Sunday, 6 April 2014

When Will It Be My Turn?

For those who can still recall the early beginnings of my journey, would remember that it was my conversation with a divorced but successful man named R back in 2011 that jump-started the entire process of wanting to wake up from denial and face my homosexual fears head on.

R was first mentioned in a fifth entry of this journal titled 'The Day I Surrendered and Came Out to Myself' and then again in 'Coming Into Your Life For A Reason'. I regard him as a pivotal chance encounter who probably saved a young guy like me from going ahead with my choice of wanting to live through a "straight" life.

We never really kept in touch after going our separate ways on the pavement that night. I suppose my hounding him for sensitive answers in reference to my own battle with homosexuality probably did the trick. And also because I think our visions in life originate from opposing sides of the world. He was the good-looking and successful 50 year old gay man living in the free world, and I, the still dependent lost soul behind this journal in his twenties from the third.

R is an attractive guy for his age and there are moments where I sometimes wonder about the slight possibility of us getting together. I don't know how that's going to happen or if it'll work out but you can't really blame a guy for fantasising.

About a year ago, I sent him a nice gratitude card and added him on Facebook to try and make amends to the dynamics of how we saw each other. We got in touch for a bit, but nothing much happened after that. So I kept my distance out of respect, and he out of whatever reason he chooses. I wondered too at that moment if R found someone in his life and was happy? If so, I would be too for him.

While scrolling through my Facebook news feed the other day, my hunch was validated when I saw pictures of him and his boyfriend enjoying themselves on vacation in a beautiful foreign city. 

On one hand, I was genuinely happy for him that things are working out really well between him and his new guy. But on the other, I did feel a little envious of the whole package I was seeing. You know, R and his boyfriend. Lovers on holiday? It was a romantic dream of mine too which seems to be happening only to other people.

"Excuse me, whatever happens to other people, is none of your business", the inner interventionist intervenes with a smug on his face.

So after allowing myself to burn-off some I'm-human-too envy, I decided that I am not that person with the small heart. And that I am truly going to be happy for him and his new guy. For I really shouldn't, at the expense of not finding my own romance story, feel threatened that almost everybody around me has. So here's to R and his boyfriend. May they stay happy and in love together.

Friday, 4 April 2014

My First Time at an Anonymous HIV Screening

So today, after weeks of dilly-dallying, I finally made an appointment and went for my first anonymous HIV screening. Within the past 10 months, I've had maybe about two occasions where the guys I was having fun with attempted to enter me without protection. The incident happened within the heat of the moment which can be re-read here and here

I know, I know. It's not a big deal for somebody who didn't go all the way with full penetration, but with pre-cum and exposed wounds and tears in the anal area these days, you just never know. Let's just say that with everything that has been going on in my life, the worse always happens when you least expect it to. So I am going to be smart in taking responsibility for my own life.

The place I went to is an independent foundation that offers anonymous HIV screening to an array of candidates such as transsexuals, sex workers, men-who-have-sex with men (yup, their term) and drug users. Basically individuals within the country who can't openly go to a normal clinic and tell the doctor these things. 

During my hour long journey to the centre, I didn't feel anything at all. For I relate it very much to the emotions of how I felt the first time I was walking to the gay bar and sauna about three years ago. But then again, no matter how much you say it doesn't affect you, there is always that slight tingle of anxiety behind your head with the question: "What if it was positive and you have it? What would you do? Do you really think you can still be this calm and composed?"

Then the other side of my head went: "Okay M,  let's not be dramatic. Being positive doesn't necessarily mean death nowadays. There's nothing we can do no more to change what has been done if it does turn out for the worse. Let's not worry about that and just move forward with living your life. I mean, aren't you sick of all the issues you're going through already? Come on. It's not like this is your first year as a human being. Just shush! Stop over-thinking unnecessarily."

The centre was located in this really dodgy area of the city. I dreaded the long walk because for some reason, I felt like the whole world was watching me on camera. I arrived, filled in the forms and waited for my number to be called. There were a number of other guys at the centre too. Some were shy, some were silently judging others, and some who were conspicuously nervous and shaking. I could literally feel all kinds of energy in the waiting room, but ignored them all and minded my own business because I don't have time for other people's emotions.

The lady that attended to me was American and a volunteer. As we shot the breeze over some paperwork, she reminded me so much of my love for the free world, and how I aspire to build my life in a cultural environment where I can genuinely be who I am in the face of freedom and equality. At least, in comparison to where I am at the moment.

Not long after, my number was called and I went into the screening room. "Have you ever thought about what you're going to do if the results do come out positive? Have you prepared yourself?", asked another volunteer. I gave him my thoughts and he seems pretty confident that I am aware of what it means.

He told me that if it was positive, I will have to go to a hospital and get it confirmed. If the results are negative, then it's safe to say that I am clear because I am within the period where it would be detected.

He pricked my finger and dripped my blood sample into the tester. Fast forward 30 minutes later, the results came out negative and I was clear. It felt good being able to conclude that I can concretely move on without worrying at the back of my head if the last two vulnerable occasions did put me at risk. 

But what I did learn from this visit however, is that apart from it being about me, taking responsibility for my own life and getting myself tested, is that it also ignited a more powerful sense of compassion and respect in me for every other positive/negative person who went through a similar process.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Learning to Rise Above Dull-Witted Homophobes at Work

Few weeks ago, a potential new hire came into the workplace for a job interview. However, I didn't manage to get a glimpse of him until the last 15 seconds when the interview ended and he was escorted by the panel past our desks to the exit.

He was your typical average-looking fellow citizen who was overdressed and if I may be honest, looked gay. But then I started thinking, it's none of my business. And regardless if my assumption about him was true or not, all he has to say to relegate my auto-pilot judgemental instincts back into its place, is that he actually fucks woman.

When it started to register in my head that there is a very high chance that this new hire might be a fellow gay brother, I became worried about how he was going to be bullied when he starts his permanent tenure here, in a place where the people are pettily unhealthy.

This morning, a loud cross cubicle discussion about the new hire ensued between two female colleagues. I know intelligent people ignore, but man it still irritated the fuck out of me.

Female Colleague 1: [smiles proudly]
"Hey, you know that new guy that we hired? He's gay. I think he's gay. I mean I suspected it."

In My Head: [annoyed]
Oh for fuck sake! Wow. Bravo girl. Bra-vo to you for such a worthy accomplishment! You guessed out the gay guy! You have the gift that everyone would kill for! How cool is that?! Maybe from now on you can use it to guess the lottery numbers?! Maybe that might get you an actual applause.

Female Colleague 2:
"Oh really?"

Female Colleague 1: [smiles proudly]
"Yeah! Director 2 (the egoistical one) who was interviewing him told us all the other day that 'his gaydar was going off the charts, off the charts!' "

"Then Director 1 (the one I like) was like: 'Naah guys! Come on.' "

Female Colleague 2:
"Ho ho"

Female Colleague 1: [smiles proudly]

Female Colleague 2:
[turns to another permanent male co-worker, Colleague 3]
"Hey did you hear that? You better be careful! lol..."

Male Colleague 3:
[awkward and uncomfortable, pretended he didn't hear the comment]

In My Head: [extremely annoyed]
Lord, put me OUT of my misery by striking these peopl- No no no! Stop it. That is so beneath you. Stop it. Let it go, let it go. Rise above. Shush!

I think you don't have to be a genius to interpret how the final comment might suggest that just because the new hire looks gay or might be a homosexual, every other straight male person that is within radius is immediately in danger of being pursued, converted, molested, raped or whatever discriminatory verb you'd choose to use.

Readers must be thinking why would I give these people power by rehearsing their narrow-minded gossips in a bright journal dedicated to greater things? Well, these are exactly the kind of stupid mockery that happens in the close-minded world I live in, and my purpose here is to document it as part of the ongoing journey before I actually achieve true freedom one day and tune out.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Navigating the World of Red Flag Colleagues

Last week, I was commissioned by two upper level consultants to work on a report that required a lot of back and forth consultation while the associate above me was on leave. So I did my part, submitted it to them and waited for the next instruction.

Fast forward to Monday when both consultants were on leave, the client suddenly called the next person in charge and wanted it by the end of the day. The immediate associate above me started freaking out, with tantrums of course because she is now responsible for providing the client with the finished version in which she has no absolute clue. 

Due to the fact that I wasn't given any further instructions on what to do next, I had no fucking idea on how to proceed with handling a report that needed consolidated information, figures and approval from the two consultants who were not in the office.

However, as a responsible and initiative-driven person, I stayed back and single-handedly worked on it continuously until a version we "believe" is final was produced. The associate thanked me profusely for being such a trooper and I felt appreciated. I became that bottom level guy who had to finish the job of an associate.

To be honest, I never liked her from the start because of the amount of boisterous superficiality she tends to exude and the many betrayals she committed behind my back. But that night for some reason, my heart softened at the thought that there might be some form of genuineness in her and I shouldn't give into my defensive instincts.

Then guess what? Just when I thought things were going to be different this time, everything was forgotten and she did not mention any credit on my part the next day when answering to the consultant.

I was furiously annoyed! But then again, I can only blame myself for being so naive with people again and again. I couldn't believe that at the fear of not wanting to become the difficult version of myself that might get nasty, I disregarded my instincts and all the dishonourable red flags about this person that were knocking on my door. 

Then I thought: "Okay M, time for a refresher's course in learning how to be smart! It's life's way of trying to tell you that you are every bit the greater good and respectable individual you know yourself to be, but you also need to get used to being extremely firm and controversial at the same time with people in order to have boundaries, and also to implement the things you feel is right."

As someone in his mid-twenties who is just starting out, I understand that stories like these in a world of jobs and survival of the fittest are not abnormal. There are worse case scenarios and work personalities out there, but I just needed a post today to vent my frustration.

Friday, 21 March 2014