I am bored of sitting all alone on this grey metal-brazed bench, it is rather giving me a chill now. It seemed everything around me had come to a standstill by the enchanting spell of the old lady, sitting at the other end of the hall smoking cigar. The only thing that seemed free is the smoke from the cigar, soaring monstrously high above, howling with rage ready to spread havoc in all directions. This day wouldn’t have arrived if I would have just said “No”, but I couldn’t. I fell for the black-veiled man, who treacherously pushed me into darkness and the seduction of the bright glossy pouted lips with silvery shadowed eyes.
I can still recall the day when it all began. The day, my parents decided to throw me out of the house, never to speak to me again because I am gay. It seemed as if I was a shame to them, a disgrace in front of the society. “You should consult a doctor, it’s curable son, it is just a disease,” such were their remarks. Why can’t I have the freedom to live, to love whomever I want, to be happy? Why should I suffer in the name of society?
It’s been five years now since I left home and decided to continue my life’s journey alone. Living a life of a gay-sex worker, is not easy. Although, you have a sense of freedom but, the sense of guilt and voidness that accompanies it, is painful. Everyday it is a new struggle, a new challenge.
Sitting on this metal bench at the bus station made me realise how much I miss my family. I have decided to start a new beginning, to live life to its fullest without feeling any shame or guilt. I plan to complete my education and be a professor, just as I had dreamed throughout my childhood.
Life, though it is a short journey, it is beautiful. Standing at the edge of life’s mountain and looking at the deep trench beneath, one can only behold the beauty of nature. The cool breeze whispering some untold stories, the rugged mountains reminding the highs and lows of life, the golden rays of sun bearing the light of success and the serenity and silence that engulfs the surroundings. I want to fly high into the sky and conquer the cloud of my dreams. I will not allow the society to dictate the way I want to live. I am ‘GAY’, and I am proud of who I am.
“They want us to believe that to be queer, to be trans, to be confused, to be questioning is
equivalent to being a sinner but conveniently forget that we are all sinners in God’s eyes” – Courtney Carola.
I’m a few of years removed from you now, and I know things aren’t the greatest right now, so let me tell you a few things about where you end up.
Firstly, you do get into uni! Overseas, too, which is nice because you get a bit of space to explore yourself. You figure some things out. That itch at the back of your mind saying you’re not a girl? Guess what, it was right! Don’t worry, though, that doesn’t mean you have to be a boy either, I promise. You can be just you, and that’s gonna feel pretty great. You get all glittered up sometimes, and you have fun with your wonderful colourful friends, and that feels even greater.
Also that darkness inside your head that sometimes follows you around and makes everything feel shitty? Yeah, that’s a thing too, you didn’t make it up. You talk to someone about it, and you’re managing it alright.
You’re fine; you survived, you made it. You’re mostly okay, most of the time. You find people you care about, who care about you. You hug so many people and take so many pictures. Of yourself, even! How about that, huh?
Nothing is perfect, not even close, but you do just fine.
All my love,
Al (hey look at that, we figured the name thing out too!)
By the time I was in year 12, people referred to my high school as a ‘massive lesbian camp’ where supposedly every student, by the time they graduated would identify with at least one of the letters in the LGBTQIA* alphabet soup. Unfortunately, this was not true, as attested to by my best friend who was and still is straight. However, the queer* community grew big enough that by the time we graduated she was complaining of being the ‘token straight friend’.
Now, to some of my uni friends who were the only out students at their schools, this sounds like absolute bliss. However, it came with one big, classic lesbian issue. All the girls had dated each other.
You were crushing on a cute girl? Well at least you didn’t have to worry about her being straight, odds were she was questioning if not out. Now the question was who has she dated and how much more messy would the queer* community dynamics get?
There was a small group of us that would go to Newtown semi-occasionally to walk around and be gay. (This involved talking about horoscopes, discussing which teachers might be queer and eating vegan food). However, this would only be able to last six months before the dynamics became so awkward that we had to stop. Relationships formed and fell while eating hummus in Camperdown Park. Broken hearts and betrayed friendships whittled down the numbers until it was just my girlfriend and me, left alone to be gay in Newtown.
The community became even more fragmented when we broke up later that year, and she began to date a mutual friend of ours (who I had previously spent a ridiculously long time pining after and she’d also had a brief friends-with-benefits relationship with a close friend of mine). As you can imagine, things were awkward.
The drama was messy but underground. You had to be part of the community or at least good friends with someone who was to know that these weird dynamics weren’t just due to people drifting in and out of friendship.
At university, I’d assumed that it would be different, but alas, as I become more involved in the queer* community I realise that here too, all the girls have dated each other.
I’m in a London gay bar in the daytime
Watching a drag queen mime eating out a tiny lesbian, apparently it’s her 35th birthday
Winner Takes It All blares out the speakers
The lesbian and I have the same haircut
My heart leaps with a dumb, soaring validation
I always feel closer to other people than I should, only for the most insignificant reasons
My girlfriend is sending me a facebook message
It’s telling me about her self harm attempts
Now her ex is taking her to the doctor
Isn’t it funny how the emotional distance between two places (people) only manifests
After real-time travel? Haha
The drag queen splashes water from the bar and slides across the floorboards, her wig goes flying
I’m trapped in between two feeble messages and a wall of noise
‘I love you, I hope you’re ok <3 <3 <3
Do you want to talk about it?’
The queen stands between my table and the street, I can’t say anything more
It’s squeezing the air out of me
I’m not going to get a reply for a long time, I know that, it’s fine
Queer culture has fucking seened me recently
What’s up with that
I’m looking to fill my lungs in the bathroom
On the overground train too
I take a selfie at the sink because my phone matches the tiles on the wall
This distance is not temporary, and I’m still scanning to get some goddamn free wifi networks close by
A message seen is a message read
It’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok
Relationships can be hard to navigate. Love can be hard to find, but if you’re queer*, love can be impossible.
While every day the queer* community moves closer towards equality, there’s a barrier that’s constant, and one I fear will never be broken down. Being queer* isn’t normal, and regardless of the way people feel about the queer community, this sentiment remains, prevalent in all levels of society. When straight, cis people confess their feelings, they fear rejection; when I speak my feelings, I fear estrangement. To confess my feelings to someone risks a portrayal as the weird, predatory gay, just for being honest about how I feel. And no, this isn’t just localised to me. Any queer* person you ask can speak of a time when they confessed their emotions to someone, for that person to simply reject them, but change their whole view of them. Such a confession breeds a fear within some cis straight people, that I’m gayly obsessed with them, or worse, that I’m trying to ‘turn’ them.
This frustrates me particularly because I’ve been on the other side of the equation. I’ve turned girls down comfortably, with no fear or angst that they’re going to force themselves on me. So why can’t this be the same for queer* people?
This is something I’ve felt for my whole life, which extends beyond just relationships. The assumption of cis heterosexuality as the norm continues to be extremely damaging to all people of queer orientation, making us afraid of being honest about who we are, for fear of the inevitable ‘queer’ connotations it carries. I wish my friends could speak about me without my gayness taking the spotlight, as if I’m some unique and special creature. I wish people didn’t tell me I dress well ‘because you’re gay.’ I don’t wish I lived in a world where being queer is celebrated and special. I just wish I lived in a world where being queer is normal.
Comments Off on We Used to Be Kidnapped by Marriage…
When I was young, I was always told to get good grades at school, enter a well-known university, meet someone nice there and get married. What comes after? Have a few kids, buy a big house, pay off the mortgage and see our days numbered. Somehow, we are all participants in this exhausting race. Nobody’s happy, nobody wins. It is just a matter of survival.
These expectations are like bubbles. When you get closer, they pop. My marriage is not recognised. All the plans and thoughts about living a ‘normal’ life, sink. It’s hard to position our desires, love and lust into this heteronormative world.
I unwrap this box of gift named ‘queer’, and my world has turned upside down. I am sinful; I am sick; I am abnormal. These labels are glued to my skin, and they have been here for way too long. One day, I embrace my sin, my psycho and my uncontrolled desire for being who I truly am. I know I have no way back and a long way to go.
Living with labels and stigma does not only make me stronger, but it also navigates a new direction. I ask myself, our society has already scarred me, and why should I live up to its expectations?
Marriage is a cocoon. It looks nice when you see from a distance, but no one knows what it feels like to be in there. I cannot even expect to hold someone’s hand until we sleep a perpetual sleep.
Marriage is painful privilege. You can all the social recognition you deserve as a human being. But you also sign a series of commitments that have legal, financial and moral complications.
Marriage used to be a weapon. Let’s not forget Jim crow and the Nuremberg Laws.
I will vote YES for the postal survey as many queer folks behind me want to hold their partner’s hand down the aisle. But, please do not forget that marriage, as an institution, has kidnapped not only queer people, but also everyone.
Comments Off on Can We Fall in Love with Our 2018 Queer* Officer?
They say that there are a set of questions that will lead to two people falling in love, provided they are honest. To celebrate Pride Week, Woroni sat down with the 2018 Queer* Officer, Matthew Mottola, to ask the question: can we fall in love with our 2018 Queer* Officer? Here are Matthew’s responses to our 26 questions.
Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
There are a few people I could think of. From public figures, activists, and comedians. All of them would make for colourful dinner conversation, however, right now, I would love nothing more than to share a home cooked meal with my mum. It seems like she has the solution to everything.
Would you like to be famous? In what way?
While having the spotlight is fun, it’s also really tiring. I don’t think you have to be famous to make a change in the world.
Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
Over the past week, I’ve made around 300 phone calls for the Marriage Equality campaign. Dead calling people, or indeed, calling people for the first time can be a bit scary. Even still, you can never really anticipate what someone on the other line is going to say. I will jot down a few key points perhaps, about the reason why I’m calling. But organic interactions are the best type of interactions.
What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?
Being able to go radio silent and head into nature for the day. Perhaps a tea, some food, and some good company would be part of that mix. I do enjoy a good road trip.
When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
Good luck catching me signing to someone else! I sing to myself a lot when I cook but rarely in the shower.
If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
These holidays I saw my Nonna for perhaps the last time, in her retirement home. She doesn’t speak English anymore, and she really doesn’t have a solid perception of reality. For this reason, I’d prefer to retain the mind of my 30-year-old self.
Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
Because I would hate to die naked or when my room is messy… I’ll probably die tripping over my messy room on the way to the shower.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
For my mum, who has always been there for me and has (in my humble opinion) raised me well.
9. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
Although inevitable, talking about the death of my family is distributing enough for me.
Take four minutes and tell us your life story in as much detail as possible.
I was born and raised in Melbourne to two hard-working parents. I grew up closer to my mum than my dad, and this relationship didn’t change much after they divorced. Living with a single parent, money was tight, and mum took a night job at one point to save some money. As a child, I learned that if I wanted something, I had to work for it. I moved high schools in year nine after being outed and bullied, and in my new school, I found a new home (after a bit of time). I describe myself as a student activist and someone who loves the company of others.
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
Having a better memory of the tasks I was supposed to do.
If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
I would like to know if I’m on the right track/what more I need to do to achieve my goals.
Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
A lot of the things I want to do just require more hours in the day, or for me to not work retail hours. Most of the things I dream of doing involve travel of some kind.
What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
Getting as far as I have, considering my history of mental health.
What do you value most in a friendship?
Loyalty. The ability to confide in a person and rely on their support.
What is your most treasured memory?
I don’t think I have one, but living away from home I’ve learned to treasure and better appreciate my time with family.
If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
I would like to think I wouldn’t change too much but probably would change inherently. I might drop out of uni to work more so I can see some things in the world that I wanted to see.
What does friendship mean to you?
Someone who is always there for you. After a day, a month, or a year. You see them again and it’s like nothing has ever changed.
How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
I don’t think it was happier, but I certainly think that my mum’s side of the family is close and that has impacted the way I was brought up. We all have our issues, but we’re still close.
How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
As I indicated before, we are really close. Closer, I’d say, than most might be. We talk about two or three times a week and she knows everything about everyone. I can keep a secret to the grave, but I’ve probably told most of them to mum!!
Complete this sentence: ‘I wish I had someone with whom I could share …’
A relationship. Because at the moment I can share everything else with my friends and family.
When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
A friend bought me a donut the other day and I really, really, needed the comfort so I just burst into tears.
I also cried when I said goodbye to my best friend who I surprised for her 21st
What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
I have a reasonable list of jokes that I find distasteful.
If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
These holidays I have taken a bit of a mental health break. I’ve also started to re-connect with old friends or start to kindle new relationships. I would regret not doing enough or not telling people who appreciative I am of their friendship.
Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
While I own some expensive items (laptop, teapots, Xbox, TV etc.) I don’t think I have a significant enough attachment to any of my worldly possessions. That being said, if there’s a fire, I’ll let you know what I grabbed
Matthew Mottola is the 2018 ANUSA Queer* Officer
Woroni operates on the stolen land of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri lands. This land always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land. We are striving to do better for future reconciliation.