Dear Depression,
I hope you’re well. It’s been a while since I’ve written, and I want to find a moment to acknowledge you as another journey begin for me.
I hope you will revisit the contract I had you sign years ago when you took up habitation in my mind. In this contract, I allowed that your continuous rental comes with these limitations:
You will be quiet. You will not breed. You will not worsen, displease, destroy, or in any other way control my mind. You will dwell in a small, windowless space just about the size of the tip of a stickpin in a deep pool inside my mind, where you will have no fuel, no guests, and no hope of running away.
Thank you, depression, for respecting the simple factors of this agreement. It has been a healthy and productive few years, and I look forward to your continued mutual aid. I’m aware you don’t get out much, if at all, and I thought it might be sweet of me to afford an update. Here’s what you’ve done for me – without even knowing – in the past few years.
You’ve given me a keen sense of perception about my body. Now more than ever, I can monitor how I am feeling. I’m aware of every tear, feelings of worthlessness, pain and fear much faster than in the past, and I stay connected to my psychiatrist more than the average person might. As a result, my doctor has informed me that I am healthy as a fiddle, except of course for you, depression. Did I mention I’ve reached 28? Thank you for that.
You’ve given me a sense of empathy for others I had previously lacked. I’ve been able to speak to others about you, depression. I am a better listener and a better counselor. I am grateful for this gift.
Because of you, I live in the moment. When I was faced with my insanity, I began to see how important it is to be thankful for each day, I see now – all that matters is this moment, and the next, and the one after that. I’ve slowed down; I breathe in, I breathe out, I discover, I tell the difference, and I express.
I don’t take things personally anymore. In fact, I don’t even take you personally, depression. You’re here, and for the plausible future, “here” you shall stay. There is nothing I can do to get rid of you, at least not at the moment.
Nevertheless, I can try to defeat you.
I have covered up “negativity” in favour of a positive and affirming life. I have hidden fear and embraced interest and love. I have ended obtrusive habits in favour of creative endeavours. I have sought to connect rather than isolate. I have stepped way beyond my comfort zone, because I have realized that my comfort zone isn’t comfortable at all. It’s safe and restricted, but like the place where you find yourself in my mind, depression, it’s a small, dark windowless room. I prefer the ambiguity and voyage of wide open spaces. I prefer to visit the boundaries and the border, the suburbs of towns where God lives.
I will keep you there so I can go out and live life in spite of you and yet because of you. My life as a downhearted man is a gloomy life, I must say. I have no need for negativity, no need for self-loathing, no place in my life for the stigma so often placed on me by society because of my depression and my homosexuality. I have embraced love in your wake. I am a beautiful and divine child of the universe. It may have taken your residency inside my mind to get me to realize this, and for that I am grateful.
I forgive you, and I also thank you. You wanted to destroy me from the inside out, however, instead you have made me stronger than I ever thought possible.
Sincerely,
Kenji

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If you saw a black/coloured or black/white couple in public or at the club or any where what would you think?

I have asked a lot of homosexuals if they support gay interracial couples and most of them said “yes but, wouldn‟t date a black guy because of the negative stereotypes that are held against them”.

For me it‟s just racist in some way. I know we all have preferences but just because dating a guy based on skin colour makes me confused.

It‟s seldom that you see a happy gay interracial couple without the judgment of “he is just there because of the money” etc. which in some cases are NOT true.

I know of only a few interracial couples and from what I see they are happy despite what the „world‟ has to say.

In today‟s society, being gay is frowned upon already, and yet there‟s prejudice within the small gay community (I hate that phrase). So why don‟t we support each other?

The gay world is no different from the straight world in certain regards.

By dating based solely on something as illogical as race, I think we shoot ourselves in the foot.

Researchers have found that interracial couples report lower levels of relationship support from their social networks (family, friends) than same-race couples. Similarly, same-sex couples report lower levels of relationship support than heterosexual couples.

Being South African, a lot will say something about “cultural” differences. Is that the only reason? Or are you just narrow-minded?

Nonetheless, homosexual interracial/ inter-cultural relationships will always be prejudiced unless we change the race games that has been played for years.

What‟s the point of writing this article if I only include what I want to say? My response is: I won‟t go into detail on some racial remarks because I‟m not racist. And for narrow-minded comments made when I asked advice on this touchy issue, I would rather restraint myself for some outbursts.

I was told „reviewing something said doesn‟t make you the people who said it‟. So let me be frank, there isn’t exposure of what is actually said but rather a coat of what is being said. I understand maybe certain comments might hurt you that you wouldn’t want to relive again.

So if you are in an interracial/ inter-cultural relationship, good for you; but don‟t let any negative remarks drain what you feel is right.

Article published in June 2015, The Pink Tongue edition

Dating HIV positively Article by Kenji Garnett

In this day and age, with HIV being so common in the gay community, with the stigma that

HIV carries, dating HIV positively might be a burden.

But talking about it while dating can still be taboo and difficult.

Being close to someone with this disease, I can see the struggle when it comes to dating and

it’s heart sore …

Apart from the risks of transmission, dating HIV positively has its negatives. Is it wise to disclose

your status before intimacy? There are a few issues that the twosome should consider:

keeping the uninfected person HIV negative, managing probable power dynamics, and the

sensitive impact of the serious illness.

However, in the awe-inspiring majority of situations, power dynamics develop unintentionally.

There is no way for people to be 100% certain that s/he is protected from HIV infection or any

other sexually transmitted infection.

Dating someone who has a different status can help create a foundation of trust and

understanding.

HIV stigma not only have emotional impact for those carrying the virus as a result society is

easy to put a label on everything. For a person living with HIV, they always fear rejection. The

deadly prejudice that society infuse with ease, can be heart sore for a HIV negative and

positive couple.

HIV can confuse relationships in many ways. Not only is HIV vastly slurred, but it can also be

challenging to manage. On the other hand, under the close management of a good

doctor, you and your partner can be safely sexually active.

If you decide to date someone outside your status; understanding their status, accepting

their status and overcoming stigma is what is needed.

Your inclination to converse about these issues will serve you well in building and maintaining

a healthy relationship with your HIV-positive [negative] partner.

Disclosure is part of letting the person you’re dating get to know the real you, and getting to

know the real person inside him. Whomever you decide to date, and for whatsoever reasons,

always remember that a person who is worthy of you will accept you for what you are and

be willing to grow with you. Dating is not easy, I know, but it is supposed to be fun and

exciting above all. Safeguard yourself throughout the process and safeguard your heart.

Also, protect yourself and your partner … by living boldly. Stop the stigma. Live your life. As

long as you’re honest with yourself and safe with each other, one thing you won’t be

gambling with is your health.

Therefore, are you able to date HIV positively?

Article published in June 2015, The Pink Tongue edition

Being gay is ALL about anal sex or is it?
 

I think many gays see anal sex as the ‘pinnacle’ or the ‘last end’ in terms of expressing love in a relationship. The view that it might resonate with gay men with the same emotional significance that vaginal sex resonates with heterosexuals, has been considered.

 
Sex in whole does not just consist of anal sex, but oral, mutual masturbation is considered sex too; or am I wrong? This is actually surprisingly common in the gay community, but it’s practically the ultimate taboo. Even our language of how we
describe ourselves (top/ versatile/ bottom) reflects the focus on anal sex and the person’s position during this act.
 
Sex is what you make of it. That is what I believe.
 
This concept might seem strange for some gays, but for straight people and even the young gays coming to terms with their sexuality, think that life as a gay guy has endless ass pounding.
 
The puzzlement I’ve encountered when trying to explain that there’s more to gay life than ass play when talking to people who aren’t gay men.
 
Think about this, there are gays who just don’t like anal sex.
 
Historically, anal sex has been commonly associated with male homosexuality. However, many gay men and men who have sex with men in general (those who identify as gay, bisexual, heterosexual or have not identified their sexual identity) do
not engage in anal sex. Among men who have anal sex with other men, the insertive partner may be referred to as the top and the one being penetrated may be referred to as the bottom. Those who enjoy either role may be referred to as versatile.
 
There might be many factors that could be at play. Sexual abuse history. Cultural. The list goes on. But there are alternatives to anal: as mentioned – oral, mutual masturbation, etc.
 
Some men who have sex with men, however, believe that being a receptive partner during anal sex questions their masculinity.
 
JUST because you’re gay does not mean you have to like the idea of anal sex, so try the alternatives.
 
Reports with regard to the popularity of anal sex among gay men in the modern days have varied over time. Magnus Hirschfeld, in his 1914 work, The Homosexuality of Men and Women, reported the rate of anal sex among gay men surveyed to be 8%, the least favoured of all the practices documented. By the 1950s in the United Kingdom, it was said that about 15% of gay males had anal sex.
 
Sex isn’t even all about penetration, lesbians don’t have penetrative sex, so you can still have an active and fulfilling sex life without doing anal. Some of you reading this might think this is weird, but it all boils down to preference.
 
Similar to the Hirschfeld study, researchers state that oral sex and mutual masturbation are more common than anal stimulation among gay men in long-term relationships. They say that anal intercourse is generally more popular among gay male couples than among heterosexual couples, but that “it ranks behind oral sex and mutual masturbation” among both sexual orientations in popularity.
 
The gay and anal sex stereotype has been around forever and it’s time to educate.
 
Article published in The Pink Tongue, March 2015

Empty your ‘Straight Acting’ Closet

According to Wikipedia, “Straight-Acting is a term for an LGBT person who does not exhibit the appearance or mannerisms of what’s seen as typical for gay people. Although the label is used by and reserved almost exclusively for gay and bisexual men… Because the term invokes negative stereotypes of gay people, its application is often controversial and may cause offense.”
Straight Acting? Masculine? Feminine? Shouldn’t being proud to be gay mean proud to be attracted to a man despite his ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ nature?
What the hell is “straight-acting” anyway? Personally, I believe my performance is worthy of an Oscar, because I can act ‘straight’ and effeminate – key word being ACT.
Men who use the term “straight-acting” to describe themselves, may express dislike of being gay. So, ‘straight-acting’ is evidently based on deep insecurities.
Such inhibited homophobia is a common condition among gays brought up in a heterosexually-dominated society full of ridiculous myths and delusions about “masculinity”.
When people ask me [via chat sites] if I am “straight-acting” I generally respond: “I am a guy who is emotionally and physically attracted to men. I fall in love with men. I have sex with men. That seems pretty ‘gay-acting’ to me.” Having a sexual encounter with a guy, there’s nothing straight about it. And some closet cases feel being the one penetrating the bottom automatically makes them ‘straight-acting’ … What utter nonsense.
While recently chatting with a friend I told him about a date I was going on with an intelligent, cute and fun guy. He asked me if my date was a “straight-acting” guy or “effeminate.” Bearing in mind that the guy was going on a romantic date with me, who also happens to be a guy, with the chance for it to lead to a possible relationship and sex, it seemed like an odd question. I clarified to my friend why I think asking if a gay man is “straight-acting” seems odd and hilarious, to which he replied, “But what else would you call it?”
That’s a good question. What should we call it? Maybe we don’t have to call it anything—maybe we should just accept that we humans come in a wonderfully interesting and diverse array of personalities, traits, behaviours and ways in which we genetically desire and crave to experience and express love and sex.
And my favourite is when gays say “I am a straight-acting bottom” – really now? Will you be acting straight while being penetrated?
I’m done acting straight, and I’m done acting gay. I just want to be me, a quirky guy who happens to be emotionally and physically attracted to men.
Countless scholars have said that such attitudes by gay men reflect internalized negative feelings about being gay. Thus, we sought to assess the importance of masculinity among gay men, to compare their ideal versus perceived masculinity-femininity, to ask how gay men assess masculinity, and to test whether masculine awareness and anti-effeminacy could predict negative outlooks about being gay. Results from an online survey of 751 gay men in the United States showed that the majority rated masculinity for themselves and in a same-sex partner as important, and they ideally wished that their behaviour was more masculine and less feminine than they perceived it to be.
These finding further support the idea that masculinity is an important hypothesis for gay men and that masculine awareness and anti-effeminacy are related to a negative outlook about being gay. I feel that these ‘straight acting’ gays just want to fit in the ‘straight’ world and don’t want to be ridiculed. Well, you’re gay no matter how you act. You are a male sleeping with men, so what’s your problem?
I think people read too closely into the sexual roles. The method in which you have sex does not automatically have any depiction of your personality.
Being effeminate (flamboyant) or masculine is just fine with me. And in my experience, most gays claiming to be straight acting, are not – they just think that by connection to some of the more extravagant members of the community, that they are relatively “straight”. I don’t see why people apply stereotypes to tops and bottoms. Some tops will be effeminate, while others will be masculine and some may be somewhere in-between.

You couldn’t tell a straight person’s sexual interests just by their mannerisms, why would you be able to tell a gay persons?
So empty your ‘straight acting’ closet …

 

Article published in The Pink Tongue, February 2015

“Gender does not have to do with bed partners, it has to do with identity” – Christine Jorgensen.

Differentiating transgender from trans sexuality is to a certain extent abstruse, and there are many definitions for those two terms, but only the person can define how he or she identify themselves.

There are prominent academic literature I’ve come across on the difference between sex and gender. The Medilexicon Medical dictionary states that one’s sex is a biological quality, while one’s gender is a “category to which an individual is assigned by self or others …” – in other words, psychological.

The difference between transgender and trans sexual is to some extent the ‘same’ in the straight world but for a person going through the motions of identifying themselves, it is not the same.

Transgender is considered to be more of one’s internal gender personality or inclination, as well as the related social expectations that may go together with a given role. Whereas trans sexuality can be said to be more of a physical characteristic of one’s sexuality.

The sex and gender difference is often overlooked, so that gender is used to label the categorical male/female difference and sex is used to label the sexual activity.
The transgender parasol includes sometimes-overlapping categories. Which are: trans sexual, transvestite (cross dressers), androgyny and bi-gender. This does not include drag queens or drag kings as they are performers who cross-dress for the purpose of entertainment.

‘It was obvious that we, as a culture, have a hard time trying to understand the difference between a drag queen, trans sexual, and a transgender’ – RuPaul
Another term which [at first] confused me is intersex.

Intersex people has the physical characteristics that do not conform to strict definitions of male/female, but intersex people are not necessarily transgender, since they do not all disagree with their biological sex.

A mouth full, I know, and for me that means, even though a guy is born a guy but feels like a girl, doesn’t mean he is gay. Confusing? Did I make you think? Good.
Trans sexual people identify themselves as the opposite sex and wish to live and be acknowledged as such. Some [who can afford it] go through, gender transition; a process of aligning one’s gender appearance with their internal gender identity. But with that said, after transition, they may or may not automatically identify as transgender or trans sexual any longer, but simply as male or female.

And now let’s talk about coming out as transgender. The commonness of discrimination against homosexuals are already a hot topic – how will you be facing family, friends and the world with this news? Misperception and lack of acceptance will happen first – in drastic cases – you might be kicked out, but like all parents, they might believe that ‘you’re going through a phase’.

After reading this, you will see that our community and support structure still lives in ignorance – let us support those who are trapped between worlds.

Article published in The Pink Tongue, December 2014

“Young, gay, and trying too hard”

As mentioned in my article “The psychology behind overachieving gays” – I was asked to do a follow-up article and elaborate more on some lines in the article.

So here it goes …

Research proposes not only do gay men tend to be more likely to be overachievers in school, but that there was a positive connection between how much they felt like they had to hide their sexuality and how well they did in school and extramural activities, and how much they based their self-worth on things like “academics,” “appearance” and “competition.”

Does this sound familiar?

In addition, young men who have been hiding their sexual identity for longer tend to be more invested in these ‘material’ things, as do those who live in areas where the stigma is more extreme.

Moreover, seeking self-actualization through measurable accomplishments rather than through interpersonal relationships is very segregating, and it can lead to bad behaviors — consequently found that over-investment in personal appearance led to problematic eating and too intense of a focus on academics and competition.

By typing this article I feel more closer to discovering my ‘workaholic’ tendencies. Am I the only one that feels by telling homophobes: ‘By judging me makes me work harder’.

And here is another thought-provoking question for you: are you just looking for validation?

My reason for asking this question is that gay men often suffer from a shortage in the validation department. When you don’t get enough of something as a kid you can be hungry for it for a very long time. Meaning, you seek validation in ‘material’ things like “academics, appearance and competition”.

Healing comes from building the muscle of self-validation. Trust in yourself alone and embrace the flaws and faults of the past. So stop pleasing your family and friends; start pleasing yourself with self-validation.

Hence by overachieving you might lose yourself in the rut of owning the moment and pushing people away is not beneficial to your goals in any case. Who is going to praise you for achieving success if you push people away?

I know being gay is hard, the lifestyle is superficial at times and not everyone around you wants the see you happy, but just know that healing comes with time; and that you are fabulous.

And that’s all from the overachieving gay.

Article published in The Pink Tongue August 2014