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The Forum > Article Comments > When worlds collide... > Comments

When worlds collide... : Comments

By Garry Wotherspoon, published 22/2/2012

Being a young gay man OS was often harder than at home.

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nteresting. I made the same voyage exactly ten years earlier, but with different intentions, and therefore arrived at different conclusions. In the sixties England was still recovering from the War, but all the social prejudices you mention remained intact. However, I saw them as merely variations of the barriers all humans erect to protect their group. Desiring to know how the ‘locals’ lived, I eschewed contact with other colonials, and met and worked with some very pleasant people for several years—mainly as an actor, but also teaching and other jobs.
It was the sense of history and continuity in Europe, as well as the atmosphere of renewal while preserving the best of the past, exemplified by Paris, which was in the process of removing the grime of centuries from its magnificent architecture, that enthralled. My years there were extraordinarily pleasant, despite social barriers which are, although different, quite as rigid as those of the British. The impossibility for young people today to imagine life when the world was not overcrowded, was the inspiration for my autobiography of those years, which most readers find hilarious and, at times unbelievable.
The fact that I was gay was important, of course, but perhaps I am fortunate that my priorities are love and friendship. In retrospect, I’m not sorry that instant sexual gratification wasn’t an option, one simply had to live with the social limitations and, as in all things, restrictions foster creativity.
[Continued on second post]
Posted by ybgirp, Thursday, 23 February 2012 10:52:14 AM
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My reactions to the U.S.A. are different from yours. I was horrified by the squalor, decay and poverty of so many parts of the cities. Nowhere did it seem that either the past or the future were valued. From one side of the country to the other the overall impression is of an aesthetic desert where everything is sacrificed to the only thing anyone valued—money.
Once they were sure of my identity, the people were open and friendly, innocent and apparently guileless, reminding me of several somewhat simple-minded pupils I once taught in a ‘special’ class. However, beneath the facade there lurked, and still lurks, a deep-seated [and well founded] fear of their fellow humans. I recall a woman in Charleston running screaming from me in broad daylight on a busy street because I approached to ask the location of the nearest Piggly Wiggly. And the hotel receptionist in Houston, insecure behind a strong wire mesh barrier, who levelled a revolver at me when she heard my accent.
I do agree with your loss of interest in both Europe and the U.S.A.. They are not the places we once knew. Since that time the world population has trebled and they have become overcrowded, overpopulated unstable societies on the brink of social collapse. The reasons for this are legion, but the wars instigated by the old European and USA colonialists in an effort to maintain their financial hegemony and superiority, have a lot to answer for.
I wish you joy in Asia. I have a friend who moved there recently, only to become disenchanted by the corruption, inefficiencies and mind-sapping hopelessness of their burgeoning populations combined with climate change.
Posted by ybgirp, Thursday, 23 February 2012 11:23:03 AM
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I too found Garys article interesting especially for revisiting past adventures, the inherent experiences, impressions and memories. I arrived in London at about the same time and instantly fell in love with the place, staying for two years in a very protracted 'coming out' process. The anonymity gave me confidence to experiment yet I found unconditional support and acceptance with the local groups that welcomed me. I avoided anything remotely Australian immersing myself in the local cultures, interspersed with the mandatory jaunts to 'exotic' locations.
After returning to Melbourne and my old job, friends and venues, full of confidence in knowing exactly who (and what) I was, I found it to be very dull so tripped off to west coast USA and had totally the opposite experience to the London gig, reinforced by the 'same as home' atmosphere. I stayed about six months returning to Oz disenchanted and disillusioned. I have been back to the US on a couple of occassions since but still have the same disinterest in its sameness and its ugliness however for me Europe maintains its charm and welcome.
Different strokes ...
Posted by ZandR, Tuesday, 28 February 2012 7:54:05 AM
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