Being a woman in my country (Colombia) is actually an ‘adventure’. There’s an expectation that we have to dress-up well and make ourselves physically sexy or beautiful in front of people before we deserved to be complimented. Our outfit has to be eye-catching, our body has to be in shape and curvy, our smile has to be sweet and alluring, our make-up has to be appropriate and proportionate etc. To be honest, it’s very tiring to be a woman and in some sense, sad. Why do we have to have all of those things in order to be considered as ‘beautiful’?
I respect society’s expectation for individuals to dress-up accordingly at different functions, at times, I feel that I don’t really need a lot of extra things (cosmetic surgery, extra make up, expensive outfits etc.) to make myself beautiful because I think I am beautiful just the way I am. Generally, I think this happen in many places around the world where many women care so much about their appearance and the static things, rather than focusing on improving their knowledge and self-esteem. People around me are relying more and more on artificial things in order to make themselves look ‘beautiful’ and I believe we all know that these things don’t last long and they aren’t our natural self anyway.
I remember thinking when I was 25 that the most important thing was just to live life - to travel, to see different things, to experience life 'in the raw', to have great loves, read sublime literature, to learn new things, to have memories... My greatest fear was to reach the age of 80 and think: 'Oh my God, I haven't actually 'lived'. Je ne regret rien...
Well, nearly a quarter of a century later, I continue to believe that. I still really feel that it is important to keep an open mind, to look ahead, to seek the next adventure, to continue learning, and to keep loving. And.. to remember that with a positive frame of mind, some exciting and interesting people might just dance into our lives every now an then... and then they might just dance out, but that's life!
The gay community in this day and age has evolved so much compared to my time, and to certain extent, I find it hard to accept some of the lifestyle elements in which many gay men are practising widely - casual hook ups, NSA, unsafe sex, kinky sex, f buddies etc. I do acknowledge that sex is important and it's one of our basic needs, but I still believe that sex is an important part of love and I don't think that these two can be separated. Love creates happiness and contentment, whilst hatred creates resentment and sickness.
It means a lot for me to be an Aboriginal woman with a strong sense of cultural connection. It’s the foundations of one’s identity. For me as an Aboriginal woman I feel honoured to have the bloodlines running through me that belong to the oldest living culture in the world, and this country should be proud of that too. Having a sense of belonging is extremely important to me because if I didn’t have that, I would feel empty and disconnected. This country now has an English name - “Australia”. Australia is just one of the many labels given to this country. Whilst its name may have changed, its landscape has changed, but my spiritual connection to the land will never change because I share the same “woman business” with Mother Earth. She gave birth to the trees, fruits, animals and the list goes on. I gave birth to my heritage, through my children and that’s my continuing connection to my identity and culture as an Aboriginal woman!
One of the stories in my life that I want to share with everyone is my family inheritance - resilience. I’ve inherited two layers of resilience, individual and cultural. As an Aboriginal person, culturally, I have survived through evolution, invasion, dispossession, and so many unjust policies that were implemented to control and change my heritage.
The word FAMILY means different things to different people. To me, it means the love I have towards my husband and kids, the support I can offer to all of them, the happiness of creating a life journey together, and a responsibility in which I have to embrace and honour all my life. My kids will grow up pretty quickly and eventually, they will go away and create their own life journey but my status as a parent never ends. I will always be there for them and to protect them.
One of the main challenges of having a family is the expectation of making things right and try to be the best of myself. Kids learn from their parents and my kids will learn a lot from me. I am their primary role model and I need to be able to show to them that no matter what happens in life, as long as we don't give up, we can build strength and resilience through challenges.
My kids mean the whole world to me. I have a little boy and a little girl, both gorgeous and wonderful human beings. The time when they came into my life, I knew that my life is no longer mine. I have more responsibilities and work to do to take care of them and educate them. I have to spend time with them, making sure of their safety and wellbeing. I have to prepare food for them so that they are well-fed and grow healthily and many many more...
My childhood was one of the worst memories I have in my mind. It started when I was very young, around 5-ish. I could still remember the incident vividly as if it happened yesterday. My sister and I were in the lounge room and she accidentally broke a vase. My father asked who did it and my sister pointed her finger towards me and accused me of the wrong doing. He then reacted very impulsively and whipped me with his belt. I cried and tried to explain to him the situation but he refused to ‘listen’ to me. He belted me again and again…
Time passed… I held this grudge for quite some time and I tried not to think about it. One day, I wanted to ask my father something and this was when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I went to him and poked him gently with my little finger and I asked him politely. He was doing something at that time, and he got up from his chair and gave me a few slaps, and started beating me with his hands.
What have I done wrong? Why? I didn’t know what my grandparents were thinking when I told them about this incident, and them didn’t seem to care at all. I was deeply hurt...
It's funny to see the reactions of people when they find out that I am gay, from my early teens it was rather obvious to my mother but not my friends and family. I guess as they say a mother knows all. I was a very musically minded child and loved my sport, cricket and football (AFL). Even today some can pick it immediately and others like my work colleagues have no clue.
It wasn't until I was around 18 that I really started to explore my sexuality and finally came out to my friends and family. My family were so accepting and my mum actually laughed and said "tell me something I don't already know” Unfortunately at the time I did lose contact with a few of my so called close friends which made things tough growing up in a not so gay friendly neighbourhood, but as time passed they grew up and now we are friends again.
At 19 I met this amazing young man (Charlie, 22) and we started to date and I was in a place that made me happy and finally comfortable with who I was. Unfortunately,18 months later...
A week ago, I caught-up with one of my best friends whom I haven’t seen for quite a while. We share our stories to each other and he knows me pretty well. A few months ago, I had a strange feeling that something’s not going right between the two of us. I decided to discuss with him about the ‘strange feeling’ that I have in me and I wanted to unpack it further.
At the beginning, he seemed a bit reluctant to talk about it. I explained to him how I felt and I really wanted to get this ‘wall’ out of the way. I wanted us to go back to how we used to be. Finally, he expressed that, as much as he valued me as his best friends, and he loved me enormously as a person, my sexuality has always been a very ‘eye-hurting curtain in the room’ and this made him feel very uncomfortable and confused. I had a big 'wow' moment when he said that.
He believes in God and so do I. We both are Christians and we go to church. But… we have a very different point of view when it comes to sexuality. Homosexuality makes him feel uncomfortable and he’s confused because the bible says ‘no’ and yet he understands clearly that this is not something I choose to be. He knows that I struggled a lot in the past and I am a good person with good values and lifestyle, but.. he feels uneasy about it.
One of the biggest regret in my life is I attempted suicide at the age of 13. Back in junior high school I do not know what is it to be gay, and the idea of a guy love another guy freaked me out. With peers calling me a freak, the guy I fell in love with rejected me and my academic performance fell far below my expectations, I came out with the idea of ending all this tragedy. I used to see the world pretty narrowly, just follow parents and sisters’ footstep study hard and become a doctor as such. It did not make me feel happy; in fact, I feel like I am living a life where the family wants me to, the society wants me to. Growing up in a suppressed society, I do not have the courage to loosen a bit and freely be myself. I always look around and see if people are seeing me differently. Those days of bullying did not vanish from my mind and accompany me all the way to senior high school, where everything changed dramatically.
What hurts me the most is being rejected by those that I love… my family, my friends, and I lose them. After a while, I learnt to brush it off… All the negative comments I receive on the street hurt me because when I look around at other people, I’m there on my own, I don’t have a partner, and the society doesn’t accept me. I have been told that I was born not normal like other heterosexual males or females. That hurts me deeply too, and I have to learn how to deal with that.
I used to think of that as rejection but I have learnt to accept the reality that no matter what I do, there will people out there who won’t accept me or respect my decision just because I want to be who I am. I knew clearly that I was born in the wrong body. People’s hurtful comments and actions are something I have to learn to take on regularly, reflect upon, and give a lot of thought to.
I also miss the intimacy with someone whom I care and love deeply. You know… having that person to go out and spend my life with. Not just sexual intimacy, but also spiritual, emotional, and physical – the cuddles, the hugs, and the kisses. Someone I can talk to every day, and challenge my ideas etc..