Write For Your Fight has hit 10,000 views!
I started this blog more than four years ago. Way back then I had only recently ‘come out’, and had been thrown head-first into a world where I could finally speak my truth publicly and without fear.
But whilst I was feeling as though I had no more cares in the world after shaking off my biggest secret, it became increasingly clear. Clear that there were still forces in the world that were trying to intimidate those – like a younger me – into denying their sexuality, and who were trying to force me back into old headspaces.
Every life has its battles and it’s testing times – it is in that, that life doesn’t discriminate. But for people to unnecessarily place more pain and suffering onto others for no reason other than their own views about you and your lifestyle – there is nothing I stand more against in life than this. And so, I dedicated my blog to this – and then, for some unknown reason, people started to read it.
I am someone who has been painfully shy going back as far as I can remember. I lived with the inner turmoil of growing up knowing that one day I would have to face the fact that I was gay. As a result, speaking honestly about my feelings did not come naturally to me.
I had been forced to retreat within myself from years of being bullied in a variety of ways, and the only way I felt I could tell my story was to put pen to paper, then to keyboard, click ‘publish’ and then cower as it was sent into the ether that is the world wide web.
It was like I had taken the pin out of a grenade when I exposed some of my most raw and personal experiences – and each time I didn’t know if it would blow up in my face, or give me a blissful calm within my soul. The relief that came from finally airing what was killing me by keeping it kept inside was something I had never experience before. I was free.
And the more I hit ‘publish’, the more people would contact me and say that they had experienced something similar in their lives; and suddenly, I didn’t feel like I was alone – and with the knowledge that someone before me had survived it, I realised that maybe I could survive it too.
With my first real piece, ‘Homosexuality – Nothing to see here!’, I wrote it mad. I was upset that after finally shedding the shackles of sexuality that had been dragging me down my entire life, I would then travel overseas and see that the world was still censoring the LGBT community. Removing images and dialogue from popular music and television in the hopes that if our ‘kind’ could be out of sight, maybe we could be out of mind too. I had been out of sight for so long, and I knew the damage that it had done to me, that I refused to believe that anything other than serious, long-term harm could come from denying the existence of the queer community.
Then came ‘The F- Word’; I had been inspired by the people and the stories of survival, hope and happiness around me that I decided to venture back to one of the darkest points of my teenage life, and shed light on it in the hopes of it healing my own wound that had been hurting me for so long. If casting a painful secret into the light helped it heal, casting it into the light of a rainbow would surely help it heal and then turn it into something shiny that I could pin to my chest and be proud of.
I remember being in the drafting process of The F- Word when I went to a high-school friends twenty-first birthday party. It was there that I came face-to-face with the one who had made my life hell for the first time since leaving high school. I looked him in the eye, heart racing and feeling like the same tormented kid he had once preyed on. I shook his hand, confident in the fact that I was pushing myself through the pain, all the while thinking, ‘You have no idea how much you fucked me up and what I’m going to do with that’. Writing this piece turned the pity I had for myself back onto him, sad in the fact that he needed to ruin someone’s childhood to make something of his own, and knowing that he would never read the piece because he probably had no idea it was even written in the first place.
But as there is more to someone than simply their sexuality, I wanted Write For Your Fight to be so much more than the life experiences that come with being a gay man. I wanted to write about those who inspire me, those who had got me out of bed for the past twenty-four years – and so, my grandpa, Ken (Pa), was bound to make a couple of appearances.
This is the man who I had modelled myself on for so long, at a time when I didn’t have a clue who I truly was as a person. He taught me how to dress and how to be a gentleman (My Grandpa; My Fashion Icon). He is also the man who gave me a first-hand experience in witnessing the cruel and torturous journey that is Alzheimer’s Disease (Forget Me Not). An illness that takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions as it slowly takes its hold, but brought his whole family closer along the way, as we realised that life may be short but family is forever.
Pa continues to inspire me every day, and still brings joy to his family. No matter how different he may be in body and mind, he still possesses the ability to make us all smile, no different to the man he was thirty years ago.
What I didn’t expect from writing this blog was how it would make me more fearless, and encourage me to draw things out of myself that I had held close for so long. The blog promised me that if I was truly honest with what I wrote, that I would get truly honest responses from those that read it.
It took three years, but after so many positive experiences stemming from sharing my stories, I decided to finally write ‘Flashing Lights’. Three years on and I still didn’t think I was ready to confront the experiences of that day, let alone have it published on both my blog and an e-magazine that I had no control over. I was scared that I wasn’t ready to relive the emotions of seeing someone ready to end it all, and jump back on the runaway train of emotions with no knowledge of where it would take me. I was also nervous about the sensitivity required when talking about suicide, and treating it with the appropriate level of both caution and respect.
Fortunately, I had someone by my side during the whole process of writing and drafting the piece. Someone that used their knowledge and passion for mental health to help get the whole truth out of me, and made sure that it was honest and raw when I was trying to make a gritty story shiny and ‘right’. It was the first time I had told many of the closest people to me about that night, and I felt that by writing that piece and having them read it, that it could explain the situation better than I could ever hope to verbally.
It is safe to say that I slept about two hours the night I hit publish on that piece. I had nightmares of waking up to people angry at what I had written, feeling that it was one story I shouldn’t have told. I still feel that way sometimes. But getting that off my chest was something that was necessary for me to move forward in my life. And whilst it won’t ever be something I ‘get over’ and forget about – it is now at least something I can openly talk about with those who ask.
If Flashing Lights was the piece that almost broke me, ‘The WAGs’ was the one that brought me back and helped me see that the world isn’t all dark and gloomy. It helped me see how kind and generous people can be.
Becoming a member of the PEGS Football Club was one of the biggest leaps of faith I had ever made. Walking into a room full of footballers and being gay was something I thought I would be punished for – but when you’re at your lowest, there’s always an angel or five to put their arm around you and pop a bottle of bubbly. Thanks girls.
The strength and confidence I have gained from Write For Your Fight has led me to be a stronger person, and do things I once could never have dreamed of. Nothing proves this to myself more than when I went back to my old school and spoke at assembly about the experiences of growing up gay ‘Back to School: Facing the F- Word’.
That experience helped give closure to the tormented student who still existed inside of me. It helped me learn that any wound can heal – and any experience – good or bad – can be used to do something positive in retaliation.
When I was writing that speech and knowing that I would have to stand up in front of hundreds of students whose opinions I was generally fearful of, I began thinking of it as a continuation of my blog, rather than anything I would be doing by myself. I didn’t think I would be able to read my speech aloud, so I wrote it as if I was someone who had read The F- Word and needed a happy ending. I didn’t feel like I was alone on that stage, every positive piece of feedback I had received from my blog gave me the strength to stand up there. I faced some of my biggest fears that day, and have never felt such a rush in my life.
So thank you, thank you, thank you.
To everyone who has read one of my pieces. To those of you who have contacted me about one of them. And those that have shared my pieces.
Life isn’t a numbers game, and numbers shouldn’t be something to base happiness around. But this ‘milestone’ truly means so much to me because my story is out there. I have told the stories I thought would always be a secret. Not only that, I always thought that if those stories were ever to be told, that it would only yield a negative and critical response.
10,000 readers have shown that sharing our stories is one thing that can never be taken away from us, and can never be manipulated.
There’s always going to be negativity out there in the world, from those people who truly in their hearts believe that we don’t deserve happiness. That don’t want us to find and feel love. That think that we deserve to feel pain and should hide to appease only themselves.
The only way to ‘fight back’ is to continue on unapologetically, and live life with nothing but love in our hearts, never stooping to their level.
Write For Your Fight is my story, and there’s nothing that can change that – I am so grateful that I am able to tell it.
To many more to come.