Mike Llewin

May 1997

Well guys and gals -- here I am, back again for another gripping month! Coming up this month -- drama, love, and a little philosophy... read on!

First I've got some very good news for you all! For all who didn't read last month's column, I mentioned that I want to direct a play at my school in the Christmas term at the end of the year. I had two choices in mind (quite contrasting in their own ways!): Another Country by Julian Mitchell, about a 1930s public school in England, containing homosexuality, communism and a good deal of schoolboyish humor, and Season's Greetings by Alan Ayckbourn, a domestic comedy of love and conflict.

Well, at the end of last term I finally decided to go for Another Country (of course!). Where was I to go from there? I came out to my tutor at school, who has kindly offered to help with the production of the play. The only barrier that stood in the way was the headmaster, who was not likely to support a play whose main theme is homosexuality!! My tutor talked to the headmaster, who, to my great surprise, said YES!!

Great news which means that I can audition in a few weeks time, and finally get the project on the road! Any readers in the UK who want to come down to Abingdon (Oxon) in December to see the play, contact me!

Not only this but a group of 4th Years (that's ages 14-15) found out last week that they'll be working on an extract from Another Country for their GCSE Drama. Coincidence or what?!? Heh, the guy who'll be playing Bennett, the openly gay character, is suitably gorgeous and probably suitably homophobic! I guess it'll revise his ideals a little...

For those who were wondering from my rather unspecific last column, I've come to the conclusion that the best way to label myself is as bisexual. This comes after sexually fancying a girl for the first time in a while. I've had a very strange holiday -- and a very rollercoasterish holiday too! The Friday before the end of last term I went to see a performance of the musical The Boyfriend, in which many of my friends were taking leading roles, and I chatted for quite a while afterwards with a certain group of girls who I ended up spending most of the four week holiday with! Well need I say more other than I now find myself faced with a situation where I've come out as gay but would rather be labeled bisexual. Oh well!

Of course, I must say that I agree entirely with Nick, a soulmate and great friend, when he says that it's only our 'sicko' society which wants to label us all into one of the three categories. He contends that what really matters is having meaningful relationships with people, and that whether they be opposite or same sex matters not at all. Of course it's also true to say that unless you do apply one of the labels you're far less likely to have the opportunity to experience whatever relationships would be meaningful to you -- and it's a sad state of affairs that society automatically assumes the more common 'straight' label and forces people who don't fit into that category to 'come out'. Maybe there'll come a time a long way into the future when everyone is basically assumed to be bisexual with a greater persuasion in one or other direction. And when that time comes nobody will have to be afraid of their sexuality, but of course will have to be assertive enough to refuse advances from people in whom they are not interested!

You see I think it's one of society's greatest downfalls that people don't talk to people about various taboo topics. When it comes down to it a fair number of personality disorders arise when people don't feel that they can discuss their sexual or emotional worries with others. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we should all go around telling each other about what we do in bed at night, but why shouldn't we discuss it with our close friends? What have we to be afraid of? Let me give you an example. We all (to some greater or lesser extent) masturbate, it's a common experience, but people still feel in the vast majority of cases that they can't talk about it with close friends. This very inhibition has caused much internalized fear and guilt surrounding the issue over the past decades, and whilst admittedly the situation is improving as people learn that it's an OK thing to do and that many people do it, it's still taboo. I'm not suggesting you should try talking about your particular method with anyone and everyone but why not with close friends? It's a paradox that I'm unable to explain.

Hugging's another issue. Have you noticed that girls are very uninhibited about touching each other, and that when they do it promotes a mutual friendship and trust? It's a well known fact that touching reduces blood pressure and makes people feel good about themselves and others. Yet us guys are so completely afraid of it! Some guys are even more afraid of touching another guy than they are of spiders! I'm trying to figure out this one and the only explanation I can come up with is that guys are afraid of being perceived as gay, as if putting legs on top of one another on a sofa is some kind of admission of a 'perverse' sexuality. Again if society didn't make the straight assumption this wouldn't be a problem anyway. Yet giving someone a hug goodbye can be a real powerful way of reinforcing a friendship and gives a mutual feeling of warmth that can never be bad, or wrong. I must say what does hearten me is that those guys who are comfortable with hugging have not become uncomfortable or embarrassed about the issue since my coming out. Thanks, guys! I love you all, and you know who you are!

It's the general atmosphere of homophobia present especially in schools that promotes these backwards attitudes. I gather when I get to University things will be very different and I'm looking forward to that -- greatly! -- but I'd still like things to be change here and now. I'm the only openly gay/bisexual person in the school at the moment, although I gather there are others who are on the gay scene but not out at school, and until this changes I am a little stuck. Maybe I should write a letter to the school magazine. 'An Essay on the Trials and Tribulations of Coming Out!' I'm not suggesting that the school is pretentious or anything...!

My coming out process has now got to the stage where I find it nigh impossible to hide my sexuality in front of other people -- which means I'm frequently making obviously gay comments in front of teachers, people I don't want to know, people I don't know, girls, boys, old women... the list goes on!!!

Not wanting to run out of things to say in future, I guess I'll stop ranting here!

Love, life, lube,


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