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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Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts, Uncategorized

The 2 Qualities I Wish I Had.

2 qualities that I wish I had are ambition, and confidence.

I feel that I lack both of these traits, and because of this I can never unlock my full potential. There seems to always be something holding me back, and the reason and excuse is always, inevitably, me.

I wish I had the drive and ambition so many of the people around me at my workplace seem to have. They’re almost like golden people, immortals stepping among us simpleton dullard mortals. Well, that’s how it feels to me anyways. I picture these proactive and vibrantly invigorated types as being almost god-like. Ubermenschen. Kinda like how the elves in Middle Earth were portrayed: they were just better than humans. They were graceful and lithe, athletic yet elegant, of such sound mind and formidable intelligence, of fleet of foot yet not brash. I can’t help but think of these people I work with like that, or at least in a similar way. And meanwhile I’m just a humble, simple hobbit, content with his lot and with ease, relaxation and hearth of home. I hope that being around this kind of energy, this kind of greatness will rub off on me somehow. They say that you should surround yourself with the type of people you would like to be, I assume because whomever one associates with, you will be affected by them just as they will affect you. Their traits will become a part of your own life, world and personality, and vice versa. So logically, go out and find the hottest most intelligent and caring people you can!

I do hope that there is some modicum of truth in this, as I want to be more like these people upstairs: upbeat, positive and proactive in their lives. I know I will never be 100% like this, I fear that the cynic and ironic skeptic in me is simply too far ingrained, yet I am a fervent believer in change. I know I am changing. I know that I am a far different creature than I was 10 years ago, 5 years ago or even 1 year ago.

I also know that in the future, I will continue to grow and to change. Yet I will still paradoxically be the same inherent person that I always have been, hopefully just a little more ambitious, charismatic and confidence.

So how do you attain something that is undefinable and intangible? If only this was a computer game, where I had set objectives and goals in order to clear a level, gain HP and XP, and modify and upgrade myself. If only I could tweak the notches about, raise my experience and add more points to my Ambition and Confidence traits.

Unfortunately, as much as I can spin analogy after analogy tying life in with a game like the Sims, reality is much messier, difficult and organic in nature. I can’t simply just expect that by doing, by achieving, that I will simply be allotted points to use to improve myself, although that sounds pretty fantastic I have to say. Our mindspaces are much less ordered and much more chaotic generally.

Life is not easy, fun, simple or linear. there are many factors that can irrevocably change things for the better or worse. Yet in amongst this, we do have a propensity for change and improvement. And the only way any of us can change, or allow ourselves to become better people is really to not be comfortable, and to say to oneself, ‘yes, I deserve this’. This for me is the only way I will ever be able to become more ambitious or self-confidence. I have to declutter my mind of the past, of the voices that once ran rampant in my mind telling me that I am never good enough. I need to dust away those cobwebs and be more open to new experiences that aren’t comfortable or necessarily fun, but will surely help me grow.

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2017, Gay, Gayblog, Thoughts

Why we still need Star Trek The Next Generation

Star Trek The Next Generation speaks to me now more than ever. And it should for you, too.

The image of the Starship Enterprise, so impossibly futuristic and symbolic of the great hopes of the future, flashing past at warp speed is something that has truly stuck with me for decades. In 1987, when this show was first aired, there was a sense that the future was going to be positive and optimistic, and that humanity would ascend to the stars and shake off our current limitations in society.

Since as a kid watching this show on my grandmas old cathode-ray humpbacked tv, in her kitschy and inescapably baroque home in Haberfield, I always yearned to live on the Starship Enterprise and to be counted as one of its team and to be a part of this world which promised so much for the future.

As much as the technology in the forms of improbable starships, phaser weapons or replicators that could produce any type of food one would want were alluring, it was really more the social concepts that have stood the test of time and left a mark on me since adolescence.

The future as I was growing up, held so much promise, and beckoned for me. I grew up in the 1990’s. It was a time of optimism, and the expectation that the future was going to be great, and a place almost within our reach. The Sydney Olympics were years away, in the then awe-inspiring year 2000. The future felt as though it was just over the hill, and it would be a bright, modern and vibrant place. We would live in a world of peace and  It was a place removed from my reality, but somewhere out there, almost able to be grasped, and that I felt it would slowly coalesce and appear. Star Trek The Next Generation came to embody what I believed in for the future. That humanity would surpass the need for greed, warfare and monetary gain. Poverty, rampant and exploitative capitalism and discrimination would be relegated to the past as barbaric.

The Federation in Star Trek came to symbolise for me all the things I had hope for the future of humanity. Things like the common good. Working together to achieve greatness. Humanity being able to overcome greed, avarice and selfishness. To see beyond our own prejudices and own selfish needs, and to want to succeed and prosper by bettering ourselves for society, not for material gain or the attainment of status or authority, but solely for the sake of it. The societal norm and status quo is to want to improve yourself, which thus would improve the world around you. This very ideal of enlightened egalitarianism, and the ‘good’ of humanity evolving to become enlightened beings that had no need for trifles, status or even money would be the baseline and the bedrock of the future society that Star Trek the Next Generation would portray. And it was something that left a mark on me to this day.

It was a message that was intoxicating and full of ideals and optimism. This was a tv show that gave me a glimpse into a world, or rather an entire galaxy of possibilities and potential for all of us to become or achieve whatever we wanted in life. A true meritocracy. And, in hindsight, a society built upon the very ideals of what we would identify as, yes, Socialism: working together for collective prosperity, and the obsolescence of private ownership and the need to attain status as well as the concept of rugged individualism. Money simply no longer existed, as due to the rise of technology and limitless energy, material goods inherently lost any value. A post-scarcity society. It helped form my politic, in which I fervently believe humanity can and must surpass the limitations of capitalism and scarcity, and we can only do this with the application of technology, working together as equals and the willingness to understand that our world is finite, and not simply a resource to be wasted.

I fast fell in love with this program. I loved the characters, I loved the ship itself, and the general ‘look’ of the show. Bright spandex uniforms and all. It let me escape my world which I didn’t really want to inhabit as a child. This show helped my imagination grow and become verdant with endless possibilities; it took me away from the mundane simpleness of suburban and familial life… I was enamored with so many aspects of this show growing up. The characters, in the for their time outlandish yet smart-looking crisp uniforms. Even the way the Starship Enterprise looked, with its updated [again, for the time] interiors, replete with pastel coloured bulkheads, indoor plants abound in living spaces and hallways, and a bridge that resembled more a Hilton hotel lobby than a military ship would ever. I loved this idea that the interiors resembled more a luxury hotel than a naval vessel, as it showed that form is just as vital as function, and that technology had reached a point where design and form were as equally important as function and utility. Hell, there was even a Counselor on board, a telepathic one at that, which speaks volumes of the era this show was produced in. Only A Trek show produced in the 1980’s would ever perceive there being a need for a counselor on board a starship, nonetheless give her a seat next to the Captain himself.

It was this idea that the Enterprise was more than just a military vessel that attracted me. It was for all intents and purposes a small city in space. I loved the fact that there were families with children on board the ship. I remember wishing I was one of them.

I feel that now, more than ever, we need programs like this. Adolescents especially need to be shown that humanity can indeed be a force for good. Like I was, at a younger age. Not to mention the fact that the future can be and hopefully will be a place and time of enlightenment, advancement and egalitarianism.  As much as I love a good dystopic tv series or film, I feel that we as a society need to understand that we can achieve fantastic and miraculous things, that the future can indeed be a bright place, and doesn’t have to be analogous to the acid-rain strewn, dark noir neon-lit world of Blade Runner. Not every character has to be filled with contempt for the world, jaded and bitter or worse yet have ulterior motives that will ultimately harm others.

EDIT: Since writing this post, NASA has revealed that a star system 40 light years to our solar system has been discovered, with 7 possible life-harbouring planets in this single system. This shows just why we need to have programs and literature and narratives like Star Trek, as we as humans thrive on discovery, exploration and ultimately, trying to understand our universe.

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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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