They say every great writer is essentially telling the story of themselves over and over, that they imbue every character with someone they are, someone they know or someone they want to be. The people I discuss in the pages to come are people I love, people I hate, people I know, and to spice things up some people I wish I never knew. This is the story of people who are bold, beautiful and true, and it’s also the story of people who are poisonous, venomous and undeniably insane. This is the story of the good times and the bad, the ones that can shatter your heart into a million little pieces. This is my story, as seen through my eyes. It is the story of what it is to be me. Because I am equal parts whimsical, inspired and ADHD, the story of my life is best expressed as a collective of short stories with no real rhyme or reason linking them beyond the fact each story deserved to be told. There are stories of opportunity, stories of regret, stories of amazing moments and stories of devastation. They are the stories that make up a life both ordinary and extraordinary. To protect the identities of the innocent and the guilty I have assigned pseudonyms and obscured identifying details. For the people I love, I do it to protect their privacy, and for the people I hate, I make only a token effort so that when they are easily identifiable for the poison they are, I can at least claim to have tried. This is a story of me. At times I will employ artistic license, because sometimes it is not the facts of the moment that matter, it is how you live through the moment, and how the moment shapes your life that matters. This book is dedicated to all of the individuals who found a place in my story, and is an homage to embracing positivity and enthusiasm in even the darkest of times. It is dedicated to all those seeking the courage to walk their own path, and seek their own happiness. This is the story of my ordinary and sometimes extraordinary life.
They say a picture is worth 1000 words, but this is a grown-up book, people, not a picture book, so break out your reading glasses and get ready to spend 2 or so pages reading about something that could have been easily conveyed with a single picture. (My editor is paid by the page).
My editor and I have had a disagreement about names. Because my story is an epic story of major social and historical importance, I have naturally used epic historically derived names for the players involved. A mix of Greek, Roman etc. My editor argues that the unfamiliarity of these names for many of my readers will make it difficult to read and impede the flow of my story. I know that my readers are an intelligent bunch who could easily overcome such minor hurdles and I consider it a test of their commitment to getting to the juicy gossip when they persevere.
However, as a gay man, I am fundamentally against discrimination of any sort, so in the interests of inclusiveness I will dumb it down a bit for those of you who were looking for a more light-hearted easy to read airport bookstore type of story. So while my biography has a slight bias towards those of you who can read (at least until I can get Neil Patrick Harris to agree to narrate the audible version) and more specifically understand English (at least until the movie of my life is made and subtitled in other languages with Chris Hemsworth playing me because artistic license and all that) I have reluctantly agreed to the proposed name changes but quite frankly those of you with any taste will know that Buddy as a name is no-where near as awesome as Andromeda and Amy instead of Poseidon, yeah enough said.
Now you could be asking yourself, what does a 30-year-old have to say about life that can’t be said in a single tweet or Facebook post? Or maybe you are 20 years old and asking yourself how someone that old could possibly only have one book worth of interesting stuff in them, and God you hope that you are never that boring by the time you are that old. Well the answer is: if you asked yourself either question then you are a basic bitch and totally wrong. 30 is the perfect age to start a biography, old enough to have seen a bit and done a bit, young enough to still remember it, and with current projected life expectancy it’s the perfect starting point for any epic trilogy.
So, without further ado, here is my story thus far, mostly ordinary, sometimes extraordinary. Where’s yours?
While this is a biography based on true stories, no man is an island (unless he is a fabulous gay man and the island in question is Barbados in the 70s or Ibiza in the 90s). So, the stories I am going to tell are probably less about me than the people I have been lucky enough and at times unlucky enough to meet. They are not famous (and if they are, they have been anonymised because I’m aiming for serious but relatable author situation, not gossip rag ‘journalist’) but the lessons I have learned and the laughs I have had, while being ordinary, are the stories we all have inside of us #SuchAnEveryMan.
I grew up in a pretty typical middle-class family in Cherrybrook. Two parents, Two kids yada yada. For those of you who are not familiar with the demographic specifics of an outer Sydney suburb you have probably never visited or heard of, your lack of general knowledge is appalling and you need to put away your phones and go back to school, you are grossly unprepared for life and are probably a Millennial or whatever generation is currently being blamed for all the problems of the world while you read my book. To save you the seconds it would take to google Cherrybrook, it’s the Bible Belt of Sydney and the spiritual home of Hillsong. In Australia the Bible Belt is middle class, and fond of tithing 10% of their income
to a re-branded version of Christianity that is an ad man’s re-imagining of what it would look like if you crossed evangelical with rock, while keeping the conservative moralising and mistakenly believing the addition of an electric guitar to your choir band made you cool. Thus, Cherrybrook is a place of conservative ideology hidden behind a veneer of modernity, where you won’t find socks with sandals on people’s feet, but you might find them on their souls. Back to me, I have one older sister and a loving mother and father, who I love with all my heart and socks-and-sandals-hating soul. I left Cherrybrook when I was 24, I now live in Dee Why, a suburb on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Because I am a thoughtful guy, and I’m thinking of your mobile data limits, I will again save you the google search.
The Northern Beaches is an outer suburb of Sydney and it’s a beautiful place. Home to Narrabeen Beach (a famous surf beach), Manly (the backpacker mecca of Australia), and the Sea Eagles football team (possibly the biggest salary cap cheats in Australian football but they are mostly hot and sexually degenerate so it’s OK). Obviously I don’t live in one of the nicer suburbs, I live in Dee Why. Dee Why is where the poor people live, recent immigrants, gay men who spend more than they should so need to live with flatmates etc. I live with a dear friend (if you don’t get the joke then you need to google Joe Lycett, data limits be damned) called Zenas who will henceforth be called Charles Waterstreet (if you know your ancient Greek and your Australian tabloid gossip then you will know name change is apt). I have known Charles for 10 years; we have a roommate from Newcastle (the poor Northern cousin of the Northern Beaches) who won’t get a name because third wheel room fillers never do. My sister lives in Newport, which if you have been paying attention is a nicer suburb. My parents will soon be moving to Narrabeen, so their days will soon also be filled with semi-dressed fit men and we will have more to talk about.
You could say I am a very emotional, semi-grounded person. You probably would leave off the semi-grounded person bit if asked to give an opinion of me after you met me but you haven’t been asked and I am the one writing this so it’s going on the record as emotional but grounded. I at times get overwhelmed and can lack control (remember it’s semi-grounded, people, not feet of clay). Being gay in the Bible Belt doesn’t give you a lot of healthy outlets for your feelings. These days I deal with emotionally intense stuff in healthier ways, such as borderline alcoholism. Thank you, Frank Sinatra. When you are young and everything you feel seems heightened and unfixable, you blame the world and the people in it for your
problems. I am now old enough and wise enough to know the answers are there and the solutions are in me. Growing up in the Bible Belt in the 80s and 90s, being gay was probably my biggest demon. My father worked in IT so unlike most kids of that generation I had pretty constant access to the internet. Through Yahoo chat I slowly learned that there was a name for what I was and what I was feeling. I learned what gay was, and that there were other people like me out there, but they were apparently not in Cherrybrook so while I felt connected, I also felt very alone.
Meredith was my first gay friend, and pretty much showed me the non-sexual ins and outs of being a closeted gay man in Bible Belt country. Meredith and I worked at the cinema - I know, total ‘drama/theatre/actors and the gays’ cliché. By the time I started working with Meredith I was semi-out. I was out to my friends, but still absolutely terrified that my family would disown me if they knew. Growing into your sexuality when the message around you is that you are sinful is hard. Being a teenager is hard enough without the added ‘who you love and who you are makes you bad’ message. Over time I have learned not to need everyone’s approval, and that who I am is OK, but it took hating myself to get to that place.