Another year is over, another winner has been announced and another Eurovision hangover has begun to subside. This is a time of year when a number of people reflect on the competition that was and the one that is to come, so I thought I would share some insight. In 2016 I was a member of the creative team for Iceland’s Eurovision entry and learned a great deal about the competition. Since then I have found myself answering lots of questions to Eurovision peeps about what it’s actually like to be there and how things really work during the largest song contest in the world. I’ve narrowed this all down to 7 things many people probably didn’t know about the beloved contest. Keep in mind these thoughts are strictly my own and do not reflect on anyone I worked with in the competition at all. You may find them interesting, it may also mean I never work at Eurovision again but anyway here goes…
1. It’s a marathon.
You've seen the three minute performance on the stage of the host country. There’s lights, pyrotechnics, wind and key changes. You love it or hate it or even make witty tweets about how awkward it sounded when the singer was trying to say ‘winner’ and it came out like ‘weiner’. It all happened in the blink of an eye but what you probably didn’t think about is how long ago the journey to that mispronunciation began. For many of the entrants it starts as much as nine months before. A number of the participating countries hold national selection competitions, a bit like mini Eurovisions. In Iceland this competition is held around February, but the eager hopefuls must have their songs in for selection around October. Once they’re into the competition, they have a few months to come up with their performance and then they compete. When we worked on ‘Hear them Calling’ for Iceland in 2016, the first meetings about how to present the song were in early December. It’s a strange feeling for all the team members to win the national selection, because there is literally almost no time to celebrate. As soon as we found out we were going to Sweden, we were quickly in meetings again to work out the next step. By the time Greta Salóme sang her first note in Stockholm, the core team had been working on the project for almost six months.
2. Budget Baby.
Each country pretty much foots the bill for their own performance and of course not every country has the same budget. The only thing when it comes to staging that is free is …. wind. Lights, projection, fire, pyrotechnics, all of that costs a lot of money. When you see a solo performer on the stage with very little bells and whistles, sometimes it’s a creative choice, but sometimes it’s because that’s what they could do with their budget. So think about that the next time you call a performance bland.
3. It’s a Bloggy Blogg World.
Back when I was a child and even into early adulthood (not revealing too much about my age here), there was almost nothing you could find out about the performances before the actual show. I remember that the closest I could get to knowing anything about what would happen was buying the CD and listening to the songs one by one. That has changed dramatically. Now when an artist has been selected to represent their nation at Eurovision it’s a bit like a presidential campaign. There’s not just the official concert, there’s party concerts in other countries to prepare. Each one comes complete with press, well I wouldn’t exactly call it that. I noticed at the pre-parties and the actual competition that the number of actual journalists was very small. The world of Eurovision is now run by bloggers. As I stated above, these opinions are my own and do not reflect anyone I have worked with, but I noticed that everyone, in a way, is terrified of them. I found it peculiar watching seasoned performers pander to ‘Bob’ from ‘Erovisionfandom.org/jpeg’ a blog that probably gets one click a year. A number of the bloggers are uber fans who make the pilgrimage every year to the host country much like salmon spawning up stream. Most of them are people who have an amazing joy for what this song contest represents. As a fan of Eurovision I quickly realised that I was not as much a fan as I thought. I remember a conversation I had with one of the delegates from Estonia. He too was Australian and asked me how I felt about finally working at the competition. I said I felt like a bit of a fraud. He asked why and I told him that before heading there I thought I was a super fan. Then I said, ‘but there are people here who can tell you what the backup dancer to the right of the performer for the Netherlands was wearing in 1973.’ His response, ‘she didn’t have a back up dancer.’
The bloggers hold so much power when it comes to the 24 hour news cycle we now live in. They can make or break the chances for a performer to get through to the final and most people in Eurovision land know it. This brings me to the unfortunate side of the bloggy blog world; the mean girls. There are some bloggers (who I will not name for legal reasons) who are just terrible people. You know, those people who were picked on in school (like most of us) but instead of dealing with their self esteem issues in order to become self actualised adults, they put themselves in positions of power so that they can in turn bully others without actually realising they’re doing so. Yep these people sometimes have Eurovision blogs. I sat through countless interview sessions where I saw them ask energy filled questions about the acts and the message of their songs, telling the performer how amazing it all is. Then the next day in a vlog update, pulling it all apart, basically telling their viewing audience not to vote for that song. The other negative side effect of the blog machine is that it’s not really informed journalism. Facts aren’t really checked and sometimes information is just plain wrong. I was once video interviewed backstage. They asked me what my involvement with the show was, I answered and then they wrote an article stating that I said that I was pretty much the only person doing anything. The weird part about that was they also posted the video where I didn’t say that. The bloggers are also invited into the dress rehearsal which I find weird. I guess it makes for great ‘media’ buzz, but sometimes it can be reported drastically wrong. In 2016 during the first dress rehearsal, the TV station of the host country used incorrect graphics and cues for us because of time constraints. Our entire team knew about that and decided to use the rehearsal to just focus on everything else. The bloggers were present and in turn they reported to millions of fans that the Icelandic performer’s choreography was completely off and that they were disappointed in how the performance had translated from the Icelandic stage to the main competition. If they had asked any of the team, we would have corrected them but they didn’t. The result was an immediate shift in the betting odds against Iceland.
4. Block Voting and Tall Poppies.
It’s never a surprise when Greece votes for Cyprus or Belarus votes for Russia. So many people think it’s because they want to support their neighbouring country. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen but often we forget what it’s like to live in a particular area. If you live in Greece, you’re probably going to be listening to similar music to those in Cyprus. It’s what you’re used to. When you’re not allowed to vote for your own country and there’s a song that tickles your musical senses culturally it’s kind of a no brainer. Another effect I knew nothing about until I worked in the competition was what I call the tall poppy effect. I grew up in Australia, a nation that loves the underdog. I’ve often said the easiest way to become successful in Australia is to not really look that successful. This is because of Tall Poppy Syndrome. The innate need to support those that you feel need the help and cut down (in a manner) the tall poppies so that the others can enjoy some sunlight. In the competition there isn’t really a cutting down of the poppies but there is sometimes a heightened need to support those who you feel might not make the cut. You can only vote so many times. You have a selection of songs you love and in that selection, due to media coverage and the feeling that there are particular favourites world wide, you make a decision. ‘Well that country is definitely going to get into the final, so they won’t need my help. I’m going to vote for the underdog.’ I believe this is in part responsible for those times when a country everyone thought would get through doesn’t and then the next day the internet isn’t happy.
5. It’s a Gay Smorgasbord.
I have never seen a larger congregation of gay men in my life. In each Eurovision there is a special pop up Euroclub. A club where all attendees can dance the night away to only Eurovision songs, while possibly getting the chance to brush shoulders with their favourite Eurovision stars. It’s also pretty much a gay bar. I can only imagine the amount of chlamydia and syphillis that is exchanged at a competition. I actually feel like there are possibly new STIs born at every competition. This years chlamydia I will call the Ukraine Strain. Never in my life have I opened grindr and seen literally 400,000 men within 20m of me. The night Iceland performed in semi final one in 2016 and didn’t get into the final, I retreated to my hotel room to shower and prepare to celebrate. I opened my grindr and was surprised to see a great deal of messages. Nowhere in my profile did it say that I was working with the Icelandic team, but up to 20 men had sent me condolence messages. My favourite was one that read, ‘Amazing work tonight, I’m so sorry you guys didn’t get through… wanna come cry on my dick?’
6. You can’t predict anything!
Costume - Check
Amazing performance - Check
Flawless vocals - Check
Hundreds of thousands of people wanting you to get into the final - Check
None of this means shit at the end of the day. There are so many variables that it’s nearly impossible to predict how it will all go. I think many of us can say that from the start of the hype to the end of the competition we couldn’t have predicted Jamala would win. That’s part of what makes this competition so riveting to watch. The performers I’ve met who have got the most out of Eurovision are the ones who understand this and simply set out to get the message of their song across.
7. Post competition success not guaranteed.
After what all the performers go through, we would like to think that Eurovision launches them into an amazing career stratosphere but it’s not always the case. Sometimes they just go back to their jobs. I can think of one performer in particular who went back to university and finished a pharmacy degree and has since not really performed. Sometimes their career is simply to be the only person in their country who is allowed to go to Eurovision (I’m looking at you Valentina - one day my love - one day). The truth is that those who manage to have a successful career after Eurovision usually work incredibly hard for it. Sometimes they have to spend years traveling all over the world to just do that one three minute song people know them for, sometimes they have to completely reinvent themselves, and sometimes they just go home and get a day job again. There’s also thousands of other people in the competition not on the stage who go home and have to start over. Eurovision is a bubble, when you’re in it you can feel invincible, then when it’s over it can leave you feeling like you have no idea what to do next. For me, the most incredible feeling was watching graphics that were largely put together on my computer in my bedroom in Reykjavík on a screen in a massive arena, and knowing that it was also being watched on TV by 200 million people. I got home from the competition and then went back to work. I remember I was sent a message by a blogger asking what I was up to since the competition. I told him, ‘currently making burgers in a bar.’ His response was ‘Why?’ I told him that I have rent to pay and working in Eurovision is an amazing experience that is incredible to have on your CV, but it doesn’t mean something to everyone.
The Eurovision song contest taught me so much about what people are capable of when in a team. It was definitely one of the biggest highlights of my life to date and I wouldn’t change anything about it at all. Well maybe if I could, I would have tried to bang Douwe Bob - he did kiss me after all.
I am 31 years old today (if today is December 16 wherever you are). To a lot of gay men, that means I'm about to go to that island reserved for us where we will no longer be able to date, dance or enjoy life. We will then be crushed up into a fine powder that will be combined with meth to give to twinks so they at least have some form of sustenance to go with their starving hi. Well that's kind of what I thought being in your 30's would be like when I was about to turn 21 ten years ago.
In Australia, 21 is a landmark birthday, I don't really know why, considering we have all the rights of an adult at 18, but it's a very special time. On the eve of my 21st birthday I was a young twinky actor with dreams of being a leading man, I had been doing stand up but hadn't really found my voice as a comedian (even though I thought I was amazing), I was in love for the first time and felt like I was at the precipice of what would take me to the rest of my life. Ten years later on the eve of my 31st birthday, I am sitting on my parents' couch drinking wine, watching Bones and reflecting on how the only thing that is the same is the fact that I do stand up.
I am not shy about the fact that I have lived quite an interesting life in the last 10 years, but it wasn't until today that I actually started to think about where I have come from. I took the time to reflect on that boy I was and how much has changed in that time. Some of it isn't necessarily for the better, just part of ageing; but most of it I'm truly happy about. I made a list of the things that have changed, so hear they are.
1. Dad Bod – yep I’m probably chunkier than I have ever been in my entire life but I’m also more comfortable with myself than I have ever been.
2. Diarrhoea – takes almost nothing to cause it: beer, thai food, pizza, farting.
3. Netflix is often more appealing than going home with someone.
4. Hair grows in places I never thought it could.
5. Exercise doesn’t do as much as it did, it takes consistency and a whole lot of good diet to see any kind of results.
6. The will to exercise has almost diminished.
7. Watching people exercise is almost as painful as doing it.
8. I feel less in control of life now than I did back then, but I’m ok with it because I realise almost everyone is bluffing that they have any idea what they're doing.
9. I wanted to make a living out of my art back then, I now do.
10. I’m single and not madly in love, well I’m falling in love with someone… myself
11. I no longer feel that I’m running out of time to get where I want to be. I know I have my whole life to get there.
12. I don’t fear getting older anymore. Every year I age is another opportunity to use my age as an excuse for being an asshole.
13. I’m more informed about things before I choose to voice my opinion. At least I try to be.
14. I have a fully formed frontal lobe. (That’s the part of the brain that helps with decision making and risky behaviour. It’s not fully formed in men till they’re about 25)
15. I don’t change myself to fit in... ever! If people need me to be someone else, then they don’t get to enjoy a slice of the amazing pie I have become.
16. I don’t blame everyone else for my problems. If something has gone wrong, most of the time I’m the only one who can fix it.
17. I enjoy time alone in fact I actually crave it.
18. I no longer go to anything simply because I feel like ‘I should.’ I do things because I want to.
19. I understand the temporary nature of life. Nothing is guaranteed ever. Everything you feel secure about could be gone tomorrow, but it’s nothing to be afraid of.
20. I understand that there will never be a point where I feel I have done or achieved enough, and that’s fine. It makes me the over achiever I am.
21. Despite what my friends might think, I actually know when to shut my mouth. There is a whole lot of things I think that I don’t ever say.
22. I am not defined by my relationships with other people
23. I’m the most comfortable with my mortality on a plane.
24. I live in Iceland.
25. I understand the value of sleep.
26. Financially I live more like a student now than I ever did in my 20's.
27. Instead of talking about doing things, I do them.
28. When someone tells me that I can’t do something it encourages me to prove them wrong instead of just accepting it. Never underestimate the power of spite.
29. I prefer a pub to a club.
30. I’m not above any kind of paid work. A pay cheque is a pay cheque and in the words of Deven Green playing Brenda Dickson, ‘as long as it doesn’t make me bleed or cry, I’ll do it.
31. At the beginning of my 30’s I have managed to achieve more than I ever thought possible. I’ve travelled the world, had amazing job opportunities, met and worked with amazing people, loved, lost, gained, rebuilt and started over and over and over. I am at complete peace with the fact that I cannot predict how things will work out ever but I know that I really am just getting started. It’s taken 31 years to become someone I not only like, but also love, and I have so much more coming. Watch this space.
31a. There's nothing twinky about me at all anymore. I'm total bear material now.
In the last couple of months I have spent a great deal of time thinking about the past two years. There have been so many changes and I made the decision (sometimes it feels like a mistake) to write a new show about it all and take that show to the place where the story of the last two years began. The show is appropriately named 'Miserable' although it's predominantly a comedy. As I sit in my friend’s apartment here in Melbourne, a city I left behind chasing adventure and a healed heart, what seems like a decade ago, I realise that there have been so many things I learned as a dumpee that I’m grateful for. As I did in the past with my post about the things nobody tells you about break ups, I thought I would take a moment to list some of the things I’ve noticed that people will probably do in the first year after a long term relationship ends. So here goes.
1. You will make a lot of not so great life choices
Being dumped is hard, really hard; but then again so was being in a long term relationship. They’re not easy. Spending that much time with one person without wanting to kill them is tough. Unless you’re in a polyamorous or open relationship which I can’t say I’ve ever been lucky enough to try (I think I was almost in a thrupple once does that count?). With any kind of relationship there is always a constant pressure of multiple forces coming together and moving apart sometimes creating amazing harmony, like beer, pizza and a movie on the couch on a Friday night. Sometimes it causes friction like when you haven’t done christmas with your own family in almost a decade because his mother somehow manages to forget it’s not her turn and decided to buy you surprise tickets to come see them. Even though these multiple forces, egos and emotional states pull in all sorts of directions, you’re in the relationship bubble, you know how it works and how you should respond to things. Then suddenly the bubble is gone. You no longer have to take someone else into consideration. There’s nobody waiting for you at home who hasn’t seen you in a while because of both of your busy schedules. So then you don’t feel the guilt you normally would for staying for one last drink, in fact sometimes you feel entitled to that last drink. You are single now you have given up this for too long. One example of this that hopefully not too many people remember is a night I was performing cabaret in Melbourne. Well lets just say my aim that night was to see just how much gin I could fit inside myself. It was actually a lot. The Audience was then treated to one of the strangest covers of Crazy by Gnarles Barkley and then I continued to get black out drunk and ended falling asleep at Macdonald’s in a burger. I later fell out of a cab, and threw up several times in my neighbours front lawn. I woke up the next morning with the worst hangover of my entire life only to realise that no less than two weeks before moving permanently out of Australia, I had lost my wallet. Not the greatest of life choices.
Now you may be thinking to yourself that this can be excused because I was recently dumped and going through a tough time. That’s an excellent point anonymous gay person who manages to read articles that don’t have anything to do with Tom Daley without a shirt. Yes it is to be expected. Most of my friends in Melbourne will tell you that this particular evening would be unusual for me. Flash forward almost 2 years later and if you told my Icelandic friends this story they would say, “that’s so Jono!”
Excuses are a gateway drug and sometimes we are so deep in our own hurt we believe our own bullshit because we experienced pain. The lesson here is that the pain you’re dealing with is one that people have and do get through, it’s a break up, not bone cancer. Making stupid life choices after being dumped is normal, but In my opinion the breakup excuse has a shelf life of about 6 months…. oh and just throwing it in there, unless you really have killed people in prison, I wouldn’t get a teardrop tattoo on your face.
2. You will probably catch something
If you don’t that’s great, good for you. But if you do, also good on you, because it means you’re having sex. It’s a pretty clear numbers game. The more sex you have the higher your risk is of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. Safe sex practices are exactly that, a practice. It’s never going to be perfect every time but if you end up picking something up it is not a big deal and there is nothing unclean about you and if someone is going to make you feel that way, then they don’t deserve to have a slice of the delicious cake that is you. I wouldn’t say that I have had sex with a large number of people in the last year (well not a lot of good sex) but I’ve still had three HIV related incidents, got scabies, and even crabs. That was an awkward conversation, because the doctor examining me had heard about my comedy, which isn’t hard being the only gay comedian in Iceland. When I told him I had crabs, he said, “oh, that’s old fashioned.” The reason he said this is because crabs are kinda dying out. My pubic trojan soldiers were sort of an endangered species. Get out there, have fun, play safe and if something happens, be a grown up dammit, get checked and get on with your life.
3. You Will Gain Weight
I worked for quite a while in the medical industry and one thing I remember very clearly from being bored at the end of the day, waiting for doctors to finish was side effects. I would open the drug samples and read all of the side effects. I really loved reading the anti-anxiety and antidepressants side effects because they were out of this world.
“Side effects may be; depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts.”
Having been on them at several points in my life and also being the dark, cynical human being I am I would just read it and chuckle. Not at the people who need to be using the medications, just at the absurdity that the medication someone is taking to treat something may cause the thing their trying to treat as a side effect.
There was one side effect in all the antidepressant brochures that was always a mystery to me. “Some patients may experience dramatic weight loss.”
The reason this was a mystery is because I never saw it happen. In fact, the day a patient was first prescribed them they always had this gaunt look like they had not eaten in a week and gradually over the course of their treatment they would look healthier and then eventually the weight gain would begin. I remember one day mentioning it to one of the doctors who chuckled as he said, “Nobody ever loses weight on antidepressants.” In my experience, the same can be said for that first year out.
Perhaps you were blessed in the genetic lottery, perhaps you have not yet hit your 30’s (where second puberty demands that fat stays and hair grows in places you never thought it could). If you happen to be one of those lucky people, go fuck yourself, I mean good for you. My journey of self neglect, excessive drinking, a lack of a will to exercise and a terrible diet did different things for me. The trick to beating it is to realise it’s happening and deal with it accordingly. At the end of the day you may end up unhappy with how you look and there is only one person who can change that.
4. Sometimes you actually have to become a whole new person.
One of the largest struggles I had as a newly single person was that I had no idea who I was. My ex and I got together when I was barely an adult, and then departed when I had almost entered my 30’s. I had literally never had to ‘adult’ alone before and it raised all sorts of questions. The main reason for this was the incredibly codependent nature I had within the relationship. Over time, without even realising it, I had moulded myself into an idea of what I thought my partner wanted me to be. From the kind of literature I read, to the way I looked. At the age of 30 I had never grown a beard, because he didn’t like the way the stubble felt against his skin. He never demanded any of these things from me, I just gave it all so willingly because I had such little self worth when we met that on a subconscious level, this was the way to keep him. When the relationship ended, so much of my identity was built on being part of a couple that I had no idea how to function. It was as if I didn’t know who I was anymore. It’s important in any relationship that we maintain a sense of self and without it I don’t believe a relationship can truly thrive in a healthy way. If at the end of the relationship you find yourself if a similar situation, it’s not something to stress about. Imagine it as a chance to get a new start. Discovering who I am as a single person has probably been just as rewarding as being in a relationship, if not more. Enjoy the journey.
5. The year of firsts lasts longer than a year.
One of the big things I focused on in that first year was getting through the firsts. The first birthday, christmas, valentines day. The first time you experience what was once your anniversary, the firsts eventually come to an end and you feel a sigh of relief that you got through them, but unfortunately they don’t just end there. There’s the first time you have an injury and they’re not there to help you. The first time you. The first time you have to deal with a family drama or tragedy. There are so many firsts that will not happen in the first year. Putting a timeline or setting a goal to get to can be helpful but it doesn’t mean it will all be over when you get there. I don’t know how many times in almost two years that I have honestly thought I was done with the occasional twinge of memory that brings a pinch of sadness. There was actually a period where I was constantly having the same dream. In the dream I was back in the first couple of days of the break up and trying desperately to fix things, while knowing it wasn’t going to end well. I would wake up and immediately say to myself, “goddammit, I thought I was over this.” Eventually it stopped and I was once again filled with a feeling of satisfaction that I had fought grief and won. Then out of the blue I would see a commercial where someone is being loving, or watch a youtube video about a flash mob marriage proposal, or even meet someone who had a similar nose to my ex and I would be back at square one again. The point I have learned in this is that you really have no control over when these moments will stop and I’ve actually come to enjoy them. The fact that occasionally a perfume someone is wearing reminds me of my previous relationship means that I still have those memories. The fact that it’s able to make me have a twinge of longing means that those memories were good ones. Honestly I have no desire to rekindle the relationship I once had, but we were together a long time and I’m still on the journey of operating alone. On that journey I will have moments where I wish I still had that life because it probably felt a bit easier. Don’t hate the feelings, just acknowledge them and know that there’s no timeline for them.
6. You will realise how patronising you were to your single friends before.
I was that coupled person who loved helping my single friends. Sure I’ll be your wingman. Of course you can stay on my couch while you sort things out with your failing relationship. Oh honey, let me get you a glass of wine and you can tell me your problems. Then when you’re finished, I’ll give you some advice and relate it to myself and my ‘not currently failing’ relationship. Then I’ll tuck you into bed I will then walk down the hall to my big married person bed. I will then spoon my husband and whisper to him how I’m so glad we’re not like you and that we have each other. It wasn’t until I went through my own break up that I realised just how smug I was. When I became that person being tucked in on the couch after receiving advice that wasn’t actually related to me I had what Oprah calls an ‘ah-ha moment.’ People in relationships can be smug, but so can everyone - especially pregnant women, but that’s a different story. I can’t promise that the next time I am in a relationship I won’t revert back to that smug state because the relationship bubble can be a very powerful thing, but I at least am aware of it and to those people I gave smug advice to I’m sorry.
7. You have to accept that even the strongest of relationships can become a Gotye song.
The Belgian-Australian singer songwriter hit the nail on the head. Even though the two of you may want to remain friends and have a relationship post break up, there’s always the possibility that they will become ‘somebody that you used to know.’ Time and distance are big factors of change when it comes to most things. You will grow and change and so will they, and just like regular friendships, the changes and growth can force you further apart. The bottom line is, just like romantic relationships, if you want to keep them, you have to work on them.
8. You will date someone you shouldn’t for a really shitty reason.
This is dangerous territory for me to write about because instantly every man I have dated since the relationship ended will think I’m talking about him. So if you’re are one of these men, don’t worry, I’m not talking about you. (phew, dodged a bullet there). Pat Benatar was right, love is a battlefield. When you live in Iceland and you’re a gay man, it’s actually more like the hunger games because there’s only ten of us and we have to fight to the death to get a date. Dating isn’t easy in general, dating when you're not ready to is a bad idea, but the real conundrum is how do you know when you’re ready? My answer is that you probably won’t. You won’t know really until you try it but when you do, you need to be honest with yourself. I’ve dated people for all the wrong reasons. I was lonely; they were into me and I didn’t see anyone else showing interest; I just wanted someone to spoon; I thought it was time; a friend told me they saw my ex on a date so I instantly thought I should be too. These experiences weren’t the worst in the world but I learned a few things from them. You have to love yourself before you can give it to someone else; continuing to date someone you’re not into is cruel; and being attached to someone is neither going to define you, or fill any void you have. It sounds depressing but recently I told a friend that if I never have another long term relationship again I think I would be ok with it. If I was told today that you only get one, and that I already had mine, I would say, ‘that’s fine.’ It’s fine because after making the mistakes of dating for the wrong reasons I’ve been working on liking myself. Loving myself, that will come, but I like myself now more than I ever have, and that’s all I need. In the words of Rupaul, “if you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else.”
9. You don’t have to say goodbye.
Nobody can ever take away your memories. What you had together belongs to you both and always will. You may have said goodbye to each other but the period of life you spent together will always be there. It helped form you as people and you can’t say goodbye to a memory.
10. Go live your life dammit.
I spent so much time dwelling on the pain I felt and how it ended that I forgot how to enjoy things. It wasn’t until a great friend sat me down and told me that they thought I was enjoying the pain too much that I realised that moving on is an active process. Yes things take time and you won’t feel amazing immediately but you also have to put in some effort. The first step is to remind yourself that this is the reality and you have to make the most of things on your own. Then the rest is a chose your own adventure which is so much cooler than wallowing in bed about how sad you are.
Not everyone will do all of the things I’ve listed here, and there’s no handbook to teach the perfect way to handle a break up, but there is one universal truth I’ve learned in all of this. There’s only one person who can actively help healing and make the most of your life… You! So go find a way to have fun, learn to love yourself and know that every day is a gift, even if you’re alone and don’t particularly feel like life is wonderful.
If you are in Melbourne and would like to see my show Miserable, you can get tickets here.
I was originally supposed to blog about dating foreigners but I felt this was more necessary (the foreigner one is still coming).
Last week I decided to go see some standup in downtown Reykjavik. I was going alone so I needed to take a bus. I did the responsible thing, checked online to see when the next bus would come and how much it would cost. I also checked to see how it is possible to pay for said bus. Nothing on the website stated that the busses were cash only so I grabbed my card and headed out the door. When the bus arrived I confidently asked the question, “Talaðu ensku?” to the bus driver. This is a sentence that is almost void and unnecessary in Iceland. If you ask it you will almost always be met with, “yes of course I do,” the subtext being, "I also speak four other languages and my comprehension of English is probably better than yours will ever be." None the less I always ask because I think it’s a way of showing that I’m trying to learn the language. The bus driver of course spoke English so I asked him if the bus was going where I needed it to. He said yes, slammed shut the door and began driving (Icelanders don’t like the small amount of public transport they have to run late. As we moved down a road I can’t even begin to pronounce, I asked him how I pay the fare.
“Cash only,” he said.
“Well I’ll have to get off because I only have card.”
“You don’t have any cash.”
“No I don’t, I haven’t needed it once in the week and a half I have been here.” (Seriously you can pay for a tin of tuna on card here, there’s no minimum amount to spend anywhere.
He was almost enraged, “It’s 400 kroner and must be exact cash!”
He then proceded to lecture me on how I was now effectively steeling and that I would have to sit in my seat where he could see me so that he could make sure I got off the bus at the main depot where I could pay for the trip I had allegedly stolen.
I sat in my seat quietly typing away witty stories to facebook while I waited. After about 15 minutes we reached the depot and he signalled to me that this was where I was to pay penance for my crime.
Before I got off the bus, I stopped to tell him that there was nothing on the website about the payment system on the bus. I apologised for not having cash on me but I couldn’t help but say one last thing.
“I felt that the way you were to me was quite aggressive and mean and I would like to know just who do you think you are helping in this situation?”
His face changed and after a moment’s silence he said, “I will take you to your stop, you don’t have to pay but remember for next time it’s 400 kroner and you have to have exact money.”
I was willing to pay, but I took this as an apology.
When I arrived at my stop I immediately found the venue. I went inside, made a b-line for the toilets, locked myself in a stall and cried. I know right, not what you expected. I cried. I cried because I had a moment like I have almost everyday, sometimes multiple times a day. A moment where I remember that I’m still just as miserable as I was in Melbourne. I’m on the otherside of the world but I’m still in one of the deepest depressions I’ve ever been in through my entire life.
The reason I’m writing about this is because I would like to highlight something. All anyone knows about that bus trip till now is that I got sassy with a driver and put him in his place. Nobody knows that the second he got angry at me I wanted to cower in a corner, or jump on the next plane back to Australia. Nobody knows that I spent the next hour crying in a toilet homesick for a home and a life I no longer have that I can’t return to because it doesn’t exist anymore. Nobody knows that I then drank too much and stoped at one of Iceland’s many 10/11 (like 7/11) stores on the way home to binge eat. Nobody has any idea that I cried myself to sleep and that I still do it almost every night. Why doesn’t anyone know? Because I don’t want them to.
We live in a world where it is now incredibly easy to create just about any kind of online persona with a few carefully angled selfies and a joke or two. Online I’m a comedian and cabaret performer who is conquering Iceland one status at a time. I’m doing lots; I’m travelling, I’m learning the language, I’ve got projects happening, I’ve made lots of friends, I may even have had some flings (who knows – not telling here….yet). But that’s all what I want people to see. Yes I’m doing all of those things but I’m still just as bitter, miserable and clinically depressed as I was in Melbourne.
When I left Australia, I was very aware that changing my surroundings wouldn’t solve my problems and in fact would make them worse for a bit. It’s my journey and I will get through it (so nobody needs to be hopping on a plane) but I choose not to make those problems anybody else’s because that’s not how I like to do things. I like to make people laugh even when I am utterly miserable and I wouldn’t want to stop because of it. If I did that’s when you should be concerned.
The reason I chose to write about this, wasn’t because I want sympathy. It’s because just today a really great friend from Australia sent me a facebook message. That message said, “Are you actually doing as well as it looks?”
I answered honestly. I talked about it all. I know I’m going to be ok and I don’t really need help it’s all stuff I just have to work on. This conversation left me thinking. Imagine if I really wasn’t in a positions where I felt I could get through. Imagine if I was at risk and because of the persona I had created, nobody ever asked me if I was ok.
This was the first person to ask that question of me since I left Australia 6 weeks ago. The point I wish to make here is that now more than ever, we should be looking out for each other. We can now feel like we know everything about someone but actually know nothing of what is lying beneath the cat memes and pictures of Donald Trump as a steaming turd.
I get told all the time that moving to Iceland is so brave. That leaving Australia behind with nothing more than a backpack after a 9 year relationship came to an end is heroic. It’s not either of those things. I’m not brave or heroic, I’m just not stupid. I left because I needed to in order to heal. I’m actually not having the time of my life yet. I’m terrified, anxious and have never felt so bone crushingly alone, but I’m a strong independent black woman who don’t need no man (or at least I tell myself that every day), and I can handle it. My life is no better than yours, just like yours is no better than mine.
So I encourage you to take the time to ask someone if they’re ok and then actually listen. You might be surprised that there is a lot more going on then some awesome travel pics.
I'm about to move to Iceland, tomorrow in fact. I have been anticipating this moment for some time. It's exciting and it's also absolutely terrifying. Ultimately though I know I'm going to be ok. Why? I hear you ask. There is a network of people in Iceland that are waiting for me. A handful of people most of which I have only met once - thanks to a missed flight at gatwick airport 4 years ago. These people have expressed nothing but helpful information and support since I announced I was moving to Iceland a few months ago.
One great example is Olof (there's supposed to be accents over both of those o's but I still haven't figured out how to type Icelandic characters on an Aussie macbook). Olof works for the Icelandic TV station. She knows lots of people in many fields an has already begun scoping out opportunities for me. She has nothing to gain from helping me to establish myself in Scandinavia as a comedian and cabaret performer; she hasn't even seen me perform, but she's doing it. It's incredibly touching and I will get in trouble for saying this but it's not something I'm used to because I'm Australian and gay.
I don't mean to say that I have never had someone watching out for me in my home country. I've had incredible opportunities and made amazing friends and mentors on the circuit back home, however for every person I met that was willing to help a brother out, there were many many douchebag gatekeepers all expecting something in return before you could even get a sniff of assistance.
Back when I was plugging the shit out of a Documentary I made I was contacted by a young gay filmmaker through Facebook.
“Hi there Jonathan,” she wrote. “I have recently finished an LGBT short film and thought you would be a great person to ask about festivals. Do you know of any that I could enter my film in?”
I immediately replied and asked for her email address, then sent her all the information I had on national and international film festivals. I’d put the list together for promoting my film (The Doctor’s Wife, still available on DVD and VOD – see below) but hadn’t updated it in a while so I apologised that it might not be the most useful list around.
Almost as soon as I heard the ‘woosh’ of outgoing mail, the ‘boong’ of an incoming reply surprised me. This young filmmaker’s message was so filled with emotion that it was quite hard to read.
She told me that I was the fourteenth queer filmmaker she had contacted; only one of three to actually reply, and the only one who willingly gave her information without presenting hoops for her to jump through first.
What made this message hard to read though was not just that this polite storyteller had been ignored by people she respected, it was more that I knew the feeling all too well, because it had been happening to me almost on a daily basis.
Anyone who has worked in the media, arts or entertainment business has been in what I call “The Gatekeeper” situation.
The situation where one person is the missing link between you and an audition, you and a meeting that could change the course of your project, or you and a captive social media audience that is so big you can only just fathom the size. The one person that can really make a difference.
Once we enter the gatekeeper situation most of us assess the theoretical hoops on offer, stroke necessary egos, then go home feeling a little sticky and possibly fisted, have a shower, and know that ultimately our fate still lies in the hands of another. Most of the time the message of what you’re trying to achieve is secondary to what you can give someone, how much they like you, or simply whether they can be bothered to help.
Gatekeepers are not unique to the GLBTIQ community, they seem to be just part of the human experience, and in some instances are necessary. However, I believe that we could change some of the ways in which we operate as gatekeepers to do something I call ‘Gaying It Forward’.
So what is ‘Gaying It Forward’? It works much like it does in the film with that kid who used to see dead people and that woman who won an academy award for making it look like someone really could fall in love with Jack Nicholson.
All you need to do is notice when you are a “gatekeeper” and before you choose your course of action, ask yourself two questions; “What will this actually cost me?” and “Who am I ultimately helping?”
You will probably find that in a majority of situations the personal cost to you for passing on information or retweeting is nothing. The person you are helping is someone who needs it, and in many cases, is trying to a positively influence the rainbow-coloured cacophony of issues that all bundle together to create our equal rights.
This small electronic conversation with a hopeful film-maker, got me thinking about the motivations behind a perpetual “Gatekeeper,” and the often agonising struggle they put others through that is unfortunately little more than an assertion of power.
“But it was never easy for me!” is argued by many people who have been ‘around forever’, an attitude which completely baffles me, mainly because it mimics a cycle of abuse.
On the way to building a career, someone finds that things aren’t that easy, and they struggle and sacrifice to get to where they are. Eventually this person might be asked, by someone following a similar path to the one they used to tread, for some advice or a bit of a hand.
Instead of assisting, they choose to exercise the same withholding that probably caused some of the pain and struggle they had to endure, simply because, “it wasn’t that easy for me, so why should it be easy for you?”
Thus, the cycle begins again and we end up another gatekeeper holding on to a position of power, much like the Kardashians have held on to their fifteen minutes. This isn’t a form of leather-clad BDSM that is mutually beneficial for both parties, it’s the kind of attitude that helps to keep us as separate entities instead of members of a community..
This is not to say that every person that approaches you will be someone you want to help. You may disagree with their message, approach or already be supporting something similar. In my experience however, the more discussion and active advocacy we have around certain issues, the better. It’s that simple.
If you disagree with someone’s message or approach, have a conversation about why. If you know it’s doubling up on something that someone else is doing, put them in touch with the other person because chances are they don’t know about one another. Take the time.
If you ‘Gay It Forward’ you’re helping the community to get organised and create positive change.
I was able to meet some great people on my Doctor’s Wife journey, but I’m sad to say they were often few and far between.
If you are afraid that the information you give someone will put you out of the job get better at what you do. In the immortal words of modern-day philosopher Ms B.J. Spears, "You want a hot body? Better Werk Bitch."
Competition is healthy. I've met loads of young comedians who have made me feel like I'm about as funny as wet cheese. Yes I hated them under my breath for being younger, prettier and funnier than me, but if they asked for advice I gave it to them. Then I went home and worked on my material to get better. Just like we are all someone's reason to masturbate, we are all someone's reason to work on their shit so that can be "as good as you."
Your journey may have been tough, but instead of feeling that it is your responsibility to teach others that they too must walk on the struggle street to success ; why not break the cycle and ‘Gay it forward?’
Hard to believe I know. In this Kim Kardashian world we live in, how is it even possible that there would be things nobody will tell you about going through a break up? Well it is. No two relationship breakdowns are ever the same but I noticed some interesting things after my nine year relationship came to an end that I thought were worth sharing. Before I share them I need to preface that this article is focused a little more on the relationship break down where both of you don't exactly hate each other and are still at least a little bit amicable. So here goes.
1. Your friends in happy relationships will have no idea how to comfort you.
This is true. They're not in your relationship and can't see things from where you are. Even if they have been through something similar themselves, they're happy and they haven't just been dumped, they haven't just broken up with someone. Misery loves company and in the early stages of a break up your single friends; your scorned permanent spinster relatives; that friend who has a restraining order against them for trying to burn down their ex's house; these people will understand you. They will listen to you as you cry and get drunk, but remember there should be a shelf life on this kind of negative ion attraction (I'm aware that phrase is probably scientifically inaccurate but I like the sound of it). Eventually it's important to be around those who don't really understand. I remember that when I told my mother that things had ended she gave me the most honest response out of anyone around me. "I'm really sorry son, but I have no idea what you're going through." I heard her begin to cry down the phone. Her primary instincts to comfort and protect her son were thwarted by the reality that she had absolutely no idea how I was feeling. She's in a happy marriage with my father and has been for 37 years. They met in their late teens and have been each other's best friend and soulmate since then. What I told my mother was that it's ok because just knowing that she wanted to help was enough. I also found that my own break up was like a magical key for bringing people together. I had friends who I thought were in happy relationships reveal the issues they were facing. I witnessed some of these friends work harder at making things work than they probably ever did before, and the best thing is that I saw a lot of them succeed. It would be easy to get jealous of this but I'm a huge believer in paying it forward. If someone can learn from what I have been through and take an extra step here and there, I'm really happy for them, mainly because they all now owe me big time.
2. Your Break Up Can Be Devastating for other People.
Break ups do interesting things to people. We all grieve in different ways. Initially I chose to become a puffy alcoholic but later decided to channel my emotions into other things, like hommus. One thing that was surprising and at times uncomfortable was the level of interest other people had in the reason's why it happened. My relationship wasn't the most private. I made a fucking movie about it after all (the Doctor's Wife). What I never really expected was that so many people would have shock and disbelief that it was over. I spent hours fielding messages through Facebook (some from people I had never met). All of them offering support but a lot of them needing reassurance. "What happened?" "Are you sure it's really over?" "Have you tried counselling?" There were times when I had to remind myself that people mean well because that last statement in particular can come across as downright condescending. "Yes we tried things," I would say. "No, we don't hate each other." It was after these messages that I realised my relationship meant something to people I had never met. It meant enough that they felt the need to reach out and comfort me, or even help it to be fixed. That's pretty awesome. The main lesson I learned here is that people are going to want to be there for you and sometimes you just have to let them.
3. You will move on at very different times
Everyone thinks that they're going to be different. Everyone thinks both parties be able to move on and date other people in a respectable time frame and all will be well. Except for the fact that this never happens. The main issue here is that there is no poll results to show just how long a respectable amount of time is. The end result is almost always a situation where one of you will hear about the other now dating someone new and it will be shit. For some people a few months is enough, for other's it's years. For some it's a few weeks (as they try to convince themselves that this is a great new connection and not just a rebound). Timeframes aside, it's important to remember that the moment of the actual, "I don't think we should be together," conversation isn't necessarily the actual start of the breakup. We humans are very good at continuing to go through the motions of something long after we have checked out. The only advice here is that if you are the one not dating yet, don't worry you will. If you are dating, don't be a douche, keep it to yourself.
4. You probably shouldn't see each other for a while.
If you genuinely wish to not hate each other, stop seeing each other.. at least for a bit. You can't honestly expect to learn how to live a life without each other while still being in each other's pockets. Even if you are totally best friends already and ok with absolutely everything, you still need to have space. I still lived in the "marital home" for a couple of months after the break up and although it was nice to have the familiar things around me, I wasn't moving on or healing. That didn't happen until I got out and went somewhere new. The issue about constant exposure to each other is that it can make you fall into familiar patterns that stop either of you being able to establish a new relationship, and this is exactly what you have to come to terms with. The relationship you have with your ex now is different to the one you used to have with them. You get to have all of the ground rules and boundaries set all over again, just like making a new friend. Except this is a new friend you used to schtupp.
5. It's a fine line between love and hate.
You will both say and do things that the other won't understand. Worse still, you will probably do things that hurt each other and have absolutely no idea you are doing it. A very wise friend once told me that it doesn't matter how kind or balanced we are, everyone becomes a different person during a break up. You will have moments where you think, "I have absolutely no idea who this person is!" and that's normal. This is another reason to back up the above point (you should have space). The less time you spend together in the beginning, the less likely you are to get burned our soured by something they say or do that will hurt you.
6. You need to do you gurrl.
Does this one really need explaining? Yes indeed, you need to take the time to be selfish. This is an important time for you. It's a time where you get to discover how to live for yourself only. It's the most "sex and the city" moment you will probably ever have. Although you may be in pain or missing something that is no more, you also get to do things that you stopped doing because your partner didn't really like them. Yes it's sad but the world is once again your oyster(or maybe even another sea creature that is a little less vaginal looking), and you need to do you.
7. Stop getting Hung up on the failure.
Yes it's over. Yes it's sad. No it isn't a failure. Just because the relationship came to an end doesn't mean you failed. It doesn't matter how long you were together, there was a period where you and your ex succeeded (remembering this is more about those amicable type break ups - not the ones where you were forced into a sister-wife cult underground against your will). You both had a period of time where you were in a successful relationship and you should be happy that you got to experience that. One could also argue that the relationship ending was a success too. If it wasn't working you succeeded at recognising this and dealt with it appropriately. And yes probably inappropriately too, like that time where you drank too much gin and left your wallet in a cab before throwing up on your neighbours front lawn. We're all human, and breakups can be hard.
Things I have noticed about how dating has changed (from someone who has been out of the game for 9 years)
That's right, I've been getting back on that proverbial horse except that horse has now turned into a phone and getting on has a whole new meaning. I haven't dated in 9 years. The last time I was on the market, the iPhone was no more than a twinkle of a concept (that had probably been set in place years before and was right on track for release a few years later), but nonetheless it didn't exist. Nokia still ruled the world of mobiles and it used to take at least 10 minutes to spell out a text; punching 44 (gH) wait a second, 444 (ghI) ok I spelled Hi, now to start on "How's it going?"
I remember that for me dating was about heading to a gay bar. Making sure you got there before cover started (so like 8pm), grabbing a few drinks so that you could summon up the courage to talk to someone, then spending the remainder of that evening investing in the conversation, buying them a drink or 5, dancing with them and then that moment where you would have a sneaky pash on the dance floor before he smelled the butterscotch schnapps you spilled down yourself earlier and decided that maybe he wasn't going to head back to yours; at which point you would wait at the bar till close, and as soon as the lights came on, make a dive for all the cash people dropped at the bar throughout the evening. What? Was it only me who did that?
Now as a new single gay man I have ben introduced to a dating world where the thumb rules supreme and not necessarily in the kinky kind of way our mothers have all read about on a train thanks to 50 shades. I have discovered a lot in the last 3 months of being new to gay dating all over again and have compiled a list of things that I have noticed after the many fumblings, swipings and endless images of disembodied genitals I have been sent, so here goes.
6 Things I didn't realised about gay dating after being in a relationship since 2006.
1. Everyone knows exactly what they want (but not really)
I think it's probably been an incredibly positive aspect of the app based dating world. Now people who are only into amputee bears over 35 who enjoy water sports can stop wasting their time wining and dining someone who isn't. Just like a massive sex based game of "Guess Who" a few filters will knock out anyone who isn't strictly fitting into their desired traits so that they won't ever have to have that awkward, "So I noticed you have all your limbs" conversation. In all seriousness I do think it's valuable for people to be able to have their needs met without fear of being judged. I do however feel it leads to a very insular way of life. I remember as a fresh young gay, I thought I knew exactly what I was 'into' but to be honest it wasn't until I met people different from me and developed more of an open mind that I really began to understand that there is a whole world of sex and relationships out there that I am yet to explore. Call me crazy but I actually feel your "Masc top only into masc bottoms, no fatties no fems no asians," not only to be offensive, but to be frank, it's vanilla. Which brings me to the next thing I've noticed...
2. I don't remember gays being this racist.
Maybe in my early 20's I was blissfully ignorant. I am white. So white that when I told people I was moving to Iceland, a lot of friends asked, "Are you going home?" I have no idea what it is like to be discriminated against because of my race. I can't imagine how bad it would feel to not even get a chance to have a conversation with someone because I have a different origin to them. I am so uncomfortable with the level of sexual racism in gay dating that at times it makes me ashamed to be part of the gay community. In my dating experiences I have heard stories of shocking behaviour. I've been shown abusive messages guys have been sent and heard about all the things they quote, "Have to do," to get guys to talk to them. I find it quite disgusting and I think it's ramped up once again by the instant gratification world we live in paired with a fixation on being able to answer the question, "what are you into?" There isn't any light to make of this one. It's sad. I just don't understand why in this world we now live in where the barriers to exploration have been blurred and even erased in many cases, why would you only ever want one kind of guy? When I was a child, it was exciting to get neapolitan ice-cream, now they make wasabi flavoured ice-cream.. why would you just pick vanilla?
3. Beware the Narcissists.
As a failed Psych student I can tell you that there are an abnormal amount of gay men our there with narcissistic personality disorder. They work in our banks, they work in our governments, they might even work at your local supermarket. They are everywhere. It's a real thing. Narcissistic personality disorder is a personality disorder in which a person is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity. They are mentally unable to see the destructive damage they are causing to themselves and others. People with this personality disorder roughly make up 1% of the population and a higher proportion of those with the disorder are men.. and I'm going to go out on a limb and say I think most of those men are gay. They're pretty easy to spot. Immaculate, often Gym obsessed, with jobs in positions of high power and prestige. A dead giveaway is when a guy with these traits has a boyfriend who looks almost exactly like him. Like remember when Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow were doing that twin thing for a while before he met Jen. Yes, you guessed it, Gwyneth Paltrow is a gay man with narcissistic personality disorder. I don't think those of us without this disorder need to stress about it so much. To be honest, unless you look like them or reflect a certain quality they perceive as adequate, you won't even get a second look. However, there are the odd occasions where for some reason they date out of their perceived league, and that's when the rest of us can get caught in the crossfire. Like for instance one date I went on in Melbourne. This one particular specimen (who refused to eat carbs, alcohol or anything that had been prepared on the same bench as gluten) asked what I was doing to help myself feel better about things, post breakup. I responded by saying that I had hired a trainer and was working on my fitness. His exact response was, "that's wonderful. Soon you'll be in a place where your much more desirable sexually than you are now." I was initially offended but realised 10 minutes later that I had a real winner when he brought up out of nowhere that if he was stranded on a desert island with other people, he would be sharpening rocks instead of looking for food, but he would be kind enough to start eating them from the feet first so they would stay alive longer. I left the date with my dignity and at least 10 minutes of stand up material. The lesson to learn here is not to be offended by the narcissists and just be glad that you have the foresight to tap out, and not end up being murdered on YouTube (let's not forget Luca Magnotta ).
4. It's a little bit formulaic.
I'm a top.
Ok that's nice good for you, My name is Jono.
This is a conversation that seems to happen over and over again through the apps. I was of the opinion that this is only an online phenomenon till it started happening in person. I was out at a bar and noticed this guy (was easy to, he was the only one not looking at his phone). I struck up a conversation starting with the old fav 'Hello, I'm Jono." I know I've been out of the game for a while but I think this is still a standard winner for starting a conversation. I'm not joking when I say that within 5 minutes of our chat, this man who I will forever refer to as chadbtm had established that he's a bottom only into daddies so there was no point in me talking to him because I am not a daddy.
I wasn't really sure how to take this. Yes I am not a daddy, but does that mean we can't have a chat? He wasn't talking to anyone else in the establishment and neither was I. I was in the mood to talk to someone other than the people in my head (who at times can be a little draining) so I reached out. He effectively blocked me in real life. Now I don't have a problem with the fact that it's painfully obvious that chadbtm was in that venue looking for fulfil a very specific need (possibly with an amputee who knows); it's the world we live in now; but I do feel it's a lonelier world. Perhaps one day chadbtm will regret not having a chat with that blonde Aussie at the bar, who would have been really fun until he became a drunk white girl and tried to fondle him in the toilets. Sadly, we'll never know.
5. Oh no, I forgot to get abs!
I am reminded of this overtime I look in the mirror. The standards of beauty have raised a lot in the last decade and boy did I let myself go. I can have a little bit of leeway from the few months where I got divorced and became a puffy alcoholic, but is this really what men look like now? There is an endless sea of headless torsos bulging with tight muscles every time I look at my phone. I tell myself all the time, "Just because someone looks like a men's fitness magazine model, doesn't mean they only want to be with people like that." I believe it for like a second, then I jump on the treadmill, all the time thinking "Nobody fucks a fatty."
6. I'm holding out for the one.. I think.
All jokes aside, I think apps play an important role in modern dating but I have noticed an almost unspoken unhappiness among gay men that I didn't realise existed. There are those who aren't interested in long-term relationships who are liberated and enjoying their experience; but I have noticed there is another group of people who aren't having such a great time. These are the men who are looking for Mr Right, not Mr Right Now. This seems just as attainable from the outset however I'm not sure it's actually possible. From the many conversations I've had with men through dates and apps over the last few months I've discovered that often those who really want a long-term relationship, also aren't really sure how to operate within one. The swiping culture we now live in could be changing our hardwiring a bit. You only need to move to a new location and switch on Grindr to see how crazy your alerts are for a few hours. Stay there more than a day and you're no longer new and exciting leaving silences which were once filled with familiar alert noises. What I take from this is that I think it might be even more difficult now for a lot of gay men to actually be in successful long-term relationships. The reason for this is that I think our new hardwiring might put us in a position where we will always be holding out for someone better, for that bronzed headless torso with just a little less body fat than the one we are constantly with. I've been asked a lot lately if I feel I will end up in a long-term relationship again, and to be honest I don't think I will because I don't think the world we now live in makes it easy. I'm ok with that though because despite the fact that I am now single, I got to have a husband for 9 years. I got to meet someone organically and share life with them as we went on adventures in a world where neither of us was distracted by a ping or a tweet. I got to have that once, if you can ever get to experience it I highly recommend. So maybe the next time you're out with friends or at an event, put down the phone for a few minutes and make eye contact with someone. It might be a fun ride.
Powerful words to live by. It's currently a Wednesday afternoon in Melbourne. I have the dryer on madly doing laundry as I edit footage from my farewell show and procrastinate from the inevitable task of deciding what I am going to take with me on my journey as I (wait for it) MOVE TO ICELAND!!!
Yep that's what I'm doing. Am I crazy? Quite possibly. Do I have any idea what I'm doing? Probably not; but in all honesty things couldn't get any worse. 2015 has been without a doubt the worst year of my life so far. It has been full of unnecessary surprises and a whole range of times where there is no better way to explain things other than by saying "The universe basically shat on me." And not just shat. Not just like a regular dump. It has been like a diaorreah sundae complete with extra shitty topping, served in a shitty glass by a massive turd.
There is a great Australian saying, "You can't polish a turd." Well this is true, you can't, but you can roll it in glitter and that is exactly what I am doing.
Four years ago I ticked an item off my bucket list visiting Iceland. It was amazing. The country, the landscape, the people. All of it was incredible. It was also the first time in a very long time that I felt at home straight away. I had spend quite some time living places and not really feeling like I was at home because there was always this temporary nature to the current arrangement. On leaving Iceland I joked that if my husband ever died, I would pack up and move there. So flash forward 4 years and the breakup of my marriage (technically we were engaged and after 9 years together boyfriend sounds weird) and I decided to do just that.
No I am not about to talk about all the details of the break up between Vincent and myself. That is between us; at least until a great book deal comes along (kidding) (not really kidding, I'm divorced and unemployed, a dolla make me holla). All you need to know is that we are no longer together. We still love each other immensely. You can't just switch that off. He's my best friend and has been for the last 9 years so that's not going to change.
All of that aside, when the reality of the breakup hit me and it came to that awkward logistic conversation of, "So what are you going to do now?" It occurred to me that I couldn't stay in Melbourne and not go insane. I love this city so much, but I have a lot of healing to do and can't do it here. As a Queenslander, my family asked if I would be "coming home." It was then that I realised that Queensland hasn't been home for quite some time. If I was going to stay in Australia, it would be in Melbourne.
Why couldn't I stay here and heal? Well it all started when I began looking for apartments in my price range. I was looking for single apartments in the Balaclava area. I have lived there for the last 3 years, why should I have to move to another part of town just because I got divorced? I trawled realestate.com.au for hours and realised something I had never noticed before. Single life is depressing from the get go. Single people apartments look like prison cells. At least in prison you have the comfort of another person in the room and the prospect of some aggressive sex every now and then. Nope single people apartments seem to be designed to let you know that your life is horrible. They have no space to move in, they have kitchenettes (a word that means it's not actually a kitchen, it's sort of like a kitchen but it's not one), and the thing that really gets me is that the fridge space can only ever accommodate a mini bar fridge. Basically single people are going to never be at home to eat. They're not going to cook. They're just going to come home, masturbate and drink wine, and this is why they don't need a proper fridge.
So when this looked like my future, I decided that I might take a look at another option. I decided to get away from it all to find myself; and you can't get much further away from Australia than Iceland.
Welcome to my "Eat, Gay, Love." This blog is where I will share some of these experiences and eventually (after August 14) where you can read all about what it is like to be an Australian living in Iceland.
I've got some big things planned so watch this space!
Jono Out. xoxo