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Thursday, December 29, 2011

And It's Another Year Gone...and Happy 2012

The end of another year - and that's not a bad thing. There have been ups and downs, as usual. Personally, it's been a hard year for a number of reasons, so I'm not sad to turn the page on 2011, and hope that 2012 feels better for me.

It's been quite a year really. Huge political changes in North Africa and the Middle East. I cheer on the one hand,  but despair as well, as I read of the persecution of gay men that gets carried out in the turmoil. Scores of gay men have been targetted and murdered in Baghdad, killed just for being gay - this is hideous and barbaric, and it seems like it's not just happening there - we have become a legitimate target, easy to attack with no consequences. Gays don't count as real humans, we're just scum in their eyes. We are so lucky in New Zealand, as bad as things can get here, you won't be pulled into a car, driven off to some wasteland, raped, tortured and shot and then have your body dumped back at your parents' after. You can read more here...


It still amazes me that two men, or two women, or just the fact of an adult being sexually "different" can arouse such hatred and anger, such bile and stupid barbarity. And it's not just the Muslim world, there are Rabbis and Priests, Swamis and Gurus, Buddhists and Hindus who disagree about everything else except on what abominable sinful disgusting things we are.

Closer to home, we had the whole "It Gets Better" project as a response to the publicity around gay and queer youth suicide, starting in the US and then growing and growing. I think it is a great project, so many voices coming out with a positive message. By itself it's not enough of course, but it is a real step in putting positive messages out there for our youth. There was nothing like it when I was a suicidal teenager that's for sure - I had no idea that gay men could lead happy loving lives.

And honestly, life in general does get better as we age. It doesn't get perfect, but we learn how to cope better. I know that's true for me and most people I know. There will always be nasty bullies and shit-heads in the world, but as I get older they affect me less and less.

 I listened to two women in their 80s talking about surviving breast cancer the other day and how they reacted to it, and one said "Well you do just get more balanced about things at our age". I love old ladies. They know stuff if you're ready to listen.

And listening is good, it's the gift of time, and as much of a cliche as it is, giving other people your time, giving them your attention, is the most precious thing you can do. Without time, we are nothing, and being open and willing to share it with others shows you respect and care for them in the way you would like to be. It is the greatest gift. And it runs out. Suddenly that friend you cared for is dead, and everything that kept you busy and stopped you seeing them suddenly seems trivial and a mistake. So where you can, give generously of your time, listen, pay attention, remember you're dealing with someone with a life that is as full of joy, worry and drama as your own.

I turned 50 this year, and I really wouldn't want to be 20 again - ok, I'd like my 20 year-old body back, but I wouldn't want to be that youth again. Or maybe when I was 25, I think I looked my best around then, weighed about 15 kgs less, had more hair and a higher libido. But I wouldn't want that head back.

I have had a tradition of getting laid on New Year's Eve, as the best way to see in a New Year, but I'm not sure if that'll happen this time.  I'll be up at Urge, with old and new friends, and one of my oldest mates is visiting from London. But if you see this guy and he's looking lost, send him my way...


Summer needs books for me, especially when it's been as wet as this one has so far. I've just finished Peter Wells' latest work "The Hungry Heart" about the 19th C missionary William Colenso. I like Peter's work, especially his autobiography "Long Loop Home", but in this work he has really displayed his talent and power as a writer at a new level. If NZ history interests you in the slightest, you have to read this. If people interest you have to read it. It is a fascinating biography and at the same time a meditation on this country and what has shaped it. It grabbed me. Easily the best book I've read in 2011.



Whatever you do, I hope you have a great time on NYE, and that 2012 is a wonderful year for you. Thank you to those who give me their time and read what I write, I love hearing back from people about stuff, and am really humbled by some of the things people have told me. Sorry if I fucked you off, but hey, it gets better - promise!

I'm not a great one for New Year's resolutions, but I will try and be nicer in 2012. Honestly. Just don't piss me off.




Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Yo Ho Ho !



And it's Christmas - again. It keeps coming around every year! I'm doing the usual mix of family and friends. A friend of mine told me this morning "Treasure your family, especially your Mum"  - he's an orphan from another country, so he knows what it's like to only have friends at this time. Family lunch today, then again tomorrow, it's a lot all at once, but generally, I enjoy my family. And I like being an uncle and a great-uncle.

I'm lucky that way I guess, I know it's not the case for every gay guy. Families can be a curse or a blessing, or a mixture.

Another friend from SF told me the other day "You know, I read your blogs and think you sound more like a cranky old man, but I find myself agreeing with you!" So maybe I am cranky - and right at the same time if he's agreeing with me.

I can be a moody shit at times, I know. It's part of the package. I can also be kind, caring, charming and fun - we all have our weak-spots.

Whatever Santa brings you, I hope you have fun and get some time with people you love. I know it's a cliche, but time is the most important thing we can give each other, time to be with those you care about, time to listen, to have fun, just to be there - it's more precious than anything you can buy - cause one day, the time will run out.

Hot summer Xmas means men in shorts and skimpy t-shirts, so much eye-candy, I do enjoy that.


And I am amazed at the people who tell me they read this blog. So thank you for taking the time to read what I write - and keep reading! 








Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Everything Comes and Goes...

I went to my friend Wayne Otter's farewell from the NZAF yesterday.

18 years he'd been there. That's a long time. And he was there through the so much of the bad times, when we were sick and dying. When I was sick and dying. The thing about Wayne is that he was there - he did far more than his job description required. There aren't many people in the organisation on any level today who know what he knows, or have seen what he saw. His instinctive grasp of what it was like for us and the wider gay community and all those affected by HIV was a key asset, and will be missed. They couldn't muster up a single Board member to appear, just a pro-forma speech, which I think was a bit shabby.

But there was a lot of love and respect poured out to him yesterday from people who know what he has done, and he deserved it all and more.

And the two senior managers at NZAF are leaving as well, more change. Simon and Eamonn have both made a fantastic contribution over the years, often the most important work they've done is invisble to the outside, but they have done so much.  Both of them based their work in a real sense of compassion and value for people, and an understanding of the vulnerability of many of the people NZAF works with and I respect and admire them for that. They will be hard to replace.

And Carmen died this morning in Sydney. She was amazing, a force of nature, and she helped lead the way for the changes so many of us have benfitted from. Her courage and strength in being herself and speaking up back in the bad old days when being queer was illegal and could result in going to prison was amazing. She had guts, and she showed us all we don't need to apologise for being who we are.

All this change as the end of the year comes up - but the one thing in life we can guarantee is change.




Monday, December 5, 2011

Love and Marriage

I turned 50 in October, and I'm really happy about that. Half a century. That sounds old.

It did make me stop and think, re-evaluate my life, think about what I'm doing - after all, I never expected to be alive this long,  every year feels like a bonus to me, so I want to make sure I'm making the most of it all.

And life is pretty good. I could do with more money, but materially my life is ok. I have a lot of people who care for me very much, family and freinds who love me, and I'm lucky in that.

It did strike me though, that I will probably never fall in love again. It's not impossible, I know, but let's face it - the odds are getting pretty long that I am going to meet a guy I am going to want to buy flowers for and do all the silly romantic things people in love do. It would be great to have that wonderful feeling in my life again, to meet a man and revel in that sense of joy and silly happiness that being in love brings. But I doubt it's going to come my way again. I think it's just the logic of circumstance - a barely employed 50 year-old HIV+ gay man isn't such a great catch.

And that does make me a little sad - only a little though.

I don't really share this desire that seems so common now, this desire to be married. I can understand the logic of it, the argument that if we really are equal citizens, we should be treated with exact equality, so from a pure human rights point of view, ok, I get it. But I don't get the desire to mimic mummy and daddy in the suburbs, to get engaged, and have a big wedding with a gift registry. I understand, it's validating for a lot of guys, but it still doesn't grab my heart or mind. I can understand wanting to celebrate your love in front of the most important people in your lives, but marriage, hmm, not for me. And really, expecting your friends to fork out cash because you want a new $500 toaster - that's just grasping and mean.

Most of the gay men I know who are married/civil unioned or whatever are still fucking around, so monogamy obviously isn't the driver. And gay men are different from straights, we do build our relationships differently.Celebrating love makes sense - aping straight marriage doesn't for me.

But back to romance, to falling in love - will I ever meet a guy and have that "swept off my feet" feeling again? Like I said, probably not. Someone somewhere said you never fall in love again after 40 because we've lived too long and can't trust in the same way, and that could be true.

To really fall for someone, you do have to suspend a lot of your hard-edged reality-based life, the world is full of butterflies and rainbows - that's the fun of it all, and that sweet, mad, intoxicating feeling of tenderness and the delight in getting to know each other - it's fantastic when it happens. And of course, it wears off over time.

When I look around at my friends, the ones in the successful relationships have been able to move from the "in love" to "love" stage, and that isn't always guaranteed to happen. Because building a loving relationship isn't about being in love really - it's about finding someone you want to be with through all the ordinary stuff in life, paying bills, cleaning the house, all those unromantic things.

I am glad I'm around, and I am lucky to be loved in the ways that I am, but a little part of me mourns that I'll probably never have that feeling again, that all-encompassing, light-headed, seeing stars when he walks in the room kind of feeling again.

But who knows - life has surprised me before.