Of Loss, Lying, and Love

Seven years ago, at the age of 30, I did this crazy nutso thing and went back to University to finish my degree. I was nervous as all get out as I knew that coming in to complete my third year I would be interloping on an already established network of student artists and theatre makers – most of whom would be 10 years my junior. How on earth was I going to fit in to this group of people who already had two full years of experiences and bonding and getting drunk together and all that? Could I still write essays? Did I know what ‘pathos’ meant (I reckon I still don’t know what ‘pathos’ means)? Would people want to work with me? Could I match wits with my classmates and teachers? Would I pass my degree? It was scary and intimidating, but given I had spent the previous year in a depressed, stoned and fat state of self-loathing, I needed to jump right in and swim.

Within the first week, I was pretty much accepted into the fold, probably because I have no problem making a dick of myself to get people to like me. I was also fresh blood. Within six months, I had a whole new group of friends, had come out as an ex-hooker, and had earned a reputation for being unapologetically honest, accepting and funny. The age difference meant little, the laughs were a-plenty, and new theatrical exploits were planned and executed with aplomb and alacrity.

Cut to seven years later, most of these friends are gone. I must admit that the majority of them I chose to step away from, mainly because I didn’t like who I was around them, but a few kind of forced my hand somewhat. Some of them were my closest friends that I had spent the last seven years forging deeply important connections with. Seven years of cheap hair cuts, and tea, and hugs, and listening ears, and the keeping of their secrets, the countless tarot readings, the acceptance and non-judgement, the theatre, the wine and the laughs. All gone because they believe my wife abused her ex, because that’s what my wife’s ex told EVERYONE. That and many other lies that manifested silent judgement in my friends’ eyes when they looked at me, when they looked at my wife. I want to scream at them “FUCK YOU! How dare you! Damn you for abandoning me, for not returning the faith I had in you, for believing the worst, for not talking to me because it’s ‘none of your business’, but let’s face it, you make it your business because you talk to everyone else except me about it. Fuck you and fuck the high horse you rode in on!”

*rage!*

By gods, I miss them. There’s a hole in my life created by their absence. There are comments and messages missing from my social media page, texts unreturned and unread, conversations that I can’t have with anyone else. I feel lost. Bereft. My heart hurts and I cry often, usually alone. My pride will not let me reach out to them, my fear warning me that any attempt to connect will be rejected. I don’t cope well with rejection so I don’t try. I’m pig-headed like that.

I know it’s my own fault. I walked away. I made a choice and I stuck to it, as righteous and indignant as it may have been at the time. I still believe it was the right thing to do, because I do not believe or give any credence to what my wife has been accused of. I didn’t believe it before she and I began our relationship and I still don’t. I will choose her time and again because it’s the right thing for me to do. Yet, I still grieve what I have lost.

Wikipedia defines friendship as having the following characteristics: affection, sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, mutual understanding and compassion, enjoyment of each other’s company, trust, and the ability to be oneself, express one’s feelings, and make mistakes without fear of judgement from the friend. For once, Wikipedia can be relied upon as being fairly accurate. That aside, I cannot deny that I do still have friends that offer me the aforementioned things, and I can requite them the same. But the connection I have with those friends differs from my Uni friends, and I can’t quite identify why. It’s a feeling I guess.

This too shall pass, as all things are ephemeral. In closing the doors to those people, I have manifested the opportunity for other avenues of connection to open. This is exciting and different, my life has changed immeasurably, I feel there are magnificent and wonderful experiences to come, and I fully believe that all has happened just as it should have happened.

it still sucks, but. And it will suck for a while. I hope they’re okay. I hope they achieve all they desire. I hope in time I will see them again and all will be fine. I hope they miss me as much as I miss them.

I Do

I got married yesterday. As with most things in my life, the act was non-conventional and probably quite impulsive. I proposed to my girlfriend a couple of months ago whilst visiting my family in New Zealand with the idea in mind that we’d travel to New Zealand to marry for legals while the Australian government continued to waffle and be embarrassingly reticent to allow the same civil rights for all their citizens. It was our government’s failure to recognise the rights of homosexuals that precipitated our decision to participate in a marriage equality rally yesterday. The date marked ten years since the Howard government amended the Marriage Act to state explicitly that legal marriage is ‘the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others’. Ten years. Why the hell are we still having to protest this discriminatory and archaic ruling?

In reality, I believe that marriage equality is essentially a non-issue. It’s a no-brainer. Why are we wasting energy, time and money on something that is a given – human rights, hello! – when there are children dying in Gaza, passenger jets being blown out of the sky, and Yazidis reportedly being killed in Iraq for refusing to convert to Islam? It’s ridiculous, frankly, and insulting.

Yet, this is where we are. Speakers at the rally yesterday told stories of getting married overseas and the sinking feeling of knowing that as soon as they disembarked from the plane on Australian soil they were longer married. A woman, our marriage celebrant, told of dedicating her life to bringing people together in love since her gay son passed away before fulfilling his dream of marrying the man he loved. An intersex person told of their experience of having to lie on official marriage documents in the past about their gender so that they could marry the person they loved, the only options being ‘male’ or ‘female’, not ‘both’.

I am fortunate enough to have a relatively simple gender identity and sexuality, my sexual preferences being quite fluid. It has always been about love for me – it’s the person, not the gender that I have been attracted to. Growing up with a gay dad and being exposed to ‘alternative’ sexualities in the sex industry has afforded me a healthy, well-rounded acceptance of who I am sexually. My coming out was non eventful, I have experienced little discrimination due to my preferences, and my family has always been accepting of my choice of partner, their only concern being my happiness. Even so, I feel marginalised and restricted (not just for being a little bit gay but also for being a woman, but that’s another post at another time).

Our decision yesterday to get ‘illegally married’ – as the celebrant put it – was mainly prompted by circumstance. At the rally, it was announced that any couple who wanted to make a commitment to each other would be given the opportunity to do so. As we were marching towards parliament in Melbourne, my partner turned to me and asked “do you want to marry me?” The decision was easy, given that I had already declared my intention to her in New Zealand, and quite simply, because I love her. I adore this woman, and can’t imagine my life without her. The act of getting married itself, grounded in complete acceptance of and adoration for each other, was a kind of protest. Our own protest against the friends we have both lost due to the circumstances of our relationship, against those who think we have moved too quickly, and against our stupid, myopic government who doesn’t think we have a right to share our lives as a married couple. Who knew a commitment to the person one loves could be so politically charged and powerful?

It has been a stupidly hard, yet wonderfully magical few months. My life during that time has been perfect in its imperfection. Every loss, every gain, every tear shed, every note of laughter has enriched my soul and made me love my life, myself, and my wife. We will wed legally, whether it be in the country of my birth or here if and when the law finally changes. Until then, love well, dear readers. Be as you are, be with whomever you choose, and trust that the Universe will always provide as it has done for me.

Be blessed.