Feeding a swan was like David defeating Goliath

Feeding a swan was like David defeating Goliath

During our spare time some of us with a river running through our town or city may take the occasion to feed the waterfowl. I’m one of them.

Interestingly, however, I always like to be of a certain distance away from the swans, geese and their friends. In fact, the idea of actually allowing a swan to take some bread from my hand previously filled me with great anxiety. Before today I had never done it.

And yet today I finally did it. Not just once but about five times. I didn’t have my finger, or my arm, chomped off. And so it started to feel like less of a big deal with each successful attempt.

bird-1188586_960_720A wild Goliath appears

We worry that people will find our anxiety over something seemingly so minor to be absurd so we often will hide these types of fears from public view. We may not even try to overcome them because we are embarrassed to have them in the first place. We just hope they will disappear.

Yet however other people perceive our fears and worries is irrelevant if we personally find them to be our Goliath. They may dismiss them, but they may have their own anxieties that we do not share for tasks we find effortless. What is a disproportionate reaction for one person may be perfectly proportional for someone else.

And, in fact, the fears we have over “minor things”, the ones we are most ashamed of, in some ways are the most heroic ones we can overcome. This is precisely because you don’t always feel you have the same level of support or understanding from others that you might if, say, you were afraid of heights or have a fear viewed as being more rational.

I feel mighty proud of my achievement. So I’ll continue to keep feeding the swans and the geese, but from now it’ll be with a spring in my step and a new trick in my repertoire.

Why President Richard Nixon is the only gay icon that matters

Why President Richard Nixon is the only gay icon that matters

I want to tell you about the man I see as the greatest gay icon that has ever lived. His name is Richard M. Nixon, he was president of the United States between 1969 and 1974 and…

Hold on a second, Richard Nixon a “gay icon”? I would expect many of you to grimace at the idea. Indeed, Richard Nixon’s verbal bigotry against a wide range of minorities is well-known thanks to the release of private audio tapes recorded during his presidency.

He’s also hugely disliked in the United States, for reasons that include sabotaging President Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks in 1968 and unleashing the Watergate scandal on the country.

So my fellow gay compatriots and civil rights supporters will naturally turn around and ask why we’d want a homophobe and one of the most reviled presidents ever to be embraced by the LGBT community.

Well, let me explain. For all of the bigoted things he said about gay people – including blaming homosexuality for the fall of the Roman Empire – Nixon was also far ahead of his time in his understanding of homosexuality.

Nixon understood that gay people are born that way and predicted that gay marriage would arrive in the year 2000 – this back in 1970.  This was a surprisingly progressive view for a president who was in power in the early ’70s.

elvis-presley-63009_960_720Nixon with Elvis

Sure, he also said some terrible things as well about gays. But what I would say is that Nixon embodies the best and worst traits of the intelligent, closeted, self-loathing gay man without actually being a gay man himself.

The contradictions of Nixon’s character, his paranoia and fear of other people’s judgements – so much so that he kept an enemy list – really do parallel the distrust and inferiority complex that many gay people feel when growing up in a hostile society.

The fact that he was a man of such towering achievements – being on the presidential ticket in five elections, opening relations with China during his presidency – and also huge failings only adds to his immense complexity. He represents the adage of not being black or white but grey, as gay individuals such as myself feel.

With his fall from grace he competes with other tragic figures viewed as gay icons such as Judy Garland. Yet while he may not be as pretty or as glamorous as some of his competitors for the title of gay icon, he’s more tragically human than any of them. He simply could never accept he was good enough or worthy enough.

So, yes, Richard Nixon is both an LGBT visionary and a bigot, a success and a failure. And no-one embodies the struggle between competing emotions, contradictory ideas and the turmoil of feeling like an outsider than Richard Nixon. That, for me, makes him the greatest gay icon there is and a cautionary tale of what happens when you don’t accept your talents and allow your insecurities to destroy you.

The Silent Mediocrity

Contrary to what you might think, this is a blog dedicated to those that are both dreamers and who feel part of the “silent mediocrity” – good enough but at the current moment in their lives nothing all that special.

It’s an obvious play on “the silent majority”, and for good reason. It’s fitting it should evoke that saying because many people around the world feel like inbetweeners, like they haven’t yet made their contribution to the world – perhaps even slightly mediocre.

hamburg-1050643_960_720Midway through the tunnel

And that’s OK. This is a blog written by someone in that position, although I use the word “mediocre” playfully. All of my posts simply establish a man trying to make his way through the world in the hopes of finding his place in it, in the hopes of going from silent to vociferous. We all have talents and ambitions and it’s simply about realizing them.

This blog is a motivation to myself and hopefully to others. It’s also a reminder that while you may have made decisions you regret in the past there’s no reason you cannot make good ones in the present and future. That’s the essence of being a dreamer.