The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

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[00:00:00] gay people don't kiss, they don't touch each other, they just they just make make each other anonymously. They don't even know each other's names and they have no sex all the time. And, and they have approximately 400 sexual partners per year. And they have unsafe sex all the time. And they often have diseases. [00:00:18] To me, the stereotypical gay person was a female [00:00:28] snaky, [00:00:32] brittle, [00:00:33] unstable [00:00:35] first. [00:00:47] I remember watching a film called blackmail. And it consumed a barrister in England. He was he was certainly married, and he had a family. And he was involved in a murder. And he himself wasn't involved in it. But I think what happened was, he had picked up a young man, somewhere in London, who was gay. And they had gone off together. And of course, his wife didn't know about this. And then I think the guy was killed or murdered. And he then started to receive through the mail, sort of a full sized envelopes with these large photographs of him. And there were photographs of him. With this, this boy, let's see what this young man rather. And whoever it was that was sending him the photographs was blackmailing him, because, of course, it was Satan, the time I think it must have been seen in the 50s, or the 60s, of course, when being gay, or at least, doing homosexual acts was illegal in Britain. And of course, his family didn't know about and he stood to lose a lot, because he was an imminent barrister, and so on. So that I remember was the first I'm pretty sure that was the first thing I saw on TV or on film, about somebody being gay. And I remember watching it with my mother. And I remember him turning around to me, and saying to me, [00:02:22] I hope you're not homosexual. [00:02:30] What is my identity? [00:02:34] That's part of my problem, my identity tends to change according to the plan I have around me. I don't know if that's generally true, but but it's certainly part of my makeup that I tend to reflect what's given to me by by other people, [00:02:53] I think is a boy, I had a lot of fear, and anxiety. And I think some of that relates back to what one was presenting to the world. about being a boy, about being a boy and doing things that boys, the [00:03:25] boys, the activities and [00:03:31] approaches to the world. [00:03:33] When I was growing up, I guess the the images of being gay, were on the whole lot more negative. They certainly weren't encouraging you to. Well, even if you could choose being gay, you wouldn't choose that because it was really [00:03:50] a lifestyle of derision, and comedy. [00:03:54] All the characters you saw in sitcoms, for example, who were gay were always paid people who are limp wristed high, squeaky voices, squeal, shrink, screened, [00:04:07] generally very effeminate. [00:04:12] And with a bat of everybody's jokes, and of course, they're always jokes about fags and gays, and so on. And in that kind of person, always seem to be on the short end of that sort of joke. Insofar as people who weren't in comedy, they simply weren't that many you, you see the old film, which deals with homosexuality in a, in an overt way. But again, Thea, the pretty. I don't know if they negative or positive. But but but they certainly pretty sort of wrenching movies. And I'm thinking of movies, again, is the one I mentioned before, of blackmail. But there are some other movies, there's, there's a very good movie called boys in the band, which is a 1970s movie. And this is is all about a party at a guy's apartment in New York, and he invites a whole lot of [00:05:08] acquaintances around. And they're all different types of personality. They're all gay. But [00:05:17] nobody's ever happy. And unfortunately, and you kind of finished this movie, not feeling depressed. But thinking, gosh, what a sad bunch of people they are, [00:05:27] if you're treated as as being okay, and normal and healthy, then then you would almost act that way. But once people continuously tell you that your natural feelings are wrong, well, how do you cope with that, [00:05:42] I was very strong [00:05:45] memory, I suppose, of some kind of composite picture in my mind about what a gay person was. And I guess, reflecting back, the closest I can make it a country would be kind of Kenneth Williams kind of character, but probably even a bit weaker, and more pathetic. [00:06:10] And I think [00:06:11] over a nice little headline, [00:06:15] I don't know where that picture came from. And I don't identify it with any kind of non person because, to my knowledge, I'd never met another guy. But it was carried around as a kind of image. And like he'd [00:06:37] with a lot of [00:06:41] negative image, obviously, but also a lot of fear around that in terms of not being like that, you know, not fear that. I might be like that, and [00:06:56] a lot of energy, I think we intend to being not like that. [00:07:02] If I think back into my early years, and I'm thinking now I suppose I would become aware of gay issues in the late 50s 60s. And the only person that I can think of off the top of my head is [00:07:23] Kenneth Williams, who [00:07:28] was [00:07:34] he presented a sort of characterization that that it was never actually stated openly that it was a gay character, but to those that, that knew the kind of innuendo that went on. It was so obviously gay, that was untrue. That with him, it was a stereotype. It was kind of you. Gay, hysterical, bitchy Queen kind of thing. That was what [00:08:05] I knew that guys were like, and I was terrified of being like that myself. So that was not, that was really not what I wanted to be at all. So they put me off for for a long time and wanting your idea of being guy and being like, that was completely repulsive to me. [00:08:27] I guess people that were lonely, and maybe but sort of screwed up, not altogether. Just weird, different. Guys that wanted to be woman, I guess, you know, guys that dress up a woman's clothes, all the time and, and talk like woman and act like woman and want to be here he addresses when they grow up, and people that are like, puffy and can't whistle and don't play sports. And yeah, just negative, negative news negative. [00:09:02] Every time I saw that word, it was just scary and an awful [00:09:05] I remember spending endless hours when I was around about I must have been 11 1213. around that age, I guess. Watching TV quite late at night, I used to sit up and watch the Sunday horrors, which was one of the things I managed to persuade my parents into leaving me watch. And among the films I watched quite late at night, where I tried to watch every movie I could that I thought possibly might have somebody in it who was gay or, or, or homosexual. And it was, it was, it was quite interesting, because of course, a lot of the movies didn't have anything that they they seem to have storylines, which might be leading that way. But I guess what I was sort of screaming out for, or crying out for was to have a gay character with whom I could identify because it was very difficult. I mean, they went films, with gay characters. And I mean, you know, all the gay people you saw in films were sort of, you know, pink handbag, swinging people and dresses, and so on, and so forth. And it was, I knew that wasn't me. I knew that wasn't what I was all about. And I guess the only thing I could identify with it at a very early age was the sexuality. Part of it, rather than the lifestyle because there was nothing when I was growing up in Sydney, in my early teenage years of people who were gay, and it was okay. And they live normal lives, or, or whatever lives they wanted to live, I think [00:10:36] at that time, there was some warning bells going off there somebody saying, you know, this could lead to trouble or this is not rice, or, you know, this isn't how things should be [00:10:49] everything I'd ever heard or seen about these homosexuals was, was negative. I knew I just knew it was a bad thing. I don't, I can't look at how I knew it must have been almost a subconscious thing that it was never ever talked about. No one even talked about in a positive way. People at school would, if you did something, which was maybe considered to be a bit sissy, or, or not, was expected of a of a man or a boy, or a male. That was sort of labeled as, as a homosexual act. Whether it being a few tripped over or a few I don't know if you went went kind of go and play rugby or, or if you Maybe, yeah, it was always a negative term. And I, I knew that it was sinful and immoral. And according to the church, and, and just the, the only images I had were people that mean, who just wanted to, like have sex with other men, and like public toilets, and and parks, and I used to go and pick each other up and bass, almost people that were screwed up, in terms of not living a proper lifestyle, which I thought was, you know, a man and woman living together in a house in suburbia, somewhere with you know, with two kids, a cat and a dog and, and a car, that was sort of the only image I had of how people will meet to live your life. So that when I sort of started realizing I wasn't going to fit this, this model, which was the only way of life that I knew of, it was quite scary. And I do remember, I would have been, I don't know, 14 or 15. And I made a decision once that I would just pretend to like a woman and get married and have kids and you know, have a nine to five job and just sort of go and secretly relieve my urges with other men, I guess and just sort of meet them in secret and, and just sort of deal with it that way. [00:12:59] I was so much is quite different. I saw I didn't see myself the net squishy way at all, actually. And as I got older in life, I met other people like that I I certainly didn't find them sexually attractive at all otherwise attracted to of course to, you know, the first 15 and big box boys. And in fact, when I left school, I was 18 [00:13:29] my first sexual experience was getting picked up by [00:13:33] Nancy boy room, any creature in a public toilet and you can have, which was a horrific experience, one that scarred me for years because it was you know, statistically curious and horny, I guess. But and I wanted to know if this is what I was, and if this is [00:13:54] something that I would find an independent would be [00:13:57] attractive, an interesting to me, and you know, all those things. And you took me back to this place. And it was I just remember just shivering and fear and repulsion, but kind of letting them do things. So because I just wanted to go through with the experience that was probably too scared to leave anyway. But it was it was horrific to me. And I didn't have six for years and years after that. So I suppose all those those years of those kind of feminine characters had obviously seeped in there. And that was very prejudiced against them. [00:14:38] I think I had this funny idea for really irrational idea that if I admitted to myself, or into the world that I was gay, I was somehow overnight kind of tune into this strange kind of that I was going to undergo some major personality shift and that suddenly, overnight, I will become this kind of weird combination of characteristics and attributes that I had, sitting in my head is what a typical homosexual gay person was. [00:15:15] And I remember when I was at school, being teased as a child, or as a young teenager for being gay. And people used to say, to me, you're gay, and I don't know if the kids really knew what it meant. But children have this peculiar way of picking on I guess, weaknesses or, or things that are different. And certainly, as a child, I was it as a young boy, I was perhaps a bit different to some of the other kids, although looking back now, not a lot different to to some of the other kids name. But certainly, what happens is you, you get a group of children, and you get the strongest among them, who end up being bullies, but also end up influencing people who are easily influenced, and they end up picking on who they perceive to be the weakest on the group, or somebody who's different. And I was teased to some extent. And what that meant for me was because there was no assistance for me in the media, nothing, which seemed to me, hey, it's okay to be gay. It's all right. If you're like this, I ended up developing, certainly, when I went to high school, quite a different persona, so that by the time I did come out to my friends, when I was about 16, or 17, at school, they were surprised not shocked, but certainly surprised that I was gay, because I had spent a good three or four years turning their minds off that so that they wouldn't think I was gay, because that was the only way I was not going to be teased. I couldn't when I was 13, say, Yes, well, so what if I am gay? That's all right doesn't, it just didn't work like that I had to create a situation where people thought, well, either they didn't think about it at all, or they didn't think I was gay, [00:17:07] I think the way I sort of dealt with being gay was, was when I was at university was to go and search out all the information I could, on this homosexuality thing. I just go to the computers and the dark corner and type in gay and the computer being really nervous and my hands shaking, typing in those three letters. And then I just go and look, go to the gay section, and look at the books. And I take about five out and sit in the corner and just read the whole books, you know, cover to cover one after the other. And it is take hours that I used to go several nights a week, until that sort of read everything I could. And I'd look at the pictures of the head pictures in them and and try and relate to the people in the pictures and try to think, Oh, well, he looks normal. So maybe it's not such a bad thing. I remember being on holiday with my [00:17:56] parents. When I was in my early teens, I'm going to bath islands and stealing that book, everything it was wants to know about six but we're afraid to ask for a bookshop and taking it with me to a public toilet across the shop and devouring it species administrate the chapter on homosexuality, I suppose it would have been 13 or something at that point. And I mean, you know, it's quite a negative thing. It's it's really full of lots of very negative stuff about being gay and what the gay lifestyle is all about. So I was fascinated by that. But obviously, it was [00:18:42] disturbing to me as well, I [00:18:46] can't really remember the details, but it was it was not about doesn't remember [00:18:52] this whole promiscuity thing no [00:18:55] things that people and anal sex and things that described in a way that was vaguely disgusting, but with a slightly liberal standpoint on it. And you know, that idea of multiple six partners and not be able to find true love and being desperate for six. And this all these sort of ideas that really, I didn't really want to hear either, that I just believed him. And that's just I knew that this man's an expedition must all be true. [00:19:31] I suppose the most striking thing that [00:19:35] I've observed is [00:19:41] when a gay characters has come into a mainstream kind of program. And I think that happened with Billy Crystal in that center of soap operas, called soap. I think that was kind of a landmark occasion, said that there's always been material around if you want to go and get it both on film and in books, and it's just a matter of if nine where to go and and, and pursuing that sort of line. But for to to enter the mainstream is it didn't and so [00:20:34] even then, [00:20:37] better Billy Crystal play that character as a totally natural person. [00:20:42] It seems to me that every gay character [00:20:46] in the film in the movies is portrayed to appeal to straight people. As opposed to maybe being role models or being a gay person that the gay people could actually relate to and think, oh, that's quite realistic, or, wow, what a really cool, personal whatever. They just seem to just cheap and cheap in the whole thing about [00:21:04] gay people. In most programs, you wouldn't see gay characters, doing the things that you not only see but expect [00:21:14] straight characters to them. You never see the kissing, the touching the striking the rubbing, back hugging the looking. You never see any of the really, can you ever see the best parts of six if you [00:21:26] saw gay people on in films, or on TV, I mean, you very rarely saw them on TV, they certainly weren't touching other gay people. You mean there was no, there was no sexual contact, there was nothing overt, about the person, it was fine to have a gay character, it was fine to have a gay person. So long as they didn't do anything. [00:21:50] This was all these things just reinforced in my mind. [00:21:57] What [00:22:00] I grew to believe that being gay was all about really, which was pretty much a tragic lifestyle. That was something you know, you really wanted your parents because you knew how to sit there because, you know, you have all those things, you weren't going to have that warm family environment with children. And chances are, you'd be some learning goals. tragic thing that everybody despised. And I mean, it's just the idea of, I think a lot of it was that being alone and furtive and scared, and, and weak, and a victim, I think a lot of it was all about those things. And it was not no concept of, of love and respect and things which took me a while to learn that what's possible as well. [00:23:02] Travel is about [00:23:06] presenting gay gay characters on stage or on film or in books. And a lot of what, what came about in in probably my formative years, but was came through the the American media. And America to me, has never really reflect what's been natural in New Zealand. To began in America, you you're you've got form a political kind of stance, it's a political thing. [00:23:49] Just as much as a lifestyle thing. [00:23:51] The other film, which I think has had a profound effect on me was Torch Song Trilogy, which I didn't see. Until I think I I was around about 18. It was when I moved to Wellington, and went to university. And, of course, that's an incredible film. I, I watched it a number of times, and i and i think i bought the video of at night. I keep watching it. I haven't seen it for a couple of years now. But I always enjoy it whenever I do get to see it. And that was probably the first film that was [00:24:22] not only unashamedly gay, [00:24:25] but it portrayed gay people as being able to leave as normal and, and lead as normal and happy lives as anyone else. And that was very refreshing. I mean, it's a sad story, of course, because one of the main characters played by Matthew Broderick dies. And it is very sad. He's based in a by a bunch of thugs in New York State, they live in the village. But by and large, I mean that the film's very good. And it's and you come out it feeling sort of sad, but in contemplating, I suppose. But also thinking that yes, I mean, this is this is the nearest I've seen to what could be real life, I guess. And it makes you feel very good about yourself. I mean, it does, there's no apologies. It's just, it just is one of those I guess [00:25:19] I remember reading in the Evening Post last week of, of two gay guys living together, and children Park. And [00:25:27] I could really relate to that. [00:25:30] In terms of Well, that's pretty normal. To me. That's the kind of role model or model that I would have liked to have seen when I was [00:25:36] younger. It's about seeing something which you can identify within your own life. reading something that you can identify within, in your own life. And I guess the beauty of watching it on a movie or reading it in a book is that it again, it's confirmation that it's okay. It's fine. It's It's normal for you and and nobody minds about [00:26:04] calm

This page features computer generated text of the source audio - it is not a transcript. The Artificial Intelligence Text is provided to help users when searching for keywords or phrases. The text has not been manually checked for accuracy against the original audio and will contain many errors.