An Asian member of one of Team Sydney’s sports clubs wrote of the frustration and despair faced by different cultures over coming out in a society that prides itself on equal opportunity.
I am far too butch to cry, so I let the wind blow away the leakage that ran down my face while I read Winston’s (not his real name) experiences, as a man whose cultural, traditional and familial values clashed with his desire to be himself. Five years in a -˜free and tolerant’ society left him isolated and suicidal, with such poor language skills that he could not express the magnitude of his stress and psychological trauma.
The pivotal reason for his unhappiness lay in his inability to understand, express or accept himself as gay.
Only the encouragement and distant love of his mother over the phone kept him from suicide, yet Winston could not conceive of breaking her heart by telling her he was gay. Literature and the local media revealed a life that may cater to his deepest needs, but terminology and basic vocabulary made communication almost impossible.
I didn’t know about gay sports clubs in 2004. I would not have known how to even approach them, Winston wrote. How do I tell my boss and workmates in a religious school that I am gay? I suggested he ask for a pay rise to cover his Mardi Gras costume, or discuss the fun he had at a Mardi Gras Sports Festival event. Humour is a powerful tool in tricky situations.
Not the same as writing on the back of one’s business card, I like men -“ preferably naked to exchange at an Asian greeting ceremony. Why do we make an issue of it at all? Mostly it is we who have the hang-ups, as we cannot alter how others act or behave.
As I read his views on the people organising the TS sports club’s events, their thoughtfulness, unbiased attention to all, their fairness and equality, and the special efforts made to include him moved me deeply.
Sports club organisers invest every effort and care, [much] personal time to all members without prejudice-¦. Respect everyone-¦ I understand why so many love these people, I can see they are happy to be a part of the club and its leaders. Gay sport is a very powerful force in developing change, positive gay behaviour and attitudes.
My workmates will have to find out for themselves if I am gay or not; I intend enjoying my friends and fellow sports people.
Winston, I agree! You are always welcome at Team Sydney Clubs: teamsydney.org.au