Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Marriage Equality, Opinion

A Plebiscite Of Hate

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

A long way to go.

Dear Australia,

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And WE deserve more.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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2017, 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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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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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!’

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