"Do you love him?" "No, we're just friends." "They were 'intimate' with each other." "During lockdown, we were only allowed to visit a person if we had an 'intimate relationship' with them." I’ve been finding that there's a lot of confusion out there about the difference between intimacy and sex. The quotes above show how we often use love/intimacy as a stand-in to describe sexual/romantic relationships as though they are basically the same thing.
A few weeks ago I was on a late an evening walk through the park talking to a dear friend on the phone about how lockdown and social distancing have affected us this year. Both of us are people that have always been good at long-distance friendships, and we’ve both managed to stay closely connected to our friends this year through phone calls, video calls, 1-1 catchups and small group gatherings. But something was missing.
I initially journaled these thoughts in 2019, but with today being National Coming Out Day, I thought I'd post them here to mark the occasion. Here's to celebrating greater authenticity and closeness!
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the power of narrative and the way sharing stories reveals our values. Telling stories helps people understand how we experience the world, and they help us imagine what our world could—or should—look like. If you read my blog, it's no surprise to you that I think this. But lately I’ve been thinking particularly about the insidious potential for weaponising narratives: the potential for telling stories in a way that seeks to control or subvert someone else’s experience of the world. Perhaps the most subtle but powerful form of this is when people take stories that were originally told with innocence, good intent, and truth, and then weaponise those stories to control others.
Most of my readers are probably aware that I'm a passionate bassoon player. Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I’ve devoted a significant portion of my lifetime to pursuing a professional career in playing the bassoon. You could even say it’s one of the most distinctive things about me. It’s not unusual for me to run in to someone I haven’t seen for years (you know, the kind of person you met that one time at a conference and have long since erased from your memory) and while we’re standing there trying to recall each other’s names, the other person confidently blurts out: “All I remember about you is you’re the guy who plays the bassoon!”
“To survive, you must tell stories.” - Umberto Eco. I love reading. Books have been a safe haven where I can explore bold stories from the comfort of my bedroom. Long before I felt safe enough to start speaking openly about my sexuality with people, I was devouring books that introduced me to stories of other people like me.
In my last post I talked about the idea of cultural scripts that tell us how to live and behave: what to aspire to. Cultural scripts embody the virtues a community values most highly. But what do we do when our community doesn’t value things that ought to be valued? What do we do when the cultural script we are handed is inadequate in guiding us to a life of flourishing? I think our culture needs to re-write those scripts.
To continue exploring the idea of dual citizenship, I thought I’d share some stories of my experience during the same-sex marriage postal vote in 2017. This is not a feel-good post as it contains some heavy-hearted stories taken from my journal as I struggled to cope during this time.
How being a celibate, gay Christian can feel like dual citizenship. Translation exhaustion, code-switching, and the search for solidarity coupled with the joys of hearing and telling beautiful stories from another culture.
Or Am I Repressing Who I Truly Am? A few months ago, back when it was still normal to have parties and meet people in real life, I found myself at a party chatting with a few other gay folk from very different walks of life. It’s always fascinating meeting other gay people with different … Continue reading Be Who You Are