Sat at my desk I looked out of the window as the Suntory sign reluctantly flickered to life, I knew the next lesson would begin in two minutes; sigh, grunt, kick. All the others had a free period, I hated being penalised for being the best English instructor on the 13th floor, the only reward the Japanese could offer me was more work. A blimp passes the Nova tower, advertising what appears to be pedophilia, it carries my attention with it until it disappears in to the dusk.
Gazing across the polluted Osaka skyline I found it hard to remember life back home; so easy to forget what you were running away from, too easy perhaps. As Big Ben signals the start of the next lesson I see the French guy sat opposite me. Thick tree-trunk legs, separated enough to display a very pleasing bulge. I always started with the bulge – crotch, eyes, arse was the standard assessment. His shirt was black, tight-fitting, open more than usual at the neck - verging on chest, I could see Christ dangling freely in his hair.
Some people are disgustingly good-looking, Fabien was vomit-inducingly handsome. At the time I was reluctantly bisexual, but this man had momentarily gayed me, I would have let him do anything to me, just about. I catch his blue eyes and questioning smile just as my lesson begins, I nearly piss myself with embarrassment. A Japanese student appears on my screen, I adjust my hair and tent, smile broadly then turn on the camera.
“Good evening! My name is Pete, what is your name?”
I offer my hands to the camera, which are now appearing on the student’s TV screen somewhere outside Toyko, this was cutting-edge multimedia teaching a la 2003.
“Erm my name is Izumi..nice to meet you Pete!”
“Nice to meet you too Izumi..”
Smiles and laughter, I look over to the sexy amphibian and notice that he has his hand near his crotch and is looking directly at me smiling coyly, it’s almost too much to handle and I freeze. The student notices.
“Pete, hello? Is there some problem? You aren’t moving..”
I pretend that there is a technical hitch then carry on with the lesson, today it’s about shopping. It was an easy job, a maximum of eight forty-minute lessons per day, although often it would only be six or less. The free periods would be spent in the ‘refresh room’ with the other purple tags, we were the bottom rung of the brothel, the language whores. Our immediate overlords were the green tags, westerners that had been in Japan a little too long, they bridged the gap between purple and blue. The blue tags were Japanese.
We were taught to use Japlish, a combination of English words with Japanese gesture. Saying “OoooooKaaaaay” whilst making the OK hand gesture always signaled the start of a new exercise. I hated doing it, it made me feel like dying, but the fat Irish bitch had insisted, we called her Cammy due to her chronic ’camel toe’. It goes without saying that she was a green tag.
“Please look at this video and remember which items each person buys..”
I look up as the video plays, hoping to continue the flirtation but his head is down, immersed in his job, how tedious. Sat behind him is a girl called Natalie, American, she is playing with her hair and looking directly at me, smiling like a face-fucked porn star. It’s very confusing. Perhaps she thought the earlier glances were for her? I smile back, she makes a bored face and pretends to hang herself, I pretend to find it amusing, we both ‘laugh’. Time passes.
“So Izumi, today we learnt about shopping in the supermarket, the shopping mall and..?”
“Erm, in the record shops?”
“That’s right! Well done, great lesson, have a good night and I hope to see you again soon!”
Waving and laughing, I turn the camera off as Big Ben drones in the background. I look up, Natalie is standing above me, I can hardly see her face over her hijacked breasts.
“Heeeey you, how’s it going? I’d love to have you as a teacher, you sound so kind, and your accent…”
She seductively/moronically plays with her hair. I put on my best ‘Hugh Grant’ and reply.
“Why, thank you m’lady!”
Awkward silence, strange smell. We both look at each other suspiciously then look down in synchronicity.
“OH MY GOD! Is that shit??”
She screams, she’s not wrong.
“I think it is..what the fuck? That smells awful..”
“But..how? Why? Who did it?”
She looks accusingly at me.
“It wasn’t me, look it’s coming from that booth..”
We hear a scream from the other side of the room of similar sentiment. We follow a trail of turd that runs from the empty booth next to me to the security door at the far end of the room; in total there were fifteen solid pieces of shit. It was the most disgusting thing I had ever experienced. A member of the Japanese technical team runs past, slipping on a turdicle then crashing in to a wall. He looks down in shock then straight in to my eyes, I had never seen anyone so horrified, disgusted and confused in all my life.
“Nani? NANI? Dog?”
“No..I don’t think a dog could get in here without a security pass, and a forefinger..”
“I don’t know..look it comes from here..”
Natalie screams again then grabs hold of me, she starts to slide her hand up my thigh and breathe on my neck, I look at her sternly and remove the hand, she concedes. The blue tag calls for others who also come running then recoil in disgust. Second by second more instructors catch sight of the poo trail, there are gags and screams, slides and falls. Nothing in life can prepare you for shit on the teaching floor. Big Ben sounds amidst the chaos, we are all urged back to our seats to begin the final lesson of the day. We bewilderingly obey, such is the Japanese work ethic.
As we struggle to block out the madness and pungent aroma whilst teaching our lessons, the Japanese staff cover each blob of evidence with paper towels, it looked like some kind of fecal genocide. We all leave the teaching floor as quickly as we can when the lesson ends. We recount the tale to those on other floors, within a couple of months the story has become Nova mythology.
I never did find out who the culprit was, although I had my suspicions. I organised a poo tour for those who were not present, it was a little like the London Dungeon tour but far more macabre.
God, I miss Japan.
My brother’s sixth child has just been squeezed in to the world, through a canal of blood and chord, out of a tired and mangled vagina. It’s a girl, she’ll scream and shit herself for a while then make fake alluring smiles that turn out to be gas, which make me look well stupid as I force a ‘coo’ and smile back. Oh then there will be the obligatory holding of the child, we each take our turn, willing her not to cry as she reaches us, but she does of course – such rejection, such pity.
The magic years are between two and six, you can lose yourself in their crazy perception of the world for a while and even learn from them, I’d stay there if I could but by seven or eight all that’s gone, replaced by ego and self awareness and it’s then downhill until they’re old enough to buy you a drink.
What a miserable way to announce the birth of a niece, I was going to delete it but I found it too funny, which is simply terrible right? The truth is that I am a little indifferent to the birth of my sixth underling, she mostly represents a life that is totally foreign to me that I have generally been forced in to. There will be the mandatory Christian ceremony accompanied with the sheer horror of my sister-in-law’s family. They are awful, I despise them. Self-important, money-driven, racist, classless inbreeds. It’s not my little niece’s fault, but it is my brother’s and his child-addicted wife’s.
The first three were a novelty but by number four I was overcome with annoyance at my brother’s ongoing intrusion, you see I am expected to care, not asked to care. I don’t believe in default, and relatives are relative. Aside from anything else I resent all the events that I am supposed to attend and spend money on when they are so offensive to me and often leave no one satisfied. Ergh, how they cry when they don’t like the present I spent ages choosing for them, everyone once again looking at me with pity.
“Well, we did say he doesn’t like Thomas..”
As if I should fucking care about which fictional cartoon train character a five year old prefers, fuck off. When I was young we were taught to be grateful for every gift we received, and some of them were a piece of fruit, so shove that in your station and smoke it/how do you like them apples? Sometimes I want to kick them, but that’s only because the parent’s idea of discipline is shouting endlessly, aimlessly, hoping they get the right name and misdemeanor. It’s all just so noisy and unnecessary.
Six is a lot of children though, right? But maybe this one will cure AIDS? Cancer? Or the common cold at least. I guess my brother has made it easier for me, perhaps he’s taken my share, I have no current impulse to procreate, the words of Philip Larkin forever in my mind, I have spent most of my life dealing with the bullshit passed on to me by my parents. This is a delightful conversation I once had with my mother:
“Your stupid brother always expects me to look after his kids, I’ve only just finished raising my own! Don’t I have enough on my plate?”
“Yes of course Mum, and you know that you don’t have to do any of it? Just say no!”
“Ah it’s not that easy, I’m the grandmother, he’s always judging me against his mother-in-law..you know that he calls her ‘mum’ too?”
“Yeah I heard that last time and found it very strange..”
“Kids, kids, kids that’s all I get…when are you going to have children Peter?”
“What’s the point in you then?”
Lovely. It just slipped out of her mouth but she meant it, at this point she had no idea that I was gay, not that it would make a difference, but it certainly hurt. I will not define my life by someone else’s, she had no choice. It’s strange that my parents would wish me the same life as them; I often notice how misery is an acceptable and expected form of currency in my family.
I have no doubt that at least half my brother’s children will grow up to resent him deeply, he’s had so little time for them individually. The irony is that he is yet to deal with his childhood and parental issues. I’m guessing that’s why some people end up having children so early then never stop, desperately trying to create a childhood that they didn’t have, trying to forget but not let go, holding on tightly to their resentments as a misguiding light.
It’s never bad children I resent, just bad parents. I’m a bad uncle, but I’m fine with that.
I had forgotten about James.
He’d been catapulted back in to my conscious mind as I entered my friend’s house just before Christmas.
“What is this music? I need to know! What is this called?”
“It’s on Classical FM..have a look on-line they usually have track listings..”
I frantically searched to no avail, in desperation I emailed the DJ.
At around 7 pm this evening you played a kind of Gregorian chant that I have been trying to find for years, it’s not on your playlist – please help!
I apologised to my friends for barely greeting them before becoming possessed, they were very understanding, a little amused. I explained that the last time I had heard it I had been 15 years old, sat on James’s bed prodding his nose as he scowled at me at the end of a long summer.
The next day I received a reply from the radio station.
It was Miserere mei Deus by Allegri.
I find it on Youtube instantly and press play, my emotions don’t quite know what to do with themselves, I cry a laugh. Just like that I’m 15 again.
Walking up a path in the woods we made our way to the pissing tree, we’d got in to a habit of walking there together after admitting to each other that it was a little scary alone. Secretly I just loved being that intimate with him. I couldn’t help but glance down and across, it looked so beautiful to me and I would take every opportunity thereon in to be in his (and its) presence. He asked me to move in to his tent so we could talk that night, I happily agreed.
He had such a soft face, it was actually pliable; his eyes were the brightest green. He always seemed so calm, affable but with a hint of sadness behind the eyes that perhaps only I could see. We stayed up all night chatting , laughing and finally confiding. I felt a warmth and hunger that I had not ever experienced before, he was my first crush.
We were not typical teenagers, far from it. The camping trip that we were on was being run by our church, we attended prayer meetings, sang in the church band and even read the Bible together. I didn’t know what I was feeling, all I knew was that I wanted to be with him, always, everywhere. We became inseparable.
I liked his life, it was white and clean, there was order and interest from parents who adored me, their new son. I wanted to be part of their world, his world, so desperately. Summer of ’95 was spent half at his and half at mine, I didn’t care as long as he was there. One night as we chatted we both admitted that we masturbated but always felt awful about it. We decided to create a codename for our sinful wanks – ‘Baileys’.
“Where have you been?”
I asked him after waiting 20 minutes for tea. He hung his head low and looked up at me with his green glowing orbs.
“I had to have a Baileys over the Kays catalogue..”
“That’s ok, I had a Baileys while you were ‘getting tea’ “
“What were you thinking about?”
I told him it was Becca but it was all and completely him. We prayed for forgiveness and for more strength in future, the Lord obliged and wiped our slates clean.
“Dress me in white so that I need not be ashamed, please forgive me, renew me, make me whole once more”
No one will ever love me the way Jesus once did.
I was the happiest I had ever been, it truly was my summer of love. It makes me cry just thinking about how simple it was, how bright-eyed we were, so beautiful and innocent, not yet jaded by disappointment or crippled with knowledge. For one moment in time I experienced love in it’s truest form. It’s just a shame that he didn’t like boys too.
I would watch him sleeping sometimes, just stare as he breathed softly. I began to want more. One night whilst he slept I picked up his shirt and breathed in deeply, before I knew what I was doing I found myself having a furious Baileys inspired purely by his scent.
Another night our Bible reading lead us to the story of David and his close friend Jonathan. These are some quotes from the book of 1 and 2 Samuel.
“And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as he loved himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and belt.”
This would almost definitely have left him naked in front of his friend.
“David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together..”
“I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother, you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.”
Finally I understood our relationship, it had been affirmed in the Bible itself, based on my interpretation of course. I began to write James what can only be described as love letters. I knew I loved him and that it was OK, only that it really wasn’t. He didn’t know what to make of my increasingly romantic scribblings, I could see they made him uncomfortable but I just couldn’t help myself.
Long silences now punctuated our once flowing stream, I felt that I was losing him and I couldn’t understand why, then the dark moods started. Sometimes when I saw him it would make me so angry I couldn’t say a word, we’d just sit there and listen to music. I would start to poke his plasticine face and nothing more. It was weird. We’d reached an impasse but neither of us could admit it. I hated that he couldn’t be more to me, especially as the Bible had given permission.
The last time I ever stayed at James’s house I had watched him shower through the crack in the door, he knew I was there but he pretended he didn’t, I saw him get aroused. We drank together for the first and last time, there was Baileys everywhere.
That night we hardly spoke, he told me he would put on some relaxing music. ‘Miserere mei Deus’ by Allegri. As we sat there listening to the haunting sound of the all-male choir we both started to cry, we said our last bed-time prayer and I breathed him in deeply as he faded away.
It was a blueprint that to this very day I have to be mindful of, it was my first experience of love and it would repeat itself endlessly throughout my life. It’s hard to revisit heartbreak, but the patterns must end, you have to see them first, be aware. Sometimes we just don’t want to let go, sometimes we forget.
“In your fucking face!”
Ryu’s roundhouse smashed-in Ken’s pathetic head – one, last, time.
I smile, the smuggest I can muster, his controller crashes to the ground, justice is served like a tepid McDonald’s. We’d been playing for about four hours this session, but really the game had lasted 6 years. The others were dancing, designing, DJ-ing or just sitting there with blank smiles, cigarette in-hand as it had probably been for some hours and would be, most likely, for hours to come. It was Easter.
Mephedrone is traditionally taken at Easter, it was Christ’s drug of choice you see. Back in those days it was more commonly known as ‘body’ or ‘bread’. Sensing an opportunity, the Roman authorities, who were facing huge opposition at the time decided to insight a moral panic as means of distraction. Suddenly ‘body’, which had been a relatively unknown, safe and unscheduled substance, was the cause of all society’s ills.
John the Baptist or ‘Johnny B’ had apparently eaten his own grandmother and testicles whilst high, or so it had been reported by the ‘Daily Toil’, the people’s newspaper. New laws were subsequently rushed through and the substance was declared enemy of the people, all those in possession were to be flogged, dealers crucified. They all raised a full glass on hearing the news at the Senate, then went home to beat their wives.
JC, knowing the freedom that his Israeli substance had brought to his disciples defied the authorities. He knew that time was short so he threw one last party, he gave freely of his bread, his body and they all went proper mental for one last night. As many of you will know, he was then betrayed by a close friend, his flatmate actually who was just sick to death of the smell of the stuff which at best was likened to bleach, at worst – cat piss.
Jesus was captured, tried, sentenced then crucified, the papers however reported his death was due to a fatal overdose of the substance which was now known, at least to the media, as ‘bread rolls with cheese and pickle’. They all raised a brimming 8% glass on hearing the news at the Senate, then went home to slash some bunny rabbit throats, and of course, beat and abuse their daughters and wives, as was customary.
“One more game? Come on man! One more, then I’ll beat you!”
Silly boy, he must have known that I would stop and settle at victory, I’m not like some men who compete for competition’s sake, no, no. I win, then I quit, it’s called knowing when to stop mate, it’s called fucking success! I moved on to the next of many activities and he played Need for Speed, or weed or some piece-of-crap racing game that I hate.
Sitting back I lit my limp cigarette, took a deep drag and exhaled, I felt free. It was nice to be the cause of so much pleasure once more, the drugs had all been placed in a bowl on the black glass table in the centre of the room, all had free supply and free reign. With great drugs comes great responsibility – choose your activities, your loves, your life – well.
The reason for the celebration, aside from it being a Christfest, was to commemorate a weekend 3 years previously when I had set myself free in every conceivable way; it was a very similar affair, the drugs were in abundance, only legal back then, great realisations were made and pleasure was Lord. Thanks be to him.
I remember on the third day of the party, the resurrection, I had stepped outdoors to survey the land and had found my own life wanting in comparison to the everyday man. I was a victim of my own career, faith and cowardice. It was the weekend that finally changed my life completely and forever. Praise be to me, amen.
The nicotine rush heightened my current sense of achievement, this was a symmetry that invoked much pleasure and satisfaction. I looked at my reflection with kind, excited, child-like eyes. I turned my head and saw myself for what I am.
“I love you mate, you’re my fucking hero”.
Noticing a change in light, I looked out to sea as the sun rose over Brighton beach, I remembered all the sunrises, the parties, daybreak liaisons, the endless drama and obsession. I had been reluctant to let go in fear of mediocrity. In letting go, however, I had got it all back, only this time I was wiser, more honest. The long exhausting winter was over; I declared spring.
As the morning progressed it was time to choose a lover, I was in need of some refined debauchery, the kind that only I had mastered. I hummed ‘Nobody Does it Better’ by Carly Simon as I took myself in-hand and lead myself off in to the horizon. Fade to white.
A year ‘out’, time really flies when you’re being de-constructed. It’s been a year since I trembled up to my parents house, gagging, to shatter the illusion and break free. A year used to feel so long and contain relatively little, this year has flown by and a lifetime’s worth of change has transpired.
The dust is finally settling, the world did not end by means of prophecy nor overdose; the future now looks appealing, life almost seems real. I feel things now, normal, everyday things. I’m glad to be present, experiencing life first-hand.
It’s not been smooth sailing, but what valuable journey is? Hushing the nagging whispers of self-loathing and disapproval is an on-going struggle, especially when feeling low.
“Why are you such a fucking idiot?”
Is not a measured response to me forgetting something unimportant.
“Why are you such a fat fucking pig?”
Is not how you should greet yourself in the morning.
I’ve learnt that it’s not the world, the parents, the job, the relationship that makes me unhappy – I do. Simple. In fact I go out of my way to make life as difficult as possible for myself, conveniently blaming it on others or circumstance. I could spend the rest of my life looking for excuses but the truth is that I am the only one who can ever make myself truly happy.
I decided to be consciously good to myself, not as easy as it sounds. The mind twists reality and projects the most unpalatable aspects of ourselves on others, that way we get to hate ourselves vicariously. How tedious. I had to wage war on myself, the problem was I knew all my own tactics.
Breakdown – Breakthrough.
Old persona’s die hard, and grudgingly. There are points during this past year that I have desperately missed myself, the old ‘straight’ façade, often convinced that life was easier from the periphery, my private box. But then I’d wake up and realise I miss it like an ex-con would miss prison, there’s just a lot more to navigate outside the closet.
Courage and bravery pave the way for lasting change, that and hard work. First you have to justify spending that much time on yourself, no one else will help in that regard, only you, the world doesn’t value intangible, unaccountable self-improvement and neither will many of your old friends. Sometimes you must be your own muse and master.
“Be a light unto yourself” the cards would tell me time after time, and it stayed with me. A solitary figure, alone but not lonely, a light guiding him from within. Along with the harsh lessons have been moments of joy I could only have dreamt of in the past.
I learnt to relax this year too, not realising that forcing myself to look relaxed is not quite the same, it did take a few severe anxiety attacks to come to this conclusion, but it was certainly worth it. It’s important to relax, even more important to have fun. So important feel alive and not just survive, to experience the present with no regret from the past or fear for the future.
This year was also marked by a strange belief that I was dying of many cancers, or liver failure or some kind of brain problem, I have been faced with mortality sans Christ. Challenging.
“I think I’m dying..”
“What makes you think that?”
“Well, I just feel like there are lots of things going wrong inside, like this metallic taste in my mouth that never goes away, this pain in my side and the unpredictable bowel movements, do you think it’s cancer? I think it’s some kind of cancer. Or weird brain problem? Cancer right?”
“Have you been searching for symptoms on the internet by any chance?”
“All roads lead to cancer on the internet..what’s been going on in your life generally?”
“Well..it has been a tough year..I came out to my really, really religious parents, I said goodbye to my old faith, a close relative died…”
“That sounds like a lot to deal with..”
“Do you think I have IBS? I think I have some kind of IBS..”
She prodded me and I pissed for her, she thanked me, rightly so.
“I think we need to test you for just about everything, if only to relieve your very troubled mind. We should also test for HIV…”
“What? AIDS? Is it the tongue? Fuck..”
“No, just standard when we know that a patient is gay, it’s not compulsory but advised..”
Six vials of crimson later, all I can do is wait. And wait.
“What she’s not back for 3 weeks? Can’t you just tell me? Please? Ok, FINE I’ll call back then (you useless bitch from hell)”
Worry. Insomnia. Panic. Anxiety disorder.
Turns out it was stress, of course the added worry of HIV to my already monumental number of life-threatening conditions and psychological damage from the past was a little too much and my brain finally caved in. For a couple of days I wondered if I’d ever come back, but I did, thankfully. I had reached my limit, God knows I’d pushed for it, not that he existed any more.
The physical signs of anxiety would start on my tongue, a creeping metallic pulse rendering my taste buds dormant, a tragedy for a food-obsessive . I would feel a pain on my right side, my brain was clouded but worst of all – no weed could get me stoned. My comfort blanket cruelly snatched away, what bastard illness takes away all of life’s pleasures?
Blood results were all fine, I found out after having a panic attack on the phone to yet another belligerent nurse, which was nice for my dignity. It was harder to accept that my own mind had been attacking me all along, well not attacking exactly, more like warning. You can only put yourself off for so long.
It was time to stop. I couldn’t make the decision for myself so my body forced me in to submission. It was time to regroup and rebuild and finally integrate. The past had to be let go of completely, it was now time for many difficult conversations, some that I had put-off for a lifetime.
First I had to be honest with myself, then I could finally be honest with others. I was forced to be honest as any postponement would result in an anxiety attack, my mind was training me to face up to everything as it happened, there was no more room on the back burner. It worked. The more direct and honest I became the less the attacks would come. I started to become a real person, with direct, immediate emotional responses and a healthy level of selfishness; no more people pleasing or misplaced affirmations. Self-affirmation, self-realisation, growth.
It was time to party, and I did, hard. Nothing like pure, adulterated hedonism to clear the cobwebs and invigorate the soul.
So here I am at the end of that first year, it’s been hard but I regret nothing, especially now that I’m cured of all my terminal delusions. Life is too short and wonderful to waste in a closet, besides, this is how we change the world, one exit at a time. It may be the most important thing that you do in your life, you can change the world, all that’s required is that you be yourself, your true self.
I know that much of this may appear to be negative or uncomfortable but it’s a story of real, lasting change, often the most important transitions are painful. My aim is this: to enter every situation as if it were the first time I had ever experienced it, no more echoes of the past or mirages of the future, to be child-like not childish, to be free yet secure, for lasting happiness, maybe even true love. I’ll fight as long as it takes, I’ll settle for nothing less.
For a moment I felt useful, a temporary hero.
But what happens to the saviour once all are redeemed? Does a part of him not require them remain powerless, unsaved? He becomes redundant, dissipates to myth. Maybe some faraway demigod, seeing abstract capitalist potential will rape his memory to suit certain domination. Perhaps genocide and oppression will be his lasting legacy. A mountain spring flows to the polluted river and so our intentions become sullied in their realisation.
For a time I was essential, completely needed.
What happens to the parent when the child leaves? Who will affirm you now? The fat old farce bound to you by gold, and nothing more? That menopausal regression at the sink? Soon grandchildren come, not one but six, you’ll make up for the half-arsed parenting and fill your self-shaped hole with sticky, smelly love. Sugar makes for fresh young junkies, shh, as you give them their hit in exchange for yours. Beware their feet on the leather though or you’ll pay, he’ll passively aggrieve you to death. He fears their loathing and carries the guilt, but not yours, they mock as he skulks upstairs and seethes himself to sleep. Soon, just like that they grow too. Silence resumes. The clock ticks as they stare through each other till death does them part.
For a few days I was a man, a real man.
What happens when the drugs run out and he snorts some other guy’s line? Perhaps you cook so he can burp in your face, you smile adoringly as he shoves it down his pride-hole. You patch up his ego with heart tissue and torn flesh until you’re a boney wreck. Weak, exhausted you pluck up the courage to ask him to carry you. You plead like a beggar but now she has appeared and locked him up in her moist manipulation. A war of attrition, you are smarter than her but she holds the goods. She trumps you both with fake pregnancy and naked screaming. Defeated you cry alone in your shame, then desperately move on to the next.
For the month before, life had no point.
The emptiness of my room runs rings round my mind and I fall slowly back down. I should be proud that I was there, really there, despite myself. I saw a vision of who I could be if I let go of the past, but will the past let go of me? Alone, silent, sleepless on my bed, the tears of relief and sorrow trickle sideways. I look up to heaven but it’s filled with squatters and GP’s, Christ’s now owned by the bank. The night is endless and empty, I shudder as it drags it’s black stiletto heels. I calm my mind as dawn finally approaches. So constant, so persistent the facets of nature, I think to myself, I feel so small. The sun rises and birdsong abounds as I stumble asleep.
There are albums in my collection that feel as much a part of me as my ears.
I want to tell you about ’Static and Silence’ by ‘The Sundays’ and take you on my journey track by track, memory by memory.
Her name was Becca, she loved me so much, I liked her. She had joined the church that I had been held prisoner in for most of my life. She seemed lonely so I kindly welcomed her in to the youth group which was unjustifiably cliquey, there were certain families who thought they were better than everyone else. ‘Blessed are the humble’ indeed.
The Mendonca kids were the worst. Vile arrogant filth, the kind often found in the house of God. She was a good person, and beautiful I thought, but the Mendoncas decided that they hated her. She had a very slight facial hair problem in the early days which was noted and used against her, easily solved though, it’s important to see beyond the facial hair to the actual face. She had good face. She also made a great beard for me.
She was soft, intelligent and pretty. I was kind to her and she responded to my kindness by falling in love with me. I liked her love but could not reciprocate in the way she wished, although she never gave up hope that I would. I didn’t lead her on but I didn’t push her away either.
We went out for 2 years on and off, mostly off with the lure of on. The more distant I tried to become the more irresistible she found me. She loved ‘Dawson’s Creek’ and liked to imagine that we were having a Joey/Dawson-esque romance. I let her. We smoked together, in fact the first time we met outside of church was so that we could smoke some unholy cigarettes together. I think she may have taken up the habit just for me. As she fell deeper in love with me she became more and more beautiful in my eyes. I so wanted to want her, I tried hard, but was too soft.
We had this conversation 1.5 years in to our ‘relationship’:
Pete: I think Tutankhamun must have been my most handsome relative, I think I take after him, I mean..not all messed up in his sarcophagus but before he died..
Becca: Are you gay?
I hadn’t engaged with my gayness at all yet. It seems she had but chose to ignore it.
In the end I broke her heart in New York with my indifference, I had spent 6 months in Canada during my second year of Uni and she had flown out to NY to meet me and my other friends for new year’s eve. On new year’s day she gave me an ultimatum and the threat of another man. I was relived and sad, I let her go and missed her immediately, well not her, just the idea of her, she deserved far better and she finally knew it.
The sanctuary cafe in Hove. It doesn’t exist anymore unfortunately, it was the kind of place you could buy one coffee and make it last all day whilst pretending to revise for your A Levels. Walls of different colours and ancient candles. There was a small performance space in the basement where the toilets were.
One afternoon after visiting the facilities I bumped in to a guy who was also in need of relief. We unsuccessfully tried to pass each other twice, apologised, caught each other’s eyes then suddenly launched in to a passionate kiss and grope, he slammed me against the wall, but we were soon interrupted. We cleared our throats, looked to the side then moved on. Both of us returned to our girlfriends upstairs and I never saw him again. I think he was the first guy I ever kissed.
3. Folk song.
House number 7 in the West Downs Student Village in Winchester, my first year dorm at Uni, it was more like a holiday camp with chalets and bars. The start of a new life and formation of a new personality was anxiety inducing, I needed some familiarity, something to anchor me. I would usually fall asleep to this one, imaging that Harriet Wheeler was singing to me, comforting me, keeping me safe.
Sara. My oldest friend, my partner in time. Flowing silks and earthy leathers. So strong. She always had an air of magic about her, I once saw her move a pint glass without touching it. Half Persian, half Irish, she’d dance for me in the moonlight then force me to join in. We laugh at each other and get away with it unlike anyone else possibly could. It’s warm and grounding. The years pass but essentially we have remained the same, we see through the facade of adulthood to the children within.
5. When I’m Thinking.
This is not my favourite track and it reminds me of doing my dissertation one week before it was due. “Multiculturalism in the UK possibility or myth?”. It was utter rubbish but cemented my 2:1; thankfully in Universities in the UK great emphasis is placed on independent thought. My dissertation was 99.9% drivel, but independent drivel. And I am brown. So there.
6. I Can’t Wait.
The summer of my 1st year at Uni. I hated being back at home where I was no longer the super-human I had created in academia. A slight schizophrenia emerged, which one was I? At home I lived up to past underwhelming expectations, at Uni I was a demigod. Confusing. It was also the summer that I first saw T fully naked, many times, he knew I was drifting I guess, so made a point of it and made it well. I have never loved or hated anyone as deeply. It was a first glimpse of the depression and heartbreak that would follow Uni, the one thing they never teach.
7. Another Flavour.
Insomnia. If I wasn’t asleep by now I would be aware that the album was over halfway through, the thought of drifting off without music would fill me with dread. I would often return to the start at this point for fear of static and silence.
8. Leave This City.
“Feel this city inside you, leave this city behind you”. Brighton, my city, a real person in my life. It has a spirit, a distinct personality. Beneath the transient masses are the stones and in front is the sea, everything stops there yet extends to infinity. I spend half the year longing to leave and half contentedly rooted. I could only have grown up here, I will always leave and I will always return. Such devastating happiness such beautiful sadness.
9. Your Eyes.
A night on the beach, the first of many to come. Guitars, red wine, spliffs, dancing and skinny dipping. Kissing a Swedish girl on an iron sculpture and vowing to marry her knowing that she was leaving the next day, and that I fancied her brother. Chanting round the fire in the early hours and stumbling back at dawn.
Leaving Uni. One of the hardest transitions of my life, desperately holding on to my independence as I’m being driven home by my Dad. A lump in my throat and panic within. Identity crisis and shattered dreams. A new business venture and an emotional breakdown. Crying in the dark with no audience, soundtrack or canned sympathy. T confronts my feelings for him, leaving in spite for a new life in Japan but taking myself with me.
11. Static and Silence.
Memories of memories. Me and my brother on the stairs, creeping down slowly, slowly to hear what the grown-ups are saying, dreams of adulthood and all the fun it would bring. Exclusion from dinner parties and excess desserts. A lost hero forced off a pedestal he never chose to stand on. The deviant innocence of childhood, endless possibilities and limitless dreams.
Great to hear from you, I had been wondering how you were but didn’t want to bother you. I’m very glad you came to me in your time, you know I am always here for you.
You say that you have been feeling depressed recently, also that you didn’t expect it especially as it occurred just after you came out to your family, that you felt ashamed and like a burden to those around you. I know you were expecting an instant miracle but 30 years of hurt can’t disappear overnight and happiness is a life-long ambition. Rest well my friend, feel what you feel, accept yourself for who you are and not what others would have you be. Most importantly, be easy with yourself.
You mentioned that you find yourself staring at each reflection you pass by and that you disgust yourself. I know that I can’t make you see what I see, I know that you will brush off my kindness as hollow comfort but let me be your reflection. In this mirror you are beautiful, inside and out. It’s time to see yourself for who you are now, the ghosts of the past are fierce critics.
Don’t worry about the smoking, you don’t really drink and you know from past experience you stop things at the right time, also there is always a reason for your consumption. You have come a long way, it used to be much more than just smoke, congratulate yourself for your successes and enjoy your current vices, they’ll be tomorrow’s victories. I trust your judgement Eli even if you can’t.
You wonder why you haven’t found the right guy yet, why you have been single forever but you haven’t! You have been in relationships, albeit unrequited, for the past 15 years with no break. I know others couldn’t see it but I did. Yes you found sex in other places but in every other way you were deeply involved emotionally, you even lived together. I know how much you loved him and I know you think about him all the time, but it will pass mate, it always passes. It’s time to love yourself because no one can fulfill that need like you can, it is the best and only starting place.
So, you miss your lost youth, don’t we all! You say that if you had known you were gay back then you could have made the most of your beauty. Eli if you changed even the most subtle of things from your past you would not be the person you are today, I know that dark days aside you would not change who you are, you know this world requires you. The body can be tweaked but the mind? You wouldn’t swap your mind for all the beauty in the world.
Normality is a man-made concept, don’t worry about not fitting in to one of the few boxes provided, just make your own or better yet, live free! I bet if you really think about it you don’t want many of the things you are jealous of, you are just so used to the images and slogans, it’s time to compose your own! You have the opportunity to create something new, why fight for things that you don’t even believe in? Leapfrog over them while they get caught up in redundant folklore and spent mythologies. Mental freedom is true freedom.
It’s ok to not know where your life is heading mate, that’s what life is all about – the unknown! If you free yourself from concepts you open yourself up to new experience, those who you can no longer relate with were not real friends. Say goodbye with love and move on. There are no rules, only perception. Not many people have been on your journey and yes, there is no guide to follow, but that is what you fought for and because of you others will have guidance. You’ll never be given more than you can cope with, but if you are? Change your story, switch your perception, change your reality. You are always free as long as you perceive yourself to be.
No one has the power to make you feel anything, you are in control of your feelings, choose wisely how you respond emotionally to others. Do you want to feel angry? If not then decide not to be. Take a moment, take control, you are not a victim of life, you are a participant.
If you take nothing else away, remember this – life is to be enjoyed and savoured, take care of each moment and the future will be in good hands.
Today is a Japanniversay. Memories of me and A in another life in another world.
I’d love to see what a gay republic would be like, what it would feel like to be in the overwhelming majority for a change. A place where there is no need for justification or explanation. I have an internal battle with our fight for equality, part of me feels that it endorses the idea that we want and need acceptance rather than deserve it by virtue of being alive. I’m sick of the straight stories, waiting for years for some mediocre film that hints at affirmation. It’s important to feel affirmed. There’s so little to be found on the heterovision.
Brokeback Mountain changed my life, I’m sure many would say the same, I didn’t stop crying for three days after seeing it. It was the first time I had seen my story on-screen, perhaps the only time. Isn’t that sad? I feel cheated. From the day we are born we are bombarded with tales of normality that are alien to us, we learn to smile and make the right sounds but crave our own mythologies. I want to hear about the prince and his manservant, how they fall in love, overcome and rule the kingdom together shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand. We have been written out of history to force us in to theirs.
When I use the word gay I am simply referring to sexual preference, I do not buy in to ‘gay’ as a personality. This rainbow has many colours. I often have people tell me that I don’t seem very gay, but what the hell does that actually mean? This world is so caught up in boxes. Masculinity and femininity are traits found in both genders with no relation to orientation as default. The TV would lead us to believe otherwise of course. Asexual effeminates have their safe place in the nation’s heart, they don’t threaten, they entertain, like blacked-up dancers and ’Gollywogs’ once did. There are exceptions of course, but few and far between.
The ‘Scene’ is not adequate and generally panders to the same stereotypes as the media, most of which are of no interest to me. I don’t want a scene I want a society.
Wouldn’t it just be easier to create our own society? One where there was no need to compromise or conform? Where I could look each man in the eye without fear, all I am asking for is equality. How am I equal until I have the same opportunities and representation as my straight peers? I don’t want to hang on for the gay storyline I want to be the main theme. In a predominately straight society we will only ever have a beggars share of influence, percentage wise it makes sense but I will never be satisfied.
Wouldn’t it be incredible to have a place that those fleeing persecution could escape to, where there are no amendments to be fought against, where we create the law, where we govern and where we invest? The Jews came home to Israel, where is the place that we belong? I know there is a huge difference between race and sexuality but if anything sexuality defines you more as a person. My ethnic background is Egyptian, a few quirks and casual terrorism based racism aside it has no impact on my life, personality or where I can live but being gay? It changes everything. I am so sick of compromise and fighting against the tide. Sometimes the battle seems endless and it’s in those moments I start to imagine our Gaytopia.
Humor me. Just take a moment to imagine a world where you never have to have that conversation, where heterovsion becomes homovision, a society that fits you like a glove and not a sack. Yes I know, it would come with it’s own problems, I know it may be impossible, but a man can dream can’t he?