Thursday, 27 January 2011

Homosexuality, Masculinity & the Media

One of the factors that made it really hard for me to deal with being gay while growing up and what prevented me from coming out to people sooner (and what still makes it hard for me) is the fact that gay characters featured on TV or in the movies always seemed to play up to the camp stereotype. There's nothing wrong with being camp, as you are what you are and it's great when gay people are represented in the media full-stop (as long as it's for the right reasons of course).  But if you're like me in that you're just like every other straight guy out there but you know you're gay and you don't have anybody in your everyday life to fully relate to then it's frustrating and disheartening to not have any role-models (even if they are just pretend ones) that you can identify with and look up to.

Not having those masculine gay characters on TV made me question myself a lot. I used to wonder if I really was gay because no matter how hard I tried I just didn't see myself in any of the flamboyant people on TV. I also found it a huge turn-off. Was I only attracted to straight men then? Well that's never going to end well is it and I envisioned myself dying a lonely death. I also think that the lack of masculine gay guys on TV is the reason why a lot of my coming out experiences tend to be quite surprising for whoever is on the receiving end of my news. You are?! Really?! But you really don't come across as gay?! They're all pretty common responses. And I find myself having to explain that the image they have in their mind is just a stereotype and while it is true in many respects it's by no means the rule. It's annoying enough to have to go through the whole process of telling people in the first place but it really would be nice if you didn't have to deal with the shock too!

However, things seem to be changing. I've noticed a lot of progress over the last few years and it seems like gay masculinity might be coming into fashion. For example there's been Andrew on Desperate Housewives who, apart from being really hot, struck a perfect balance between being macho and unashamedly gay. And on Brothers & Sisters there was Kevin Walker who was just an everyday guy next door so much so that he made me wish that he was real and I was his partner Scotty! I remember watching these shows in awe at what I was seeing (in fact I'm still awed when I see them) - finally there were characters out there that I could relate to and identify with! Even though they are just fictional characters and for the most part the actors themselves are straight, it was still the dawn of hope for me that out there somewhere is a gay life that I will fit perfectly into.

I recently came across a show here in the UK that has really impressed me in its portrayal of gay characters. It's actually the reason I wanted to do this post in the first place because I'm not sure how many people out there (especially those outside the UK) would be aware of it. It is by far the best portrayal of masculine gay guys that I have ever seen and watching it has made me really happy so I want to share the love, as I think seeing things like this can be a huge help if you're struggling with who you are. 

The show is called Emmerdale and it's a soap opera that is set in the English countryside. The two gay guys, Aaron & Jackson, are played by brilliant (straight) actors who pull off some incredible heart-wrenching performances. I won't go into too much detail about the story line as there's a great person out there on the Internet who takes the time to upload all their scenes on YouTube (minus the other boring soap stuff!) so you can watch the whole story line from the beginning if you wish. Just go to the YouTube Channel and look for the videos titled "Aaron & Jackson".  They're all numbered so it's easy to follow them in order.

Below are two of my favourite scenes though, which will give you a little taster of the full thing. The first one shows when they first get together and the second is when things all start to go downhill for them. It's amazing stuff I promise! Especially if you're a masculine gay guy like myself.

Unfortunately it is all a bit unrealistic as what are the chances of there being two young gay guys in the same tiny rural village let alone two hot masculine gay guys! But we can all dream hey?

It's got me wondering though - are there any other shows out there like this that I've missed?

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

2011: So Far So Good

It has been a really busy start to the year for me at work, which means not too much progress has been made on the gay front. I really do need to figure out how to strike that balance. To be fair though I have actually also had a few dental issues of late (with a couple of painful visits to the dentist's chair already under my belt) so that has sort of put a temporary halt to any thoughts of romantic encounters! But apart from that things are going, dare I say it, fairly well for me so far this year :-) 

The thing I'm most happy about is how positive I'm being. I almost can't believe it! I really think that having that mental mind-shift at the beginning of the year with regards to moving on from the past and treating this year as a completely fresh start has made a massive difference. There have been a couple of not so great things that have happened, which in the past would have probably set me off on a bit of a downward decline but instead I've been taking them in my stride.

Work is an ongoing issue as always. It's going well in that I've been given more responsibility, which is exciting and I still like the idea behind the whole company. It's a massive global concept, which if it works will hopefully be known about all over the world by the end of the year (I'm doing the marketing and PR for it so I for one hope it will be!) But it's a very entrepreneurial company (read unstructured with things changing all the time) and the CEO can be a bit of an idiot. There are a lot of cracks appearing mostly as a result of poor management and it's all starting to unnerve me a bit. I don't particularly want to hang around and have my name linked to a total disaster! I've also heard he offers rubbish salaries after the internship is finished so I also don't particularly want to hang around and be exploited. I think I'm going to sit it out for a bit longer though to try and get a better idea of what will happen but I reckon I need to start looking for other stuff on the side. Job searching has to be one of the most soul destroying things on this Earth though so I'm not looking forward to it. BUT perhaps something amazing will pop up so I guess it's worth a try - see positive thinking! :-)

The worst thing about work so far this year has been the whole gay thing. I still haven't told anybody in the office I'm gay and it pisses me off so much. I know I don't have to, especially at work, but like I've said before I just want everybody to know. Life would be so much simpler. Instead I've got the same old scenario where I'm always waiting for the conversation to turn into something where I can easily slot it in there, which it never does really. And so much time has passed that its become that much harder to do. What definitely makes it worse is that most of my colleagues are around the same age as me and so talk a lot about parties/clubs they've been going to and all the usual boring straight boyfriend/girlfriend drama that follows. So I feel a little bit on the outside as I know I'm definitely the only gay guy (or girl) there. Grrrr it's all very frustrating - with work being such a big part of my life at the moment it would be nice if I could just be completely open there and not feel like I'm back at university all over again. The worst thing is that it shouldn't matter that I'm gay and it probably wouldn't (I'm living in London for crying out loud) but I still have that mindset where I'm just never sure whether it's the right situation or not. Some people who know can be quite awkward about it as well because they have this stereotype in their head and don't really know how to deal with a masculine gay guy, which doesn't really help put me at ease either!

Outside of work though things have been pretty good. I've been seeing quite a bit of my small but close group of friends and it feels like we're getting closer every time we see each other. We've been going out to nice restaurants and pubs and just generally doing fun big city London sort of stuff. I sometimes think I don't really need a massive group of friends as long as I have a few great ones although I do still want to expand my circle if only to throw some gay friends into the mix. I've also started doing yoga again once a week, which I absolutely love! When I was in India last year I spent a couple of weeks learning it at an ashram and I got really good at it but it sort of fell by the wayside towards the end of 2010. I'm going to try keep it up especially as I go to a great class on a Sunday afternoon - I don't think there is a much better way to end off one week and start off another than with a spot of yoga! I've also been eating really healthily and doing lots of other exercise so I'm generally just feeling great and have a little bit of a spring in my step :-) Which is saying a lot given how rubbish the weather in London is at the moment!

One sort of bad thing that happened in my social life recently happened last Friday. I had been invited to the birthday of a friend from university and was initially quite keen, as I saw it as maybe a good opportunity to meet some new people. Seeing the guest list on Facebook made me change my mind though and in the end I decided not to go, which is a decision that bothers me a bit. Everybody on the guest list was from my university and while I didn't know most of them I still got the impression that it was going to be just like one of the university parties that I used to feel so awkward at. It annoys me that I feel that way because I really shouldn't care and I probably wouldn't if people there knew I was gay but none of them do including the birthday girl. She's the one I wrote about in an earlier post when I was struggling to tell her to her face (I really should start some sort of name system here). Well I still haven't told her and while I'm 90% sure she's heard about it from other people it's still awkward until it's actually said and I don't think her birthday party at a club is the best place to bring it up. So that all annoyed me a lot, as it felt like a massive step back for me. But then I thought that maybe it's for the best. I mean I'm trying to move on from all that university stuff anyway so I don't see why I should throw myself back into it unless it feels completely right. I'm big on trusting my gut instinct and while it's not always right and can sometimes fool you I think for the most part it's there for a reason.

Anyway, for the most part 2011 has been good so far so that is all that matters. The best thing is that I feel readier than ever to get this gay show on the road so hopefully once work calms down a bit and I feel a bit more sorted in life in general I'll have some positive results to report back.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

New Year, New Me!


2011 has arrived and mine got off to a great start with a trip to Ireland with some friends. It did me a lot of good just to get out of London for a few days and to spend some time with people my age who know and love me. 

 Ireland is so beautiful - the perfect place to start a new year!

I'm always big on new beginnings and making a fresh start and I try to do so every year (and sometimes every month or even every week!) This year seems extra important though, as 2010 was a bit of a disappointment and I feel like I'm now at a true crossroads in my life. It's been a full year since I finished university so I feel like all that stuff is well and truly in the past and I can move on for good. I'm really determined to make this year a massive success and to turn it into a building block for future success. So without further ado here are my new years resolutions for 2011!
  • SEX! First and foremost I need to get sex into my life. I need to get rid of my virginity and start feeling comfortable with my body and sexuality. This is my main and biggest resolution for the year.
  • Gay friends: I hope that if I can get more comfortable with being gay I will meet some like-minded gay friends too. I'm not sure how I will do it but that's just a detail for now.
  • Straight friends: I also want to make some new straight friends and re-connect with old ones. After spending so many years with a pretty limited social life I'm left with a relatively small circle of friends. I want to change that for good.
  • Work: This is a tough one because I'm still not sure what I want to do. But I want to keep looking and figuring it out and I want to be as strategic as possible. For now I'm doing the internship that I mentioned in my last post and hopefully something good will come of that but if not I just need to remain positive and believe that I will get there in the end.
  • Positive mind: Which leads nicely into this. I find it so easy to slip into negativity and I believe that it's a vicious cycle. So this year I want to try with all my might to remain as positive as possible. I want to start and end everyday reminding myself why I should be happy and asking myself what needs to be done to fix things that are not working. And then fix them! Instead of just feeling sorry for myself.
  • All the usual: Eat and drink well, keep fit and just generally look after myself. I also want to carry on learning about myself and figuring out what it is that makes me tick. And then doing as much of it as possible!
I have a good feeling about 2011 and I want to make it a year of massive changes that have a positive effect on my life. We never know what is around the corner but here I am sending as much positive energy into the universe as possible!
Let's see what happens...