Saturday 23 February 2019

This is my life, this is me

Things I would not brook
There are a few places where I would brook no intrusion, the violation of my space and where I am being treated with disrespect. In both cases, I would tend to take remedial action before my dignity, integrity and sense of well-being suffer.
Only a few months ago, I welcomed a close relation to Facebook and even celebrated it with a blog as I usually write about the serious and the mundane. In my writings, I could sometimes be circumspect or nuanced but never misunderstood.
I have a broad social media presence from the professional, which is LinkedIn to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and my blog in order of longevity. I used to have my tweets automatically feed into Facebook, but that facility was removed my Facebook over a year ago. I, however, do have my Instagram posts feed directly into Facebook and Twitter.
My decisions, my terms
In the space of just under three months, I am back in South Africa for business as much as for leisure, my previous visit gave me an opportunity that I wanted to explore further including the accident of meeting someone with whom we agreed to begin a relationship together.
Whilst I appreciate my life straddles the old world and the new, an age of ignorance through into one of enlightenment, I can understand some people like some of my parent's generation would get left behind even if technology forces them to interact with a world quite radically different from the one in which they had been raised.
For over three decades I have made my own decisions in terms of my expression, my career, my choices, my partners and much else. I am grateful to many who have encouraged, supported, celebrated, and rewarded me as my journey of life has become a tapestry of stories. I would easily make friends rather than enemies, my philosophy is for the peaceful coexistence of living and letting live.
Ancient and modern in one life
Social media provides a platform of varied expression, I have neither stepped away from controversy nor frankness of view, in many cases, I would either mind my own business or keep my counsel. It allows for you to make acquaintances with the broadest range of opinions, ideas, people and things, knowledge is a good thing, and understanding how to use it is a better thing.
Then, last night, I had to run the gauntlet of this comment posted to a status that was fed to Facebook from Instagram. I have edited the text from a proofreader’s perspective, but the context and the import remain unchanged. “The earliest you make a good change in your lifestyle the better, it is not too late. All the best.” This, without doubt, came from someone who I can sympathise has my interests at heart, God bless them, as much as it is intrusive and completely unnecessary.
This is not a lifestyle, this is life
I can only guess as to what aspect of my lifestyle is being referred to as in the old world, the expression of sexuality is a lifestyle choice as opposed to an innate state of being that professionals and a growing public, a majority of whom are in the West have now better understand with systems and processes put to place protect the rights and liberties of people who have a sexual orientation not common with the majority populace.
Indeed, if this were a lifestyle, it would have been easy to adopt another, and as one wrestles with the issues and complexities of extracting oneself from influences and travails of that lifestyle life stopping smoking or the consumption of alcohol one can find better outcomes in life. Sexuality is not a lifestyle, it is a lived experience that in childhood has left any confused and conflicted, as one grew you questioned your sanity and normalcy whilst secretly seeking some expression of it, unsure of whether there was anyone else like you.
If you came from a religious background, that worsened your sense of unease, you’re found in a cycle of seeking cures for ailments that do not exist. The psychological trauma, angst, and guilt weigh heavily on you. Even if you live in countries where the freedom to express yourself exists, you still find you are not really that free and those of a heterosexual persuasion have been in the main.
Coming to terms with my own struggle
You find common cause with others like you and grow in confidence within communities you have formed to promote your interests, the need to be who you are without fear of persecution or violence in every sphere of life has been achieved in some societies whilst it is criminalised in others.
Something natural happens, someone comes into your life offering companionship beyond friendship, a life of happiness and support with fulfilment. We all have the capacity for love regardless of gender pairing or sexuality. I dare say, that is celebrated in some instances and condemned in others. I could have satisfied the needs of my society to follow certain heteronormative choices, found a girl, married, had children, and lived a lie, but I didn’t.
I made a solemn oath to myself that I would not complicate another person’s life with my issues, they are tough enough to deal with without messing up other lives living on the down-low. Imagine my difficulty, I once had a relationship that lasted 7 years, but never could share with my family, my happiness and fulfilment.
Then another who I so loved and might have had the opportunity to build a life with died suddenly, neither could I share my bereavement and sorrow with my family in the middle of recovering from cancer. I am sorry, these experiences are not lifestyle choices, they are long and enduring events of my life.
It is life, it might be different, it might be unconventional, it is not a disorder and definitely not a lifestyle. Being homosexual is NOT a lifestyle.
My life is mine to live
I sympathise with those who would have preferred a parallel universe of assumed norms for me, but that universe would contain the same diversity. You do not choose your sexuality; your sexuality is part of who you are whether you decide to express it and live your life to the full or conceal it and live a limited version of yourself.
I have been circumspect, I have not been out to everyone I have encountered, some of my family do already know, others, it is on a need-to-know basis. At work, from as far back as the 1990s, I have not concealed the fact that I am gay or in a relationship, I have been respected for my candour and have never been adversely affected by the revelation of it. Amongst most of my managers, I have found allies. I am grateful for all that.
In this season, I found love, and I intend to pursue it fully for my happiness and well-being, it is part of why I returned to South Africa, to meet up with my new love and explore the opportunities we can have of life together. I do not intend to live in the shadows about this and I can understand it would make some uncomfortable. I am not here to live the life and expectations of others, but my own life and the happiness that fortune has gifted me in the process.
In view of the comment that was posted to my Facebook status which was a second infraction of what I would not brook being violated, I made one decision, if the person who feels so concerned about my lifestyle disapproves of it, it is best to spare them the inconvenience of my social media persona as a happy gay man with his partner. This is my life, this is me, and I will not sacrifice it for anyone. I have blocked the said person on all my social media accounts, that person is my father.

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