Sometimes a Song is Enough…

June 26, 2012 in General

I got a bit of flak about my last blog from a few friends, and other people too.

“Don’t be a Pride hater” was the message – and I’m not. I just have a long memory.

Pride events are happening across the big cities in the Northern hemisphere around this time, and they are positive things for our world. There, I said it.

From Istanbul to Chicago, Manchester to Tel Aviv, there will be parades, dances, workshops, fucking, drugs, political debates, drinking, theatre, fucking, film, drugs, coming out seminars, marriage ceremonies, fucking, screaming arguments, book-launches, falling-in-love, poetry-readings, fucking, drinking, all the things that bind us together.

That bloody rainbow flag will be everywhere too.

Actually I don’t mind the flag so much – it’s useful when you’re travelling to help find a bar or whatever. A rainbow is pretty I guess…in the sky.

But I throw up in my mouth a little when people call us a “rainbow” community.

Whatever the “we” is that we’re trying to take pride in is a whole weird mix of groups. Some are sexually based identities, like being gay, bi or lesbian, and some are to do with gender identities, those transitioning from male to female or female to male or unsure where they sit – and even though those groups are all lumped together as “queer” and march under the rainbow flag, I don’t think we all automatically form a community.

We’re mainly defined by what we’re not than what we are. We’re not straight, or we’re not gender-conforming. Thin ground to build some sort of grand coalition.

And it’s thin ground because the politics has been taken out of being gay to a large extent, just as it has in so much of the rest of life. That’s why we’re getting funding for a Pride Parade from the Council’s tourism and events people – they’ve been sold the idea that a Pride Parade is a tourist money-spinner. That’s a ludicrous idea, but, dear Auckland ratepayers, thank you for the cash.

I sincerely do hope the new Pride Trust can put on a “Gay Christmas” for us – that’d be awesome fun. And more strength to them for trying. That’s on the record and you can quote me.

I have been thinking about community though, what it is, what it isn’t, how it’s changed over my lifetime, I can recognise it when I see it, but it’s hard to describe, and very hard to build. I’m lucky I guess – I feel like I belong to a gay community here in Auckland, probably more than one – I feel a sense of “at home” and safety. I know others who don’t though, who don’t feel like they fit, and who don’t know what to do about it.

And if we are a real community I think we’d find ways to help those guys. A real community survives because it has the mechanisms to pass down knowledge over the generations – a thing we’re pretty crap at.

A few weeks ago I was up at Urge on K Rd, my home-away-from-home (seriously, if I lived just a few kms further away I’d save so much money…) it was still relatively early, starting to fill up, but no-one dancing, and DJ Ant put on a tune and bang – I was back ten years or so. Sometimes a song seems associated with a set of people, a place or a time, and this is one of those for me. It’s embedded in my mind with a special time and some special men. I love it’s dreamy trancey feel, but haven’t heard it on the dance-floor in a while.

I had to dance to it, and as I did a few tears rolled down.

I cried a bit because out of those mates, Charlie first and then Dominic, decided to kill themselves.

It’s happened too often in my life, too many friends who’ve made that decision.

I’ll never know if I’m right or not, but I always have this feeling that if they could just get through the worst part of that dark depression, that period of utter darkness, feeling completely alone, useless, unloved and worthless, a mood that does pass, if they could just hold on through that nightmare, maybe it just takes ten minutes to get through the worst of it, if they could then they wouldn’t take that step. But of course I’ll never know.

I’ve never actually tried to kill myself – but I’ve been suicidal at times in my life, I’ve come very close, especially in my teens. It’s a theme that has been in my life ever since – it’s never gone away, but I know it’s there and I have my ways of managing those moods when they show up.

And I remember how I felt every time a friend has made that decision. That terrible anguish, that howling grief, that pain, that deep searing pain and desolation, every time I hear that news.

But when it happens,  I am embraced by a community of grief, a community in pain. Bad things bring us together.

So if having a good thing can bring us together, if having a Pride Parade can do even a little something to make the different groups that we are a bit stronger in the face of a world that is still pretty hostile to us, then yes, I’m for it.


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