I want to go a bit off track with this blog. It is as a result of spending time in my garden but not about gardening. I love spending time outside growing, digging, weeding and planting, I love seeing things grow and develop over time, I’m in no rush and it gives me plenty of time to contemplate the world. I often listen to the radio, mostly talk radio like BBC Radio 4 while I am working and I feel this keeps me in touch with the outside world.
As I have mentioned before I live in a remote place and I am not the most sociable of people, small talk about inconsequential matters does not come easily and I often feel I am one of those people you meet at parties or gatherings that you are probably best to avoid as my conversation can often get too deep and detailed pretty quickly.
I hate gossip; it is often based on second-hand information and if I want to know what is going on with someone I will ask them directly, it is not that I don’t care about what is going on with other people, the what’s and why’s of other opinions are fascinating but hearing a second-hand account and someone else’s interpretation of the original opinion is questionable and you never know how accurate they are being.
Is it just me or has there recently been considerable discussion in regards to LGBTQ+? This I understand to be the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, Queer and other community. I have many friends that could fit into that community, I don’t know if they are formally members, as in signed up and receiving a newsletter or membership card type of thing, but they describe themselves as one of the categories covered by this community. In order to get a better understanding of what is being discussed I looked up some information on the internet and came across LGBTQQIAP2S, which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Pansexual, and Two Spirit, which seems like a daunting prospect and harder to remember than my password.
I think it is great that people can now discuss things like this in the mainstream media and it appears to me that there have been great strides in acknowledging the rights for those who feel they have been denied the opportunity to express their sexuality however they want to. Here in Ireland there was a definite sense of pride (pardon the pun) when same sex marriage was legalised through a public referendum. There were many claims that is was the first country to legalise it but just to put the record straight, it may have been the first to do it by popular vote but Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain and South Africa all legalised same sex marriage before Ireland. But I digress.
What I really wanted to say is I am a man. I’m not particularly proud or ashamed of the fact, I haven’t had to consider it that much in my life, and it has never really been a major issue for me. It was undoubtedly more significant when I was a teenager. Learning to feel comfortable with who you are and developing your own identity was probably more complicated than I remember and learning how to deal with sexual development was embarrassing to some extent. Looking back I did have some pressures to deal with. There was no problem about being into sport as I loved loads of different sports, testing my skills against others, working in a team environment and competing with myself as to how good I could get at something all came quite naturally. I had to do boxing at primary school and I hated that! It hurt and I found it a bit too scary but unfortunately it was compulsory so I just had to suck it up and I was glad when it was all over.
There were a few things I kept quiet about as I didn’t want to be ridiculed. I loved and still love to dance and most of my male teenage friends thought dancing was “unmanly,” I found most of my female friends loved the fact I would get up and dance even though I was a bit exuberant.
I also loved musicals, they used to show some on Sundays after lunch on the TV. The style and charisma of Fred Astaire still inspires me, Top Hat with Ginger Rodgers and Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn are two great films. Then there was Gene Kelly with his more contemporary style and films like Singing in the Rain and On the Town with Frank Sinatra. How about High Society? Certainly in my top 10 films of all time starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Frank Sinatra and I saw Louis Armstrong for the first time.
This was all before my time but just as I got into my teenage years Saturday Night Fever and then Grease with the inimitable John Travolta hit the big screen and it was the first and only time I went multiple times to the cinema to watch the same film over and over again. The music, the dance and my first love Olivia Newton John made Grease my first real cinematic experience.
I looked up the top Gay Female Icons while writing this only to discover I am a fan of most of them! Judy Garland, Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli & Cher were all featured.
Just to add to this I am a needlework enthusiast. I am one of three boys and I was the youngest, so my mum taught me the basics, I have examples of needlework from my mum, grandmother, great grandmother and great great grandmother around the house. Even my dad learnt to stitch while rehabilitating from TB. I make school bags for my kids and I have had a number of exhibitions of my work and have even won a few awards.
In my late teens I was a new romantic, we wore make up and outrageous clothes, we didn’t call them gender fluid at the time but they would probably be called that now, I back combed and dyed my hair various colours, wore ear rings and nose chains and strutted my stuff down the high street in the park or at various clubs. I don’t remember ever thinking of myself as a “man,” or anything other, I just enjoyed posing, shocking and living in the moment.
I don’t think I ever felt the need to question my “manhood,” I don’t remember talking about my sexuality or defining myself by it. I still don’t know what it is to be a “man,” I just am. I have no axe to grind over the increased talk in regards to LGBTQ+, maybe it is a good thing that people can freely talk about their sexuality these days, especially if it helps them come to terms with themselves rather than feeling as though they have to hide or be ashamed about who they are.
I suppose I am a bit confused by all the focus and importance that appears to be made these days about defining yourself by gender or labelling your sexuality. I am a man but I don’t think that means I have to be or act in a certain way. I think I can be or do what I want unrestricted by gender as long as I am not physically harming or hurting others. Some people seem to get offended as it goes against their religious beliefs, well I have tolerated other’s religious beliefs for years, many religions actually go out of their way to say that loving others for who they are, faults and all is an affirmation of their religious belief. My philosophy is very much live and let live, I don’t like being told what I can and cannot think, I would support the right to freedom of expression but I am not sure I need to know someone’s sexual preference or inclination in order to get on with them and I certainly don’t want someone else telling me what I should do to be a man, I like to think I can just be me.