Category Archives: PERSPECTIVE

THERE’S A GAY SCENE FOR YOU BEYOND THE SCENE

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I used to believe that there was only one way to find my place in the gay community and that was through hours invested at the gym, nights spent shirtless in gay clubs and holidays booked to follow the ‘circuit’ of summer parties. It seemed like a very easy route to happiness and community inclusion. I started with the gym in my teens and ramped up my training in my early 20s as I realised that I needed to be bigger, smoother and more masculine. I went to gay clubs in the evening and followed the social calendar of gay events in my hometown of Sydney – Stonewall then Arq on a Saturday night, Green Park and then Beresford on a Sunday, Daywash on a bank holiday, Harbour Party during Mardi Gras and I Remember House when I wanted to mix things up. Over time I came to see the same faces and learned about the who’s who of the gay community. That one’s an escort, that one came from a small town and now he’s a party boy, that one’s slept with that one, that one has a drug problem and that one is a social climber – all unsubstantiated rumours that became lore as they were perpetuated at weekly social gatherings.

While I tried my best to enjoy my time in these situations they actually brought on the most unnatural form of anxiety that I rarely experienced in other areas of my life.  I’d turn into a completely different person at these parties. In my day-to-day life I was a confident, social and happy person who wasn’t afraid to speak to anyone; throw me into a room with 1,000 other gay men and I would become nervous, uncomfortable and closed-offish. I felt small and invisible. To combat these feelings I would drink copious amounts of alcohol and lambast myself for not being muscley enough, confident enough or attractive enough.  ‘Maybe next time it will be different’, I would think to myself, ‘maybe I’ll have more fun at the next party’. But while the parties changed, the feelings always remained. To make matters more confusing, my gay friends seemed so natural in this environment. They would float around chatting to guys, drawing men’s gaze across the dance floor and generally having what appeared to be a wonderful time. Why was it so hard for me?

At the same time that I was becoming a fully fledged member of the mainstream gay scene, I was discovering another side to the gay community, an alternate side that would bring me much more pleasure. It was 3:43am on a Saturday morning in 2005. I was soaked in sweat, jumping up and down on a crammed basement dancefloor on William Street, Sydney, screaming the lyrics to a remix of Annie’s ‘Me Plus One’ in a puddle of equally enthusiastic and sweaty clubgoers. Somewhere between the lyrics ‘Mrs B, Mrs E, Mrs A-U-T’ I realised there was another community out there, one that was much more similar to me and I was standing right in the middle of it. The club was 77 and the night was Bang Gang. The crowd was a merry of skaters, fashion students, surfers, alienesque models, photographers, drug dealers and goths and they were equal parts gay, lesbian, straight and curious. 77 and Bang Gang would come to symbolise for me a place where sexuality and normality were fluid concepts and where a temporary community would come together for a few hours every weekend to escape and surrender to the hedonistic pursuit of indulgent fun. At the same time other nights popped up around the city which drew a ‘queer’ and alternate crowd including Bandits at Phoenix, Healthclub at The Flinders and Gay Bash at The Burdekin. In these club nights I found an alternate community, one that seemed to be at the fringes of the gay scene but one that I related to much more closely than the one in which I had tried so hard to belong. Over the years I would be fortunate enough to be part of similar communities around the world (even if it was just for one night) – Closet in Melbourne, Misshapes at Don Hills in New York, Plastic and Pink is Punk in Milan and Boombox and Sink the Pink in London.

I came to realise that the gay dream that I had been sold by gay magazines, TV and mainstream gay media was not my dream nor was it the only dream out there. There existed a scene beyond ‘the scene’ that embraced the queer side of homosexuality, where bearded ladies danced next to trans boys and muscle Marys were welcome but not worshiped. It was in this scene that I felt most at home, where I was part of something bigger than myself, where I felt like I belonged. Being amongst freaks, geeks, the sexually absurd, those with the confidence to be who and what they want really makes one feel empowered. Surrounded by so much colour and character encourages you to peel back your own pretense and embrace all of yourself.

Now I’m not suggesting that this alternate scene is for everyone nor am I suggesting that there is anything wrong with enjoying the mainstream gay offering, in fact it was only once I had discovered the alternate gay scene that I felt comfortable enough to enjoy those parties that had previously caused me so much anxiety. Knowing that there was a different option, where I felt included, freed me from the pressure of thinking that I needed to conform. The point that I’m trying to make is that there exist ‘scenes’ beyond ‘the scene’. If you’re feeling disenfranchised by what gay society will have you believe is normal then know this – there is an alternative. It may not grace the cover of gay magazines and you may not notice the posters advertising its existence but beyond Beyond, WE, Papa etc. there is a place for you too.  

Image Credit: Julia Hetta 

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SELF SABOTAGE AND THE MAGIC 10%

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I honestly believe that we are our own worst enemies. Growing up gay can be fraught with hardship due to the external pressures we feel from peers, our family and society but it’s the pressure we put on ourselves that can have the most debilitating effect. We don’t often realise the impact of our subconscious minds on our ability to live fulfilling lives. Why is that we never feel fulfilled? Because we self sabotage and what’s worse is that we self sabotage without being consciously aware that we’re doing it.

I used to think that fulfilment would magically find me when I had ticked a certain list of criteria pertaining to my body, career, sexuality, popularity and financial status. My life journey has now led me to understand that fulfilment is something you find within yourself that is not based on the accumulation of things or achievements beyond the self. I have also learnt that many people, myself included will never feel fully satisfied until we can overcome the sly devil inside of us that sabotages our efforts when we’re close to achieving success. Self sabotage leads to disappointment which is a roadblock to finding fulfilment within yourself.

Take this blog for example – in October I committed to writing 31 posts in the lead up to my 31st birthday. I started off strongly enough, posting an article everyday but as I neared the finish line something unconscious clicked inside of me which prevented me from writing until today. It was as if my intention to complete the task to which I had publicly committed was inherently flawed by cause of my own committal. Basically, because I had said I would do it, I couldn’t. I could not write the last few articles much like many other things in my life that I have abruptly stopped right before succeeding at them. This left me utterly disappointment and reciting a harsh yet familiar internal dialogue about my inability to complete a task to which I pledged.

Another example is at the gym where I’ve applied myself to strict regimes that I have confidently followed until spontaneously falling off the bandwagon which always coincides with the same point in time that I’m starting to see positive results from all my hard work. It is as if something inside of me doesn’t want me to succeed and when it sees me trying it lures me into a false sense of comfort before sneaking up on me and undoing all my efforts.

My own self sabotage and reflection of my habits has taught me a valuable lesson – the 10% principle. I’ve come to believe that you can put in 90% of the work but it’s the last 10%, the last push, the last effort, the last hurdle which is where the magic happens. There’s a point where you can see the finish line and if you’re not paying attention you’ll miss the mark and start running backwards unless you find the willpower to push through for only 10% more. That’s the point when everything changes. I believe that the most successful people in their fields are those who have learnt to overcome self sabotage and who push themselves 10% further than the rest of the population. Although it’s a small percentage of the overall effort, it is that portion of the work that makes all the difference.

It took me almost seven months to finally update my blog even though I felt the pressure inside of myself to do so everyday. Had I applied the 10% rule a little earlier then I would have had so much great content to share with you, my wonderful reader. Now I hope to make it up to you with more regular posts and content that I hope you’ll find interesting.

Image by Wendy Loke Photography

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A MESSAGE FOR ALL THOSE THAT ARE LOST

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Children’s books are filled with life lessons and positive affirmations, many of which we miss the first time around. They are fables and stories, written with unbounded fantasy and wonder that come to life through the imaginations of untainted youthful minds. When we grow up and grow out of children’s books we forget the power contained within their pages. Now, reading back on books from my childhood I have come across quotes and excerpts that seem almost prayer like. Today I would like to share with you one of my favourite quotes in the hope that no matter where you are in the world and no matter what you are going through, you know that everything is going to be OK. This particular quote comes from the very wise Christopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh.

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WHAT I MISS FROM INSIDE THE CLOSET

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‘The Closet’ can be a terrifying, lonely and suffocating place. It’s a metaphorical cage that represents suppression, oppression and even depression.  Looking back on my own experience those three things were certainly true but amongst the darkness there were a few positives that I can now say I truly miss.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not always doom and gloom inside the closet. As you start to push open the metaphorical door and peer into the light beyond the crack exciting things start to happen. You realise that there is an enticing world out there with endless possibilities. Although you might not be ready to spring out of the shadows in all your rainbow glory, you start experimenting and testing the waters. The sense of curiosity, compounded by the guilt you feel for doing something ‘immoral’ can actually be quite exhilarating. I remember the thrill that came with kissing boys in the back of my car in deserted carparks or sneaking guys out of my bedroom window in my parents house. Sure most of these highs were then followed by lows and feelings of shame but during those stolen moments I felt ecstasy that I have found hard to replicate in my later years.

It’s the feeling of doing things for the first time, things that you are told are wrong but which feel so right – these are the times I miss from my youth and from inside my own closet. Finding moments to hold hands with a boy at a party when nobody was around and then letting go as soon as your friend walked into the room then desperately waiting for that friend to leave so that you can do it again.  Receiving messages on your phone from your crush and then telling your mum it was from your boss when she gets too nosey. Smiling at a stranger in the change rooms at an inter-school swimming meet. Once out of the closet these situations don’t hold the same sense of danger. The fear of getting caught is removed but it is the fear of getting caught that makes your heart beat faster and electrifies your senses.

When I first started experimenting with boys and going to gay clubs I felt as though I was doing something that was on the fringes of society. For someone who had been brought up in a somewhat conservative environment, being gay almost became an expression of rebellion for me. The cover ups and fabricated stories allowed me to be part of one world at night and then return to the normality of heterosexual, conservative life by day. It was fun, for a time.

After a while though the thrill of breaking the rules diminishes and you are left with the realisation that you cannot be happy and in the closet forever. For the short period of time, in the beginning of the long walk out of the closet, every experience is brand new, every man-to-man touch is a blessing and every moment, no matter how brief, spent out of the closet is a relief. These are feelings that can never be replicated again. This is what I miss from inside the closet.

Image by Damon Baker 

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WHY GAY MEN ARE SO MEAN TO EACH OTHER

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I could have entitled this post ‘Why people are so mean to each other’ because the reason is common across all sexualities. For the purposes of this post though, I’m going to focus on the gay experience. Why? Because the factors at play that cause us to tear each other down are often stronger in gay men which can make us meaner than most.

Why do we look at the success of other gay men and find reasons to justify why they’re not deserving of it? Why do we make fun of fellow gay men who are different from us just for being themselves? Why do spread rumours, leave hurtful messages on social media and ostracise others from within our own community? The simple answer is insecurity and what is insecurity? Insecurity is the fear of not enough.

When we see people doing something for which we negatively judge them it’s because it stirs something within ourselves that we do not like. Do you discount someone else’s success by spreading rumours that he slept his way to the top? Chances are you are insecure about your own ability to achieve your goals. Have you purposely excluded someone from your friendship circle because you think that he’s not good enough to be your friend? Chances are that you yourself don’t feel worthy enough to be loved by others. Extreme action is in itself a reflection of its opposite. I will repeat that for emphasis. Extreme action is in itself a reflection of its opposite. The loudest people are often the most afraid, the most confident often the most anxious and the most popular are often the loneliest.

Many of us gay men have been made to feel insecure through our formative years because of our sexuality. Once we are liberated we have the option to overcome that insecurity. For some though this insecurity becomes internalised, covered up; it is left unaddressed and surfaces as bitchiness, meanness and what can only be compared to adolescent behaviour (because adolescents are often the most insecure!).

Where does this insecurity originate? It comes from the fear of not enough. I’m not good enough. Rich enough. Handsome enough. Fit enough. Masculine enough. Popular enough. Smart enough. Loveable enough. Seeing good, rich, handsome, fit, masculine, popular, smart and loveable people awakens the insecurity within us. We tell ourselves that these people are flawed to make ourselves feel better because we are afraid that if they succeed then by law we must fail. This is the power of scarcity, a function of modern society which convinces us that we will never be or have enough. We have been misled to think that in order to get ahead we have to aggressively force our way past others but the universe doesn’t operate with that same limited mentality. The universe is abundant. There is enough oxygen for everyone, enough money to be made, enough opportunity for all those that seek it. Just because someone else has a boyfriend or an apartment or a dream job, does not mean that you cannot have those things too. When you look at the world from a place of abundance then the fear of not enough vanishes and with it your own insecurities.

Something else happens when you see the world from a perspective of abundance – you actually begin to see people differently too. People’s successes do not cause you shame or jealously but act as an example of what can be achieved. Instead of wishing failure on your fellow gay man, you honour his achievements which in turn actually empowers you to go after your own. It’s rather quite simple.

So if you’re ever the victim of a mean gay then now you know that he himself is actually suffering. A person who sees the world from a secure, abundant space will never be threatened by another’s triumphs nor will he find reason to be mean to his gay brethren.

Image by Sven Banziger 

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THIS IS FOR ALL THE GAY MISFITS

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This is for all the gay misfits. The queers, the fags, the queens, the tattooed nerds, the freaks and geeks, the quiet types. This is for all of the homosexuals who don’t fit into mainstream gay culture (because what even is mainstream gay culture?). This is for the guys that are too modest to take shirtless selfies, too alternate to attend circuit parties or too private to share the details of their sex lives.  This is for the gaymers, the ravers, the early night-into-bed tamers. Boys who like boys but don’t work out their bubble butts. The pooftas and fairies who don’t brunch over Bloody Marys or want to take drugs and kiki until Tuesday.

This is for all the gay misfits. You’re alright too.

You feel that you’re the only one who doesn’t fit into the gay stereotype? Well rest assured that you are not. There are others out there that feel the same, who aren’t comfortable in large social gatherings, whose friends are mainly straight or girls or who have very few friends at all but are content with the ones they do have. It may be harder to find these mythical creatures because by nature neither you nor they congregate at gay bars. Give it some time though because after a while they do come out and your paths will cross and you will bond over your love for Seinfeld and sudoko.

Know this in the meantime, it’s ok to be different. You can love Kylie or kickboxing or prefer eating a la carte instead of eating ass. You might vacation in Morocco over Mykonos or practice golfing instead of gyming but either way there’s a place for you in the world and there are people who share your same passions no matter how obscure they may be. Don’t be fooled by what you see as gay culture in popular media. There are plenty of people for whom that lifestyle works but if you’re not one of those people and it doesn’t make you happy then don’t try to conform.

To the sissies, femmes and awkward lads and to the muscle men and pretty boys. Be true to yourself. Your character need not be governed by your sexuality nor do you have to change to satisfy other’s expectations of you.

This is for all the gay misfits and we are all gay misfits. You’re alright too.

Image by Darren Black

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DAY 7 OF 31: CHECKING IN

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Today marks the first week since I started my challenge of updating my blog or Youtube channel daily. When I started this challenge I knew that it would be difficult, not because I don’t have anything to share with you, but because I want to make sure that what I do share with you is enriching in some way.

It’s crazy how many thoughts go through your head throughout the day but often when you try to collect them or put them into words, they fall through your hands like water. I guess the purpose of this post is to admit that tonight, I don’t have the mental fortitude to put my deep musings into words. Often I find it exhausting enough dealing with my own internal monologue and to have to relive those one man scenes again tonight is proving difficult. I do however have some interesting posts in the works for the coming days such as ‘How looking back over your shoulder at boys is the most fun you can have with two eyes’ and ‘Why gay men are never content in their relationships’ so make sure you come back again tomorrow.

Thank you for your continued support and don’t forget to email, tweet or comment below with any topics or questions you would like to me cover.

Image by Julia Hetta

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WHY COMING OUT IS SO HARD YET SO REWARDING

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Today we observe National Coming Out Day and to mark the occasion, here is a list of 8 reasons why coming out is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do and yet the most rewarding.

  1. You have to publicly reveal to your friends, families, co-workers a secret about yourself that you feel ashamed of… yet once you come out that shame begins to fade away
  2. You have to publicly reveal to your friends, families, co-wokers a secret about yourself without knowing how they may respond… yet their responses may pleasantly surprise you
  3. You have to reveal to people a part of your identity that may be at odds with their personal beliefs… yet their beliefs may actually make them more tolerant
  4. The first people that you come out to are often straight and can’t empathise with your experience… yet straight allies can make for the most powerful allies
  5. You may live in an environment that does not make it safe for you to come out… yet when you’re old enough or independent enough to remove yourself form that environment you will find people to help protect you
  6. You feel trapped by your fears, insecurities and worries while you’re still in the closet… yet when you come out you realise that the things that frightened you the most never happen
  7. You feel like you’re always pretending while you’re in the closet… yet when you come out you can be your true self
  8. You feel like a coward for not having the courage to come out… yet coming out is one of the bravest things you will ever do

Image by Exterface Studio

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GAY TEENAGERS AND THE MISSED YEARS

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Last night I watched a beautiful Dutch film called Jongens (Boys). It was the story of two teenage boys and their relationship and it made me reflect on my own teenage years. Watch the video below then check out the trailer for the film here.

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THE MOST POWERFUL GAY ADVERT…AND IT’S FROM A BEER COMPANY

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Guinness, the 256 year old Irish beer company has just released a powerful advertisement featuring legendary Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas. The former Wales captain came out of the closet in 2009 and the following year was voted the UK’s most influential gay person.

The advertisement is particularly powerful for several reasons. The first because it’s an advertisement for a beer, a product category which is normally more comfortable using stereotypical notions of masculinity to sell more units as opposed to openly gay men. The second reason is that it’s for an internationally recognisable Irish brand. With Ireland legalising gay marriage only four months ago, this short video is another sign of how progressive the country is, particularly when it comes to gay equality. But the third and most poignant reason is that Thomas mentions how his teammates were the ones that helped him in his ‘darkest hour’ and how when he needed them the most they were there for him. Sports seems to be the last frontier to conquer when it comes to homophobia but Gareth’s story is an example of how there is hope for change.

Watch the ad below:

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