Home' LOTL : July 2010 Contents 14 Lesbians On The Loose Magazine • lotl.com
Lifestyle Opinion / Profile / Travel / Food / Stars
South African born writer, Matthew
Richardson has recently penned a
new book -- Gay Spirit: Why Am I
Gay? Richardson sat down to answer our
questions on what it was like growing up
gay in South Africa, his journey to being
out and proud and how he plans to help
those struggling with their sexuality to
When did you rst realise you were gay?
I rst realised that I was attracted
to guys at junior school, although it
was only around the age of 14 - 15
did I realise that I was gay in the adult
sense of the word. I grew up in a very
conser vative country, the old South
Africa, where there was virtually no
knowledge or information about being
gay. is was during the apartheid years
and we lived in a community which had
a very strong, traditional value-set. Gay
sexuality was totally suppressed and so it
was very di cult for me to understand
my relationship with the outer world.
One of the chapters in my book covers
the confusing amount of mentalising, or
body and mind signals that take place in
a growing gay child. As a gay child you
o en have to work out what´s going on
inside of you, before being able to relate
properly to the outside world.
What was your earliest 'gay' memory?
I cannot remember my rst gay memory, but one
of the earliest memories was of an attraction to a guy
at school. Although he was very straight acting he sat
next to me at school so that our knees touched -- I
How did your parents take to your coming out? Was it an
easy / dif cult process?
ey found it very challenging because I le home
at an early age and I did not tell them where I was living.
I kept my life hidden and they were afraid that I would
not return to the home. It was a very emotionally
charged time for all of us and in retrospect, I realise
that my secrecy not only frightened them (they must
have felt they had lost their son) but also that they
suspected the worse; that I was perhaps involved with
I was too afraid to tell them of my true feelings,
and I went to live with an older guy. It was only when
I brought him back home to meet my parents one
evening that they felt more relieved and must have
realised within themselves what was happening --
although I did not say that we were gay, only friends. I
was still too emotionally immature to actually say that
I was gay -- although from our actions it may have been
obvious. I kept being gay hidden and I
never discussed it with them for a very
long time. I think my parents battled with
my lack of con dence in them, although
from my side it was purely based on fear
of the world in general and not because of
a lack of trust in them.
What advice would you give to young LGBTQ folk coming
to terms with their sexuality?
Each person is unique, and unfolds in a unique
way. I would recommend keeping a journal of your
feelings and any unusual experiences that you go
through -- this may include sexual experiences, and
also your feelings and your attractions to others.
Don´t try to de ne yourself too early, rather allow
yourself to unfold naturally over time. Read a lot of
stories about other people coming to terms with their
sexuality too. I would also highly recommend that you
contact a telephone counsellor or meet with a real life
counsellor that you feel comfortable with, or even an
understanding friend. It is vital that you don´t keep all
your thoughts to yourself, as this is most o en where
the biggest misconceptions about life and sexuality
You've written a book, Gay Spirit - Why
Am I Gay? What spurred you to put pen
I realised over the years how
many people struggle so much with
understanding gay sexuality, both
within themselves, and in trying to
explain or de ne it to straight people.
For me this was such a great sadness, as
I saw so many gay people su er terribly
through self-ignorance and leading
such repressed and complicated lives.
Do you believe there is a spiritual aspect
to being gay? What? Why?
Most de nitely. is is a vital aspect
of my book. Being gay, and being
di erent from so many people around
you, brings you to the point of trying
to understand yourself better. And,
in understanding yourself better, you
realise that you are a spirit-soul, which
is who you really are. is then allows
you to rise above both gay and straight
limitations. Each person is actually a
spirit-soul travelling through life, and
it is through understanding yourself
as a spiritual being that you are
better able to understand what it
means to be gay.
What's the biggest issue you think
we face as LGBTQ folk, why?
Self-identity or identity within
the straight world. We live in an
age of materialism where many
things are measured by super cial
means, and I think that it is vital
for each gay person to try and
learn exactly who they are. is then allows them to
live at peace with being gay, both within themselves,
and within a predominantly straight world. It includes
learning to harmonise with your surroundings.
What advice would you give to a young gay person facing
Try to be as neutral as possible, and work on
building up your own inner core. You can´t
change another person´s state of consciousness,
so don´t try and be either too aggressive or too
passive -- rather aim towards being neutral or
indi erent. Obviously, if the situation against you
is very harsh, then I would recommend that you
move to a healthier environment -- don´t lower
yourself to their level. Each person in the world
has their own understanding of gayness and their
own level of discrimination -- and you have to
respect that and try not to change people -- you
can only change yourself.
Why am I gay?
Mathew Richardson's new book Gay Spirit poses some interesting truths... By Cec Busby
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