What does it mean to be brave?

It’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately as I look at the world around me with a new sense of inspiration and hope.

Sara Bareilles song ‘Brave’ has been my jam ever since I got back to Toronto from my two and half months in Asia, maybe that’s what has gotten me thinking. Sara B has been one of my favourite artists for a while now, and she always seems to bring out a new song which I need to hear, right at the perfect moment. Her tunes are poetic and deep, and poignant.

Here’s the second verse of Brave:

Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down
By the enemy
Fallen for the fear and done some disappearing
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

I see bravery everywhere I look in my life, and I’m humbled by it.

It is something that I don’t think is celebrated enough, and I think people shrug off their own testaments to bravery too easily. We none of us think that what we’ve done is great, is big, compared to what others have weathered. We point at someone else and say “well if you think I’m brave, look at them.”

We’ve all had occasion to be brave, and we deserve the recognition, even if it just comes from ourselves.

Being Brave is getting up one more time than you fall down.

Sometimes it’s the little things, like taking a chance.
It’s putting your hand up and saying “I need help.”
It’s saying “this is me” and then living  your life with or without unanimous support.
Sometimes it’s the big things.
It’s quitting your job because you don’t love it and you want to chase your dreams.
It’s going on and living your life after you’ve lost somebody you love, even if at first you don’t know how.
It’s making the tough calls, doing things that might be scary now, but reap benefits in the future.
Taking the leap.

Bravery, is hard.

And that’s okay I think.

Maybe it’s meant to be hard, and maybe Bravery can’t be there all the time in every aspect of your life. But at some point a challenge is going to confront you that is so big you’ve only got two options, Give up and Go home, or Grunt and sweat and fail and push and scream and try again, until you get yourself over whatever the hurdle may be.

Nobodies life is completely perfect and no matter if it looks it from the outside, we all have our struggles.
The people who make it look easy are just better actors.

I’m privileged to have lived a wide, international life, with highs and lows, plenty of laughter and of course an amount of tears. I’m grateful for the experiences which were difficult because they allowed me to test what my true core is made of. And I’m thankful to discover that it’s tougher than what I thought it was originally!

From my incredible family, to my fabulous friends, and all the people that have come into and out of my life, I continue to learn what it means to “Screw your courage to it’s sticking place”.

Sometimes we might forget that inside us is this incredible power. My Mum and I both have words inked into our skins to remind us.

My Tattoo

My Tattoo – from ‘The Desiderata’

My Mum’s Tattoo read’s

“Fortune Favours the Brave”

Being Brave leads us to push ourselves, to open new doors, to open ourselves to new experiences, and continue living this incredible journey day by day. I have so much love and respect for those that remind me what it is to be brave. And whether or not you think what you’re doing really qualifies, each time something was hard or scary, but you did it anyway, well guess what?

That was Bravery.

And you go Glen Coco.






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.