the retelling

A FB friend recently said my blog read almost unbearably; it is necessary to retell one’s experience, not as any type of obsession; the repetition allows the important details to be thoroughly re-examined.

Today, I lined up with a number of elderly patients from the local EMU, Emergency Medical Unit, to be real live practice cases for med students sitting their exam; as roll up was almost 100% some of us were reserve; looking at the less mobile, more self-involved ones amongst us, it wasn’t really shadenfreude to be thankful for our relative better health.

During the interview conducted by the examiners as a control mode, I was asked whether I had been depressed lately. I mentioned harassment in my last homophobic occupation, State Rail, and having to complete a legal case against the Catholic church for coming to the attention of a pedophile priest in my childhood. The examiner remarked that I’d thrown out the latter, almost as an afterthought. I replied that I was aware of the statistic of blokes who suicided, having been raped in childhood. I continued that in my case things were a little different, that my family had been able to declare my gayness as inauthentic, and this had made more difficult my job of getting them to accept me as gay. In other words, they could say that the pedo priest had TURNED me gay; somehow if I made a sufficient effort I could revert to my original state of heterosexuality.

I could tell that neither of my examiners had a clue as to what I meant by this. But inauthenticity, especially as projected against the academic backdrop of existentialism during the 1970’s, had been an important element of my upbringing. Of course, the entire argument as run by my parents’ generation was bogus; gays as they saw us were artificial; we were invisible, creatures of the night, inhabiting cabaret and circus.

My parents finally stopped trying to set me onto the straight & narrow path, though my mother’s speech on her deathbed exhorted me to abandon my Sydney friends, go north to Brisbane and rejoin my brothers & sisters. Wryly, in the interim, they had successfully gone their own ways and really did not interact to any extent. My dad saw me lost to a life of artificiality and pleasure; which was far from reality, as much of my time was spent with art-making.

So it is of little importance if others fail to understand the importance of this realisation: artificiality, inauthenticity are relative concepts. What gave me genuine pleasure however, was having a young gay male neighbour drop by; he’s quietly doing up his house & yard, and wanted to borrow a power drill. He’s a sweaty poof, nothing nightclubby about him. I hope his generation keep a firm grasp on the realities worth cultivating; that will sustain them through the last of the AIDS thing, and the Ice addiction. I wish them well.


About anton veenstra

tapestry weaver, fibre artist, gay/qr activist, multiculturalist
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