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

3 Things I’m Not Telling Myself Enough

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Be kind to yourself

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

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

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

 

I must create.

 

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

I  must create.

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

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

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

 

What would your 3 things be?

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2017

Family

I can’t actually remember the last time my immediate family were together, it’s been that long. My parents divorced in 2003, which is now a decade and a half ago, if you can believe that. It feels like forever ago as well, the fateful days when I was in my early twenties, living without a care on my own, working weekends at my uncle’s restaurant and studying at uni during the week feeling far removed from life presently. I feel as though I didn’t spend my days well back then, and now I’m frantically back pedalling for lost time.

So, it’s been a very long time since my immediate family were even in the same 3 kilometer radius, let alone together in the same room. I think, if memory serves, it was in 2009.

A sole 3 weeks after Adrian and I started dating.

One night, after what could only have been described as a romance-filled, sweet evening of walking around the city to see the Vivid festival [the first one held mind you, which was much more of a simple, art-student affair than the multi-million dollar event it is these days]; we came back home and were accosted by someone who followed us from the train station on the street where I was living at the time at my dad’s place.

Long story short, I ended up in Concord Hospital in quite possibly the most acute pain I have ever felt right up to this day. My jaw was smashed. I had black eyes which meant I wasn’t able to see very well. Blood was gushing out of my face, and the only way to stop it was clamping my broken jaw down on to gauze in an attempt to stem the flow.

I still remember clearly the sensation of my teeth not being in a neat row. I could move my broken jaw like tectonic plates. The sensation of this is something that still makes me recoil slightly. They rubbed up and down each other. One side was much higher than the other, as I probed it with my blood-sodden tongue. It was a clean break right through my jaw bone. Still to this day the left-hand side of my jaw doesn’t clamp together quite as uniformly as they once did, and I will permanently have a strange tingling sensation on the left side of my lips and lower left hand side of my face. Especially in the morning when I wake up, for some reason.

It’s funny how quickly, simply and with even some degree of finesse and elegance one’s life can change in such complete finality. I was bisected. The night before this incident was one of the most enjoyable and love-filled I had experienced yet. The remainder of the night was crushing, traumatic and filled with an absolution of dolorous pain and disbelief. Similarly, I feel as though my life has been bisected into -pre and -post periods. The post me became a much more wary, distrusting and introverted character than its ‘-pre’ forerunner.

This is the rather dour context that would have been the last time my immediate family and I were together, in a cold and austere patient ward in a run-down ramshackle hospital. It took me being assaulted and being hospitalized for a week for my parents to be even in the same room together, even if only for a brief period of time, namely, under an hour.

The mood was stark, uncomfortable and bare. Like the hospital room, the general tone was devoid of anything warm or decorative. There was a lack of love or closeness or any affection at all. Tension pervaded the very air.

Very little was spoken about, and what conversation or even communication was minimal, necessary and bizarrely efficient. My parents had no volition to be there at all. I was the only reason they were persevering with this experience.  Since this uncomfortable and necessary collaboration, I think my parents have only had minimal contact when absolutely necessary, and even then it seems brief and only to the point.

Family for me then has become a concept of receding and vestigial importance. A wave rolling back out into the ocean after crashing on to the shore. At least with regards to blood ties. I feel as though my friends are now more familial and close to my soul than my own family. They know me well. This hurts me to say, but I don’t think I trust my parents or would be able to count on them if things went awry. And this is ok. I’ve become a fiercely independent creature, something which was first seeded and incubated that day when I was 20, and told my parents I was moving out, with literally just my mattress clenched in my arm.

Definitions of family and familial love differ for everyone, I’m extremely lucky to have had a family at all, not to mention a roof over my head. Yet there was a definite strain in my family since I was a youngster. A sense that all was not right, and that an invisible expiry date was stamped on us. Which turned out to be true.

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2015, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

When To Let Go Of Dreams.


When is it ok or acceptable to finally let go of dreams or aspirations you may have had? Is it ever? Should we strive incessantly to chase our dreams? When does it become alright to say to yourself, ‘Enough is enough’, and to alleviate yourself of a dream you once cared passionately about? Is it a healthy and liberating thing to come to that realisation, where you come to terms with the shortcomings in your life, or is it something monumentally and catastrophically detrimental [and wrong] to do?

Is it ever ok to give up?

So much of life is built around the concept of achieving success and fulfilment in our lives, as well as giving our lives purpose. We as part of the wider world can strive to reach and surpass our potential, or we can simply ‘tread water’ and float through life being content with how things are. Those who take this path are inevitably looked down upon as not contributing to society at all. Some may contribute in other ways that aren’t necessarily conventional; perhaps in the case of an artist who is contributing not by their ability to earn money per se and contributing back to an economy, but through their contributions in culture. So, we are all seen as better beings for improving ourselves and becoming the best version of ourselves we can possibly be, usually by being motivated and attaining these set goals in our lives.

But how hard and how long do you try for something before you throw in the towel?

In my life, I always wanted to be a photographer. It was my dream as a teenager to make taking photos my means for a living. I still remember when dad came home one day when I was 14 with a beat-up old Canon film SLR from the 1980’s that he bought at a second hand and antiques auction. I still remember the magic and mystery about this now benign piece of equipment, and how I desperately wanted unlock those mysteries and take pictures. I remember buying 2nd hand How To photography books, as well as joining my school’s Photography club. I dabbled with photography over the years at school, entering the school’s photography competitions held annually, and going on to do photo collages for my major project in my final year at school.

I got accepted into the College Of The Fine Arts to study Photography in Paddington in Sydney once I had completed school, yet on the advice of my father I decided to follow my sister and do a Communications degree at another university instead. Photography, according to Dad, wasn’t a career choice. It was a hobby or novelty. As an impressionable 17 year old who was fearful of his father, I took that advice. Perhaps that was my first mistake, as I didn’t enjoy the Communications course and subsequently struggled and took 2 years longer to complete than it should have. After another year or two of malingering about aimlessly and simply working in restaurants and making do, I decided to make the decision to finally study Photography. My generous parents were gracious enough to endow me with a camera [A Nikon D200, still a great camera], and started working harder to buy all the necessary bits and pieces one needs as a Photography student. It was the most creative point in my life up to that time, studying Photography at an art school in North Sydney. It was so exhilarating and stimulating having the privilege to create without bounds. I made so many friends, created so much work and gained a lot of knowledge and experience. It culminated with the fact that I met my boyfriend of six years there; something that I know would never have happened had I gone to do the Photography course at COFA years before. I think about this sometimes and think that it’s serendipity that we met. The fact is that had I not gone there to study Photography at that time, I would never have met the love of my life, and I most likely wouldn’t be sitting here writing this.

Since completing my Photography degree years ago, I’ve worked a number of jobs as a freelance Photographer as well as an Assistant and contracted Photographer. However, it never seemed to pick up or take off as much as I had hoped. Maybe I wasn’t talented enough. Maybe I wasn’t trying or pushing hard enough to get to where I wanted, which was simply success. I began to regret my choice of wanting to become a Photographer, and in the last couple of years began to despise Photography itself as an art and lose interest in it. For me, it used to be an exercise in creating worlds that are set apart from mundane reality. It was my way of recording my subconscious, my thought processes and visually getting out those flashes of inspiration that would hit me like a wave in the small hours of the morning.

 

So what happened, and what now?

I’ve slowly come to terms with the fact that I won’t, and honestly nor do I want, to ever be a professional full-time working Photographer. I don’t think I’m put together right for that world. I’m not a hustler, not a pusher or a mover or shaker which I find is essential for that role and lifestyle. A great Photographer is someone active, vibrantly larger than life and full of personality and energy. Their drive, passion and exuberance is something that I lacked. As a friend once said, I wasn’t ‘hungry enough’ for it. This rang true with me for a long time. Maybe I truly wasn’t hungry enough to want success as a Photographer. This thought was oddly liberating, mainly as up until that point the effort needed for me to reach my goal far outstripped the gains from it. I could no longer afford to do shoot after shoot for agencies for little to no pay. I could no longer afford the stress of organising whole shoots for little in return, or live with the pressure that I needed to try harder and harder. As stoic and uplifting as Winston Churchill’s famous quote is,

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense.’

It felt more productive for me to come to the realisation that things do not always go as planned, and to accept the reality of the situation, and to come at it from another angle, and/or find a new path to walk down. These days, writing has become my means of expressing myself. I am a visual person, yet I can also create worlds and vision with my words. My words have become my pictures, and my computer and notebooks my camera.

And you know what, I’m ok with that. Photography will always be something that I love and have an interest in, but I no longer care to put myself under the pressure and resulting pain from failing to reach where I want to go. It’s time for me to let go.

Is it ok then, to finally let go of a dream? I think many people will disagree with this, that it is indeed the wrong thing to do and like Winston Churchill’s aforementioned view on this subject, it is never ok to simply lie down and give in. Where would we be as a species had we just simply gave up whenever anything became to difficult? Still in a miasmic pool of genetic soup. I agree that in this situation one has to keep trying and trying to get to where they deserve. Determination pays off in the end. But on the other hand, I feel that it is a very Western, Americentric thing to believe in absolute self-determination and rugged individualism. I feel this attitude of one simply being able to be or do anything in one’s life is admirable, yet can also be dangerously misguided. I grew up being told I could be anything I wanted to be. It’s great and necessary to have ambitions in life. Yet the obvious truth is I could never be that astronaut, or the Prime Minister. Imagine a forty year old fervently believing and endeavouring to become that astronaut after years of being an accountant or working in marketing for instance. It’s a practical impossibility. As much as I’d love to lead the country in the right direction, or blast off to space, I know that this isn’t going to happen. Sometimes, it seems preferable and feels better to be told that a goal is not realistic and that it is better to find an alternate avenue. It can be supremely liberating to come to this realisation. Which is where I’m at now.

So for me right at this moment I feel it’s ok to give myself a break and let go of an aspiration or dream, or at least change it; make it more manageable and realistic and therefore enjoyable. Without enjoyment what is the point to anything? The important thing I’m finding as I get older is that dreams, goals and aspirations change, evolve and are in flux. Much like we do as people. We are constantly changing, growing and become a new version of ourselves. They say a person’s skin is completely regrown in a seven-year cycle. I’m beginning to believe this pertains to the mind and soul as well. We shed our old selves, as well as our old selves aspirations, thought patterns and dreams. To be replaced by fresh new ones. As long as there is something in your life which is good for your soul, it is a liberating thing to let go of a dream, yet an even better and healthier thing to gain another in it’s place.

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Uncategorized

How To Stay Creative.

 

As someone who craves creating things, whether it be taking pictures, writing or just doodling in a notebook, it can be so frustrating to have that creativity simply stifled by ‘day to day life’.

It’s so easy to be completely caught up in the mundanities of life like 9-5 jobs, house chores, or other commitments, that if you’re like me and you are someone who lives to create, it can be a job in itself to keep on track and continue doing what you do best: giving something singular and special back to the world.

I’m reminded of what a teacher at my college where I studied Photography once told me. It went a little something like this: ‘Those who work 9-5 jobs and work in banal places with no excitement have extraordinary dreams, just like the rest of us. The difference with people like you and me is that we can make our dreams a reality, which is turn salves and relaxes our minds and let’s them run wild and free. If you don’t let this out, then your mind loses hope and your life becomes pale and meaningless’.

This is something that really stuck with me from my days at art college. Besides how to take good pictures, it is an ethos and philosophy that has a valuable grain of truth to it, being:

YOU MUST CREATE.

A big reason for me personally, as one of those much-maligned ‘Creative Types’, for my at times dark periods of getting down and out is when I don’t make something, write something or let my thoughts and imagination free in any way shape or form. I feel like I need to be constantly stimulated or responding to something, or otherwise I will end up wallowing in a non-productive, destructive cycle of non-action and self pity.

It’s one of my difficulties in life to stay single-minded, focused and determined, or even inspired on the one thing. Like most Aquarians, we are a rather transient bunch. We love novelty, newness and anything exciting and different. We are conceptual creatures, not bogged down with realities of situations. We aren’t perfectionists, like my Libran boyfriend, and nor are we hard-headed like a Tauran. We tend to simply go with the flow, and let life, and inspiration take us where it will.

I have a few smaller projects that I try to work on, such as this blog, as well as series of images that I’m working on with the end-goal of an art show. It may not be much, but it’s enough for my creative appetite to satisfy itself now. Yet some days it is so hard to gain the traction and motivated required or even the inspiration needed to move ahead with any creative endeavours.

So what are some good, tried and tested ways to keep your creative energies up and flowing?

1: Procrastination Is The Enemy.

It takes me so much time and energy just to start something, and even more time and energy just to keep it going and afloat, and yet even more to finally finish a project. Procrastination can be something that is just so easy to fall into, and if you’re like me you are a veritable professional procrastinator. I can spend hours and days wasting away watching episodes of Game Of Thrones, Adventure Time and yes maybe some Star Trek Voyager. Or mash away on your Ipad playing some silly game for hours. It seems like there are so many distractions that can lead you astray, and staying focused and motivated can be such a job and occupation in itself. Especially if you are a gadget lover like me. So how do you fight procrastination? I find that like anything else worthwhile, it takes practice and persistence to kick the habit of procrastination. Minimise any and all distractions that may present themselves to you, ie any digital devices and pieces of technology. It’s increasingly difficult to sit in front of your computer for instance and edit photos or write even just for a short time without heading back to the warm bosom of the internet and social media, so a good idea may be to unplug your Wifi, turn the phone off, and leave them somewhere rather inaccessible. Or if you have a loved one or friend nearby, maybe give them the wifi modem for a couple hours!

Don’t have a Zero Day.

What’s a ‘Zero Day’? A day where you do nothing productive. Zero. This point correlates to the first one, being time is the key. For me, I try and do at least one thing productive in the day, in any way or shape. If I don’t I tend to feel regretful and a little spiteful at myself for being lazy. Maybe write in a journal for a few minutes? Or tie up any loose ends that may need resolving. It takes so much of a load off your shoulders, and it feels great to have accomplished even that one thing to get you closer to where you need to be.

Make lists of ideas.

I love, love, and actually adore making lists. It once got so out of hand that I had a list for lists I was going to make. I love the hierarchical nature of list making, as well as the de-constructional element. You’re breaking down tasks to their most basic, yet it’s also rewarding the accomplishing of these tasks by crossing them off. In creative terms, lists could be compiled for ideas, concepts, inspiration or even mundane bitsy things that can help your project. They’re easy to do, some might say fun [ok maybe its only me who would say they’re fun], and they’re a great way of remembering things. Write one now and you’ll see what I mean.

Take a Break.

There’s nothing more helpful than taking a break from something which has become tedious. Go for a jog. Have a cup of tea. Call up a friend for a chat. Heck, go masturbate, it feels good and you’ll release tension. Another method is putting your work in blocks. If you have a day or half day, maybe create a schedule like back at school? They did that for a reason. For instance, I try to break up any work that needs doing by working for an hour, having a half hour break, then going for another hour. This means my mind doesn’t get completely numbed by what I’m doing, and stays fresh and stimulated. But just make sure you get away from the computer!

Keep your workspace clean.

This goes without saying. A nice, neat workspace with some slight personal embellishment [Yup, I have a wall full of photos, and magazine clippings] really can help your situation. I love the idea of things having their place; I always get reminded of an episode of The Mighty Boosh where the rather daggy Howard runs through his systematic, thorough yet awfully OCD organised work counter, which he dubbed ‘Stationary Village’. The paper clips live in Paper Clip Castle, the Blu Tac live in Blue Tac Garden, and the Sellotape lives on the Sellotape Tree. It pretty much sums how I like to keep my workspace. Well. Maybe not quite as anal but hey it does help having things in their right places. I share a desk with my lovely and ever so dashing boyfriend. Whom always looks sharp, well presented and always dapper in public. He always gets way more likes on Instagram. Yet everyone assumes that me, slightly scruffy, rough round the edges Alex is the messy one. I’ll be sure to post an image of our shared desk. It’s almost like Berlin during the Cold War. My side of the desk tends to be ordered, neat, tidy and de cluttered. Adrian’s is a jumble of wires, random bitsy things such as bits of loose papers which I’m far too scared to throw out as I’ve already once been in trouble as one of these tidbits of paper had some monumentally important information scrawled upon it. I tend to thrive when things around me are neat. My mind works at a better pace, is far more clearer, and much more open to inspiration. It’s been proven that being in a neat and tidy space decreases depression, which is yet another reason I try to keep my workspace neat.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up.

Self-criticism is actually great. It can be an impressive motivator, especially for someone who is quite perfectionist. Or, conversely, it can tear down any progress or inspiration, and leave you back where you started. Being self-analytical on your own work can then be such a double-edged sword, that it’s worth remembering to give yourself a break. People are always overcoming blocks of inspiration, or obstacles that stop them from succeeding. It’s sometimes nice to review any and everything you have done and give yourself a little pat on the back. It’s all too easy to hate what we’re creating. Especially when having worked on a project for an extended period of time.

These are just some things I do to keep myself motivated and inspired. Some things may not work all the time, but give it a go!

How do you stay creative in life?

 

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Uncategorized

On Ian Thorpe Coming Out & Why He Shouldn’t Give A F*ck What You Think About It.

Being my first post for this new blog, a part of me is sad to start off on such a negative tone.

The reason for me starting off with a post about the whole Thorpe coming out drama is because I have been a bit jilted by what has occurred since he made the decision to come out to the world. Namely, how we still judge in such a fickle manner.

At first, I wont lie: I was the epitome of the rolling-eye’d cynical fickle gay guy, when news reached my jaded ears of Ian Thorpe’s coming out to the world in a Parkinson interview.

I hate being that person, but I feel that I have been among the masses of those people who supposedly ‘knew’ straight up [pardon the pun] that Ian Thorpe, illustrious and talented athlete, and champion of our dinky little nation, had to be gay.

Going through life in the closet up till 20, in my case, then resetting as it were and living openly as a gay man, one tends to fine tune their ‘Gaydar’ as our secret compass to the world. The slightest nuance, gesture, example of body language would set off those inaudible klaxons in my head, that yes, this specimen must be of the gay. How one speaks, ones inflection etc. These aren’t enough to go on per se, but you could see in his eyes in this case, both on tv or in print, that there was pain and conflict there in those eyes. For years I touted to all that yes, he is, I’m sure his PR team will decide on a date for him to come out once his lucrative sponsorship deals run their course.

The guy designed pearl necklaces. For men. I shit you not. I’m not sure he got the joke, but this was a joke that I would find oh so terribly funny. The fact that he may not have got the joke made it even funnier. Obviously, starting a jewellery line does not equate being gay, rather enterprising and entrepreneurial, but as I restate, I can be at times a harsh critic, both of myself and others. This is something I’m trying to work on, with varying degrees of success. I’m no Joan Rivers or Kathy Griffin yet.

My thoughts were mainly how he or anyone could go through life lying and denying, and that if he in this case didn’t come out at some point he would be very unhappy and unfulfilled. I knew what it was like to deny oneself of their sexuality. I couldn’t imagine waiting ten extra years to do it. But then, some people have growth spurts in different areas of life it seems. Since coming out, I had always taken strength in the act of coming out, to friends and family and proving myself to this at times fucked up world.

But I forget. I didn’t have an amazing talent. Besides being able to walk on my toes, or being able to absolutely DOMINATE a game of Civilization or two. I didn’t have the world watching me through an invisible magnifying glass, or an apparently quite conservative family background [my dad grew up in 60’s Rome, when life was all smoking cigarettes, not eating food, skinny suits and psychedelic freak-outs]. I also didn’t have sponsorship deals, or expectations from society. You can’t be a fantastically capable athlete AND be gay, right? The only openly gay athlete back in the 90’s when I was growing up was Ian Roberts, a veritable mountain of a man, the epitome of brute masculinity, yet who was still pushed out of the sport he played inevitably.

Having seen the proverbial shitstorm that has erupted over this seemingly constructive, non harmful yet brave gesture of honesty and strength and overcoming depression [something which I know all too well], and also reading certain tweets by certain Sydney-based media and sports personalities, my mental process did a complete 180. The main crux [gosh I love and adore that word, almost as much as corollary] wasn’t that he was, in fact, gay. It was in short the fact that ‘we all knew’ and that it was ‘news to no one’.

The most poignant and hurtful example was by a Sydney-based media personality. A fellow who I won’t name, but whose self-assured visage graces a certain morning show on Channel 10, and whose crisp tones graces a radio show. A neat, short, compactly composed and arranged tweet by this fellow, helped changed my opinions. And I thank him for it. In short, he stated that, quote:

‘Good on Thorpie for coming out as gay. Although if he really wanted to shock people he should’ve said that he was straight’.

…Really? The thing that hurts me most is that I have met this fellow a number of times, the first being ten years ago in the heady days of 2004. He was dating a friend of my friend, and we would all hang out in a flat on South Dowling Street. He seemed sweet, affable, friendly, and yes outspoken. But in a good,  upright and righteous sort of way. He was quirky, would wear only second hand clothes, and would be riotously funny. A cack, if you will. What happened? The machine churned him through and spat him out, giving him a giant blowhorn, an even more giant ego, a book deal and re-editing him to have no sensitivity. And also giving him a proclivity for saying stupid shit without realising the consequences.

A bit like an ageing rock star or punk rocker who lives to be misunderstood, and tries to be outrageous, yet is making a fool of himself at family do’s.

I’m sure he never had to go through school being called a fag or poof for one. Those words hurt, and have driven many young people to depression and suicide. Or constantly being on guard to maintain some sense of being like the rest of the school cohort.

I’m sure he never had an orange thrown at his head [which I know do as part of my daily skin regimen thanks to Aesop’s citrus-y goodness], as I was an apparently easy target. Until I surprised everyone by throwing the guy that threw said orange against a wall.

Society expects gay and lesbian individuals who look, act and fit the stereotypical image of ‘Gayness’ to be open and out. Everyone gay has to be camp, smooth skinned, tanned and be a florist or hairdresser. Lesbians inevitably must be butch and handy. The amazing thing is, those who don’t fit those norms, like a hyper-masculine man, or a feminine woman, are objects of awe and jaw-dropping. ‘How can he be gay, he’s a plumber and is 6″7?’

This guy isn’t like that. You can tell a that Ian Thorpe appears to be a quiet mild-mannered and yes maybe sensitive individual. He’s not a musclebound beardy-jowled man’s man.

Rather, he’s like me and most other gay men: 3 dimensional, and not a cardboard cut-out of homosexual norms.

This isn’t good enough. Not for society. He’s too gay it seems, and he is not allowed to come out in this point of his life as ‘everybody knows’. I’m sad and ashamed to have been one of those that thought this. But now I realise the crap the guy must have gone through to get to this point:

1. Being thrust into fame at a very young age.
2. Being the hero of the day for a whole nation at such a young age.
3. Possibly having negative thought processes in which he wouldn’t let himself identify as gay as evidenced by points 1 and 2, which may well have led to depression.
4. Million dollar sponsorship deals where maybe it wouldn’t be a great idea to be openly gay.
5. Conjecture here but his family is reportedly quiet conservative, and wouldn’t take it too well.

Who knows.

I want to finish up soon before I blow a vintage 30 year old 1984 gasket, and I’ll end with this: It’s not easy going through life as something that has traditionally been seen as negative and persecuted. It’s not easy having absolutely no role models to look up to, and to not know your place in the world. It’s not easy going through school, having family dramas about it, friends not speak to you. Now times that a hundred and imagine what it would be like for that guy.

We all need to do a 180 on this, like I did, and just be happy for the guy. And remember. He doesn’t give a f*ck what you and I think.

 

 

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