Peeking out of the closet door. Hello? Is anyone out there?

Hi, everyone. My name is –. I’m gay. I’ve been gay for as long as I can remember. I’ve been open about this in some places online, because online, I choose to surround myself with people who are understanding. And there are a few idiots who give me a hard time, but online it’s just words. I can press delete when someone says something ignorant or hurtful. It’s easier to deal with than in real life. In real life, their words burrow inside me and fester, decomposing into a corrosive acid of hatred, a torrent of vitriol that bursts forward whenever someone pricks my wounds…

I’ve decided that I want to start telling people I’m gay in real life. Because I’m ready to go back into the world and move on with my life. And I’m old enough now to realise that if people judge me for my orientation, they’re the ones with the problem, not me. But there’s a big problem.

It scares me.

I remember what drove me into the closet in the first place. I remember the hatred, the names, the disgust, the intolerance. This closet is now my prison, but once upon a time it was my shelter. It kept me hidden and safe from those who wanted to harm me. It kept out the bad words, the fists, the spit. I sat inside, in the cool dark closet, and I was no longer afraid. I could relax. I could be myself. In the darkness and silence I dreamed and spun stories and built sandcastles out of dust like a spider. Like Lucy, I discovered a whole secret world in my wardrobe, populated by imaginary characters. I explored and adventured to my heart’s content. And in the darkness I grew strong. Strong on my own. I learnt how to live without the approval of others.

Eventually the closet which was my home became a jail. It suffocated me, trapped me in its wooden sides, starved me of fresh air and sunlight. I had grown too big for it. I want to go out into the world again. I’m stronger now, resilient enough to survive on my own. I want to feel the grass under my toes and the mosquitoes on my skin. I want to smell eucalyptus and taste the salt of the sea. I want to run under the open sky, hear the wind whistling in my ears, and look back at that small, cramped closet and wonder how I managed to live in there all these years.

But I’m scared.

I’ve hidden my sexuality for so long, even from myself. It will be so strange and awkward to come out to people who’ve known me for years. They will look at me in a new light. Maybe they’ll judge me. Mock me. Reject me. Shun me.

Change is always difficult. But sometimes it seems more difficult than it really is.

I will begin by telling one or two close friends. My goal is to tell random strangers without fear. One day I’ll even tell my family – once I’m financially independent.

But before I can tell other people I have to be comfortable with myself. I have to be open with myself. So.

I’M GAY!!!!!

….

I’ll say it aloud.

I’m gay.

Now while looking in the mirror. Looking at myself. Like I believe it.

I’m gay. I’m gay. I’m gay.

The Earth didn’t shake. Lightning didn’t strike me. I didn’t drop dead. It wasn’t as hard I’d thought. I feel like my skin fits a little more comfortably. Like the person I see in the mirror matches the person I am on the inside just a little more.

I think I can tell someone now. Yes, I can. I can start with people online. That’s easier. I can deal with words. I can take them apart and put them together, like Lego blocks, build things out of my imagination. I like words. They make sense.

I feel like I’ve pushed open the closet door a tiny crack. And the world looks beautiful out there.

If you’ve read this, do you want to drop me a comment telling me that you know I’m gay and it doesn’t make you think less of me (unless you do think less of me, of course. I don’t want you to lie)? It would mean the world to me and help me build my confidence.

Have you ever built some kind of closet for yourself? Do you still live in one, sometimes, always? Don’t worry. If I can find the strength to push open this door, anybody can.

It was my choice to go into this closet in the first place. And when I’m ready, I will kick down the door and step into the light, and the world will marvel at the strange and wonderful creature that emerges.

Hello? Is anyone out there?

 

Rediscover the prejudice: Being gay and visible is not a political statement

Or at least it shouldn’t be.

On Thursday January 17, Parramatta City Council hosted a Family Fun Day. They invited a number of youth organisations to attend the event, set up stalls and host different activities. One of the groups they invited was Twenty10, which set up a kite-making stall.

Twenty 10 is a community based, non profit state-wide organisation.  We work with and support young people of diverse genders, sexes and sexualities, their families and friends. We aim to be a beacon of strength and acceptance – supporting young people to build resilience and achieve their potential. (http://www.twenty10.org.au/about-twenty10)

During the family fun day, the Twenty10 stall displayed a banner with the following message:

Twenty10 – a place to be you. Support services for young gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people, their families and communities. “A place to be me, with the support I need.”

A few ignorant people saw this banner, took offense to it and made complaints. As a result, a representative of the Sydney Lord Mayor’s office asked Twenty10 to remove their signage because it was “offensive”. You can read the full account of events on the Twenty10 website. They decided to withdraw from the Family Fun Day – it was no longer so fun, because being not-straight and visible in public is offensive.

So eventually the Lord Mayor’s office made an apology. However, according to this article from the Canberra Times , which is also worth a read:

Independent councillor and former mayor Lorraine Wearne apologised for any offence caused but labelled some of the response an overreaction. […]

But independent councillor Paul Garrard said Twenty10 should not have been at the family day as it was no place for ”semi-political” groups.

Young people were told that they were not welcome at a Family Fun Day because their orientation was publicly visible. See, Family days are for normal people. Gay people don’t have families. We don’t deserve them and we certainly don’t get to participate in Family Activities which are for decent, normal people. Clearly, anyone who is upset by this is overreacting.

Also, a group which provides support and services for young people is semi-political. Because supporting young GLBTQI people through the horrors of living in a homophobic society, giving them a safe place, letting them know they’re not alone, is clearly a “semi-political” act.

 

 

It’s a beautiful name

It was a miserable grey day with rain drizzling from the skies.

I hurried onto Platform 7. I wanted to be on time for my counselling session so I could get the most out of it. Usually I’m around ten minutes late.

As I passed a scruffy man wearing a tracksuit, he asked if I had any cigarettes. I shook my head and mumbled something indistinctly without breaking my stride. I continued walking down the platform until I reached a green pole to lean against. I pulled out my book (Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, Agatha Christie) and ruffled the pages, looking for the bit I was up to. I was near the end and the murderer of Simeon Lee was soon to be revealed. I had my own suspicions, but it was a tangled web with so many motives and possible perpetrators.

As I leaned there, I saw out of the corner of my eye that the cigarette man was walking towards me. I kept reading, hoping that he would leave me alone if I didn’t make eye contact.

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Hindus did not invent Evolution

For centuries European colonial powers have been the dominant forces on Earth. They have controlled the world’s power, resources and even the fabric of history. They “discovered” the world and in doing so, remade it in their image. Their notions of right and wrong, civilisation and savagery, superiority and inferiority, beauty and ugliness, advancement and primitivity, have been (and are being) projected onto the rest of the world. Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Americas became players in a grand drama created, directed and interpreted by Europeans (OK, I’m lumping the US in with Europeans in that last sentence).

For a long time now, we have seen the histories of the world through a Eurocentric lens.

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I’m disappointed with myself

I’ve had to give up my studies for this semester. I did well for the first nine weeks but I couldn’t cope after that. My depression and anxiety came back in a bad way and made it impossible for me to study. I’m really disappointed with myself. My parents were upset too but they’re being supportive overall.

What can I say? It’s been six years since I’ve left high school and I haven’t achieved anything in my life. I haven’t got my degree. I don’t have a job. I don’t really have friends any more. Things are pretty grim at the moment. I’m trying to stay positive. All my friends have moved on and are doing things with their lives. It makes me sad that I’ve been left behind. I do feel like a failure. I could blame it all on my personal problems, but I know that a lot of it is due to my lack of self discipline and motivation.
I guess if I compare myself to other people I’ll never be happy. I keep telling myself that it’s okay to take a bit longer to get on the right track. Everyone does things at their own pace. So I’m a bit delayed. That’s okay. Maybe I don’t measure up in terms of conventional success. But I don’t want my worth as a person to be tied to my marks or my job. I won’t be happy if I do that.

I’m a person, that’s all. Nothing more, nothing less. I hope I get somewhere in life. I hope I find something that makes me happy. Hope isn’t enough, though. You need a plan and hard work and determination. Those are not things that come easily to me.

My parents would say that I make a good Australian. I don’t put pressure on myself. I don’t push myself to achieve. I relax, take it easy and take life as it comes. But hey, is that such a bad thing? We can’t all be neurosurgeons, right?