5 things I thought would be different when I left home

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It has been almost 10 years since I left home and went out into the wild, scary, unknown world of adulthood living. I feel like I was truly and utterly underprepared for what was out there, and had I known, I’d have pulled a jew-dude (TM) and stayed at home until I was thirty.

But just like with black, there’s really no going back once you have fled the familial nest.

I just had so many misconceptions on what I thought living away from my parents would look like.

skeptical-baby

  1. “I can eat whatever I want!”
    Oh, oh…ohhh how I dream of the lovingly prepared home cooked meals of yesteryear. So angry and angsty was I, when a meal was NOT EXACTLY what I felt like eating, but instead an equal measure of vegetables, meat and grains. MEAT! Do you know how expensive that shit is?! What I would give, to have two middle aged people cooking for me three times a day…
  2. “I can stay up SO late”
    Want to know what I did Friday, Saturday and Sunday night this past weekend? Binge watched The Wire (because I’m about 15 years behind in my television programming at this point). I am a morning person, so around 10/10.30pm I start to fade fast. I used to think living away from my parents would be sooooooo wicked because I could just drink and party and watch movies all night long…Turns out my favourite thing these days is sleep. Yeah. I’m pretty cool actually.

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  3. “I do what I want!”
    So long as it doesn’t cost money. Seriously. Sometimes over the last few years I have had all of the freedom and none of the money (funemployed/between contracts) and other times I have had some of the money and none of the time (J.O.B). When can I have all of the money and all of the freedom? (right…right…when I rob a bank Oceans Eleven style…got it…have you guys SEEN that movie? It just came out recently in 2001)
  4. “I can date whoever I choose!”
    Remember when your parents hated that guy you were dating in High School and you were like IHATEYOUWEAREINLOVEyoudon’tunderstandmeGETOUTOFMYROOM! Yeah well. Turns out they were right. Man when I was single, I would have given my left ovary (she’s the gimpy one I suspect) for my parents to be hovering over my shoulder as I swiped like: “No. No. No. Yes Paris. No he will have a weird thing for feet. No. No. What about that nice boy from the coffee shop?” It turns out I just wanna date guys that my parents will like and not weirdo’s with spider-man face tattoo’s. Go figure.
  5. “I’m going to get a creative job and YOU CAN’T STOP ME!”
    In grade 12 when picking degree time came, my mother said to me: “Do a degree with the name of a job in it” and I laughed in her face as I applied for my Bachelor of Arts. I guess, if you were to squint your eyes, choke yourself a bit until no oxygen went to your brain and then smoked some meth – you could really consider my whole life one elaborate “Art”. “So what do you do Paris?” oh me? I’m Art. Yeah I studied it at University. In reality, life has been interesting in the working world (#noregrets) but I definitely find myself veering more towards the corporate world as I see all my fellow creatives struggling and think fucccckthatshit. Oh you live in a basement apartment with your sibling, sister and co-business partners and you work in a deli 3 days a week but your new album just dropped on myspace? Cool dude, Imma go over here and work on my excel skills though….

So many people I know have babies now. Literally holding an infant a week ago and thinking: “this adorable squishy baby girl is going to slam a door in your face some day.”

I wish I could go back ten years and slap some sense into my 17 year old self. Eat my free meals, get my free laundry, and remind myself that unfortunately…your parents were right. Uh! Gross.

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America made Gay Marriage legal and Australia didn’t

love-is-love

I’m not American, but I grew up on American TV, Cereal and Pop Culture. At age 11 my dream was to marry Aaron Carter, join Destiny’s child and have a cool american flag strappy top with a choker necklace.

 

Pretty much my amazing fashion style age 11-14

Pretty much my amazing fashion style age 11-14)

America was the place to be according to MTV back in the 90’s. I wanted to be a cool chick like the girls in ‘She’s all that’ (I was very much not all that in middle school) with a yellow roofless jeep and I wanted to say things like “hey girl!” and “get in bitches we’re going shopping” (I remember the first time my mother overheard me call a friend a “bitch” like “hey Bitch” – that shit did not go down well.)

As I got older and moved around the world, I realized that America was pretty cool, but there were a lot of other pretty sweet places to live. Hong Kong was an amazing city, and it was there that I really came into contact with a lot of American families (oh my god… they’re just like us!) and University in Australia was schweeeeeet (that vegemite, Passion Pop and Goon though). As an Adult I moved to Canada (so close to my 14 year old dreams) and actually went to America. It was pretty cool and there were parts that I loved but…

America also scared me.

There were guys in LA standing on the side of the streets with big aggressive signs that said things like: “God hates Fags!” and “Enjoy your Sodomy in Hell”.

This was pretty jarring as my previous world experience came from cities like Sydney (which has a healthy gay community), Hong Kong where drag queens were out and about in clubs, and Canada where gay marriage has been legal for ten years and the pride festival shuts down the city.

America was like the alcoholic, gun-toting, racist/homophobic uncle that you liked to see now and again but wouldn’t let around your children.

And then yesterday happened.

America passed Gay marriage, country wide. Love won out, and while the glitter settled and the world rejoiced, something stuck sorely in my mind.

Gay Marriage is still not legal in Hong Kong or Australia.

Two of the countries I would consider to be home do not allow awesome people like my brothers and my aunt (with 3 gorgeous kids) to get married to the people they love. Two of the places that felt like wonderful, gay-friendly countries, (compared to “scary America”) actually afford less legal rights and equality to people like this:

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And that really sucks. Australia paints itself as a liberal country, have-a-go, fair-dinkum. We call ourselves “the lucky country” and boy have there been times where I’ve felt lucky to be Australian. Visa’s to most country are easy as fuuuuuck, we have Medicare, an amazing education system and weather that can’t be beat. Everybody I’ve ever met lights up when I tell them I am Australian. Everybody loves us, or the idea of us (like how 11 year old me felt about Aaron Carter).

But what the hell Australia?! This country which has no guns, and preaches tolerance and claims to be forward thinking, still won’t allow certain people to get married because reasons?

Come on Australia, that is bullshit.

New Zealand (our younger, smaller, brother) passed gay marriage and this happy thing happened (get your tissues out):

What the fuck is our problem?

Unlike America, the church does not play that big of a role in our countries culture. In 2011 the census recorded that 5 million people (of our 20 million strong population) ticked “no religion” on their census forms.

So what? What the hell is keeping us from making marriage equality a thing. And if we pass it now, is it because we’re copying The US? We used to be a forward thinking country, carved from the rock and harsh soil by convicts and 2nd chancers.

Hurry the fuck up Australia, or you run the risk of being left behind in the dark ages.

And people like me, the young people, the educated people will stay away. We’ll marry our Aaron Carters and we won’t come home.

Figure it out.

My Gay brothers are better than your Straight ones.

I have two younger brothers, 23 and 19 and among their many fantastic attributes, (including courage, intelligence, amazing good-looks, and the fact that they get to be related to me) they both happen to be rainbow spewing, Homosexual-types.

I’ve written in the past about how I struggled when they first came out. In middle school and high school, I was guilty of using words like “gay” in a negative context (“that’s so gay”) and it was really my ignorance and youth (although that’s no excuse) that made me think this type of thing was okay. I was tolerant of Gay people, I just never really thought there would be some in my family, and I didn’t really think about their rights. Being the selfish young adult I was at the time this was all happening, I thought that I was somehow affected personally when they came out.

Certain issues don’t strike you until they become personal, and you have to shift the way you think. When somebody close to you that you love, suddenly announces that they are different than the person you thought they were. It can be kind of hard at first. It would be like if I told my parents I was converting to Hardcore Judaism after being a pretty mellow agnostic/atheist my whole life. They’d be like… this is different…can we still have Christmas?

Being Gay in my family is pretty much less of a big deal than being religious. In fact I think my parents would prefer it.

Seriously, you want to join my family (no you don’t, we’re crazy).

So this Shenagantics (thats shenanigans and antics for those of you not vibrating on the same frequency as me) in Russia has got me to thinking.

Why are we so afraid of people who are slightly different from us?

My Gay brothers are better than your Straight ones.

1. Have you ever been to a gay bar? Seriously, it is the best fun you can have with most of your clothes on.
Sweet music, hot guys, nobody groping you (well…no guys groping you). I want to go to a gay bar every night, and guess what? I can, because I have gay brothers and I’m allowed. So, no big deal, enjoy your lame sports bars with your lame straight brothers. Bring on Madonna!

2. My brothers are never going to impregnate a girl by accident and stress my Dad out.
We’ll leave the accidental pregnancies to yours truly.

3. Honest appraisals of my boyfriends .
Would NOT bang. Really? Yeah yuck. Sigh-Okay. “Hi, it’s Paris. My brothers say you are fugly and we need to break up now. Yup seriously. Cool. Bye”

4. I’m learning so much about men – from men.
You do what-now with the where-now??

5. My brothers will never bring a girl home to steal my only-girl-in-the-family status.
Sure you may be the Queens, but I will always be the Princess, and therefore, I can do no wrong, nor be compared to any sister-in-law.

My brothers are tolerant, open-minded & politically aware.

I have never met someone with such a capacity for accepting others like my baby brother Angel, nor someone with such a strong sense of self as my brother Kip. This blog, like most of my blogs, has a tongue-in-cheek element, but the truth is, I learn from my brothers every single day, and I love them more for the fact that they looked this world (which can be cruel and harsh and a struggle) right in the eye and said “bring it, this is me”.

They aren’t perfect, and I would still punch them as hard as I could in the arm if they tried to change the channel when I am watching my secret favourite show “Say yes to the dress” (then I would run away because they are both over 6 feet tall). They are the boys (men now) that I grew up with and I am so proud of them every single day.

It’s hurtful to read articles about what’s going on in Russia, or about Hatred towards people who are just getting on with their shit same as everybody. When I read ignorant blog posts or Facebook status’ or see evidence of injustice and intolerance, I am sad for the people who obviously don’t have the love or intelligence to see that we’re all just people.

They obviously haven’t met my brothers, who are amazing dudes that just happen to like other dudes.

I don’t think it matters who you’re taking home at night, so long as you are happy and they are happy and somebody is buying my brunch.

No Freedom until we’re equal, you’re damn right I support it.

PHT

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m proud of you

I tell people frequently that I have two brothers. Okay that’s not true. When people ask me if I have siblings, I often tell people “I have two GAY brothers.”

I don’t know why I say it like that. Being Gay is not the feature that defines them. K is a compassionate, sweet, hardworking, wise guy who takes off to Europe for two weeks just to look around. R is the fiercest and most outspoken person I know. He might still be figuring out who he is, but he’s always questioning himself and the world/society around him. He challenges pre-disposition and assumption.

I am sure they don’t go around telling people that they have a STRAIGHT sister.

I have written about my family in lots of different posts. They are a huge part of my life despite being far away. You have to understand that when you are an expatriate family, you are a tight unit, a cog that spins separate but connected to the rest of a wider machine. You move around, and the only thing that stays the same, are your five faces in the picture frame.

When R came out when he was 14 (I was 19) I was at University and the news shocked me. Not that there was anything wrong being gay, but I didn’t honestly think of my baby brother of having sexual preferences of any kind. He is still my baby brother now, even though he’s allowed to drink alcohol in bars (that’s weird).

That first year, when he was out and honest about his sexuality, I spent a great deal of time making gay jokes with my other brother K. Behind his back, some to his face, some little comments here and there that we giggled about. AND I’M THE OLDEST. I was supposed to lead by example.

I’ll never forget when I got a call from my Mum a year later saying, “By the way K has come out too.”

I was shocked, and I obviously felt ill. I had spent twelve months making fun of being gay (even though I considered myself tolerant and had some gay friends) with my brother, who was also gay, and who hadn’t told me.

I felt like an awful person first off, and an awful sister. These are my kid brothers, the ones who DESTROYED my barbies and who played hot wheels with me, and who rolled around in the dirt and collected frogs in a bucket during monsoons with me. What did it matter who they loved/wanted to bang? Hadn’t I always said that I was colour-blind, having been raised an Expat Brat? Why did my tolerance only extend so far.

I also felt left out. Like they hadn’t been able to confide in me. I used to OVERSHARE with them and they couldn’t even tell me this one, major thing?

I beat myself up a lot for a while. I questioned a lot of my “tolerant” beliefs and my fears, because that is what it is when you are homophobic, and that is what I was when I cracked gay jokes.

I questioned myself every time I used the word gay as a derogatory, such as “That’s soooo gay” to be a bad thing. How could I say that? How could I not have known?

The truth is, there is a lot of ignorance out there, and people happy to reside in that state of mind. I am not one of them. I do not believe ignorance is bliss. Mama says: Ignorance is just ignorance.

And she’s right.

As per usual.

The truth is, I am so so proud of my brothers. I’m proud of the way they are who they are and they just don’t give a fuck. They wake up in the morning with solid self-understanding. I’m proud of the way they can be true to who they are, and have chosen to walk a more difficult path, but one where they don’t hide themselves. I am proud of them for reaching out to the LBGT community and giving support.

I am proud of my parents for being supportive and tolerant and loving. I am proud of my Mum, who is currently directing a play in Hong Kong called “My big gay Italian wedding” and who is promoting it and tackling important issues about being the mother of Gay sons.

I know that I am still learning tolerance and acceptance from my family, and I know that I will always believe that if you are a good person, then please, love who you love, marry who you want to marry. Be happy, be free. I am sure that I have a long way to go where understanding is concerned, but I am trying to be a supportive force, not a fearful negative one.

Hi my name is Paris and I have two brothers.

Fly the Rainbow

I have a wonderful, insane, loud, colourful, supportive family. Mum, Dad, two younger brothers and one HUGELY OBESE black and white cat called Guinness.

Currently we are flung far and wide.

Sydney - The littlest One

Perth - Papa and the Middle Child

Hong Kong - Mama + Guinness

Toronto - Yours Truly

I love them, and respect them so much, even though they are so far away. I would adore it if we could all live in the same place, but knowing us as I do, I think that is probably unlikely… maybe one day in the future when we’ve tamed the itch in our wandering feet. We are all adventurers, and we all struggle to stay still for long periods of time. Sometimes it is hard, and I have written about that before. It is confusing to live in my own timezone, but also two others (luckily Perth and Hong Kong are on the same lateral) and weird that when I speak to my parents in the morning, they have already had their day, and my brothers are waking up for work and Uni when I am out having dinner.

It has made for some pretty funny drink-dialling incidents.

So what flag do we fly under, this far-flung family of mine? Four of us have Australian passports, Mum being a New Zealander. The littlest one was born in Malaysia, and the Middle one was born in Hong Kong. The  Rainbow flag?

Five years ago, my youngest brother came out, and two years later, my Middle Brother came out.

I have always considered myself to be a liberal-minded person, but I struggled at first with the fact that my baby brothers were gay. With the littlest one, it was less of a shock, he has always proudly worn his heart on his sleeve, but when my middle brother came out, I suddenly felt very left out. Is that weird? Growing up, it had always been the boys VS the girls. They shared a room, I got my own. I was older (and moodier), they were gross boys in torn, muddy shirts. I had socks with frills.

Even though I always considered myself unflappable, level-headed, accepting of one and all, I cried when I realized that my brothers had had these secrets. I felt that I had been a bad big sister for not knowing. In hindsight, I should have rejoiced that we live in a time and are citizens of a country where being Gay is not a crime, and people are (more) accepting. Instead, I beat myself up for all the gay jokes I had ever made in their presence, or the use of the word “gay” as a derogatory term throughout High School. I’m still not perfect, I have indulged people who have laughed when they have learned about my family, and those who have exclaimed,

“WOW! That’s pretty unusual! Does that make you a lesbian?! HAHA derp HA”

I am so happy that my brothers are who they are, strong, outspoken, proud members of the LGBT community. I look to them to better myself in area’s of tolerance and understanding. They have faced inner struggles and hardships that I have not. I have never had to justify my heterosexuality, or who I love and why. I have never felt uncomfortably stared at for kissing my significant other in public, nor walking hand in hand with him down the street. I am proud of them for all that they have achieved at their young ages, raising awareness, and just being who they with courage and integrity.

It still boggles my mind that people could have so much hate inside them directed towards guys as cool as my Brothers simply because they love people with the same junk in their underpants as them. We’re all young now, 18-23, but it stops me short to think that if my brothers wanted to marry their partners, they wouldn’t be allowed to. That adopting kids would be insanely hard for them. My middle brother loves kids and is going to be the nicest uncle of all time (if I can hog tie a guy long enough to walk him down the aisle and then convince him to reproduce with me) and my youngest brother is so tattooed and pierced and generally awesome, that my kids will never want to listen to me and will only want to hang out with him (nah who am I kidding… I’m going to be the coolest mum on the block.)

I look to actress Anne Hathaway for inspiration. Okay yes, she played a wannabe Genovian princess in the Princess Diaries and sure, her boyfriend of three years is in prison for fraud now, but she is extremely vocal about rights for the LGBT community – her brother is gay and she has always spoken publicly about her support of him.

I hope that the world can grow more tolerant. It starts with the individual and the dissipation of ignorance. I hope that Australia throws out it’s backward policies and legalizes Gay marriage in my life time.

Until then, I know people will keep writing about their experiences, lending their voices to the cause of equal rights. Mine is just a small voice, but it is one that will be raised in support of my brothers and their rights to have the same things that I do. We are blood, they share my DNA. They have been raised with equality in every other way, why should they not share the same rights that I have?

Maybe they’ll both just have to move to Canada with me where it is legal.
Maybe we’ll all live in the same place sooner than I think.