not everyday you introduce yourself to a new audience. In fact
it's something that is, in some respects, reserved for the elite,
the privileged. Musicians, actors, politicians, writers, business
people, sports people, designers, the media, drag queens and drama
queens. All have audiences. And me.
So, let me introduce myself. Hello. My name is Philip Patston and
I am an English-born gay, disabled, white man who has lived in Aotearoa
for thirty-three years. Aotearoa is the indigenous, Maori name for
New Zealand. Much more distinctive than NZ, if you ask me. I am
a performer, a comediana celebrity of sortsI
would have been as renowned as Australia's Steady
Eddie had everyone in NZ not thought I actually was him.
It's hard being the second crip (with CP, no less) to begin a comedy
career in the Asia-Pacific region in the same six months. We look
kind of similar, but he stands up, he's straight andas
I tell Kiwis, to their absolute mirthI'm
intelligent. But people think I'm him all the time.
~"Hey, you're Steady Eddie!"
~"Uh, no, I'm Philip Patston."
~"Nah go on, man, I know you're him. I've seen you on TV. You're
~ "Well, I am a comedian and I have been on TV. But Steady Eddie
is from Australia and I'm from here."
confused fan hasn't quite understood so changes tangent.
~"So, bro, you've been on that comedy programme, that one with that
~"Yes, I've been on 'Pulp Comedy'…"
~"Yeah, 'Pulp Fiction'…"
~"No, 'Pulp Comedy'it's a New Zealand comedy show for New
~"Yeah, that's a cool show. You're really funny, man. See ya, Steady!"
now and then, though, I hear a hushed voice in a crowd, saying,
"Hey, that's Steady Eddie!" Sometimes, before I have the time to
sigh and roll my eyes, someone gets it right: "Nah, man, that's
do a little, excited, internal dance, all the while professionally
retaining my external composure. Recognition is one thing, but being
recognized for who one truly is takes the cake.
brings me back to my introduction. Let me tell you a little more
about who I really am. Though I have lived in Aotearoa for thirty-four
of my near thirty-eight years, I don't think I'd really call myself
a Kiwi, except for the recognition factor (correct or otherwise)
in my marketing material. I'm a fish-eating vegetarian with vitiligo,
which is an auto-immunity to skin pigment, the same condition that
Michael Jackson has (though our similarities stop thereI don't
live in a theme park, nor do I sleep with twelve-year-old boys).
You can imagine my delight when I realized, at the age of fifteen,
that I was not only disabled and gay, but I had depigmented skin.
I knew then that my soul was a masochist. I have also been addicted
to valium (but I'm over that) and, to end the V theme, I am rather
partial to the occasional vino (anything, as long as it's red and
other roles I play in life are son, brother, uncle, friend, boss,
lover, mentor, role model (though I prefer to think of myself as
a bad influence) and Zen Buddhist well, kind of. Professionally
I am also (or have been) a recovering social worker, counsellor,
human rights campaigner, consultant, business owner, columnist,
agitator, actor, leader, amateur designer entrepreneur and, in 1999,
I was named Queer of the Year. (Sadly it earned me neither money
nor sex, but it was a great honor.) That year I was also the recipient
of a Billy T. James Comedy Award, for strong contribution to, and
future potential in, the NZ comedy industry.
far as being disabled is concerned, I think of myself as the driver
of a faulty APU, or Automated Personnel Unit, those amazing "human-piloted,
offensive/defensive mobile platforms" featured in The Matrix Revolutions
during the huge battle with the Sentinels in Zion. I see dancers
and athletes, models and Hollywood actors with their souped-up APUs
getting accolades, while I battle on thanklessly with my dilapidated,
short-circuiting model amongst patronising smiles and substandard
mechanical support. "Where's the justice in that?" I ask. But that
cynical little metaphor is just for my bad days. Actually I have
come to believe that I create my reality with all that I think,
say, and do. Everything is perfect and has the meaning I choose
to give it. I see perfection as a healthy mix of positivity, negativity
and constructivity. Fear and love are the two basic emotions from
which all other emotions are derived and the extent to which I feel
love or fear reflects my level of creativity. I believe that happiness
is a decision that creates the best outcomes. Finally, although
I don't always agree with the above, acting as if I do can be useful.
In other words, everything in moderationincluding moderation.
the years I have discovered what I think makes existence meaningful
and, funnily enough, they all begin with P. On the physical level,
meaning is derived from realising our potential and exercising persistence
in order to achieve productivity. Intellectually, I think we gain
meaning through how we perceive reality combined with philosophy
and a healthy dose of pragmatism. Emotional meaning to life can
be found by expecting a third of experiences to be positive, engaging
one's passion, and never forgetting to play. If we wish to find
spiritual meaning, we must seek to understand our purpose and embrace
the perfection of what is. Only then will we come to know peace.
to give you a true insight into the real me, let me share with you
the results of a recent Myers-Briggs-based Personality Test I did
at PersonalityBook.comwell worth the US$20 in my estimation.
According to PersonalityBook.com, these are the guiding parts of
I am more organized and focused than most men and women. This
is understandableliving with impairment has meant I have always
had to be organized. Things take me longer, I have to organize support,
I am more adventurous than most men and women; unafraid of change
and novelty. Well, I have experienced a lot of change, especially
people coming and going in my lifesupport people, social workers,
Intuitive: I am interested in inference and speculation, I use
a different brain path than most men; I am able to follow complex
conversations and work well with the average woman. The disability
sector is overrun by women, as is social work. And I'm a poof. Need
I say more…
Perceptive: I am more perceptive than most men and women and
enjoy the excitement of open-ended possibilities. Living openly
as a gay man, and independently as a disabled person has meant I
have always had to take risks.
and not meaning to boast, apparently I am 78% self-actualized…
not everyday you introduce yourself to your new audience. But I
hope I've given you an insight into how I live my life every day.
I hope that, in this column, which came about as a result of my
meeting BENT's editor, Bob Guter when I was in San Francisco in
June, I can share with you a little more of my queer perspective
on the world and life. But I don't want to do this solo. I welcome
your insights, comments, opinions and suggestions on what I could
write about. Believe me, I've been writing a queer column for a
New Zealand paper for nearly three years and, sometimes, I struggle
look forward to queering the crip with you. Please feel free to
visit me at www.diversityworks.co.nz
and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
©2005 Philip Patston
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