Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit

2 09 2012

My niece winning her race – joyful and free

The Weekly Photo Challenge is an interpretation of “Free Spirit“.  My niece is winning her race and seems captivated by the shadow as she leaps over the finish line.  I love her expression of unrestrained enthusiasm and joy.  A free spirit indeed.


I realised I was gay when…

20 03 2012

… I was seven years old and rode the bus home.
I looked out the window as the trees flew past and wondered if I would have to have a husband in order to have children. I didn’t particularly want either but thought that it must be possible because some of the kids at school only had a mum. I decided there and then that I wasn’t going to have a man around. I thought a wife would be much better. I didn’t know what ‘gay’ was at that time (and I clearly didn’t know where babies came from either), but I did know that I wasn’t looking for a future husband.
… I was ten and was shocked to find I couldn’t be ‘anything’ I wanted to be.

Village People - wikipedia

They all said it – parents, teachers, brochures. What do you want to be when you grow up? You can be anything you want to be!! Yay!
After seeing my tadpoles turn into frogs and caterpillars turn into butterflies I was honestly quite shocked to find out that girls couldn’t become boys if they wanted to. So much for being ‘anything’. It was a crashing let down as I liked all the boys’ games and toys and didn’t really understand girls and their obsession with brushing each others’ hair, doing cartwheels, admiring horses or dressing up Barbie dolls. I’d never owned a Barbie in my life, I hated horses, I didn’t wear dresses and I sure as hell wasn’t playing netball. My parents even bought me a G.I. Joe doll (ahem, action figure!) to try to tempt me. I didn’t really know what ‘gay’ was then either, but I did know the Village People were homosexuals because the lady next door told me that one day while she was making a caramel slice. I didn’t know what ‘homosexual’ meant until I consulted my dictionary later that night, and even then it didn’t particularly make sense. From the tone of her voice I got the distinct feeling that it was something people only whispered about, like it was a bad thing, or naughty or shameful or embarrassing and definitely secret.
… I was 12 and fell in love with the leading lady
Jennifer Beals.  Oh my goodness.  My heart still skips a beat.
I went to the movies one Saturday afternoon with a girl from school.  It was our first year in high school and was a big deal to be allowed to catch the bus into town, go to the only McDonalds in Western Australia and then see a movie, all without our parents. I had a Big Mac and got a Coke and some Fantales for the movie.  I fell slap-bang-madly-in-love with the boiler-suited Jennifer Beals within the hour.  She was so sexy my head was reeling and confused and deliriously excited. I saw the whole movie but my mind chattered and argued throughout:
Whaddya mean you think she’s gorgeous? It’s a woman.
Excuse me!  She is a SHE, not an IT, and SHE is beautiful… I could kiss her.
OMG – but this is a  w-o-m-a-n!!!  Are you crazy??
No, I’m not. It is what becoming a teenager is all about, falling in crazy love.
Yes, but with b-o-y-s!!  Girls think BOYS are kissable
Boys? Ha, who’d want to do THAT?
Well, what girl do you know who has a GIRLFRIEND???
Oh… Maybe I am crazy… OMG I AM CRAZY… THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME!! What am I going to do??
Wait, she’s on screen again, whoa….. Ouch, my heart actually hurts.
I left the movie theatre with wide eyes and a passionate heart and tried hard not to even speak about the Movie in case people could see love on my face. This was my biggest (and loneliest) secret. The theme song even now, evokes painful pangs for the lonely and scared kid in me who wrestled with this everyday for years.
I was 13 and cheated on Jennifer Beals by falling in love with a Supermarket Checkout chick.
Her badge featured a Dymo label of the name “DORA” and she was always cheerful and chatty. I blushed and became mute whenever I saw her, it was very embarrassing. I dropped things, tripped over and stuttered. I knew by now that something was very wrong with me. No other girls had turned into boys and most had a boyfriend that they actually liked and touched. I had boyfriends but they were boys who were friends and liked talking about football or cricket or riding motorbikes. No one EVER talked about liking other girls, not like THAT anyway. There were hushed conversations about “Lesbians” but again, it was something to detest. I’d read the weekend paper and see a small advert in the Personal Column every week that read “Gay or unsure? Call for help“. I memorised the phone number and lost countless coins calling from public phone boxes and then hanging up once it was answered. There was no internet, no website, no teen outreach centres.
I really did think something was wrong with me. I knew no other person who struggled or mentioned an attraction to the same sex. I had to lie to others and myself. I had to hide my real self and try really hard to rid myself of this weirdness. It persisted though and I hated myself for being so strange. I just wanted to be ‘normal’ and have a ‘normal’ life.
…I was 14 and was in the Army Cadets and got ‘tough’

Boot Polish - wikipedia

I smoked. I swore. I got tough and wore my Army gear as much as I could. It meant I didn’t have to try and navigate my way through lip gloss, eye shadow, nail polish or Jazz Ballet like the real girls were doing. I went orienteering out in the rain and mud, went on hikes and camped, polished my boots and brass, cooked over open fires and crisped up my uniform with starch. There was NO fraternising on parade or on camp. It was GREAT. I did get a crush on a cadet Leader which signalled to the boys that I was not interested in them and signalled to everyone that I obviously was NOT gay at all, even though my increasingly short hair cut and swagger might have indicated otherwise.
I was 15 and tried REALLY hard NOT to be gay.
Boyfriend – sure!! Hey, I’ll get a boyfriend then another then another. See, there’s nothing wrong with me! I’m doing just fine over here being a girl that has BOYfriends. Lots of them. But who is that girl that walks past me every day on my way to Science class? I don’t know her name but she has such a great smile, and those eyes… Dammit!! Oh there’s a boy – you’ll do.
… I was 16 and lined up the ‘impossible’ guy
I met him one night while I was in the city. I’d joined a social ballroom dancing class because obviously ballroom dancing was about GIRL meets BOY. Dancing with boys all night meant I spent my time talking, gazing, touching and being close to them, not the girls (see entry above). I spotted him across the floor and decided he was THE catch. I was exhausted from trying to make myself ignore my attraction to women so I decided to do a deal with myself. I told myself this was my last ditch effort at a man. He was 31. If I couldn’t go out with him, then I was obviously destined to go out with a woman.

And a month later I did…

Things certainly didn’t get any smoother or easier from that point on, in fact life got harder. I ‘came out’ to my parents at 16 and was relieved.  I am gay. There, I said it, finally.  They knew several gay men and women and were accepting of them so I know it would be okay. They’d always said I could tell them anything and this was something I could no longer keep to myself.

It wasn’t okay.

At midnight, I picked myself up off the loungeroom floor and left their house after a violent altercation. I was 16, walking through the dark, beaten and bruised.  I was alone at midnight with nowhere to go, no money, identification or possessions.

To say it was a turbulent time is an understatement. It’s interesting to look back now and realise how much of this I was processing as a child… I would hate to think a child I knew was trying to deal with this alone. Times have certainly changed since then and I shudder to think what issues children are now struggling with, carrying and processing on their own. Sometimes we don’t give credit for how deeply children think, what they know or the acute and powerful feelings they are aware of at such a young age. Take a moment to recognise those young people around you, they’re deeper than you realise.

The Precious Pearl

30 01 2012

Pearl Lugger – Broome, North West Australia.

Pearls are precious to us my love,
they remind us that our love is strong and unique,
growing slowly and quietly,
year by year, layer by layer,
shining with a soft and pearly lustre.

Our pearls grew inside the tough shell
of an oyster that had its insides punctured.
In response to the painful wound
it grew a pearl to heal the scar.
Year by year, layer by layer,
such a beautiful and precious response.

May the pain and sorrow we all feel
in our punctured hearts
heal as a pearl,
with grace and beauty;
slowly and quietly
year by year, layer by layer.
So we will treasure, remember and speak of Mum
with a beautiful pearly lustre.

Handwritten Recipes

4 01 2012

Your signature dish is written in your curly hand, a gentle cursive lilt that was present long before your fingers were sore.  The page is yellowing and boasts a sticky splash from years of wear.  All ingredients are listed but without you here, the new hand that turns the mixture won’t know when it ‘feels right’.  Other lists for well loved dishes refer to other people – tried and tested secrets passed on by close friends.  A book of recipes for love in action, more personal than a diary.

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