Phillip, in his own words: “Being gay to me is about being happy and proud about who I am and living life accordingly. It also means not being straight which I love. I think that for some gay people it is important for them to get married, have children etc but I am not one of those men. I have no desire to get married or have children and relish that difference from straight people. I think this whole idea of conforming to a “straight life” is really unappealing. Having a gay identity means being slightly different which I think should be celebrated.
I have had a number of goals in life, to find a job I enjoy, to travel and live overseas, to buy my own apartment which I have achieved. I guess the one success I feel was the most important was moving to London when I was in my mid 20’s. It enabled me the freedom to become more comfortable with my sexuality but more importantly it gave me the confidence to become the happy gay man that I am today. The experience of living in London really shaped me and I think sometimes people need to leave from where they live to grow, develop and work out who they want to be. The biggest challenge I have had to face in my life was when my father passed away when I was 16. I didn’t know it at the time but it was a defining moment in my life. It took me a number of years to deal with the grief and really recover from this event. I guess the challenge I am currently facing is trying to meet someone whom I can share my life with. This is an ongoing challenge but I am hopeful that I will meet the right guy soon – not that I want to get married or anything!
For me coming out was a very gradual process, I came out to myself when I was in my early teens and then went back in the closet only to come out again in my mid 20’s to my friends. I think the reason it took me a while to become comfortable with my sexuality may have had to do with my traditional Italian background. In reality I was fooling myself in thinking I could be straight. I always remember in high school being picked on for being gay. I think the fact that I was made to feel “different” from an early age has had a huge impact on the way I feel my gay identity. Telling the family took a a little bit longer as I was living in London – it meant I had to do it on one of my trips home to Australia. I was in my early 30’s and they were all very supportive. I still have not come out to my mum and that is something I contemplate on a regular basis. She is from a different generation and I struggle with what might happen if I do tell her.
The gay community in Sydney is pretty much like any gay community in a big city. There are the various “gay tribes” like the bears, the Muscle Mary’s, the twinks etc and I feel very comfortable in not belonging to any of these. I think having a clear idea about my own indentity is much more important than belonging to some clichéd gay tribe. I do love going out to gay bars and clubs as I think it is so-o important to the gay community that we do have places to go out. So many places have closed down or changed to “mixed” venues in Sydney recently and I think it’s a shame really.
The advice I would give my younger self is to be honest with yourself if you really want a happy life.”