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Monthly Archives: November 2016

I’m becoming convinced that my right eye is slowly being dragged down to hell.

I’ve had issues with my vision since fatefully strolling in front of a car in 2014: trouble making my eyes work together, which in turn gives me double vision. This, however, is different. Like, nek level specific. For the most part my eyes work fine, but every once in a while my right eyeball will start to wander directly straight down. This gives the impression that an ill-equipped projectionist is running the tubes connecting my brain and my vision and, yes, possibly plummeting into the depths of Hades as he or she does.

Let’s say, for example, I’m looking at a building with two people standing in front of it. While my left eye will try valiantly to keep this image in place, the right one will ensure that the image will slowly start to warp and descend, before disappearing from view entirely, heading into pure darkness. And didn’t I read somewhere that in hell – or at least in Hades, the Greek multi-levelled mythical version of hell – one of the levels is just pure blackness? I mean, I haven’t done anything decidedly bad, just more personally morally questionable (unless the crazy Christian God is in effect, in which case, yeah, I’m heading straight to super gay, super interesting hell, and I’ll see you all there). To be fair to Satan, I suppose that I haven’t done anything empirically good either. There’s still time. Maybe.

Accordingly, with my disbelief in the fantasy world that I and many other children like me were fed, I don’t really know that I believe in like, a full-blown and hyper organised Fated Purpose For My Life. Members of my family have repeatedly told me how good it is, how lucky I am to have such an affinity for writing from such a young age. And… sure, I guess? It never really felt like much more than something I knew I had to keep doing. I knew that writing would always play a large part in my life, but at the same time, I thought there was no way – No Fucking Way – I’d ever get anything published or ever make a career out of it. (Still not sure about the career thing, but now for more governmental “Australia is a shitty country that hates the arts and the Other but loves racism and tax breaks for smarmy rich white guys” reasons.) It took me going to Monash University – in particular, their student theatre – to meet and engage with people way ahead of me who were Doing It. This was like my wake up call: they were Doing It, and I could Do It too! All I really had to do was just go ahead and actually Do It! What a world!

I don’t know if I’m tired of Doing It. I don’t think I am. I love It more than most things I do or have ever done in my life. Nearly dying has proven this, laid out my life piece by piece and gone: “THIS IS WHAT MATTERS” and “THIS IS WHAT CERTAINLY FUCKING DOESN’T”, allowing me to sweep what doesn’t matter into the bin. I’m not tired, but I also really am. Tired of the shitfight and of constantly justifying myself. Tired of endlessly jostling for attention, and tired of constantly trying to be THE ONE WHO WINS THE BIG THING even though THE BIG THING won’t really CHANGE YR LIFE no matter how much you want it to, instead it’ll just make you start wondering what THE NEXT BIG THING is.

I began a PhD in early September, and this is my version of becoming a school teacher: only, without the pre-pubescence and self-loathing. The power to recontextualise my life is a cold and welcome relief. To bring it down from a grand macro into a much tighter micro, and focus on something as insignificant as finding readings or marking assignments. I don’t think I ever realised how much pressure I was putting on myself, and to have that pressure taken away simply through financial security is incredibly relieving.

When I first started seeing Daniel, my psych, I was applying for the Disability Support Pension (DSP). After all, I reasoned, I have a disability, and I need support – why shouldn’t I get it? (As it turned out, I was deemed disabled, sure, but not disabled enough for actual monetary support. I did, however, get given a pastel pink concession card. Thanks, ‘straya.)

In order for Daniel to get a handle on my mental state for a DSP support letter, we did an exercise whereby I answered a series of questions and he snap-diagnosed me. It went a little bit like this:

HIM: So what’ve you been doing since getting back from Germany?
ME: Oh, like, heaps.
HIM: Heaps?
ME: I’ve written something like 7 or 8 plays. I’ve done two shows. I finished NIDA. I won a fellowship at the State Library. I’ve won and been shortlisted for a bunch of awards. Yeah. Getting stuff done. It’s… yeah. Yeah.
HIM: Hmm.
ME: What?
HIM: Oh, just – you seem pretty blaze about it. How have you celebrated?
ME: Sorry?
HIM: Well, you’ve done so much – how have you celebrated your achievements?

As it turns out, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in part just screams at your brain to WORK WORK WORK NOW DO THE THING NOW RIGHT NOW NEXT THING NEXT WHAT’S NEXT KEEP WORKING. Unsurprisingly, this fucking sucks the joy and pleasure out of everything that you do. I hadn’t taken a moment to actually take stock of anything I’d done,  and actually, how fucking cool it might be that I could win things in a brain injury stupor.

It’s something I’m practicing now – or trying to. I don’t meditate, but I’ve got an iPhone app called YOGA STUDIO that I use while listening to some chill music. YOGA STUDIO takes you through a series of stretches and poses, and the best part is, there are no other spandex-obsessed yoga freaks watching you try and fail, and no mirrors, unless you want them. At the moment I just do a 30 minute BASIC circuit, but I’m working the way up to INTERMEDIATE. As I stiffly assume each pose, my brain slowly but surely quiets down. Like:

BRAIN: YOU ARE WORTHLESS AND YOU’RE GONNA FUCKING DIE ALONE, PS.
ME: *assumes Downward Dog position*
BRAIN: PEOPLE THINK YOU’RE PRETTY WEIRD. AND THEY HATE YOU. ALSO. THIS MATTERS.
ME: *moves into Cobra*
BRAIN: PEOPLE… PEOPLE–
ME: *moves into Warrior I with vigour*
BRAIN:

After the cycle’s done, my whole body comes alive, and I lie in the afterglow and think… nothing at all. A halfer of uncoordinated stretching blows the mentally ill cobwebs from my think-tank for an undisclosed amount of time, and doesn’t that feel good. There’s an aggravated authority living in my brain, and it pretty much gets off on telling me, endlessly, that I’m not enough. Yoga doesn’t tell me that I am enough, but it doesn’t tell me much of anything at all. It just allows me some room to breathe and recalibrate. And at the end of the day, theatre is… theatre. It’s very privileged, very ridiculous, and very much doesn’t matter as much as we like to think it does, sometimes.

It’s not about giving up on your dreams, but when your dreams take on the air of nightmares; injecting you with fear – of failure, of ignorance, of making shit work, of going down the wrong path, of having gone down the wrong path – maybe you should recalibrate your dreams.

My Fated Purpose, then, is to live and maybe to enjoy myself.

That’s obviously getting harder with the world in its current state, but sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of the things you can’t have.

I like my eyes. When I was way overweight, they were the only part of my appearance that I’d focus on as a positive. Shallowly, like: the rest of me may be gross, but oh, those EYES. I fell out of love with them for a while after my near-death experience broke one of them, made it perpetually lazy, but they’re nearly all fixed, now, and I’m learning to, if not love, then appreciate even the lazy eye. It has Character.

I like my body. At 28, after so many years of railing against it, I gave up, and simply covered it in tattoos. I now work out at the gym for improvement, to be stronger etc., but I don’t need to. In the early days I would sacrifice seeing my friends for a quick cardio sesh, but no more. Weight fluctuates here and there, and we all still look the same. I’m not a model, but I like my face, and the rest of my body, and if I had the chance to trade it in, I don’t think I would, anymore. (Or else, if I did, it’d have to be for a really fucking good trade.)

I like my butt – but more in pants than out of them. But to be fair to myself, I’ve never seen it from afar, only in my bedroom mirror or over my shoulder, vague and reflected and nebulous. Even then it still has a certain perk I appreciate.

I like smoking. I know you’re not supposed to any more, what with all the evidence out there detailing just how much it’ll kill you – and I’m not a smoker, not any more – but there are few things in life that can beat a cig and a coffee on a crisp Winter’s morning. I don’t like the smell, though.

I like drinking. Drinking is one of the aforementioned few things in life that beat a cigarette and a coffee. I don’t do it any more, but my brain is hardwired to release insane amounts of dopamine whenever I drink, and – regardless of the fucked-up decisions and hangovers, regardless of the time I slurred into someone’s ear that I loved them when I didn’t or that time I stole Hugo Weaving’s chips in the STC foyer – yeah, I really like it.

I like marijuana. The taste, not so much, but I like the effect. People have said to me: “how can you not drink but still smoke weeeeeeed?” like they’ve cracked the code, brutally injured my sobriety façade with their shocking insight and poised line of questioning. My answer is: firstly, I can happily put down and pick up a joint whenever I want. I’ve smoked twice this year, after two years completely sober: enjoyed myself, and happily had enough. With alcohol, when I did drink, even in the depths of the most hideous earth-shattering hangover I’d always think: hey, y’know what could fix this? MORE BOOZE.

Secondly, as someone with generalised anxiety disorder, being off my face high is one of the few times I don’t even slightly feel like the world is going to kill me. Year’s not over yet, but I can already tell my favourite memory of 2016 will be this: me sitting with friends in a cabin in Hall’s Gap, eyes shut and wheezing carefree from uncontrollable laughter.

I like my queerness. This one took a while, but I do. I’ve gone through many stages of life and understanding what it means to be, basically, a non-straight person, but I’ve finally reached the ‘liking’ stage of it: of being anyone outside of the straight white dominant paradigm. This came, I think, with my liking of myself: on one hand, my voice has a touch of fey, I work in the arts, I hate children but love RuPaul’s Drag Race, and have a tendency towards the melodramatic. On the other hand, I’m covered in tattoos, have a strong jaw-line (which is another thing I like) and will fight you if you fuck me over. I used to think, as a child, that I’d give anything to be straight – trade it all in. But now, I wouldn’t. It’s part of who I am, and part of what’s made me who I am. To quote a brilliant artist I know: STRAIGHT THINGS ARE BORING THINGS.

I like sex. I kind of think you’d be mad not to: it’s fun, and it’s supposed to be. Sometimes in the middle of sex I get that weird “outside myself” feeling and envisage what I look like from above – sweaty and ungainly and interlocked; making noises I’ve never heard before – and that sometimes takes me out of it, but I’m getting better. Mainly, now, I just laugh.

I like flamingos. I think about flamingos and I smile. I can’t explain why. Sometimes I wonder, “is this how straight people feel about babies?” They’re pink and they’re awkward and they’re kind of gay, and I just like them. Maybe I’m fulfilling some grand indie faggot cliché, but so what?

I like honesty. I find it so much easier to be honest in writing, though, which poses a problem – not that I feel like I need to lie in speaking, more that the act of speaking words makes it harder. Online or in theatre, crazily rehearsed and with lights and costumes and design and shit, I’ll happily tear myself apart. Confession sessions dot com dot au, forward slash me. I’d rather do it before anyone else does. In person, I’ll probably stammer and my brain will freeze and I won’t know what to say so I’ll trail off and sit in awkward silence, or maybe crack a really inappropriate joke for good measure.

I don’t like that I swing between terribly egocentric and painfully self-depreciating. Like, pick one, brain. (Or actually? Pick neither. Mediums are happy, and so in right now.)

I don’t like the politicisation of sexuality (lol ‘straya m8).

I don’t like injustice – like, I don’t like that systematic racism and sexism and fucking murder seem to rule our world, and I really don’t like that I benefit from it.

I don’t like how obsessed I can get with insignificant things, and I don’t like the fact of how insignificant my problems really are in the grand scheme of things. Not that I wish I had ‘real’ problems or wish that people thought that the problems I face were significant, more that I really don’t like how concerned I am with pointless shit when there’s a whole bunch of real problems going on.

I don’t like my privilege. Or, I guess I enjoy it, but I don’t like that it comes at the cost of so many other people. Sometimes it seems like a rabbit hole: dark and deep and endless. What can I do? Give up all my possessions? Apologise to everyone I meet? When do you stop donating to charities? What’s too much, and what isn’t enough? I’m a minority myself – homosexual and disabled – so can I start to claim on it?

I don’t like this country – its government, and its myriad and continuous cruelties.

I don’t like that I can’t let things go, but I’m trying.

I don’t like myself, but I’m trying.

I don’t like this essay, but I’m trying.

When I was eighteen – old enough to be damn sure I was a dyed-in-the-wool faggot, and young enough to still be terrified, and also to have some really idiotic views on things – I used to idolise straight guys. By “idolise,” I suppose what I really mean is “want to fuck”. Did I mention I had self esteem issues?

This weird, self-defeating desire began, in all likelihood, with my teenaged crush on one of the very straight, very football-playing ‘king dick’ guys from my high school. If you asked me then – or even now – what it was I actually found attractive about this young fellow, I’d be hard pressed to tell you. He wasn’t overly funny, intelligent, or charming. He wasn’t even particularly handsome – sure, he had a good body, a tan, and an occasional six pack, but he was a bit of a pizza face. He probably grew out of it, though. Maybe. Anyway, for whatever fucked up reason, my brain decided that he was it: he was the one for me. Forget that we basically barely spoke to each other, and that some of his best mates’d delight in making my young gay life hell, it was him. He was it. We shared a few classes together and so I’d sneak glances at him out of the corner of my eye – only occasionally though, lest I ruin it him by looking at him for too long. Sometimes in Summer he’d lean back in his chair and his school shirt would ride up, and those were the happiest moments of my fat and insecure little teenaged-self’s life. I think, as much as anything, I fell so hard for him because, aside from ticking the obvious and boring white-bread hallmarks of attractive, he was also lithe and muscular and thin, something I wanted so badly to be.

A year or two out of high school I fell hard for another heterosexual male – a bit older, in a theatre group I attended, and, as the boy from high school, desperately straight. This mattered not for my brain: I suppose, in a sense, having them be so incredibly unattainable made them safe. The only possible outcome was rejection: hope was imprudent, and I’d only have myself to blame when things didn’t go my way. (I should here say that they gave me no signs to anything beyond being as nice to me as you are to someone you don’t outright hate.)

Truth told, now, I couldn’t think of anything worse. I went through darker times in my childhood, as I’m sure every little gay boy did – the times I’d pray to God and wish to wake up in the morning as a straight. I even convinced myself, once, that I’d developed a crush on a girl: Svetlana, or Sveta, from scouts. One day I decided that everyone else had crushes, so it was only fair that I had one. Sveta was attractive, and halfway nice to me – though we weren’t ever particularly close – and the other options didn’t look so great, from where I stood. So, it was official: I was crushing on Sveta.

I stared at her like a weirdo with no social skills across the four hour of a Scouts meeting one day. She probably thought I was plotting to kill her. I focused on the nebulous image of her and me together in my brain, holding hands and sharing a milkshake with two straws, or something else equally clichéd and vomitus. I focused on that image so hard, like casting a spell. I focused so that it became concrete and unmoving, and then I rode home, standing on the pedals of my bike whirling through late Summer air and whooping to myself, laughing: “I’VE GOT A CRUSH ON SVETA! I’VE GOT A CRUSH ON SVETA!” I couldn’t wait to tell my friends.

This ‘crush’ lasted all of a week, tops. I probably then discovered someone else attractive – someone better suited to my tastes, like, someone with a penis. Through the motions of stalking an old friend, I accidentally stumbled upon her profile the other day. She’s married with a kid, now. Her husband is hot. Good for her.

The thing about heterosexuality is that it makes me angry.

It makes me angry that we’re conditioned for it from birth, that anything not-hetero is therefore made Other, weird and disgusting. It makes me angry that in the shitty jobs I’ve had, straight people talk about going out with their girlfriends and boyfriends and all the cute dates they attend, but if they ask you what you did, and you reply: “Oh, I had a picnic with my boyfriend,” you can see their eyes and minds glazing over. It makes me angry that I’ve then been asked: “why do you talk about being gay so much?” after I’ve said the above, like that’s a question that holds any legitimacy or needs answering. And it makes me angry that we’re not afforded the same rights as other individuals, and that said individuals get the privilege of being bored by our fight, forgetting it.

Last night – this is being written on Sunday the 6th of November, though I won’t post it for another week or so – I attended a trivia night with my partner, Jeremy and some of his friends, and his friends’ friends.

ABOUT LAST NIGHT – A SHORT PLAY.

the lights rise. a slightly overweight, balding older gentleman with an ‘ocker’ accent stands centre stage. he is the HOST of the trivia night.

HOST: Heeeeeeey ladies and gents! BONUS ROUND. Tonight we’re gonna have a bit of a ‘dance off’ with difference – can we get the two OLDEST couple at each table to stand up and dance together?

the couples do – predominantly man and woman, but one or two same-sex friend couples.

HOST: HEY NOW, I see godda few SAME SEX COUPLES HERE. I forgot to mention, a secondary prize tonight, laydeez and gents, is an ALL EXPENSES PAID TRIP TO MARDI GRAS, HAHAHA.

the guests laugh appreciatively at this outrageously intelligent and humorous display of wit.

HOST: GODDA GET EM SOME BEADS, LAYDEEZ AND GENTS. WHOA NOW, IT’S A HOMOSEX DANCE PARTY!! HAHAHAHAHA!

I’d finish this but it’s making me too angry rn. Sometimes – more generally now, not specifically last night – I think that maybe heterosexuality shouldn’t get me angry, but then I think: fuck that.

I think: you have all the power, and you wield it. The dominant power. The power to drown out any voice aside from your dominant and shitty narratives with your own significance. And that old Louis C.K. comment, tattoo it on my face: YOU DON’T GET TO DECIDE WHEN YOU’VE HURT SOMEONE.

This was meant to be about how I used to want to fuck straight guys and I don’t any more, partly because I love myself and partly because I doubt they’d be any good in the sack because it’s not just a matter of slamming it in – like life, it’s more much more nuanced.

This is becoming something else. I don’t fully know what it’s becoming. It’s a complex realm and I don’t know how I feel, really. I flash between caring and not caring from moment to moment; if only I had the chance to not care: to wield that power, to have some modicum of chill.

To wield the power to walk down a street late at night and not be afraid. The power to say words and not have to worry about how they sound in your mouth, lest an erstwhile lisp give you away. The power to have nothing to hide.

Instead, I’ve got a lot to hide. And I hate it. I hate that my parents and extended family see a couple of my 3 year old relatives together and say: “WHOA. LITTLE LADYKILLER HE IS. WHAT A CHARMER. BOYFRIEND AND GIRLFRIEND ALREADY, HEY.”

I hate that at the shitty call-centre I still occasionally work at I’m afraid to be out, to ‘come out of the work closet’ lest they make comments. I hate that I’ve already heard them make disparaging comments about fellow faggots, and I also hate that I’m pretty certain the timbre of my voice has given me away.

And I hate that the only way I could write about the homophobia I experienced last night without slathering it in my own emotion and subjectivity was as a jokey stage-play – and even then that I failed at it. I hate that everyone in that room will see me as a histrionic faggot.

I hate that after this continual, several hour beating, a drunk middle-aged woman at my table just said: “WHY DON’T YOU JUST GET OVER IT, YOU’RE LETTING HIM RUIN YOUR NIGHT AND YOU’RE BEING RIDICULOUS.”

ME: Thanks, but until you’ve lived the life of a homosexual and dealt with all of that, I’m unlikely to take your advice on receiving abuse.

HER: NOW look what you’re doing! YOU’RE JUST AS BAD AS HIM. I’ve got several homosexuals in my family, SEVERAL, and I know what I’m talking about, mate.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. Okay.

I tried so hard to be straight once in high school that I didn’t speak for nearly a week. Speaking gave me away: I used to gesture effeminately as I spoke, and my voice didn’t drop as far as the other boys. Probably it was just psychological, but I felt more recognition that week: everything about me curled up and repressed deep down inside me, hidden within, and all that was left was what was recognizable to my heterosexual classmates. Like Olga Baclanova at the end of Freaks: “one of us! One of us! Gooble gobble, one of us!”

I’m pretty staunchly anti-marriage. I campaign for equal marriage, but it’s not something I’ve got any interest in. I just know a bunch of lovely people who’d make good husbands and wives, I think, and who deserve to find that out for themselves. And also, can’t deny it, having the equality of equal marriage is way overdue. When I expressed these views to my mother a few years ago, after much of her pushing – expressed my view that marriage was just kind of an overrated ritual I wasn’t interested in perpetuating, she replied: is this because you can’t get married? I bit my lip. I didn’t know how to respond.

I don’t know what, exactly, but I feel like those two anecdotes together say something. I’m sick of biting my lip, though – I taste blood. The blood that pours through my veins and throbs in my forehead, dull and insistent and pointless, keeping me both angry and afraid. The blood of all the histrionic faggots past, and all the histrionic faggots yet to come. The blood of all those who’ve come beforehand.

And now, of course, a week later and Trump’s in power, and it’s all going down the shitter – what seemed like a bad dream, an ‘alternate timeline’, has become this timeline. And on one hand, all of this seems irrelevant, now: there’s bigger (ugly orange) fish to fry. Of course, this is so easy for me to say, as a white gay man of no specific denomination but a specific kind of privilege.

Trump runs a country on the other side of the world, but his presidency sets a disturbing precedent, and let’s face it: we’re already a backwards, garbage, racist and phobic country. I feel like Trump would be proud of our shitty Australian record. The world keeps spinning, and we keep finding new ways to fuck everything up. The blood is metaphorical: the blood of every wound that gets opened and reopened, time and again.