I haven't updated the blog for a while and it's not that you're checking, but at the off-chance that you are, here's the reason. The reason is two reasons. Firstly, I'm trying to finish my next book. The gay book. This has a title and a publishing date and it's all getting there slowly but steadily, but I'll say more nearer the time. The other reason is that I've now started writing a column for Details magazine. The first one of these just went online and there's a link below. So between the book and the column, etc, I've kinda abandoned the blog a little bit. I'm sorry. But there's things coming, so.
Friday, 20 March 2015
There was this story that broke out in Greece last week, right, there was this kid in some small town up north and he went missing about a month ago. He was 20. So he went missing and they were trying to find him for several weeks, and the things that came out while they were trying to find him were that he used to be bullied really badly and the code words that were used for the reasons why he was bullied were that he “wasn’t masculine enough” and he was “too quiet” and he didn’t live up to the “manly” ideals that a 20-year-old guy should live up to, behaviourally. Then last week he was found dead. At the point when I’m writing this it’s not yet known whether someone killed him or whether he killed himself, but I believe the narrative doesn’t change that much either way.
So when they found this kid dead, there was an uproar in Greece and everyone stood by his side on TV and on the internet, which are the places that matter now, in our century, and of course there were some oddball idiots who wrote things against him still, but they were just a small minority that was quickly dismissed. And everyone’s uproar concerned “bullying”, a word which is now used in its English form in Greek, because there’s no Greek equivalent, or so my sister tells me, and everyone was up in arms about this phenomenon and wanted it to stop. Right now. The fact that the kid was implied to be gay and that’s why he was bullied is not something that’s said out loud, because even now, with incidents like this, it’s not something that can be brought up explicitly in Greek society, and even the biggest supporters of Vangelis, because that’s the kid’s name, are not fighting a fight for gay acceptance, they are fighting a fight for those men who are “not masculine enough”, or “too quiet”. But it’s fine. Societies advance at their own pace and for now in Greece we’re going to have to use codes.
And this story kinda hurt me when I read about it, first on my sister’s Facebook, who unfortunately is only one of about three Greek “friends” I have on there, because hey, I was that quiet kid in Greece once that was bullied to the point where I had to change schools and I therefore now hate all of Greece because my brain may be able to process things in a more advanced way, but my soul works on a more linear level, which I haven’t been able to develop yet, I’m sorry. So anyway, I caught glance of this on my sister’s page, and then I kept clicking through and reading more and more articles and views and message boards and comments sections and it didn’t get any less hurtful and I kinda loathe people who write on the internet about reading stuff on the internet that brought them to tears, so I’ll leave this here.
And then, with all that, I thought, well, what the hell am I doing as a grown, out gay man spending all my time pretending to be straight with my baseball caps and lanyards andbasketball shorts. How am I helping anyone to feel comfortable with themselves, if they’re insecure, if they’re not out, and what is the message that I’m giving out. Are they only going to be accepted, is their only hope to stay alive, first literally and then metaphorically, in a grown up society if they’re acting more straight than the straight dudes? That’s kinda fucking lame.
I think about masculinity a lot and what it means and how it's qualified against being a homosexual male. The truth is that I’m not comfortable around really effeminate gay men who squeal and cackle and prance. But the truth also is that I’m not comfortable around really masculine straight guys who yell and growl and shout at sports on TV. I think this happens because I’m quiet and introverted and those groups are both loud and extroverted and I feel they suck out my energy when I’m around them. I don’t want the effeminate gay guys to act more masculine though, that’s not my problem.
Now, in any case, masculinity is a big thing even outside the small towns of Northern Greece. You may not be bullied explicitly for not being masculine in West Hollywood in LA and in Soho in London, but the predominant behavioural ideal right now is heteronormative. Via Sean Cody. And yes, I exclusively use porn sites to study and determine social norms. Heteronormative males are what the majority of us jerk off to and what the majority of us want to be. I think it’s a little awful, that this is the principal ideal.
Furthermore, this obsession with masculinity and the dismissal of any alternative sips into the slang used by gay males. We often use female pronouns to talk dismissively about others when we want to degrade them, or even gently mock them. When you’re mad at your friend and you text your other friend and say “she’s a bit crazy, that one” you attempt to diminish them by taking away their masculinity. I think it’s all connected. I may be mad.
Then there is the go-to gay slur from one gay male to another, of course, about being a bottom. Everyone is always fucking accused of being a bottom. Nobody uses the term “top” dismissively. Nobody leaves anonymous comments on websites accusing people of being tops. This takes us full circle, back to cultures where being a bottom equals being gay, but being a top means that you’re just a guy who likes to fuck. When I came out to my Dad, his first question to me after he nearly had a heart attack was “Are you gay or are you a top”. I was like, Dad, girl, you trippin’? (Do you see what I did there? I took away my Dad’s masculinity by calling him a girl!!!!) (I didn’t really, I wouldn’t do that; he still has most of the money).
Anyway, why does the world think like that? Why are effeminate men berated? Actually, why are women still perceived as less equal? Is this gay issue ultimately a sexism issue? I don’t get it. I don’t know what to do. As an out gay man, I don’t want young kids who are not out to be scared. I certainly don’t want them to get bullied and disappear and kill themselves. But I also don’t want them to think that they can only fit in by acting the way society tells them to. Laugh at me all you want. I think I have a social responsibility. And I think that every gay man does. Is the solution to move all my social media presence from bro to fembro? Or is this a knee-jerk reaction? I don’t know yet. But I’ll figure it out. And you should too.
Thursday, 12 February 2015
Tuesday, 3 February 2015
On Monday evening I’m leaving my flat to go to the gym and I’m at the stage where I’m holding my bike, I’ve put my headphones in, started my music and pressed the button for the lift. This is a daring move on my part, because I don’t want to be rude and usually wait to start the music until after I’ve exited the main entrance of the building downstairs, just in case I come across a neighbour inside the building and they happen to say hello or make any other conversation and I miss it because I’m listening to some song. Of course the one time when I have taken my chances and started playing my music immediately upon exiting my flat, my next-door neighbour opens her door, shouts my name and comes out. I don’t know if there’s a facial expression when your heart sinks, but if there is, I’m wearing it right now. I stop the music and courteously pull one headphone out.
My next-door neighbour is holding a joint but she quickly puts it out using her finger, which is highly alarming and indicates that this woman is not fazed by fire, so I can’t imagine that my mildly annoyed glare will have any greater effect. Now, I have spoken about my next-door neighbour before. I don’t actually speak to my next-door neighbour; I just listen. I did contribute to the conversation one time and that one time I asked her please not to mention Greece every time she crosses my path, because I don’t like Greece, I haven’t lived in Greece since 1998, and it’s really pissing me off when she mentions Greece.
“I wanted to ask to ask you, what did you think of the Greek election?” she asks, grinning like a loon.
I look over at the lift door automatically closing behind me, shutting away my only escape route, breathe out a heavy sigh and say, “What election?”
This is a semi-genuine question, because I suppose I knew there was an election in Greece at some point recently, but only because my sister called me and said that she thought one of the candidates was attractive, then I looked him up and he wasn’t. I don’t know if I can provide that as an informed view of the political developments in Greece, so I feign ignorance.
The neighbour goes on to explain that there was a recent election for President or Prime Minister in Greece, “whatever we have over there”, and the party that got elected will stick it to Europe (they’ll say “fuck you” to Europe, she says) and will fight for their independence and they’re badass motherfuckers and won’t put up with all the debt shit anymore. Haven’t I heard?
I shake my head to indicate that I haven’t.
She continues for a bit and tells me how proud she is of the Greeks for voting for independence and then she performs a little Greek dance to demonstrate her solidarity, an act that involves her raising her arms to the sides and clicking her fingers whilst doing a few steps of something that approximates what she might have seen in a movie, right there in our building corridor.
At that point, as an instinctive reaction, I drop my bike sideways on the floor. This may have been involuntary, but it serves as a survival technique, because it interrupts her delirium and gives me an out. She swiftly moves on from performing the dance of Zorba The Greek to leaning over my bike and mock-stroking its handles, whispering “poor bike, you’re not hurt, are you?” as I maniacally press the button for the lift again, which comes just in time when I’ve picked up the bike and I’m ready to go.
As the lift door closes once again with me inside this time, I hear her shout in perfect clarity: “Of course you don’t know anything about the Greek election, you English, you”, her tone dripping in mockery.
I ride four miles to the gym, work out chest and biceps, first next to a very hot homophobic bro who moves away after one set when I approach him to work in with him, then next to a very hot bi/curious bro who approaches me to work in with me as soon as the first bro leaves, and ride four miles back home, listening to my iPod on shuffle which brings up the following sequence of songs: Liar by Henry Rollins, Say My Name by Destiny’s Child, Mistaken For Strangers by The National, a live version of Declare Independence by Björk, Denis by Blondie, and Seeing Other People by Belle And Sebastian.
When I get home, I exit the lift and unlock my front door as quietly as I can.
Friday, 26 December 2014
On Thursday evening I go to the gym to do shoulders and there’s a boy that’s there, whom I’ve seen maybe three or four times now, always in the evening, always with a friend of his (invisible) and the thing about this boy, who cannot be any older than 19, maybe 20, is that he’s tall and blond, and has a toned body, fine, but he also has a pair of blue eyes that have that effect on me where if they catch mine, my heart stops for a moment and I have to take a second to remember a) where I am and b) what I am doing. This is not an effect to be taken lightly and it takes a very particular shade of blue for it to happen. The fact that his eyes look like they’ve witnessed an impossible tragedy, quite possibly a genocide, and will never recover only adds to it. So because this feeling that I get when I look at him in the eyes is very, very disturbing, but also very exhilarating, I can’t help but to seek it out. And I keep staring at him. Because I keep staring at him, he tends to look back, and to cut a long story short, when this boy is in the gym, nothing really gets done. Not that I want anything from this boy, other than to occasionally get the electric shock he seems to be able to readily inflict on my nervous system.
Now, apart from my own personal fetish for arctic blue eyes that reflect centuries of endless sorrow, this boy is also overwhelmingly good looking objectively. And I stand there and look at him and keep thinking of the time when it will all come together in four or five years from now and he’s turned into an actual god, and how he will deal with his life then, a life where everyone around him will be falling over themselves to make things easy for him and get close to him and take advantage for him, generally a life in the bubble that those extraordinarily good looking people live in and the rest of us will never experience.
Then I go home and my friend KT comes over and helps me pack for a trip that I’m taking the following day.
The following a day I take a taxi to the airport and get on a long flight to somewhere that used to be home and for the first half of this flight I do some work and write some things and then I get bored of that and decide to watch a movie. I am terrible at watching movies or even TV, actually, because, well, they have actors in them. The first movie that I choose to watch is called Sex Tape and it starts Cameron Diaz and the tall, out-of-shape guy from How I Met Your Mother who seems to have lost a lot of weight and still has a terrible body, but now also a sickly, sunken face on top of it. Cameron Diaz narrates the beginning of the movie and at some point very early on she says “…for Jake and I, the next few months…” and I immediately press stop and stop watching it. “FOR JAKE AND I.”
This happens in the sixth minute of the movie, but even then I feel like I’ve given it enough of a chance and there’s no way it won’t make me kill myself if I continue to watch. Then I decide that this was my fault anyway for choosing to watch a dumb sexed up comedy with Cameron Diaz, and decide to go with something more highbrow, and in this case and the limited selection we have on this plane, is the movie The Hundred-Foot Journey, which stars Helen Mirren, so it must be the cerebral choice. It also stars a series of unknown Indian actors, because it’s all about prejudice, integration, cultural assimilation and the surprising enormity of the human spirit, and I don’t have to tell you again, I come into this with really, really high hopes.
Then in the second scene about ten minutes in a young Indian man with purposefully sad eyes that don’t exhibit even one millionth of the sorrow my blond gym boy can convey without a director, an assistant director and two acting coaches showing him how to do it, stands in front of an official at some airport immigration desk and claims that he’s moving into the country (France, I believe) because he wants to become and a cook and then the following exchange happens:
Immigration officer:” And you’re planning to stay in Europe…as a cook?”
Young Indian: “Oh yes”
“You have qualifications?”
“Yes. My mother taught me.”
“But no proof on paper?”
Then the India immigrant says, “Only greaseproof paper”, and hands the immigration officer a samosa. A fucking samosa.
Then I press stop again and don’t watch anything apart from the back of the seat in front of me for the following four and a half hours.
In London I do some family memes, but most importantly I have a talk with my Mum and during this talk, which I initiate, I ask, Mum, what’s Dad’s deal? Ever since I came out to him he talks to me as normal and he keeps telling me that he loves me, but he never mentions me being gay and he’s definitely not showing any real signs of acceptance, just signs that he’s going to be the bigger person and still keep me in his life, despite me now being the equivalent of an infant serial killer. Then my Mum tells me that perhaps on this surface my Dad has accepted me, but she knows how difficult it is for him to really come to terms with it, let alone properly acknowledge it, “this thing that I have”, at which point I interrupt her and ask her to call my thing by its name, say that I’m gay, which she does very reluctantly, but still it’s a small victory and I’ll take it.
Then my Mum continues to say that Dad grew up and still lives in an environment where no gay people exist and, in fact, being gay is just a joke that people use to put down others and all my Dad’s friends casually throw around gay slurs all the time. Then I tell my Mum that I would ideally like to be part of a family where my parents have my back when things like that happen and they stand up to people and, you know what, if I had to deal with all this discrimination and insults all my life while I was growing up, I would like my parents to be on my side, now that I’ve told them, and fight the fights that I have been fighting all this time too. Because, you know, I feel kinda alone, still.
Then my Mum says that she knows I must be feeling alone, and because nothing is really going to change from the side of my Dad, I must focus all my energy and attention on finding a boyfriend that will spend all his time with me and, you know what, that’s my best option if I want to stop feeling alone. I spend a few minutes trying to explain to her that this is terrible, terrible advice and having a partner that I will leech on to will not make me feel less isolated from my parents, those are two completely different needs, but I don’t know that this sinks in and nothing’s going to change anyway, so we wrap this up and go out to the Gant store where I buy five shirts (two plaid ones in green/blue and maroon/green/white, and three blue oxford shirts of which I already have a dozen) and two thin fabric striped belts.
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Here is a list of my top 30 favourite songs of the year:
Here is a list of my top 30 favourite songs of the year:
(oh and here's a Spotify playlist for them, but they are in ranked order, so it plays quite schizophrenic)
This is a song about pretending to be into somebody, because you want, say, to really take advantage of them, and you emotionally abuse them because that is the only way you know how to behave through the immense self-loathing that your own refusal to accept your sexuality has caused you, leaving you terminally and irreversibly damaged and unable ever to connect with another human being or let anyone in.
This is a song about breaking up with your partner while still staying at their place, then seeing them out and refusing to acknowledge them even by saying hello, but then suddenly becoming very, very friendly towards the end of the night, because you’re realising that the only way to get back home for free is by faking an interest in them all of a sudden, despite having spent the evening making out with random people in different areas of the bar/club, since you’ve still got your partner wrapped around your finger and they will pay the fare for the taxi home you have manipulated them into sharing with you, then getting home and stopping to talk to them again, because you’ve broken up, all right, which part of this don’t they get?
This is a song about pretending to be a masc musc bro by wearing Nike and backward hats exclusively, so much so that they seem glued to your stupid forehead, but in fact treating life and everyone around you with such cowardice, callousness and lack of respect that your objectively formidable physical presence becomes a parody of masculinity, not to mention the most ironic physical vs. spiritual juxtaposition the planet has seen since the diminutive Napoleon Bonaparte decided to take over the world (but in reverse)
This is a song about lemonade luh luh lemonade
This is a song about getting some sort of weird pleasure from always pursuing relationships that can only end in disappointment, which can range from just minor heartache to life-crushing devastation that leaves you on your knees unable to face the world around you, because you exclusively focus on dumb, hollow criteria in choosing your partners, like the colour of their eyes, circumference of ass, height in centimetres because inches don’t provide the level of detail you require and you are very specific about height, and you are using those criteria presumably to cover for your own unsurpassable insecurities and lack of self-esteem, which must stem from never receiving the love you needed as a child, even though looking back it seemed like a decent enough upbringing, but what do you possibly know about the beatings your poor subconscious was taking in that affluent suburb of Athens in 1989?
6. Go – Grimes
18. Alliyah – Katy B
22. Doubt - Kele
23. Hard – Sophie
27. Thievery – Arca
As you may notice this is just a remix of the number 1 song above (which is, in fact, the best song of the year) and this remix takes one key line of the original song (I'm not going to tell you what it is, you have to listen to it) and repeats it on a loop TWENTY TIMES at some point until you nearly get a headache, which now makes this a song about moving on and being happy and leading your fortunate, blessed little life where you don't have any real problems and everything goes your way and you'd really have to be a little bitch to keep complaining, so in fact you don't, and you admit that you're actually happy and content and looking forward to everything that 2015 has to offer.
Here is a list of my top 15 favourite albums of the year:
1. Caribou – Our Love
2. Chet Faker – Built On Glass
3. Lykke Li – I Never Learn
4. Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence
5. Royksopp – The Inevitable End
6. Morrissey – World Peace Is None Of Your Business
7. Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Wanderlust
8. Jessie Ware – Tough Love
9. How To Dress Well – What Is This Heart?
10. GusGus – Mexico
11. Sam Hunt – Montevallo
12. Kele – Trick
13. First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
14. SBTRKT – Wonder Where We Land
15. Ryan Hemsworth – Walk Me Home
And there we have it, the (musical) review of the year.
And there we have it, the (musical) review of the year.
Wednesday, 19 November 2014
On Monday night I go to the gym, where I’m supposed to work out my shoulders and back, but mainly my shoulders, because they have been a weak point for a very long time and it’s getting really embarrassing. I’m doing a set of new exercises that I’ve never done before and this really stressing me out, making me walk around the gym looking lost, holding an iPhone up that’s playing fitness YouTube videos, trying to make sense of it all.
For my first exercise, which somebody somewhere named standing barbell military press, I need a barbell. There’s one barbell on an incline bench nearby, so I walk over to it and start picking it up. Then some guy comes back and tells me that he’s still using it. Then I stand there again more lost, but now also disappointed. Then I notice that my straight gym crush who’s using a different barbell on a different incline bench right next to me is trying to make cautious eye contact and catch my attention, but in a very tentative way, plus I’m wearing headphones and he can’t really talk to me.
This seems like it goes on for an eternity if the feeling in my lower abdomen is anything to go by, but in human time and space terms it’s probably only 2-3 seconds before he actually opens his mouth, I remove my left headphone and he asks me to spot him for one last set, and then I can have the barbell if that’s what I’m looking for. This is exactly what I’m looking for and a little bit more, so I mumble “sure” and I go stand behind him as he's doing one last set of incline chest press while I breathe in each time he exhales in agony in the general direction of my face.
My straight gym crush is about 6’3” tall, has very short, light brown hair and an outdoor tan, the face of a G.I. Joe action figure but with hesitant eyes, and a tight, muscular, yet lean upper body. He also has really big, strong legs, perhaps more muscular than his upper body, which is pretty much my favourite thing anyone can have, and I assign this to him playing some particular, highly imaginary sport that mainly utilises lower body strength, even though my friend TN says that I’m just making this up because I want this guy to be a masc jock who kills it at sports, but it’s just probably the way he’s built.
For this exercise he was going for six reps, he said, but he only manages five, with my assistance only needed for the last one. We quickly recover from this highly sexual activity (in my head only, but still) by removing the weights from the barbell together.
“How many do you want on?” he asks.
“None of them”, I say.
He takes one side and I take the other, and he really doesn’t have to do that, so I stutter “thank you” and “thank you so much” an inordinate amount of times, as he goes between the barbell and the weight rack.
Then we’re done and I’m about to remove the barbell and take it away and he walks up to me one last time with a face that hasn’t shown any expression throughout our interaction apart from physical strain as he was doing his exercise, offers his hand for a fist bump, which I incompetently return, and says:
I die a few deaths inside, and continue with my workout, both ecstatic and also devastated, in the way that you would feel if you knew you had just been touched by the hand of God…via a fist bump…while he called you “boss”, but having no way to tell if the experience will ever be repeated, or if that right there was your life peaking and you’re now faced with slow, excruciating drudgery until you finally expire thirty or forty years from now.
Later in the evening, I’m home alone and trying to pull myself away from refreshing Facebook and go to bed. It’s minutes before midnight.
I hear a knock on the door, and of course I know it’s my next-door neighbour (more about whom can be foundhere) and I seriously consider not answering, but she knocks again, more fervently this time, and I know this is just not going to go away.
I open the door and she storms in holding a candlestick. I am not making any of this up. She’s sorry she had to bother me, she says, unclear whether she’s more or less sorry compared to the other five times she did in the last couple of weeks with an urgent story of low-stake apartment building warfare somehow connected to her self-assigned role as neighbourhood watch official, but something really disturbing is happening and she needs my help.
I almost say, “what is it”, but in reality this is not a discussion where my input is needed, she can continue the dialogue for both of us just taking minor cues from my facial expressions or stance: half a raised eyebrow here, a minor shift of my eyeballs there, blinking, shifting the weight between my legs as I stand there otherwise inanimate, it all counts as my part of the conversation.
This time she tells me that she’s heard some noises and wants me to go investigate the apartment downstairs from hers, because she thinks someone is getting murdered very quietly, or having violent sex very quietly, both of which she thinks she can help with. I say no. She says, fine, if she goes downstairs and someone is getting murdered and she gets caught up herself I will have it on my conscience, and my silence must indicate that I’m fine with that, because she leaves, candlestick in hand and heads down the corridor.