Coming out is weird

Coming out is a weird deal. Initially it begins with a secret that is totally yours. No one knows, although some would guess, that you think guys are hot and you’re a guy unless you tell them. You have so much power over whether people know or not. Further, when you’re keeping the secret telling people always seems to have more of a downside.

I’m thinking about this because the other day a major Australian Olympic star swimmer Ian Thorpe came out on national television. The interview became more about the shame he experienced about being gay and the considerations he had to make before he told anyone. While people have questioned his sexuality for years, he has always vehemently denied these ‘accusations’ (as he says I don’t want to say accusations because it makes it sound like a bad thing) and then at the age of 31 he stops living a lie and tells.

Crazily, if his story is correct, he didn’t tell anyone at all, including his family, until recent weeks. That kind of floored me. A 31-year-old man in modern Australia and he hadn’t come out. These days people probably thing it’s late to tell the first person ever at 20.

In front of Australia on national television a famous man was exposing the difficulties that a gay orientation brings. I also thought that despite all the rah rah from pro-gay groups over the past few decades, at times, for many people, it is still a very difficult thing for them to declare that they are gay even with all the societal support. The moderns would like to pretend that the gay attraction is like an optional extra. You are a person and you have a gay attraction and nothing about your person is different because of this. However, I felt that this interview was a reminder that having gay attractions is probably caused in part by a bit of an unhealthy disposition, and that the secrecy creates more unhealthiness and by the time someone comes out the person is very much changed and impacted by the gay attraction.

Personally, it was encouraging. It put a major face and name to the struggle with shame and secrecy that every gay person faces at some time. It encouraged me to keep seeking ways to be honest with the people I know. Perhaps I will share with my small group in the near future if the appropriate moment arrives.

Some interview quotes from Ian Thorpe:
And also that it’s not appropriate for that question to be asked of anyone. But what happened was I felt the lie had become so big that I didn’t want people to question my integrity. And, a little bit of ego comes into this. I didn’t want people to question that, have I lied about everything?

But I was already living somewhat of a lie in my life because I was trying to be what I thought was the right athlete by other people’s standards. I wanted to make people proud I wanted to make my family proud, I wanted to make my nation proud of me. Part of me didn’t know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay. But, I’m telling not only Australia, I’m telling the world that I am. And I hope it makes this easier for others now and even if you’ve held it in for years it feels better to lift this and get this out.

But you hear these remarks and things around someone’s career that market ability and things like that kept me in this lie that became a convenient lie for me to not accept it because I wasn’t accepting it in myself. I didn’t want to be gay. But I realised everything that I was doing I still was gay at the end of the day. So, that was most definitely part of it. And then it just was that big lie. That I felt there was a weight with that. And also what people’s reaction was going to be. I was scared.

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Garden days

It’s school break time again! The last few weeks of term always result in steadily increasing exhaustion, so extra sleep and a change of pace is welcome.

My first two days were spent in the garden and hard physical work is good for the soul after a few months of mental exertion. This autumn I’ve fertilised my summer veggie garden area, planted perennials to replace annuals and also bought two planter boxes to sit on the edge of my concrete driveway as I was running out of sun drenched space. These boxes will be home to my crop of peas.

This summer I harvested cucumbers (2.5kgs), beans (1.1kg), pumpkin (3kgs), snow peas (1kg), tomatoes (27kgs), celery (2.7kgs) and bell peppers (4.2kgs with more to come). It’s saved more than a hundred dollars at the supermarket, and homegrown is so fresh and natural.

The rest of the two week break has filled up nicely. There’s time with friends and family as well as helping out with a couple of mission things with church. This holidays, I’m really truly trying to do some preparation for school, so that I can have more free time during the week so I am available more often and hopefully can build some better habits with socialising. My housemate is moving out tomorrow and despite attempts to find another, I haven’t yet. I’ll keep looking but some living alone time is going to occur. PARTY HOUSE!! Haha. I think it will mean having more people over as I sometimes feel constricted when someone else is here.

My plans for my next holiday in June/July are falling into place nicely. Originally I was happy to hang out by myself in Chicago for three weeks and take a break from the Australian winter, but I’m spending a few days with a friend in LA on the way back, a friend from the east coast is meeting me for the Independence Day weekend and I might be going road tripping with another friend for a week or so around the Midwest area. I was excited to visit the US again, but I’m even more excited now that I’ll be hanging out with friends. It’s such a gift from God that it can happen.

Being a teacher with too much break time (not too much money however, haha) and not enough to do, is occasionally a problem. However, God is blessing me in this area with plenty to do this holidays, US next holidays, helping students in spring holidays and then today :), :D, a friend said ‘do you want to hang out in New Zealand in January? It was such a refreshing gift. It probably won’t end up being there and then, but something, somewhere will happen and it will be good.

The guy

I feel like I used to be more honest on xanga. I could hardly go two posts without writing masturbation or penis or naked or some other exciting word. WordPress compels me to be light and clean. And this has been good when my life has been light and clean, but the past couple of weeks have taken a turn the other way and I want to share about that as well.

Sin always seems to have a build-up particularly after a time of purity. I was going on seven weeks without any porn or masturbation and temptation was rising. This was coupled with increasing weariness as the school term continued (I feel like a battery draining), cooler weather and the x-factor of the flu shot.

Then wallah. I ended up on a chat site talking to random guys. To start with it was all very G rated and I moved on from anyone who wasn’t. Slowly it became a little PG and then I downloaded a chat app, which almost acts as an extension of the site. All this is to say my slip down the slope continued and I told myself I still wasn’t technically sinning.

I’m a romantic, so even when I’m sinning sexual talk has only momentary appeal to me. I think the best thing about having a boyfriend would be cuddling in bed and I mean that genuinely. That is to say, chatting to a cool guy who just wants to chat is a lot more appealing to me than removing clothes.

This is obviously leading to the fact I found someone else who felt similarly and we chatted and chatted and chatted. We never said ‘we’re guys who like guys who like guys who just like to chill and chat,’ but the fact neither of us asked any questions from a certain subset made it pretty clear that we were those kinds of guys.

Communication via a cell app is slow, so we probably didn’t really say a lot to each other, but we chatted for hours. Over several days. It was so exciting for me in deep places. Here’s a guy who wants to talk to me. Here’s a guy who talks to me first. It woke me up early with butterflies and exhilaration that even though I had only had four hours sleep I functioned like I’d had 12. I’m the guy who wants a guy to ask me how my day is and listen as I crap on. I want a guy to cook dinner with and go for a run with and then cuddle in bed with. Chatting to some random guy who wanted the same thing is a pretty good feeling. Also he said I was attractive, I said he was attractive, but I don’t think he exercised as much as me.

Sometimes I feel like no one knows what’s really happening with me. The people I see every day at work don’t really care and the ones who care I don’t see or talk to as often as I would like. Usually through no fault of anyone’s. So my romantic mind thinks that having someone who asks how I am day after day and really cares and learns the rhythms of my life and my concerns and engages deeply would be pretty cool. I think that was the main appeal of this.

I don’t want this to seem like it was more than it was. I didn’t love him or want to spend my life with him. He was just a cool guy who I chatted to.

Then I ended up sinning and then this joy turned to something else.

Even though I was still talking with this guy it stopped making me feel happy and good.

Instead I felt grumpy and tired and lethargic and frustrated.

This is how grumpy I was. Earlier in the week I had my youngest group of students, on the verge of teenagehood, who are usually loud and enthusiastic and fun and a few of them were doing the wrong thing and I told them off as you do as a teacher. I didn’t yell or anything, but the kids must have sensed something because they hardly talked for the next 50 minutes. If that isn’t a wake-up call; I don’t know what is.

Then I realised I wasn’t really talking to students in other classes and then when they did something wrong I got very frustrated inside and wanted to punish them, which wasn’t likely to lead to long-term success for anyone.

Then I got sick of the guy. The guy who a week earlier I had been so excited about. Coming home from work and talking to someone for a few hours has a way of making the chores pile-up. So I had all these things I needed to do, but someone kept messaging me. Then I was even skipping interesting things, such as gardening and blogging, to talk to him. This frustrated me as well. I mean, how do people have time for people day after day after day?

Thankfully, he must have got sick of me too as we haven’t communicated for a week and there was nothing in our last conversation that would cause this situation. This means there’s been no; ‘why don’t you talk to me as much as you used to on those four nights we talked a lot’ or anything like that.

Then I was sick of myself and sin and paths that lead away from God.

There were no blinding lights or a melodious Hillsong track that caused me to realise this. Sure, I felt metaphorically dirty. But there was more a deep conviction that this is not the direction my life should take. That this would be a futile and frustrating path.

I sat with my parents on Friday night and talked and played scrabble the on Saturday I had jam and scones with some friends and it all felt very normal and cleansing and good.

I’ve probably said it before, but if I was to get a boyfriend or stop being a Christian, it would be pure rebellion. I can’t flick some switch in my mind and pretend what I know to be true isn’t. This side of me always seems to win out after a couple of days of porn or several days of chatting with some guy.

God is true.

His way is right.

Follow Him.

So simply and so beautiful and so hard when I feel like a relationally thirsty little boy who can’t be empty for just a little while.

Stay put and thrive

I’ve been living in my current home for 17 months and it’s the longest I’ve stayed somewhere since June 2009. In the period between, I lived in three different places for a year, as well as a couple of shorter stints at my parents.

I think this stint, which will hopefully continue for another few years has been good.

In the past couple of months I’ve gained three responsibilities at church including sound and set-up/pack-up once a month as well as becoming part of a team that organises a small semi-regular gathering.

This is a reflection of strengthening relationships at church and in turn it strengthens relationships as serving requires spending time with people. I need to get taught how to set things up and then I need to get help to do it and then sometimes it needs to be organised.

These kind of opportunities don’t seem to come up when I’ve only been at a place for a year. And didn’t, at the two different churches I attended for nine months. Indeed at one of them I really only started making friends a month or so before I was due to leave. The other church was very friendly, so by the end of my time there I had great people to sit with and chat to after the service. I wonder how much deeper my relationships could have been at both those places if circumstances had allowed me to do two years in those places.

I’m a quieter more introverted person and I don’t often meet people and instantly become friends with them. I need to see them repeatedly over a long period of time before we move to that status. Moving isn’t good for this.

A year ago when I moved here, I said to myself; I need to stay here; put down roots; see what happens. Avoid the desire to go somewhere else soon even if the bright lights of the city call or an interesting job appears somewhere else.

I need to stay put as it’s how I thrive. Trying to start at a new church every year isn’t fun. It takes me a month to talk to someone, four months to stand around and chat in a group and a year before I start getting roles. (okay, it’s not quite that bad; but you get the picture).

Despite my, ‘perhaps I’ll go teach English in Asia,’ post a few weeks ago to some degree this is what works me. (On the other hand I imagine teaching English overseas in a missionary situation as opposed to a private school in a capital city sense would be somewhat intense and you would be spending a lot of time with the same people.)Image

My wonderful early autumn days

Life is good right now. It feels like I’m in a season of peace and consolidation.

This afternoon someone from my small group was baptised and it was a wonderful afternoon of food and fellowship and a warm and fresh air.

Usually by this time of the school term I’m so tired that I’m lucky to be emotionally present anywhere on the weekend, but this afternoon I was fully present. It feels like either, after two years, I’ve adjusted to the pace of teaching and it’s not exhausting me so frequently. I’ve also been trying to get up at 6am everyday and be at work about 7am to do a couple of hours before work starts then working Saturday morning as well, which has meant that often I’m coming home at 5pm and I can chill or do something else for the night.

Part of it is also because I’m in a season of not succumbing to sexual temptation, which is the first time it’s been sustained for 31 days in a fair while. Sure there were some withdrawal symptoms early on, but now I feel that not giving into sin is allowing me to be more emotionally present as I’m not spending my energy on my desires. I wonder whether it is really true that not sinning can make such a difference…but it’s one of the things that has changed in the past few days.

School is going well. I actually feel as if I’m teaching quite well this year. I’m like a proper teacher now. My classes are all wonderful. It’s only week 5, so they really only start playing up about this time, but I’m hopeful, haha.

It’s such a beautiful time of the year. The temperature has been between 23-30 most days (ie 73-86 F) and it’s still light at 8pm. My garden is at its peak for the year. Everything is green and beautiful. All my vines are growing and creating feature walls here and there. I love walking around my garden at 7pm on these warm evenings. When I bought this place 15 months ago, there was a few rose bushes and a nectarine tree, but now there are probably a hundred plants. The veggies are also growing. There’s about 40 little capsicums (bell peppers) in progress. The past month or so I haven’t bought any veggies as I’ve been eating cucumber, beans, snow peas, cucumbers and tomatoes from my garden.

I’m sure seasons will change, but this is a good one right now.

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What I can do

As a single and a celibate and an unlikely to be married anytime soon 20-something, there’s a lot of things I can’t do. I can’t keep a special someone warm on a cold night, I can’t head down the street to a café on a Saturday morning with her just to sit and enjoy the start of another day. I can’t have someone who is the most important person in  my life and I in theirs.

Yet, singleness also means there are some things I can do that would be considerably more difficult if I had someone else. However, I spend a lot more time thinking about what might have been than what can be. Part of the reason for this has been the intangibility of the ‘can be’.

But recently this has changed. One of the things that would be considerably more difficult with a partner or children is deciding to pack up my bags and head to Asia to teach English.

It’s almost liberating. Here is something that I can do better and easier because there’s just me. No wife to quit her job. No kid to take away from security and comfort.

Will I do it?

Haha…

Who knows.

The thought is lingering though.

There’s a chance that my school will need a few people to take redundancies at the end of the year. It seems almost perfect; volunteer to leave and get paid to go do it. More realistically, I still feel I need another couple of years to improve my teaching here and then I would be a better teacher overseas as well. If I stay at this school for another five years, I’ll be able to get long service leave, which would mean I could go overseas for six months at half pay and if I liked it I could just quit and go on. It would also mean my house would be paid off and I’d have some money in the bank, so I wouldn’t have any need to make a lot of money.

Then today at church there was a guy visiting from Indonesia. He works at a medical clinic in a town that happens to have a school that is always looking for trained teacher volunteers. He was saying I should consider the school. It feels a lot more possible and exciting when you can google an actual organisation and airport.

In all honesty, I don’t think I’ll be there or anywhere else in the next couple of years.

It does me good, though, to look towards something like that with hope and know that it is even more possible because of this single life.

Here’s to 2014!

The post-xanga world can sometimes be a difficult one. For the first time since 2006, I have not written an end of year review. Primarily, because, I didn’t have anything particularly interesting to write that I have not already communicated previously. So I will share some hopes and ambitions for this year.

– My third year of teaching high school is going to be amazing. (hopefully…) Malcolm Gladwell may state that excellence is reached after 10,000 hours of doing something, but it’s going to be 1480 in this case. I feel like I have the basics under control somewhat and now I can start focusing on some of the important things that aren’t needed for reports and parent teacher nights, but make a real difference in student learning and classroom happiness. I’m always very enthusiastic about teaching on vacation, because once I’m teaching I’m too tired to care as  much.

– I may have looked at porn for the last time. Unfortunately it was yesterday and involved rather a lot of looking over a long time, but, uh, I’m sick of it. It’s not helpful or healthy.

– I will draw nearer to God. Bible reading, prayer and passion need to make a consistent return.

– I don’t know what’s happening with same sex attraction in 2014. I feel like it’s not a big deal. It impacts on me greatly and how I live my life, but I’m quite settled in the fact I may never marry a woman and that I could be single for the rest of my life. Forty weeks of the year I’m too busy to notice much absence. The other 13 a special someone would be nice though. I like to think of myself as post-SSA. It’s not that I don’t think guys are hot anymore, but that this doesn’t occupy much concern on my part.

– I will continue to enjoy creating spaces in my home. Fifteen months of part-homeownership (the banks owns the rest) has given my plants time to grow and create some green spaces that communicate life and vitality. I will continue to work on this. I have recently taken up vegetable garden of which I am sure to mention more about later. My home is also feeling more complete now I have faux leather bar stools to go with my faux leather dining chairs with black glass table, which are now complimented by a clock with a black face and brushed silver metal casing. I even decorated my homeroom for next year. It’s very masculine with a blue and black theme.

– These spaces will continue to be used by friends and family at meal and other times. My outdoor space was a brilliant setting for dinner with my family a few weeks ago. Still warm weather, sparkling red wine glasses, baubles hanging above and surrounded by green life. Tonight I have a few friends coming for roast chicken.

– I was watching Julia and Julie the other day and was almost inspired to have the goal of making a new cookie recipe a week for the year, but I don’t want to need another goal regarding weight loss. (A similar goal I won’t make is the one where I promise to blog every five days all year long.)

– My three weeks in Chicago in June/July is going to be awesome. There is so much to do in that city in summer. If anyone wants to meet up in the windy city, perhaps you’d like to join me in the butterfly haven or have tacos or have a drink at a rooftop bar or at LAX for a few hours, let me know. I always love meeting people.

– I need to make some new local friends. I have plenty of friends, but not the sort that are available for Saturday night dinner at two days notice. That is somewhat unrealistic, but it would be cool to have a coffee partner or a tennis opponent every now and then.

Thanks to Gentleman’s Weekly for inspiring me regarding the beauty of simple dot points.