Not normally one for pondering the year that has been, I find myself doing just that. Although, I’m pondering a lot more than just the last 12 months.
In the short-term I find myself in a state of bewilderment. You see, I work with a small team of people at work and one of them was killed just before Christmas. Her husband has been charged with homicide, and I just can’t find a spot in my mind where that makes sense. The impact has been enormous and I’ve struggled to make sense of it. At the same time I’ve had to give support, space and understanding to others, something that I’ve done quite willingly. I can feel that part of me that needs to be busy in a crisis. I work where I do because the people I work with do great work in a range of areas, including family violence. I’ve seen reports, heard the stories and know that violence happens. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand why some men think this is a way to solve a problem. I want this to stop. When it touches you so close to home it becomes real, not just something you read about or see on the TV.
The last couple of years has also been sad with other deaths, my sister, my mother and earlier this year my father. It’s been a tough time. The thoughts of them intrude frequently as I remember, recall and see them in my mind. I have the photos, videos and memories of these people. Despite everything, they are treasured memories.
The death of my parents in particular has been a relief too. My greatest fear was being rejected by my parents. Now without that worry I really do finally feel free. How bad is that I wonder. A 50-year-old gay man still fearful of what his dad thinks. I’ll tell you what he thinks, he thinks that I’m a woolly woofter.
When it comes to the emotions of life, common sense has little to do with it. In all likelihood my sexuality would probably not have been a concern to them at all. Possibly they would be too polite to actually say anything about it. Reality says two things – I’ll never know what they thought, and it no longer matters.
So, I have a new-found freedom. This new-found freedom helped me one night in Bali to look into the eyes of my beautiful man and ask him to marry me. He, with a tear in his eye, said yes. Who’s the woolly woofter now?
He comes with a pre-arranged family, parents who accept and love him for who he is, a brother, sister-in-law, a niece and nephew, aunty, cousins and friends who just don’t give a single low-flying duck about his sexuality, oh, and they also love him. I’ve been accepted into the fold and have the deep sense of the family madness that comes with that. I have to say, that’s wonderful. Oh, they’re not really mad either, my lot has the madness refined to a much better level of insanity.
The last two years have also been an incredible deep personal journey for me too. I’ve grown so much on the inside, mentally. For years my brain has been a muddle. I fully expect that to continue. However, some of it has become unmuddled. This release has seen me lose well over 30 kgs., and go from sitting on my arse to actually running, I did a 8 kilometre run this morning. It’s also seen me grow into a new work role that quite frankly surprised me, I managed to achieve a Diploma in IT and quell the side of my personality that was up for a fight, mentally that is, not physically, although my mind rarely rests. I guess that a dose of muddle comes with that. I have started to talk to people, to connect face to face instead of by email. That’s simply amazing for me, a man who wouldn’t approach you personally unless I absolutely had to.
It’s important to go back over more than the last two years to make sense of the journey that gets me to this point. I don’t know how long it’s taken to get here. I do know that the trip has been bad. I’ve been married, for the wrong reasons, I’ve used my mind to shield and bury my sexuality. You know, in denial. I’ve used that same mind to keep people at a distance, to be argumentative and unwelcoming. There’s a lot in that to undo. I will always be in the undoing mode. I want to understand me, I want to question and hopefully find the answers. For the first time in years I really do feel free.
I’ve also moved positions on marriage. I’ve gone from being married to Jennie, despite all, this was a great relationship. When we broke up I didn’t want to get married ever again. I’ve moved to fighting for the right to get married in Australia to now actually wanting to get married. That alone is a big trip!
I still have battles to fight. I can’t get married to Michael in Australia. Some religious people still get up my nose. There are still people who struggle to make ends meet.
In all of this world, we still have large sections of it that are opposed to my personal, private relationship with Michael. It’s said to be harmful, wrong and the end of civilisation. To me it just feels like love. I know that what Michael and I have is not a threat to anyone, neither of us want to convert anyone to the ‘gay lifestyle’ (other than Hugh Jackman and a couple of other hunky types…). In Russia the persecution of gay people is on the increase. In Uganda homosexuality has been criminalised with prison time. Evangelical Americans continue to spread misinformation about us (and therefore me) and continue to demonise and demoralise people for no good reason other than their interpretation of the bible that I reject outright.
People starve, people die from preventable disease. Women are killed at the hands of men, children are abused by religious. Gay people are vilified, racism continues, misogynists exist. From this angle the world seems depressing and closed.
In my world, I have love. I have acceptance. I see my Tomas and Caitlin grown and developing into their own lives. I feel my partner at my side, partners in life. I have a great sense of family, which, I’ve discovered I can hand-pick.
I feel that it’s only right that in an act of defiance that I should say to the Australian Government, Fuck You! If you won’t let me get married, then I will just nick off somewhere else and do it.
I love Michael, he loves me. We are engaged. The next step is to be married. It’s what we do as a society. Marriage brings with it a public commitment and recognition of the relationship we have to each other. It says more than just a couple living together in a de-facto relationship. It carries more weight to say, “Please meet Michael, my husband” and not “Please meet Michael, my partner”.
Sure, it’s not for everyone, but I now know that it’s for me.
Those of you that have been part of my journey, thank-you. Buckle up, there’s more to do.
If I can go from one short fat lazy Australian to a 50-year-old, fit, slim bloke, then there is nothing we can’t do. No matter where this ends up, you take care of yourself, never stop asking questions and always be willing to change.
So, I leave my ponderings now, I wish the world a happy New Year and I wish you well.