AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL FRAGMENT

Growing up as a teenager( in the 1970s), I had an increasing sense of being different from almost all of my peers. Subconsciously, I somehow knew I was attracted to other boys; but I knew to exhibit any overt signs of this were dangerous; and, having had the painful example of one physically slightly “camp”(and thus perceived as gay)boy tied remorselessly to the cloakroom railings, as I had the misfortune to myself see, I had enough sense of self-preservation to avoid that cruel fate.Luckily for me I was not perceived as camp(in the sense of being, in that perjorative to women word, “effeminate”) so managed to survive unscathed, in this regard, through being perceived, I suppose, instead, as “geeky”, academic; possibly as a little eccentric. One strange concomitance of this was that, subconsciously aware as i was(of my difference of sexual orientation from the socially and psychologically policed “norm”), I deliberately if semi-consciously, cultivated a sublimated difference; which was (at least, slightly) more socially acceptable. I calculatedly altered my slight Liverpool accent and TALKED differently: “Wirral Scouse”, as its sometimes called, usually perjoratively again, being the (only marginally) nearest equivalent. This was mainly unnoticed and uncommented on, unless, perhaps, it may been seen as part of my general difference of demeanour, general shyness and unsocialibilty (this being in the Sixth Form).

Today, this sometimes causes confusion and people’s inability to pigeonhole my accent(as people DO like to pigeonhole); I relish, ONLY when experiencing any reverse snobbery,or when people think I am not from Liverpool , explaining that I went to a fairly tough comprehensive school. I still(today) run risks,ironically, obviously, in any disclosure of the (above) true reason for the displacement of one difference for one other, slightly more socially acceptable one. At this juncture, I must stress that I am in no way a class snob: I did not change my accent to appear “middle class”: I did it to express my difference POSITIVELY and CREATIVELY, if in a sublimated and indirect fashion.

This way of coping in the mainly homophobic and heterosexist 1970s in a Liverpool comprehensive school may, quite likely, not be unique; and is surely not confined to Liverpool Comprehensive Schools!

I hope that gay children and teenagers today have less fear and less of a need for such circumlocutory means of,in some(indirect)way, being themselves. And I hope, be it in critical theory/thinking, or in daily life, we CONTINUE to move beyond class as the sole definer of inequality, seeing that individuals, AS individuals, may experience discrimination, for ANY reason, including(but not EXCLUSIVELY because of actual or perceived sexual orientation).

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About decayetude

ENTHUSIASMS: CLASSICAL MUSIC, ESPECIALLY OBSCURE ROMANTIC COMPOSERS; BACH/HANDEL LITERATURE, ESPECIALLY THOUGHTFUL, WELL-WRITTEN(STYLISTICALLY)NOVELS W G SEBALD WALTER BENJAMIN THEODOR ADORNO(JUST BEGINNING!) AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY GAY MEN'S WRITING;QUEER THEORY STIMULATING DISCUSSIONS(EMOTIONALLY AND INTELLECTUALLY) GOOD RICH THICK ESPRESSO MICHAEL PONTI SPRITUALITY/LIFE'S "AURA"(BENJAMIN), WHATEVER TRANSCENDENTAL THING YOU WANT TO CALL THIS MEMORY-the elusiveness thereof. LOST TIME AND AN ATTEMPT AT ITS REDEMPTION(NON THEISTICALLY/RELIGIOUSLY)
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4 Responses to AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL FRAGMENT

  1. John Latham says:

    Interesting stuff as ever- but I hope for something less sad when I turn to utopia! If I may say something Steve- we all have tastes and discriminatory subconscious flickers- i.e. for or against intelligence, for being obsessed with achievement or for not caring about it, for Henry James or against, we all have feelings after conversations, we are all crude ‘works in progress’ with sensitivities- for example, if somebody mentions a family member who might have a condition the listener has had since the age of 6, and it sounds insensitive, that person may well respond poorly in the short term, but in utopia we forgive one another and move on, just as we move on from our schooldays and our childhoods and our first loves and our first infidelities and when it rains we all get wet- whatever our class prejudices or loyalties or our disparate sociological theories we love some of the same stories and maybe I would hear the same one every night in a parallel universe- but nobody has the right to say ‘I hurt more than you’ because being hurt like being happy is not a competitive sport and who could measure hurt in the first place? E.M. Forster is horrible to diverse men and women in ‘Maurice’ but despite the snobbish pain he inflicts on readers of various types on his trip, I forgive him because of the way he says he feels on his exquisitely written journey. Happy New Year!

  2. decayetude says:

    John, Thanks for your comment. How you get me wrong: neither consciously nor subconsciously was I trying to say I hurt more than anyone else, or establish a hierarchy of hurt or try to measure hurt.Who was i saying I hurt more than?I ended by saying people can experience discrimination for ANY reason(at all). It was merely my own experience.A bit therapeutic perhaps; an attempt at a different genre/type of writing :autobiography. It was just a childhood experience; and I DID mention it had some creativity and a weird kind of positivity about it(albeit in a re-directed, sublimated way).:hence in “Towards Utopia”.I CAN be competitive in some ways, I admit; but I would not re-count such experiences in order to be competitive. That would be terrible: like playing the gay/race card to score inverse /reverse power(which I have seen done by others). The account is in “Towards Utopia” because it finishes, explicitly, with a hope for the future, whereby a similar situation would not arise again. It is “Towards”;”Utopia”(not mainly anyway) has not arrived yet!(though we should, of course, AIM towards it)

    I get the feeling that you sometimes(correct me if I have got YOU wrong!)see me as playing the victim for “who is the most oppressed” reasons; which upsets me, because, consciously or subconsciously I do not do this, because I agree with you, it is not a good thing.

    Anyway, I think we ALL have raw nerves on such subjects and I have probably said enough:). It is a very vexed subject-I don’t mean in regard to yourself but in “society” at large!

    Anyway, I shall ring u next week and feel free to text me in the meanwhile. Happy new Year to you too!:)Steve

  3. Merry says:

    Steve, I was touched by what wrote about your youth and hope to hear more. I admit, though, that, as a foreigner, I don’t get the significance of all the references such as “tough comprehensive school.”

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