Soul Is A Masochistic Hedonist, Rejoice!
From my late teens I have been
a political animal, appearing in the media and on political platforms,
espousing the virtues of disabled people and queer people to each
other and society in an attempt to curb discrimination, increase
tolerance, promote recognition and reveal the value in our uniqueness
and diversity. Blah, blah, blah. I
have been labeled “Minority Man”, “Mr. Diversity”—you know the
kind of radical hyperbole I’m talking about.
Ironically, I really don’t feel
I belong to the groups with which I am aligned, whether by my own
doing or others’ assumption. In reality I often feel as divorced
from the fringe as I do from the mainstream. As a gay disabled man,
I sit between a rock and a hard placesubtle homophobia and
blatant heterosexism in the disability sector; subtle ableism and
blatant dysfunctionphobia in the queer sector.
Oh, which to choose? The disapproving
looks of the middle-aged female disability support staff when I
disclose my preference in my workshops or the distinct lack of any
other queer people in my disabled circle? Or perhaps the distinct
lack of any other disabled people in my queer circle, whom I don’t
know because they hang out in gay clubs? The same clubs that, even
when occasionally accessible, thump music so loud that I am forced
to strain in volume which, in turn, leaves my speech thicker than
usual as it struggles to escape my contorted lips.
No, I’ll go with the look he gives
me, which says, I find you strangely alluring, but I can’t imagine
kissing those spastic lips, nor having sex with someone like you.
I’m also slightly offended that you obviously want me to. I’ve experienced
the character-building sting of oppression, but even so, I’ve led
a sheltered, narrow life and I’m really scared of taking risks —especially
another with sex. But hey, nice to meet you. You’re real cute for
a crippled—oh, I mean—disabled person.
Gay, disabled men reading this:
Do you recognise yourselves? Am I resonating with you? Am I in your
groove, so to speak?
Others: keep reading. You’ll catch
my drift, I’m sure.
I find the gay obsession with
partying, perfect bodies, talking bullshit and shagging adolescent—
I long for philosophy, spirituality and measured debate over the
queer condition. Instead, everyone is standing outside nightclubs—
pissed, posing, gossiping or trying to score. Yet on the other side
of the minority fence, over in the disability sphere of the diversity
spectrum – if you’ll excuse my metaphorical merger – it can all
be alarmingly sober, unkempt, intense and celibate.
Now, I’ve already been accused
of being prissy and precious about the gay stuff by a blogger who
read my other column on GayNZ.com
recently; and I’m probably being overly critical and uncharitable
towards disabled people as well. But when I find myself dipping
into each world every so often, I become completely overwhelmed
by the sublimely ridiculous extremes. Every now and then I venture
out for a night on the town with my ever-diminishing depot of dyke
mates or my token gay friend. I’m bombarded by the desperate display
of desperate guys trying desperately to be gorgeous in order to
get a desperate one-night stand. The next day I’m working at a rehabilitation
center with 50-odd badly dressed disabled people with bad hairstyles
and bad social skills who badly need lives. Just like the desperate
people of the night before.
It really is a bipolar experience.
I rush home to sit in a corner and rock gently. Does this make me
autistic as well?
Do you other queer disabled guys
find this huge divide unsustainable, or do you just get on with
Or do you join me in my existential
angst, wondering for what highly spiritual purpose we have incarnated
into individuals who identify politically with two of the species’
most lowly-regarded, dysfunctional groups – disabled people and
gay men – who, for entirely different reasons, are feared, despised,
avoided, ridiculed and underestimated. What’s that about? It’s not
quite the brand that makes you want to call up after the infomercial,
is it? – “But wait, there’s moreyou could be disabled and
queer for just three payments of $49.95!”
So do you ever wonder why have
you chosen this existence? Why you have ended up part of this disparate
group who live on the fringe’s fringe?
I have only one explanationour
souls are masochistic hedonists. Destined for the pursuit of pleasure
and self-indulgence, we have chosen to put struggle, challenge,
pain and rejection in the path of temptation. We thrive on loneliness,
torment, frustration and celibacy.
Feeling depressed? So you should.
Our souls find depression irresistible. In fact, spiritually, we
queer disabled people exist solely for the experience of depression.
We know that through adversity comes personality, self-development,
enlightenment and – you guessed it, lads – unconditional love and
happiness. These are our spiritual goals, as masochistic hedonists.
So how do we ensure we achieve
this hypercritical existential excellence, while enduring our humble
enigmatic existence? This is my formula: an uncertain amount of
resigned surrender combined with a healthy dose of divine dichotomy.
In my ever-deepening search to answer the ubiquitous question –
“Who the hell am I and why?” – I have been forced to give up completely
and accept reluctantly the ironic insight that, as well as being
disabled and queer, I am neither queer nor disabled. This profound
realisation inevitably leads to deep and utter confusion, in which
I have found my redemption.
While wallowing in the depth of
this philosophical perplexity I forget, for just a moment, my theoretical
torment. As I am grappling with the complexities of this higher
hyperbole I find myself observing myself and it is at that moment
that I am no longer the masochistic hedonist’s physical incarnation.
Rather, I am his audience. Instantaneously released I rejoice, freed
from my tortuous personal and political platform.
And, for a single, infinite moment,
I riotously partake in the unmitigated, self-indulgent ecstasy for
which I was always destined.
©2006 Philip Patston
Please feel free to visit me at www.diversityworks.co.nz
and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org