effected by this language of hate, and say that this is my house and to be respectful to others. I wish I was able to break through to someone and impart that it’s not ok to use this word in any context and for any reason. Hopefully, one day I will be able to.

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2017, Australia, Gayblog, Uncategorized

Anxious Anxious Me.

Anxious Anxious Me.

It strikes me without warning, so completely, and without any rhyme or reason. Tension and tightness  clamps my chest, my breathing quickens and becomes faster, shallow and less able to convey oxygen into my lungs. My skin sweats and shortly perspires and clams up. My face clearly changes, as does my demeanour. Shoulders might slump. Posture diminishes as an outward sign of feeling crumpled. My confidence shatters and dives. Coworkers, friends and family can clearly see me struggling. I wish I could explain how it feels, or what I feel at this moment.

I still can’t tell you where this sense of impending anxiety comes from. It just appears out of nowhere. I can’t say why one day I feel great, alive and invigorated and yet the very next flat, barely able to do simple tasks and full of internal monologue. I wake up on days like today and my heart feels as though it’s racing, barely restrained within me. I feel paranoid, wary and on guard, despite the fact that I have done nothing wrong, and have no guilt over anything as again, I can’t think of anything that I could have possibly done to make me feel this way. Is it because of worries in life? Work problems, family issues or problems with other loved ones? Did I get this nervousness from my mother?

There’s literally no real reason for me to have this anxiety which creeps around every few months. Life for me is good. I don’t suffer from want for anything. I work in a decent job, I have a great boyfriend and can afford my rent. So there’s plenty to feel grateful for. Perhaps it’s more the fact that I self-assess constantly. Maybe my overt self-examining of life leads me to consider myself unworthy, which then leads to anxiety attacks. It might strike me in the morning when I wake up. I may have had a great, restful sleep yet regardless, wake up with a sense of dread and fear.

Fight Or Flight

An instinct for me when I do get anxious and suffer an anxiety attack no matter how minor is that base bodily instinct, hard-wired into our biology, that of ‘Fight Or Flight‘. I’ll have to decide then and there whether I can fend off these feelings and attempt to modify my thoughts, regulate breathing and simply place it out of my mind and get on with my day or simply pack it in and find the nearest exit. It’s almost like a giant lever in my mind that cuts power. Or those old brakes made of cable that would hang above passengers in old steam trains you see in old movies that would activate the brakes. During these episodes, nothing is more attractive to me than being at home in my bed with the covers over me. My bed becomes the Starship Enterprise and my doona Deflector Shields impervious to all. Nothing can get through. All I want is to disappear for the day.

In the past, during these attacks, I have physically been unable to carry on with my day. I recall one instance whilst working at my previous workplace. I would usually catch the train in the morning. On one of these days commuting to work, I got off the train at the nearest station: a busy station close to the city airport. There were people bustling about in their morning commutes, tumbling out of packed trains, piling into further full trains, and herding themselves towards the exit turnstiles. The rumble of voices and footsteps echoing the large and imposing chamber-like walls of the station. I’ll never forget this day as I filed in line and shuffled into the herd-like crowd towards the turnstiles. I decided to pull back and wait for the crowds to process through the exits.

And that’s the moment it struck. My heart began to race, my skin began to sweat. I could feel the muscles in my face tensing and transforming my relatively calm face into one of worry and fear. I could remember thinking to myself, over and over: ‘I can’t do this today. It’s not possible. I need to get out. I need my own space.’ I felt like I was in a rather bleak Haruki Murakami moment. I could either press on into the crowd and through the exit and onto work, or escape. My instincts kicked in and I chose escape. I turned myself around, pale-faced and wide-eyed, and almost without any thought, floated back to the platforms, caught the train and before I could recall, I was home.  I became a ghost and disappeared out of there. An apologetic text was sent to my work, but the truth is, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t face the day. I couldn’t be at work facing unhappy customers and mean demanding managers who misunderstood me. I needed that time to myself to have some silence and peace at home.

A part of me hates that I harp on about this subject. I know it can all be construed as something akin to whingeing and whining. I know I can come across as moody and brooding. I used to love the fact that I was seen as this. I would thrive off it. But I find confronting and writing about my ailments, problems and issues such as anxiety acts as a salve or healing agent, and these days I aim to be as open with myself as I can be. Sometimes it’s easier for me to express feelings this way as opposed to conversing. However, I always feel orders of magnitude better afterwards.

Misconception.

If there is one thing that I want to impart upon you, dear reader, is that if you do come across someone like me who visibly suffers from panic attacks or anxiety, don’t misconstrue them as being unfriendly, depressed all the time or negative. Understand that it’s not something they or myself choose to have happen. Maybe be genuine and ask if everything is alright. If that person can talk about it comfortably, let them. If not, perhaps give them some space. Let them have their time. If you manage someone who is prone to anxiety don’t be surprised or upset if they need to take a day off or leave early. If you have a friend that maybe isn’t coping with being out somewhere busy like a pub or club, don’t be surprised if they too ghost out of there. Sometimes a quiet environment and a moment of tranquility is needed. It’s just a period of time for this person to realign themselves. Just don’t think that this person is pissed off, doesn’t like you or thinks the world is out to get them.

It’s a simple thing to assume and have misconceptions. About anything, really. People, places, beliefs and ideology for instance. The concurrent thread through all of this is ignorance. Lack of information and experience creates ignorance which then bleeds contempt and misunderstanding. Whereas knowledge creates the opposite. Be kind to your wide-eyed anxious person that you know.

 

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2017, Australia, Gayblog, Life, Sydney

[De]Motivators

The biggest motivator that has been driving me lately has been time itself, and the fact that as every day that goes past that I don’t write or contribute is a day lost. I’m motivated lately by fear. Fear now, of looking back at my life and feeling shame at myself, for not trying hard enough and not working hard enough. I feel as though I am at a point where I really have to start pushing for myself, and to continue working with what I have and to make my goals a reality. In a month I turn 33, I’m no longer a youth. The days of being an aimless lout are far behind me. I’m supposed to, according to society, have my collective ‘shit together’. It still doesn’t feel that way. The last few years have seen me try to try to work out what it is that I’m good at, enjoy doing that will make me some money. The idea of ‘finding yourself’ can be cute and romantic, but not once you get into your mid 30’s. I’m not after fame and fortune, I’d rather just be comfortable and be able to have freedom to be able to travel, or perhaps one day own my own home. I can really feel the clock ticking these days, the nerves fraying, In back of my mind my own voice urging me to write more, contribute more, to take more of a chance, and to not let slip any possible potential opportunity that may come my way.

I guess sometimes fear of the future or of failure can be an immensely potent motivator, yet I also sense that it can bring ruination. As the flip side of this is the response of ‘well whats the use’ or ‘I’m doomed to fail anyways.’ It’s hard sometimes to stay focused and on the ball and to continue on when at times it all seems pointless. This has been something that I have definitely struggled with over and over again in the past. The smallest set back will trigger my confidence and morale to collapse. I picture it like an eagle posed, ready for flight, and when it takes that first sweep of its wings something goes wrong. It’s been a game in itself to keep my confidence up and in flight, it’s been an absolute disaster when my confidence and morale plummets. It’s something which takes time to re-balance itself enough for me to get back on my feet, dust myself off and try again.

It’s very easy to feel like a failure at life. Which is how I’m feeling at this moment. I feel that I’ve not accomplished enough, I’m not travelled enough, and I’m not doing enough in my life to bring me joy, happiness and yeh maybe a little success and prosperity. Success continually seems to elude me.

It’s very easy to place yourself next to someone else and consequently compare yourself to them. They might have all those things you desperately crave. A great job. Amazing looks. A great body. Lots of friends. People paying attention to them because of these things. In my world, it is easy for me to fall into this trap of envy. I find myself doing this more and more these days, and it worries me. Being in the Gay world of Sydney, as well as Melbourne, everyone seems to have something that they’re doing that brings them something quantifiable and desirable: money, career, attention or exposure. Everyone is to my eye out partying, doing photo shoots, getting great gigs, always at fun parties dressed up in crazy outfits. I get a little bit envious and down at times. All I seem to see is other’s displaying how fantastic their lives are, which isn’t even necessarily the truth. I feel sick about myself and insecure. If I’m not comfortable in my own skin at this point, when will I be? Does the act of me comparing myself to others work as a motivator, or de-motivator? What reason then do I want the things out of life that I do? For my own wellbeing and benefit, or simply so I can feel better about myself and what others think of me?

Motivation has to come from the right place, and lately for me it hasn’t. I’ve spent too much time comparing myself to others, which is a toxic and unhealthy approach. I see people taking selfies at the parties, dressed to the nines, at the gyms showing their biceps off. All of this self-aggrandisement has an effect on others. An effect that needs to be monitored and contemplated and considered. I’ve also thought of myself as ‘too old’ for the things I want, and that I am over the hill. None of this might necessarily be true, as I have met some fantastically talented people who have come into their own later in life, and found the things that I have been searching for, yet lately this has been something to which I have given much thought to in my life.

Does everyone struggle with this, and finds themselves motivated for the wrong reason? Is it wrong to motivated through envy, or is it simply a case of the means justifying the ends?

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2017, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Manifesto 2017

It’s the start of a new year, which means it’s an opportunity for reflecting on the year ahead, and setting goals and objectives, or just in more general terms, a time for self-examining.

The idea of new year’s resolutions is nothing new [we all do it], but year by year I find myself keeping track of my year that has just passed, and I recall what I promised to myself.

This year however, I will try something different. As we all seemed to collectively feel, 2016 became a somewhat dire year. It may not have been as bad a year as we all seemed to think, but collectively it appeared that plenty of us were struggling to make it through.

Things for many of us went from bad to worse, a fact reflected by what happened globally throughout the year. Brexit, Trump, celebrity deaths et al. We all, I think, had a stinker. And we all deserve a pat on the back for making it through together.

Instead of a new year’s resolution however, I decided to write myself up a ‘2017 Manifesto’.

I’ve always loved the idea of the ‘manifesto’ concept, used by artists, philosophers, politicians as well as now corporations, and for personal use. The idea of transcribing down objectives, statements of purpose, delineating clearly the goals and ambitions and very identity of an art or political movement as per example, was something that intrigued me from an early age, from when I first learned about manifestos in Art class in high school.

The Dadaist Manifesto, for instance, was an initial exposure to the art of the manifesto as well as the original. The work ‘Manifesto‘, a fantastic video installation featuring Cate Blanchett, a logical endpoint, highlighting famous manifestos in history, all spoken by Cate Blanchett in character. The expression of ideals, virtues and identity is what has drawn me to wanting to write my own for 2017.

In my own life, 2016 has taught me that direction, decisiveness and clarity is key. A clarity of purpose and identity. Taking inspiration from above, I present my 2017 Manifesto. I’m not sure I will possibly be able to live up to this, or adhere to these tenets, but I no doubt will try.

 

 

 

Manifesto 2017

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

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

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 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.

I will not listen to or accept idle gossip.

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

I will invest my time into those who will reciprocate.

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

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

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

I will remember to breathe.

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.

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

I won’t forget to take my meds.

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

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.

What would your manifesto for 2017 say?

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Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

On Gratitude.

We’re always told to be grateful for what we have; to focus on what is positive in our lives and build up from there and to take inspiration from this. To take stock and to re-assess, over and over again every year. Sometimes I tend to think that nothing I do or say, or in fact who I am, is ever quite good enough or worthy of gratitude. Good enough for who, I’m not sure. There’s a sensibility in that I struggle to feel gratitude. I guess in this world of insta-likes and fame it can be very easy to get lost in your own lacking self-worth and pity. In my mind I feel that the act of feeling ‘gratitude’ can carry some weight of insipid self-involved neo-hippy self-help nonsense.

Of course, it being towards the end of the year means that we’re intrinsically drawn to review our lives and plot down the points, either in our minds or on paper [or in this case, on this blog], what we are in fact ‘grateful’ for. What is gratitude, however? A part of me feels that it is entirely a concept of self-indulgence and absorption, for by the very fact that one is feeling thankful and content with what they may have can for me carry a corollary sense of arrogance and conceit. Can you be grateful and still have humility at the same time? OR is the fact that we are asked to find the things we are grateful for around this time of year something that is entirely conditioned in our psyches by Western culture and society? It seems to me to be a very euro-centric, and perhaps these days more an ameri-centric concept to give thanks and be grateful.

Such as the tradition of Thanksgiving itself. As an outsider [Italo-Australian] looking in, the holiday of Thanksgiving is confusing and puzzling to me. The fact that it was a supposed moment of peace-making and setting aside differences, in this instance between religious outcasts who arrived in what has become the US, and the local indigenous people who shared a meal and gave thanks;  yet this sentiment of building bridges and peace subsequently has gotten lost is so confusing to me. I remember watching American media i.e films and television shows where the picture-perfect family will go around the table and say what they give thanks for, and cringing at how self-involved it all felt.

However, we are reminded that feeling gratitude is a purgative means to gain balance and some semblance of pride in our worth and our paths in life. Yet the flip side is what of those whom we may deem as not having as much as we to feel grateful for? Or, conversely, those we are indubitably going to be comparing ourselves to, who may have ‘more’ to feel grateful for. Again, the spectre of capitalist thought looms, as of course to have ‘more’ to feel grateful for is better than to have less to. This is why in my mind the very principle of feeling ‘gratitude’ can be somewhat perplexing to me, as in my head it creates just another hierarchy and pattern.

Much however, can be said for being consciously reflective on your own life. As Plato once said, ‘The un-examined life is not worth living’. It’s a difficult thing for me to list down things that I am grateful for, as again I feel it can be something that is bloated with self-worth and self-importance, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll give it a red-hot go.

Despite feeling an impending sense of gloom lately with how the world appears to me, and how everything this year has felt like a dire slippery slope into decline, there is still much for me to feel grateful for in my life today. We are all so lucky to even be coherent, sentient beings. We are all lucky to live in this day and age, as well.

So, first and foremost, I am grateful I have my health.  

The fact that I am a relatively healthy person is something to be grateful for, and something that should not be taken lightly. Of course, that being said, there is always more room for improvement in this regard, and it is something that more and more as I age I am aware of.

2: My friends.

My friends are becoming more and more my stand-in family. They are my net, they are my confidants and they are my people. It’s taken some years of searching, but I really feel grateful for my friends these days. We’ve grown closer and enjoyed each other’s company more and more.

3: My boyfriend.

This is a given. I’m eternally grateful for my boyfriend, as without him I honestly don’t know who or where I would be. It sometimes makes me afraid to think about this subject. I at times postulate that, had I not met him, I may not even be here today, typing this out, living in a home I love with someone I adore, and working in a great workspace with people that actually appreciate me and the work I do.

So, these are 3 things I am grateful in my life today.

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2016, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Why I stopped, and why I need to start again.

You may have noticed I’ve not posted much on this blog for months. I’ve felt somewhat paralysed and unsure about the future, or even the point, of continuing to write this blog. There’s been quite a bit of inner-monologuing which has resulted in me being incapable of action. And as much as I cringe at this, [truly I do] to paraphrase Ru Paul, I’ve let my ‘inner saboteur’ sabotage myself. Such cringe and cliche from the great, vaunted High Priestess of Drag herself, yet really fitting for how I’ve been feeling lately.

It’s been great to hear people’s responses to what I’ve posted, it’s also been great to know that a select few individuals have taken their time out of their lives to read about what I have to say. It makes me feel quite priveleged, and in a way, responsible. Responsible for the words I put down here, as well as the thoughts behind them.

Lately, I’ve had more than a few people remark on something I wrote months, or now, even a year or more ago. I’m chuffed when they praise, I’m interested when they critique. My ears instinctively perk up like an eager pup. Even negative criticism has had a positive effect, as it has meant that my stumbling about therefore has equated into experience.

So what happened, and why did I stop?

Life, in short.

In the past 6 months, I feel there has been someone out there in the great big blue sky, pushing a giant celestial finger on an equally over-sized heavenly fast-forward button. I finally left my old workplace of two years, [which was a drama in itself], I spent a couple months out of work and doing some office temping, and finally found my current workplace, which has been such a blessing and such a great ailment for what had been 2 years worth of work related anxiety and general unease.

My social circle has rapidly expanded with more characters I’m grateful to have in my life; I go out more, can socialise and I am able to generally be more daring with life experiences.

Adrian and I have been great together, we talk much more and have opened up exponentially. It’s been invigorating and revitalising having this level of dynamic energy and honesty in our relationship; communicating and being honest with each other has meant we have both grown and in turn, our relationship has grown leaps and bounds.

My new job has also given me a fresh new start and the chance to ‘reset’ myself. The stress related to my former workplace has diminished immeasurably. Day by day it gets better. I no longer sleep with unease. I no longer wake up in the morning with my stomach in knots of nervousness, and my heart sinking. I no longer feel as though I am constantly being spied upon from afar, [or worse yet], judged and taken advantage of. I feel more understood at my current work place, as well as more pro-active and generally interested. If any of you read this, all I can say is never work at an environment like Matt Blatt. But in the end, I learned a valuable life lesson in this: never let others take advantage of your hard-won skills and talent and be true to yourself. Being in that toxic work environment caused me much distress, and by the end, a sense of ‘giving up’ on my own self worth. Moving ahead to the moment, now I work in a great work environment for a large, professional company. I’m treated well, am trusted and get along with my job every day. The change has been something fantastic for me, a real chance for some much needed breathing room.

I don’t know exactly why it’s taken me months to get to the point to be able to write. Lately I’ve felt much of what has been going on in my life has given me much to reflect and think upon, and that I’ve felt much more grateful for the things I have. A part of me feels pangs of guilt for not continuing to post. I don’t know what could have come out of 3 months worth of writing and posting. Perhaps I’ve needed this time off. Maybe it’s actually been a good thing for me to take a break and step back from the blog and just try and enjoy my new job, friends and life in general. I’m re-learning how to relax, and to not feel riddled with guilt when enjoying those things in life that help me unwind and chill: reading, playing games, my new Dungeons and Dragons play group, cuddles, dinners out, a silly night dancing at the Imperial, et al.

It’s been a time of detoxifying and re-grouping, something that I feel I have needed for some time.

I guess with it being Spring comes a chance and time to re-assess, revalue and begin again.

So having said that, thank you, dear reader, for sticking with me, giving me pointers, following my [at times] angsty ramblings, and most of all for believing in me.

 

Much love,

Alessandro.

 

 

 

 

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2016, Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Dear Orlando

Dear Orlando,

This is a difficult post to write. So many thoughts have been running through my mind as I first punch down words on my keyboard. The last week since the tragic occurrence in Orlando has filled me with despair, sadness as well as volumes of guilt.

The portraits of the victims; all smiling, knowable people, the video footage, the imagery and accounts have all had a profound effect on us all no matter where we live. We are all your brothers and sisters. Pain and suffering has gripped us all. I’m sure I’m not the only one to say that we all have been thinking about you.

I was sitting by a pool in an idyllic tropical paradise when I found out what happened, initially via a friend who lives in Orlando who was letting everyone know on social media that he was alright, which made me slightly worried as no details had hit social media yet. This was followed closely by my sister who informed me of what had happened. My heart sank. My eyes welled up. My sister, my boyfriend and I, all three of us being LGBTIQ, looked at each other with shock.

Day by day, more information and more details were gleaned. Social media became absolutely saturated with posts about what happened, rainbow flags popped up everywhere like flowers in a show of solidarity. It became almost too much to take in and process. All of us reined in with posts, thoughts, condolences and information. Many of us changed our profile pictures in support, or re-posted articles. Vigils were held in Orlando as well as cities and locations further afield. A sense of unity grew yet for the saddest and most dire of reasons. Some 49 innocent people died. They died being themselves, being in what was meant to be a safe place. A place that many of our forebears had to fight and suffer and sometimes died to build and protect. These people died enjoying and celebrating their lives, their worlds and their ability to love and be loved and to show this to the whole world. I still look at images of those who died. I feel like I know these people. I think we all have. I’ve met them for coffees, had them over for dinner, met them out dancing and had cheeky romantic interludes with them. They are every one of us everywhere.

Being somewhere like Bali, which is such a haven for decadence, drunken and heinous behaviour and frivolity, I came to feel quite guilty. Guilt at enjoying my time there, guilt when going to a Gay bar, having a drink, meeting new people and yes maybe going on stage to dance with a go go dancer. How could I be there having fun when something so singularly terrible occurred? I still feel this acute pain and sentiment day by day since. How do any one of us feel safe in what is meant to be our own proscribed safe spaces? Should we be feeling this collective sense of guilt? Or is the answer to get into the bars and clubs as well as out on streets and show the wider community that we exist? This is the reason we need our spaces, more now so than ever. Here in Sydney, LGBTIQ spaces are on the decline. I blame our dependency on apps like Scruff and Grindr, which have taken out the middle man of the gay club and bar scene. Sex can be had in our own homes without having to head to a bar or sauna. But that’s another post.

Like my sister and my boyfriend, we were in Bali for a purpose, which was to celebrate my close cousin’s wedding where my sister and I were honoured to be a part of the bridal party. It was difficult for us both, as we were both there in this exotic locale celebrating an event to which we both can’t have for ourselves, and not to mention an event half way across the world which shook us both.

What really upset me was the lack of any response or condolences or a reaction at all from non LGBTIQ people, both in my family or further out. Only a couple close former work friends took time out to send me a message to talk about what had happened. To which warmed my heart. 49 people died viscously. I mentioned in passing to a family member that I was feeling a bit down because of what happened, yet sadly, this person wasn’t even aware. A blank face stared back at me. I guess we all live in our own microcosms of communities online through our online platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which is a great thing as we always will have our finger on the pulse, yet also negative as we run the danger of narrowing our scope. What is important to one person may not be to another. Like in this case. As obviously majority of my friends on Facebook are Gay or Lesbian, much news I consume is very LGBTIQ-centric.

Today, the United States Congress in the worst possible way has insulted this entire tragedy and those who died as well as their families by voting down measures that could ensure this does not happen again. This tragedy has been politicised, the issue at hand morphed and distorted. It has been taken out of our hands as a community. The fact remains that people have died. What is to become of their legacy? It pains and scares me to think of possible future occurrences that could be prevented so simply and with a finality.

The perpetrator of this massacre has become known to be a very broken and hurt person. A person who in hindsight  appeared not able to live with his sexuality and who appears to have wrangled and fought with the clash of his ideological beliefs in contrast with his sexuality. I actually pity this man. A man so torn and disrupted, who has now abruptly and savagely ended the lives of so many people. I wonder what he was thinking, what experiences he went through for him to do this.

I hope that the families of those who died can find some solace somehow and someway in the future.

I also hope we can all continue to look out and support each other. I hope we can all continue to be ourselves in public without fear of persecution, and I hope we can give love to all who need it.

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