Monday, April 30, 2007

Micro socialising sometimes equals macro problems

I was having lunch with a straight friend of mine today and was updating her on my life and social circle. I told a story about the ex of mine who goes on holiday with her ex and whose ex is now dating an ex friend of theirs (when they were a couple). "Ho boy!' was the reply. This is an old dialogue between us. My friend seems to think that lesbians cannot let go of their old flames. She feels we move from friend to partner to ex and then back to socialising together. She told me many years ago that once straights break up they quit seeing one another, period. Well, unless they happen to bump into one another in the Woolies aisle or at the Home Affairs offices. She has a point.
Several lesbians I know have, at one point, continued to live with their exes (even the ones who had cheated on them). They become roomies. Now I can understand the financial imperatives behind that but come on... roomies? Rather run into the middle of a dual-carriageway and throw yourself in front of a Putco bus. At least the agony will be over soon enough.
Other friends socialise in groups with numerous exes. Take another gay friend. Her partner used to date my ex. She used to date someone who is an ex of my ex. SA is small, we all know that, and so it's often impossible to avoid bumping into an ex socially, but many do it because they want to. What's that about?
Look, there are advantages. You don’t have to repeat stories, for example. Everyone knows them. They’ve either heard first hand from you, or second hand from one of your exes, or an exes ex. It’s all very straight forward, if you’re gay.
So, what’s your take on this? Madness disguised as normality? Necessity in these times when the pool is a-shrinking? Or just wonderfully illustrative of how loving and forgiving women are?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Shhhh…. Tell everyone!

Over the last month or so I’ve been introduced to an amazing concept, re-packed expertly in a 90 minute DVD. It’s called The Secret and if you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s all about the Law of Attraction. In a nutshell, for those with short concentration spans, it’s the ‘half full glass’ theory meets Mind Power meets ‘what you sow you reap’. It’s about how what we focus our energy and attention and thoughts on, is what we attract. So, if all we can think about is being in debt – that is what we will attract: more debt etc. It’s a must-see – anything less makes a very powerful message seem airy fairy and cheesy. So, how does it relate to being gay? Well, there’s a very good example in the movie, which is an illustration of how we often talk ourselves down in life. The story is about a gay man who was doing an online course with one of the teachers interviewed on the film. The teacher, Bill Harris, relates how this man complained about being the constant target of homophobic people and gay bashers. He would be accosted and beaten up on his way home; he would be laughed at and mocked by colleagues at work. He wanted to be a stand-up comedian but when he went on stage, everyone started to heckle him for being gay. Basically, his whole life was the focus of misery and unhappiness and it all centred around him being gay. Harris – through email correspondences – began to teach this man how he was focsuing all of his attention on what he didn’t want instead of what he did want. He was almost expecting those around him to treat him badly because he was gay – and he was rarely disappointed; they treated him like dirt. Over time, he began to see what he was doing and Harris guided him so that he turned his attention and focus to things that he did want. And so began the transformation: his colleagues who’d been mean started leaving him alone or left the company or were transferred. He started loving hIs job! The thugs in the streets just weren’t there. When he did comic acts, he received standing ovations. Harris relates how all of this happened once he changed from focussing on what he didn’t want to what he did want. He changed the way he thought and those around him tuned into his new frequency!

While this is a very simplistic take on the book, the example is a good one for many gay people because many of us need to also change our own frequencies. It makes sense that if we expect to be targetted, we will be targetted. If we think we are going to be whispered about in the corridors, we probably will be. If you can relate to this way of thinking, think about someone you know who is overtly gay and who is loved by everyone around him / her. The confident guy who pulls off being camp or the woman who charms everyone she meets: men and women – gay or straight. You may’ve thought: “I could never get away with what they do.” The difference could be that they instinctively know the Secret. They believe and focus on the good and so this is what they get back. Hey expect people to be okay with them and so send out that frequency. And, people are good to them.

I remember, years back, thinking about a couple I knew who used to walk arm in arm (or holding hands) in public. I used to actively worry about their safety. I fretted: ‘How could they do this? Don’t they know they could get beaten up or attacked, just because they’re flaunting being lesbian?’ I remember, once, summoning up the courage to ask them about this and whether they ever worried about this too? And you know what? They never gave it a thought. They just expected that everyone would cope and be ok and they had never had any negative experience to disprove this. Me, on the other hand, I expected that bad things may happen if I started flaunting my sexuality in public with my girlfriend at the time. And with that vibe and core belief, I probably would’ve attracted some negative attention in one form or the other, if I had been brave enough to walk hand in hand with my partner in public.

Only now have I been able to see and understand what was going on. How the only difference between us was how we saw ourselves and how we expected others to treat us. The cynics will say that this implies all of those who’ve been attacked etc asked for it in some way. That’s when I pass the buck and say ‘watch the movie’. Any other reply will seem far too simplistic. If you don’t watch the film, then try to watch what you tell yourself. Try to focus on what you want. Not what you don’t want. If you’re about to come out to someone, picture (vividly) in your head, them being totally okay with the announcement. Flesh it out. Make it positive and affirming. Expect it. Don’t let the fear creep in or that will become your focus. I would have loved to know about the law of attraction when I was coming out!!

I’d love your feedback and comments on this. Please have your say in the comments section or email me!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Being sentimental....

South Africa is a beautiful country. It really is. Every so often, I sit somewhere and people-watch – and think how lucky I am to be living in this place. Yes, there is much we need to change: the crime situation for one. But there is also much to be grateful for. There is a passion in our people that is hard to beat. A vibrancy. We sweep our streets with palm leaves because they work better than brooms. We sell single pieces of fruit on street corners because people want to eat what nature has made. We sell totally out-of-place items at intersections (or robots, as we call them) such as coat hangers or kites. We sing and dance in public – if the rhythm is right and if the beat catches our fancy. We say hello to one another, even when we do not know one another. We smile, because we know we live in a country with limitless potential. Let’s be grateful.