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.

Standard
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?

Standard
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.

Standard
2016, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

The Gay Long Term Relationship.

‘You’ve been together for almost 7 years? That’s like 49 years in Gay Years’

 

Oh, the wit and banter of the online Gay scene.

Chatting to a fellow 30-something Gay guy before work, mixed in with the flirtations were general probings into each others lives. Getting to know someone online is like a game of Pong. Back and forward. As I share my Relationship Status on any Online Dating app, [I’m in an open relationship, which I will divulge the details of in another post], I find that many guys I speak to are curious about my relationship with my boyfriend. Besides the workings and machinations of us being open, the fact that yes, for a Gay couple, we have been together for what most people equate to an eon.

As it was before work, all I wanted was some simple flirtatious banter, so my mind was relatively sluggish when I read this fellow’s reaction to me having informed him that I had been with my guy for almost 7 years. My first reaction was honestly ‘why is it such a big deal?’. 

Why is it such a massively big deal for Gays to be in a long-term relationship indeed? Successful relationships in the Gay world seem either looked at in amazement like discovering the Holy Grail, or thinly veiled derision. Anyone in a long term relationship is deduced to a tittering old married couple who should simply be shut out to the rest of the Gay community due to them taking up valuable time away from single Gay men’s missions of finding a date. Many Gay men feel that relationships in general are simply for the ‘Straights’. I tried to explain my relationship as simple as I could: I love the guy, it was chance we met, we get along well and he’s as handsome as fuck.

 

‘That’s ok, I’ll find the one eventually, till then I’ll just be a slut’.  

 

…Whoa guy. Whoa. What, did you miss the OPEN part of the term ‘Open Relationship? I retorted. And why do you equate promiscuity with being single? I went on to inform this rather [in my mind] uninformed yet devilishly handsome fellow that alas, we don’t simply shut ourselves in and entertain close friends with lavish dinner parties. I’m not 65, I don’t call myself ‘discreet’ and I don’t own a house to entertain in anyways. We love going out, meeting people and experiencing life just as much as any single guy in this town. Even though we are a couple, we have independent lives from each other, and aren’t in each others pockets constantly. Some of the best nights I have is when I kick the guy out of the house so he can have his own fun and vice versa.

This was just one scenario that I have come across with respect to the perception of being Gay and in a relationship that lasts longer than a few months. There is a definite sentiment from many Gays that Gay men are not built for stable relationships. Like installing an .exe file on a Mac, that shit just ain’t gunna work. For many, that stereotype of the drama-magnet, sex fiend yet conversely always pining for a relationship Gay man appears to be the status quo. Which is obviously beyond untrue. BEYOND. However, I can’t help but get my Carrie Bradshaw on and think:

‘Are Gay men intended as a community to be simply promiscuous and unable to maintain a stable relationship? Are most of us simply hard-wired and destined for singledom? Are expectations for many just too high? Should we be setting our own rules and standards for relationships? Do some of us believe the myth and stereotype of Gay men being randy and salacious creatures who only live for the next fuck?’ Cue me in a well-appointed New York flat with frizzy hair, dark roots showing, a cigarette in hand and clacking my fingers on the keyboard of an old Mac laptop ala Sex And The City c 1998.

Many of us want the Chris Hemworths, Paul Walkers and Zac Efrons of the world with their perfectly chiselled features and bodies, however that ideal for most is unattainable. I’m nowhere as pleasing on the eye as any of them, at best I’m a 7 if I’ve had a good sleep, but for me when I was single the one thing I longed for was affection above anything else. Looks came in second. Yes, a very close second but second none the less. Not saying that my guy is a troll either, he stole my heart with his looks as well as charm.

Yet after years with the boyf, I don’t go around acting like a long term relationship is a badge of honour or something like levelling up in an MMORPG game like World Of Warcraft. Simply put I’m extremely lucky to be with someone who loves me as much as I love him. I know, hard to believe huh. It can feel like I’m an alien or an anomaly when I tell people I have just met about the length of my relationship. I see their eyes widen, the look of amazement as though I have told them that my penis is 15 inches long and shoots rainbow-coloured cum. Is it because Gay men in long-term relationships are viewed as something that happens decades after the heady party-fuelled 20’s are over? Are we meant to party our youth away then couple once we turn 40? At times, I have hesitated informing people of the length of my relationship mainly because I don’t want to go through this whole rigmarole of a scenario. Of course however, many if not most people are genuinely impressed and happy for us, and we unintentionally can come across as the LTR Gay Poster Couple.

We have our ups and downs just like anyone else. We fight and carry on like everyone else. Ie the Great Ham Fight of ’15. The difference is that we both want to work at any problems we have with each other, as I know it’s worth sticking together for. All in all, my life with my boyfriend is all the richer for it. We make our own rules, we defy any sort of compartmentalising of life and relationship status. To those who look down on LGBTIQ couples, I can only say that it saddens me, as my life is just as vibrant and the equal to that of the next guy.

 

 

 

Standard
2016, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Hetero-Normativity In Gay Relationships.

The other week I had a fight with my boyfriend of almost 7 years about ham. Ham. I went to the shop armed with a list of items to get for dinner as provided by my culinary genius husband-man, one of the items listed being simply ‘ham’. So I picked up some sliced ham at the shop and returned home, little to know what a giant shit-storm was about to take place once I got back.

To cut a rather long and incredibly dull story short involving accusations of idiocy, lack of intelligence and logic, I came home with the wrong ham. The boyfriend blew up at me, I blew up at him, and once the initial wave of hot-blooded Italian tempers gave way and reason returned, we realised we were fighting about HAM.

This is a relatively normal occurrence for us. The bi and sometimes tri-monthly fights about things which are so inane and rudimentary yet at the time seem monumental and colossal in importance for us are a fixture in our otherwise serene 6 and a half year-long relationship. The both of us share very similar upbringings, including Italian backgrounds, which means, aside from consuming way too much pasta and carbs in general, we like to lose our tempers and proclaim vendettas against eachother quite easily and quickly, leaving logic and reason far, far behind. Knives and any sharp objects in general should be well hidden and secure. In short, we’re honouring the time-old Italian tradition of Vendetta, but without all the dueling and bloodshed. We both feel however that it’s better getting the crazy out and yelling at each other than bottling it up and creating yet more fun neuroses for us to enjoy.Again this is because of our similar upbringings, where emotion and passion go hand in hand.

I feel like most couples have the same, or a similar experience in life, regardless of sexual orientation or socio-economic circumstance. Which made me think how alike to straight people LGBT co-dependents can be, or have become; which then in turn led me to think about what the status and/or validity of Gay/Lesbian/Trans et al relationships.

 

Find your soulmate, pair off, buy the house in the ‘burbs with an accompanying purebred dog and a Range Rover or VW Golf. Possibly have kids down the track and many a wine-fuelled soiree along the way.

 

Increasingly to me, this is becoming the status quo and norm of LGBT relationships. Is it because I’m getting older and leaving my so-called party days in the past? This may not apply for all members of the community who are in relationships obviously; yet more and more it seems that a ‘hetero-normative’ conformity is becoming the standard. What’s this mean? That Gay and Lesbian relationships which are stable and monogamous are on the rise. Something akin to a traditional straight relationship. Which leads many [including myself] to wonder what is to become of us. Are we wrong to want to instinctively seek out monogamous or monogamous-appearing relationships? Does this mean we are becoming simply facsimiles of what many of us don’t want to be: the stable, unexciting and dull loveless heterosexual couple? There are many LGBTIQ people out there who rail against and abhor this supposed heteronormative conformity, the catch cry always: ‘Why do I want to be married? I’m not straight and I don’t want to be’.

The well-appointed house or flat, the fancy car and/or purebreed pets. A steady and high-paying job with a lot of upward mobility. Preferably in a design/creative field. All the trappings of a typically urbane, staid and comfortable existence. I for one can’t talk as I live in one of those ‘well-appointed abodes’, or ‘Hipster Apartment’ as a friend remarked the other day. Is this all a positive evolution? Through the rise of the stable monogamous relationship, are we able to prove to the wider world our worth; a place where we can have our rightfully fought-for and earned position in society along with the responsibilities that go along with it?

Do we even need to prove this point to the mainstream community?

Do we need to actually prove anything to anyone at all?

If we can have the freedom to marry [something which we in Australia cannot do yet but that’s another blog post], do we become something very akin to the run-of-the-mill straight couple in every suburb in the country? Or are we as a community, by entering in very ‘hetero-normative’ relationship becoming the very things so many brave and fearless individuals have fought against? Do we lose our Queer identities and richly vibrant culture by evolving into what is expected by the wider society: coupled-off interchangeable hetero-induced straight-for-all-intents-and-purposes couples?

I recently read an article posted online at HuffPost about the ramifications of LGBT relationships being legitimised by the wider society, foremost being the fact that the poster boys and girls of this wave of controversially titled ‘LGBT Assimilation’ in terms of hetero-normatised relationships are generally going to be Middle-Class or above, Caucasian, cisgendered [I still struggle with that term], and relatively prosperous. As author of this article Colin Walmsley states, with the fight for marriage equality almost at an end in the Western world, have we lost the very essence of what it means to be Queer? Have we also left behind those who aren’t so fortunate, such as transgendered, homeless or other marginalised segments of the LGBT community?

‘After all, although marriage is a declaration of love, in many ways it is also an expression of interpersonal stability, economic security and social respectability — attributes that many marginalized LGBT people do not have. So while love may have won for middle and upper class gays, many transgender people, queer people of color and queer homeless youths instead find themselves left behind by a community that has become increasingly defined by the interests of its white, cisgender, middle and upper class members.’ 

Another point made in this article is that because of the rise of the so-called onrush of LGBT assimilation, more LGBT people are transitioning from being on the fringe of society to ebbing towards the hubs and centres of societal power and authority. As many of us prosper and climb the ladders of success, what effect does this have? As concluded in this article, those who fought for Gay and Lesbian rights from some 50 years ago were the ones whose unconventionality and diversity gave birth to the very idea of Queer/LGBT culture and the fight for equality.

And they’re the ones being forgotten.

We all know about the ‘whitewashing‘ of the new film based on the historically important Stonewall Riots, where important figures in history who are non-white, non-cisgendered individuals have been replaced by stereotypically handsome white youngsters. This is just the latest.

With our expensive clothes, exclusive club nights, gym memberships, vintage cars and elegant homes, are we killing the very thing that has brought us to this point in time? Or is it simply logical once full equality is achieved to want to be ‘like everyone else’ and fit in?

As the well known artist and long time advocate for the Bohemian lifestyle David Hockney recently stated in an interview,

‘Too many gay men have become ‘boring’ and ‘conservative’… too many gay men were determined to lead ‘ordinary’ lives by entering into civil partnerships and having children through adoption or surrogate mothers;
“They want to be ordinary – they want to fit in,” said Hockney, “Well I don’t care about that. I don’t care about fitting in. Everywhere is so conservative.”

He has a very valid point. Our sense of ‘Bohemia’ is fast becoming a thing of the past. You only need to see the state of things in my hometown Sydney for yourself. Gay-friendly venues are shutting doors more and more frequently. Why is this? Because traditionally LGBT communities have been ones living and growing on the far-flung fringes of society, away from the societal structures of power, protected by this protracted distance which meant that new and previously unseen support networks, subcultures, art and concepts emerged and arose. You only need to recall the impact of LGBT people on so much of society which stems from these communities in history, how much art and culture and innovation has been borne of these petri-dishes of new and experimental cultures that were created out of necessity. Warhol, Mapplethorpe, Oscar Wilde Turman Capote Annie Leibowitz. I could go on indefinitely. The one thing besides being supremely talented and Gay or Lesbian was that they were all involved with the subversive and underground Bohemian LGBT cultures of their times.

Will we loose this streak of creative fury and inventiveness, as well as our zeal, steadfastness and willingness to dare and fight for what’s right? Is the future of LGBT/Queer culture to be one of ‘beige’ sensibilities, where the acceptance of full marriage equality has led to a loss of this once-vibrant culture? Is the first thrown brick through a window going to be replaced with a French Bulldog or some other trendy purebred dog, clutched in a well-toned arm as opposed to being flung into a window of course. I fear that this may be the case, or that there will somewhat be a growing divide in our community between those who long for a ‘conventional’ relationship and those who don’t. I know that relationships aren’t for everybody.Which is ok with me. I know marriage isn’t for everyone, again which is ok. My life with my partner works well for me, but I don’t disrespect those who believe that being in a relationship tends to be a hetero-conformative concept placed on us from above. And I’d like those who have the opposite viewpoint to not disrespect me for being in a relationship.

For me personally it is quite difficult for me to say which way I feel about this argument, as I agree with both sides. LGBT people need to continue to work at being accepted in our society in general, and one way this can happen is if our modal relationships are somewhat normalised to a degree. However, I accept that we are far from dull and normal as a segment of society, and that we should be all inclusive and not forget who and what makes us, and our special community great.

Standard
2015, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion

Colourless People.

 

Do you find that sometimes people you may have known for an extended period of time as friends or acquaintances change, or ‘fade away’? In which their vitality seeps away and they become something lesser. A poor grainy photocopy of an artistic masterpiece. This sounds of horrible but I find that some people I have known have lost what makes them special. Sometimes, I even feel this can be me losing that thing that makes me who I am.

What I mean by the term ‘Fade Away’ is similar to the concept of losing one’s moxie or ‘mojo’, that indefinable thing which is an individual’s essence of vitality. Some I find have more colour than others. Some are a vibrant Technicolor rainbow, full of life, quirks and oddities which make them peculiarly special. This could be anything. A wicked sense of humour. A cackling laugh. A killer wardrobe or sense of style. Supreme intellectualism or intelligence. I get along well with those that have a defining characteristic, whereas others are faded, washed out and drab, or entirely a scrubby black and white. It’s hard for me to describe this, but it’s a phenomenon that I’ve witnessed, as well as something that I at times notice in myself. I always need to be, or try to have some form of colour in my life; whether it be through friends, family, loved ones or anything I do.

I recently read a book by one of my favourite authors, the well-known, regarded and renowned Japanese author Haruki Murakami. His body of work is impressive, his stories and characters mix the mundane with the otherworldly and surreal. If you’re into fiction please give his stories a go. They’re thought provoking, yet understated and subtle. Many people find his books difficult to read as he really does capture what makes a life, life: those moments and empty spaces in time that we all inhabit or travel through, from one point to the other. Maybe it’s waiting in an office for an appointment for a doctor or job interview, reading a magazine to pass the time. Maybe it’s lying on your bed waiting until a friend calls to let you know they’ve arrived downstairs. Perhaps it’s a day off spent doing the household chores alone on a cool cloudy day. Or in front of your computer struggling to write a short blog post or continue a personal project. It’s these moments that Marukami captures in such a pristine and effortlessly real way. This is what life is. Lots of introspection, transience and moments in flux. With large dollops of life changing drama in between. Murakami’s stories always begin in a similar manner: a slightly dysfunctional [most of the time] male character most likely in his early thirties doing something completely domestic: looking for a lost cat, going shopping, preparing a simple yet inevitably healthy meal or travelling on a train. The hook is always that something unexplainable occurs. It could be a girlfriend disappearing without a reason. Or the character walks around a corner and realises they are no longer inhabiting the same world they were a moment before. I don’t want to give too much away, as I love reading his books and want whoever reads this to discover his stories for themselves.

His latest book, named ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki’ runs in a similar vein, with a dichotomy and mix of the use of simple narratives of the mundane and intrinsically average aspects of life enmeshed with the theme of unexplained and inexplicable change or loss. In this case we have the self-conscious [and in his own mind], dull and uninteresting Tsukuru, a 30 something run of the mill man who lives in Tokyo and works as a Railway station engineer. He was once close friends with a group of friends, two boys and two girls who went to the same high school. They would say that they formed a hand, as there were five of them all up. Each member a finger. Tsukuru’s friends names all featured a colour, as of course Japanese is a highly descriptive language. All of them except Tsukuru, whose name doesn’t feature a colour at all. Hence he began to create a self-constructed idea of himself as ‘colourless’ or being without a defining characteristic, and apart from his friends. He was the thumb of the group.

One day his friends unfathomably stop talking to him, and no longer have any contact with him. Tsukuru is simply cut-off and is given no further explanation as to why his friends stop the friendship, and subsequently moves away to Tokyo where he loses himself in study, depression and anxiety. Consumed  evermore with the thought of being ‘colourless’, he exists in a narrow and limited world, and is left pondering as to why his once close friends simply and without reason let him go. So one day, a decade and a half later, spurred on by and with the aid of the woman he is now dating, Tsukuru begins a quest to find his old friends. What he finds besides uncovering the truth piece by piece is that his friends have all somehow changed, and ‘lost their colour’. What made them stand-outs and unique has been lost, only to find them lifelessly humdrum and routine. Hopes, dreams and ambitions have morphed into banalities. Dynamism transformed into listlessness. That special something has been irrevocably sent adrift into the ether, only to be replaced by a greyness.

I feel that this scenario has happened in my own life, both with others and myself. The person I was ten years ago, like Tsukuru, was colourless and grey. He went to uni, lived in a small, plain yet tidy apartment with a friend, smoked toomany cigarettes, worked in his uncle and aunty’s restaurant to pay the bills, and played Playstation. That is the short and long of my life back then. It was a very claustrophobic and limited existence, with no aims besides going to lectures and to work. The version of me back then thought about life far too much, was introspective to the point of isolation yet had some good friends, and was completely abstinent for years. There was even a point where he subsisted on McDonald’s alone for months. Which quite literally turned him yellow.

All of this was because of me going through a period of severe clinical depression, as well as not being out and open to friends or family, which created a very stunted and self-deprecating insecure young adult. As years went by, I grew into myself, and gained more ‘colour’ if you will. I’ve met many people in my life who I feel have either had a similar change, or the reverse. Some friends or acquaintances have unexplainably lost that special spark or colour in their lives and simply become colourless driftwood. You can sometimes see it in someone’s eyes, or the way one dresses. Maybe they once would dress outrageously or had cutting wit, yet turn into a more subdued individual. Did they grow up? Has life beaten them down to the point of defeat? Others have slowly gained colour. It’s either me who may be viewing them with fresh eyes, or simply them getting their groove back. How does this happen? Is there really an undefinable pattern of ‘fading away’ that occurs as we get older, or simply the banalities of life taking a toll on us?

I don’t feel that this is an age-related occurrence. I feel that some people have nothing that defines them. A friend of my boyfriend’s had a theory on this, that zombies in fact exist in this world, yet not how we know them on TV and in films. Instead of being the familiarly mindless undead that walk around slowly and aimlessly, they are mindlessly alive and live life aimlessly. The ones who simply work to pay the bills, sit in front of the TV or computer after work, eat bad food, never leave their comfort zones and have nothing that define their existences.  I am afraid of this person, and I’m afraid of being this person now or in the future. I agree with my boyfriend’s friend’s sentiment that zombies do indeed exist. They are colourless and have no life essence to them. Like in Murakami’s book, they are colourless. It’s my aim in life to never be ‘Grey’, and to always have colour in my life. If it is through friendships, relationships, career or even hobbies and pastimes, it’s important for me to be colourful.

It should be for you, too.

 

 

 

Standard
2015, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Sydney, Uncategorized

Male Objectivity And Fear Of The Peen.

Recently, acclaimed fashion designer Rick Owens [let’s be honest, I’d never heard of him before either], drew attention, astonishment and some ire from the indignant masses of the internet-bound public for sending out some of his androgynous, handsome and emaciated male models in garments that were cut right up about to the crotch, which meant that some ‘peen’ was slightly visible when said skinny-boy models trounced and hoofed down the runway. Slightly NSFW pics below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rick Owens : Runway - Paris Fashion Week - Menswear F/W 2015-2016      Rick Owens : Runway - Paris Fashion Week - Menswear F/W 2015-2016

 

Aforementioned ‘peen’ was briefly visible, sometimes dangling through the finely delicate folds of what is I’m sure very expensive material. I won’t lie, it was an oddly beautiful, unexpected display of male objectivity. A nice change if you will from the constant barrage of female bits on display everywhere one looks. Objectifying women is somehow acceptable as of course media is run by the SWM [Straight White Man], but once a man is sexually objectified, the floodgates are let loose. The blasé and uninterested looks on the chiseled-featured and hungry looking model’s faces as they purposely and confidently strode down the catwalk, combined with the flash of a bouncy dick was in a strange way attractive. Heroin chic mixed with a bit of kielbasa. Also, the scenario of male nudity in such a public space is always something that I find oddly fascinating. But of course, I’m gay so any tidbit of a sausage and two veg will get me excited.

Articles then made the rounds, were shared and discussed [most vehemently] in the most modern agora of discourse: social media. I myself shared an article about this show with a small comment relaying to how I’m looking forward to this ‘peeping penis’ look trickling down to the high street fashion retailers like Top Shop for next season. Much of the feedback of course was negative. Much of this negativity was linked with the penis being an inherently unattractive body part, something that should be tucked away, hidden and harmless, and not out for show.

Why is this? The penis itself is traditionally viewed as an instrument both of masculine virility yet also revilement. A dichotomy of sexual potency as well as potential violence. Going back through the annals of history, the penis has connotations with phallic symbology and discourse such as swords, knives and other instruments of violence. Closer to the present time and we get ‘Penis Envy’, where a man’s junk is an object to be both desired, coveted and yet reviled at the same time. Gay men whose main concerns sexually are the size of one’s business end are commonly referred to as ‘Size Queens’. Even more extreme is anti-nuclear proliferation proselytiser Helen Caldicott’s ‘Missile Envy’, which takes the concept of Penis Envy to an utmost exaggeration where both sides in the Cold War competed to build bigger, taller and more potently destructive missiles, a theory which was associated back to male strength and superiority in the Patriarchal-run world we live in.

So. We’ve all grown up with the penis being something associated with strength, virility as well as violence, and more importantly, underlining disgust.

In this case, it was a case of subtlety in context of fashion. Said penis was, like was stated in a recent Dazed And Confused article which can be read here, quote: ‘Discreet, tucked away, quiet – these aren’t the thrusting phalluses from Tom of Finland. Nor are they the cheery, candy-coloured penis shoes of Walter Van Beirendonck. And they’re most definitely not the questionable bulge of Justin Bieber’s Calvin Klein campaign.’ 

Enter the many comments, posts and shares with many a pun based on the good old reliable Dick Joke. It’s funny how the penis can be such a punchline for low-brow humour. And also how physically, without the constraints of underwear to hold everything in place, just how hilarious a penis looks bobbing up and down flaccid. As is evinced by all at the Rick Owens show.

Why is this the case? Does the penis have to be forever erect in order to be feared or respected? Visual imagery of the phallus has gone through many changes in history. Rick Owens himself responded to the complete shitfight that erupted about the little dick slips in his show. He puts it best when he stated: “I pass classical marble statues of nude and draped figures in the park every day, and they are a vision of sensuality — yes, but also of grace and freedom. As a participant in one of our most progressive aesthetic arenas, am I not allowed to use this imagery? Is it only appropriate for a Michael Fassbender movie? I thought this might be an interesting question.”

He’s absolutely correct. The penis or even just the hint of one is enough to get us all in a frenzy. Yet despite this it can’t be denied that the nude male form is one of beauty, admiration and sensuality, as Rick Owen stated.

Women have forever taken the brunt of sexually objective imagery and have always been the objects of the male gaze. Titillated over by men, stripped down bare and reduced to little more than sexualised imagery for the gratification of said men. They are forever the receivers of validation in our male-run, sexualised and sex obsessed culture. Why, then, was such a furore caused by just a subtle peek of peen? How many instances of female objectification occur on a day-to-day basis with barely any comment by media, traditional or social or otherwise, in comparison to examples of men being objectified? Let’s not forget the case of Halle Berry displaying her goods for a purported seven-figure sum for a diabolically terrible action film. this was of course a big deal for the time. Yet of course, it was made bigger due to the want and desire of the male gaze to see Halle Berry bare at any price. Or, as I was told by a fellow on Grindr who had a good point, characters getting their bits out on Girls, or the rampant sex and violence we see in shows like Game Of Thrones. Yes, Game Of Thrones differs slightly in terms of male nudity, yet it is always the female naked form which takes centre stage. Examples of male objectification are much more underground and generally not quite as high-profile.

The answer is, the male form and masculinity cannot be an endpoint of desire to be viewed as a proprietary sexualised identity. The man is a predominant figure in our society and must be seen as authoritative and strong. The male is seen forever as the giver, the active side whereas the female is the submissive receiver in this symbiosis. Can this change? Can the male form be seen as a touchstone of tenderness, softness and sensuality, without the need to militarise it in context of strength and dominance?

To me, what this fashion designer did was both not that crazy; not even that controversial, yet also a right step in the correct direction. Is a small amount of male nudity enough to really get people so riled up? Is our society reverting back to an approximation of the Victorian era, wherein social mores, values and ideals were stifling and stuffy? Is sexual and gender identity to be yet again repressed and banished from mainstream discourse? More male objectification needs to occur. The male body is a thing of beauty, grace and a virile raw strength, and yes, the penis is a part of that. Like ’em or not, dicks are here to stay, and to me both sexes should be objectified equally or not at all.

Male objectification seems to be a continually and cyclically touchy and controversial subject, something that I feel will take quite a long time for any change to occur, if it ever does. People’s perceptions to public dick doesn’t look to change any time soon, and will continually be viewed in twin frameworks of humour or revilement; yet as my friend on Grindr said to me, ‘it’s time to #freethepeen!’

Standard