Adam, in his own words: “(Being gay has) never really been a huge part of my identity in terms of how I express myself in this world but I can’t deny that it is a big part of who I am. Being gay to me means more than just being attracted to men. For example being gay gives me the freedom to reject dominant constructions of masculinity which I feel is liberating, you know, to just genuinely be myself. Being gay feels almost like an act of resistance, sometimes I really love that I am different in a world full of conformity/sameness. But then again I am a contradiction, the difference bothers me sometimes too, I guess my feelings towards it are contextual depending on what physical and mental space I am in at the time and who is around me.
The difference unfortunately means a certain level of alienation from the wider community and this can often have some negative effects. In Australia I feel like there are still a lot of conservative homophobic spaces and it can be difficult living in a heteronormative society as a gay man. I also feel alienated within the gay community because I don’t feel like I express my sexuality in the same way as most gay men. I don’t identify with many of the gay stereotypes so I sometimes feel I am not gay enough to be included in the gay community.
On a more positive note, the experience of being in a minority group has made me a better person. To experience this kind of oppression has opened me up to empathise with other minority groups. I think in this regard it has actually influenced my career choice, to become a social worker, I think my passion for social justice has come from my experience of being different in society that normalises heterosexuality.
In terms of success, I think what I am most proud of is somewhat strangely my past relationship. It was a long term relationship of almost five years that ended last year. I loved the life we had created, what we achieved together, how we learnt from each other, the personal growth we both experienced and the dynamic of the partnership between us. Obviously it did not work out the way we both wanted it to in the end but I really admire that we loved each other enough to know that ultimately we had to separate in order to be happy. We did this in a very respectful and thoughtful way and again I am really proud of that. It was hard to give up on the comforts of such a strong connection but it has been the best decision for both of us and I feel like we are going to be great friends for life. The love will never really be lost, it has just transformed into something else. What I can know for sure is that I am a better person for having been in that relationship.
I think my greatest challenge has been to accept who I am and to learn to love myself, to find confidence and value in who I am. Up until recently I have struggled with a quite a low self-esteem, the genealogy of which is really quite sad. This coupled with an uncertainty about my place in this world. I am in a good space now. I am really proud of who I am and what I have to offer but it has been a long and treacherous journey to get here.
(With regards to coming out) I was in a relationship that was getting quite serious. My partner was already out so it wasn’t fair on him to have to keep our relationship a secret. We went travelling through Europe together and got married in the UK. We returned to Australia as husbands. We made a pact that I would tell my family within one month of being home. I couldn’t bring myself to actually tell them in person. The idea of that confrontation freaked me out too much so I wrote a letter. To my surprise my parents were really supportive and I consider myself very lucky. Since then I have always been able to be open with them. They not only accepted my relationship but they celebrated it and did many thoughtful things for us over the years. I love my family very much.
Sometimes I feel like (the LGBTIQ community in Brisbane) doesn’t really exist. I wonder if maybe the idea of a collective LGBTIQ community is actually a falsehood. There appears to be a lot of tensions between different members of the LGBTIQ* spectrum; it’s not necessarily a harmonious group. Some community events are not inclusive and they create new divisions in what is supposed to be a community that is bound by a sense of solidarity and a celebration of diversity. Even within one category, like gay men, there is a lot of pressure guys place on each other to conform to a particular ideal body image, as well as judgements around sexual activity. Rather than being united we are objectifying each other in sometimes harmful ways. People expect so much from an LGBTIQ community but community is not an independent fixed structure. My idea of community is more of a process characterised by individual participation acted out collectively. Your sense of belonging to it comes from your participation in it. Sadly I feel like there are not many people around my age actively contributing to building or maintaining an LGBTIQ community in Brisbane, at least not in sense of working together to achieve social justice aims. Perhaps there is more of a social community, collections of friends that party together and support each other through close friendships. I guess I am just not connected to that.
I wouldn’t want to say anything (to my younger self). My mistakes have been character building so I wouldn’t want to change anything. The times I have been hurt the most or have found myself in the darkest despair have made me who I am today. So I feel like I wouldn’t want to give myself any advice, I would rather let myself make mistakes, to find things out the hard way and grow from those experiences.”