Tagged: ipswich

Rey and Chris, Ipswich, Australia

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong, Rey (left) and Chris (right)
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong, Remi (Right) and Chris (Left)
photo by Kevin Truong, Rey (Right) and Chris (Left)
Chris, in his own words: “For me being gay has become just another part of who I am, sometimes important, most times not so much. I have come to understand myself as just another kind of being human, part of the variety of human existence. Being gay means an appreciation that I am different from the majority of the rest of humanity, but similar to a significant minority of others, so I have come to understand that I share my essential humanity with all other humans, but my sexuality with only some. In general I count my values more highly than my sexuality and I share these with my friends, and it therefore doesn’t usually matter to me whether they are gay or otherwise, even though it is becoming increasingly true that most of my friends are also gay.

There have been times when being gay has been a great source of anxiety for me. I am grateful for the great social strides that have been taken over the past two or three decades that have allowed me to take my place in society with my head held high, to openly live with my partner and to acknowledge my relationship at work. I am also grateful my progressive friends and work colleagues who have created a welcoming and nurturing environment. Of course there are still hangovers from the bad old days, but now the photograph I have of Rey and I on my desk is no cause for comment. Except periodically, from older gay men who remember – as I do – when you just wouldn’t dare, maybe not even dare to enjoy a relationship.

So on another, perhaps more important, level, being gay now means for me the opportunity to live life honestly and openly, authentically, without fanfare, but in a way that I consider normal. The opportunity to discuss the ups and downs of relationships, the odd things that I and Rey do, life in general, all in the broader context of friendly discussion; the opportunity to be (in most ways) like everybody else, these are special to me. The social benefit (perhaps the political benefit) is normalisation. I am encouraged when I see young people carrying out their relationships in an open and positive way and I’m even more gratified when I see my peers doing the same. Being gay, welcoming gayness, is not just about embracing diversity in myself and others, for me it’s about living diversity as un-self-consciously as I can – and encouraging others to do the same.

I think the biggest challenge for me has been the challenge of authenticity, whether that has been acknowledging my sexuality to myself, family and friends, understanding and negotiating/re-finding my faith, and/or thinking through the next stages of my life. So far I think I’ve been reasonably successful (I hope so). But I count the biggest successes those times in my life when I have been part of something that has made a positive difference in someone else’s life. These are the opportunities to look out for. Right now, though, the biggest challenge ahead for us is the renovation of our house. :-)

I tried a couple of fairly abortive attempts at coming out when I was younger, first when I was 18 and the next when I was about 25 or so. Neither were particularly successful and I retreated back into my protective shell, denied myself, tried to live in other ways, but at age 40, I finally came to a stage when I decided I no longer cared, that hiding/denying really didn’t matter any more and made no sense whatsoever and that it was time to live authentically whatever that might turn out to look like. And as it happens it has worked out well. I have great friendships, I met Rey and we clicked, we met each other’s families and clicked; we all genuinely like each other and we have a wonderful family life – and for that I am very grateful. That is what I hope for for others because it is so beneficial.

I’m not so sure there is a gay community as such here in Ipswich. There are lots of gay people in the city, of varying ages and life experience – and lots of them know each other. There have been one or two attempts at creating a regular gay venue, that I know of, with little real success. Well, Brisbane, the State capital, is literally just down the road. We are a University city and I suppose if I were going to look anywhere for a gay “community” here in Ipswich it might be on campus, not so much elsewhere. Perhaps people are making their own communities and we don’t feel the need to create an overarching one. That’s certainly my own feeling on the matter. Rey and I have two very close gay friends here in Ipswich (in fact our best and closest friends) and they are part of our “community” of friends (we are always open to making new friends), but I don’t have any particular sense of a wider gay community as such in Ipswich. Perhaps in one sense that’s actually a good and healthy thing if that means that local gay people are finding community with their families, colleagues and friends, but we have rural centres close by and I’m not sure about where the supports come from for those there and more locally who are vulnerable because of their sexuality – and that is, perhaps, a challenge.

I have thought long and hard about this. I’m not one for giving advice and I tend to think if I had an opportunity to meet my younger self, we would have a long conversation about what lies ahead, the good and the not so good. But I think at the moment if there was a short message to give to my younger self it would be that “Gay is OK; it’s OK to be gay” and maybe, “Don’t leave it so long to come out.” Would I have believed myself and accepted the challenge? I’m not sure, but I’d like to think that I would have thought about it :-)”

Beau, Administrative Assistant, Brisbane, Australia

photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Beau, in his own words: ” Being gay to me means that I’m a dude who likes dudes. To me it’s a small part of who I am. Its like having brown eyes or red hair – it can help define you – but in reality it’s just a small part of who you are as a person. When someone asks me if I’m gay I will always ask them why. Why do people need to know such an intimate detail as in its more a question about who I sleep with rather then who I am as a person. But I always say after I answer “know you know just a little bit more of who I am.”

I regard three points in my life as my success stories: the first being when I won student of the week in grade 2. After a really bad week at school me and mum had a talk and she told me if I was really good at school she would get me a suprise. So that week I convinced myself that my vitamin C tablets would make me concentrate and make me be good and I took one every morning and snuck one in the afternoon so I could do my homework and on Friday after morning tea my teacher gave me the award and I was able to put my name up on the board with all the other kids. The second time was on Australia Day when I won my award for “the betterment of the region” and listed all of my achievements over the past 12 months and I was so pleased with myself and even more pleased that my grandfather was telling everyone that’s my grandson and all of the older people came to shake my hand and afterwards mum let me hang the award in the hallway so as soon as you came into the house from the backdoor you would see my award hanging there. The third time I felt successful was when I took my partner to my brothers partners parents house for Christmas to meet all of my family – it was the first time my parents had met a boyfriend and I just felt so proud because I was so scared of what they would think of him and me but my dad shook his hand and my mum gave him a hug and it was just like all the times my sister brought her boyfriends home. It felt great.

Like most teenagers I was bullied horribly. I was concussed three times in grade 7 and pushed down a stairwell because I was “a faggot” but after primary school it got better and I have moved on from caring what most of them thought of me because I know now that it’s up to me if I let their words hurt me and sometimes they do but mostly they don’t which is good.

My coming out story begins in grade 8 when my teacher gave us an assignment on two weeks with the queen – a novel – and we had to write letters from one character to another describing what is happening and how they felt and when I handed in my first draft he said to me why don’t you change who is writing to who. Why don’t you try the gay couple in the book and write about them. The gay couple are in their thirties and one is dying of AIDS. I told him I didn’t know anything about gay people and he told me to google coming out stories and start from there. That weekend the family was out and I googled coming out stories and reading every story was like looking into my own mind and connecting the dots as to why I was different. It made no sense to me before that and now I had a word to describe my feelings and I felt so grown up but I had no one to tell. A few weeks later I went to my local youth group camp and met a wonderful girl who was a few years older and she was the first person I told. We would email each other ever day and it was nice to have someone to talk to. My mum got worried and thought this older girl was taking advantage of me and asked my youth group leader to talk to me about it because I wouldn’t talk to them. And then I told him the truth and it was awkward and I asked him not to tell my parents and that I would so that afternoon I told my mum because dad was at work and what I remember most was I was standing at the sink and I drunk a cup of water after each sentence I said. And then she sent me to my room and her and dad talked when he got home and all I heard from their conversation was as long as he is happy. That made me smile.

The gay community in Brisbane is small but very diverse. It’s well represented of all the different colours of the rainbow but everyone knows everyone and most won’t let you forget if you slept with their ex. In the six years I have been in Brisbane now things have changed a lot but the people stay the same and I find that comforting as you will always get a hello down at the pub.

What would I tell my younger self? I would tell me not worry. The people who make your life hell now will not always be around and you will get to choose if and when you speak to them when your older and when they request your friendship on Facebook you will smile and accept knowing that it was them who wanted your acceptance and not the other way around. The second thing I would tell myself is it gets better and you will make so many new friends you won’t remember all of their names but all you have to do is say hi first.”