Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Musical journey (8)

This month’s musical journey comprises of a very simple three-worded message that has been romanticised by Hollywood and Hallmark to unspeakable levels since time immemorial. Before we let our increasing age jade us with skepticism, we have to admit that there is really no better way to succinctly encompass the indescribable feelings of affection, tenderness and care than these three words. Of course those words must be accompanied by genuine feelings, not unrequited or worse still imagined love, otherwise they hold absolutely no weight at all.

And in this world there is a single person who completes my three words with truth, kindness and strength. That is why I had to write him this song when I discovered that in him lies the right one. I know he is going to say that I am being too soggy again but I still have to say this to him.

I love you.


[I Love You]

I won't lie, when I saw you there I knew it would be right
I think it must be those eyes
I wanna dive, from the moment after I first said goodbye
Into your heart where I'll stay for life

And now I've kissed you
The truth remains as clear as your eyes
With every breath I take I'll say it to you
Every day and night

I love you, there's nothing else I wanna do
But to hold you close, to feel you
And pray that one day I can say
Yes I do, I love you
I thank you for these tears in my eyes
'Cos I know you love me too

Love isn't blind, 'cos your love has guided me straight to the light
I was in the dark all my life
Minutes fly, how I wish we could move faster than time
So I can stay just one more night

But still I'm grateful
'Cos love is not so easy to find
That is why I'm never gonna let go
Till the day I die





This will be my last post of the year. See you all in 2011 and have a great New Year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Racism personified

It all started with this unprovoked Gaydar (gay online personals site) message.


With the support and encouragement from a dear friend, I decided to report this incident to the website’s administrator. Basically Gaydar replied saying that actions had been taken against the offender but because of data protection laws I could not be informed of those said actions. I then lodged another complaint and escalated it to Gaydar’s management expressing my disapproval of their non-transparent policies and their soft stance against racism. Again I was given a reply regurgitating the same things as well as their three-strike rule against abusive users. That was when my friend decided to also send a strongly-worded email to Gaydar demanding nothing short of banning the guy from the site. A few days after that, I got a message from him.


Isn’t that creepy? Either he was trying to bury the hatchet or that hate mail wasn’t sent by him in the first place. However if you think carefully, both scenarios do not make sense unless he is a psychopath. I decided to let sleeping dogs lie only to discover very soon that his profile was removed from Gaydar. So what exactly happened? I guess we will never know (and I do not intend to find out).

This incident happened at the right time for DNA magazine was then writing an article on cruise site racism. I was interviewed via email by an editor and I have reproduced my answers here which essentially speak of my response to this whole saga as well as my view on racism. I look forward to reading the final article when it gets published (it has not been in the December issue though).


Q: What contact had you had with this person before he wrote that comment?

A: I had no contact whatsoever. I did not view his profile and send him a message and that's why I was so shocked that someone would actually make that effort to physically type those few words and send them to a totally innocent party just to make his point.

Q: What was the lead-up to it, if any?

A: There was no lead-up. I was actually sending quite a few emails to other people I found interesting on Gaydar at that time. I guess he saw that I was online and decided to send me that note.

Q: What was your initial response?

A: To be honest, I didn't know what "slope head" meant initially and had to ask someone but the rest of the short sentence was well-understood. It is one of those things that are so extreme that you pause for a moment to think if it were meant as a joke. Overt and over-the-top abuse of this sort does not get to me more than the under-the-surface discrimination that you know exists but can't prove for sure or do anything about. Also from the use of the rather old term "slope head" I could tell that this person is really very backward and primitive in his thinking–this created a greater rift in my mind between me and him–he is just an extreme fellow who simply cannot be comprehended. Just like nothing could calm a tornado bent on destroying a town, it was better for me to leave him alone and get out while I still could. I did not make any reply.

Q: I understand you contacted Gaydar about it. Were you satisfied with the response you got from them?

A: Their initial response stated that they did something about it but could not divulge any details because of "local data protection laws". It was not a transparent resolution at all, more like paying lip service. Gaydar told me that he will not be banned unless it can be demonstrated upon further investigation that it would be unfair to others to let him remain on the site. Apparently having a single victim (me) was not enough and there needs to be more. Incidentally my friend who is familiar with the field told me that there is no such thing as "local data protection laws" and that Gaydar didn't know what they were talking about at all.

Q: Are you prepared to take it further if they don’t respond more meaningfully?

A: I gave them a reply that I was not comfortable with their response and told them to give me details of what they have done exactly. I also expressed my disappointment that Gaydar decided to not ban him. I continued by saying that if no details could be given, they would have to quote me the exact clauses of the "data protection laws" they have used. I also mentioned that if I don't get further information, I cannot assume that Gaydar has taken any appropriate action. I am still waiting for their reply and it has been more than a day (from their website, they guarantee to reply within 24 hours).

Q: Has this kind of thing happened to you before?

A: Not to this extreme intensity but yes, several times. People either reply nastily by saying things like "dream on" or state in their reply that they are not into Asians. Well at least the latter kind of response is honest. The moral of the story is always to read their profiles first and make sure there is no "not into Asians" anywhere, otherwise you will just be barking up the wrong tree. I know some people are very against the "not into Asians" bit (which brings up the argument of where the line should be drawn between sexual preference and racial discrimination) but to me, at least they are upfront about it. Maybe they should simply write about what they like instead of what they don't like. Maybe they are just tactless people.

Q: Is it common? Do you hear about similar incidents from your Asian friends?

A: Yes. I attend the "Asian Tea Room" sessions organised by the ACON Asian Men's Project regularly and one of the topics discussed was exactly this–cruise-site racism. Many shared similar stories though so far I have not heard of anyone who has received emails as extreme as the one I have. Some used anger against anger (ie. by replying with equal aggravation) and some thought at least they were being frank. The general conclusion was that people should be more tactful online and that some might interpret sexual preference as racism and vice versa–it was all about live and let live in the end (a.k.a. we know there is a problem but we can't do anything about it). Although the Asian Tea Room sessions were good as an avenue for feedback and support, it is still an event that is meant only for Asians and so I cannot help it but feel as if I am preaching to the choir. I think it is time to really do something about it and not just stand around and discuss about it. This pro-active approach was the driving force behind my lodging of the complaint to Gaydar.

Q: What about when you go out? Do you find much racism among the gay community generally?

I seldom go out and if I do I tend to go to Asian-friendly places like Midnight Shift or 357 where I know people who frequent those places are most likely into or at least not against Asians. It is like Asians sticking with Asians because it is just too hard to make that connection when the other party is not totally accepting of you (a friend told me this Asians-sticking-with-Asians phenomenon occurs within the Australian-born Asian community too–so this actually cuts across the entire Asian demographic). It is sort of a chicken-and-egg situation–someone should make the first move in bridging that gap and I think it should be the majority making the first move. Sometimes my friends complain that there is not enough gay Asian representation in the community–a perfect example would be SSO pictures of events in the Shift rarely feature Asians although we know that they make up a substantial chunk of the clientele. However what kind of representation can we demand when in actual fact Asians only make up 6% of the total Australian population? Maybe the lack of Asian representation is the true representation.

That being said, the media still plays a very important role in promoting acceptance and I think there is much room for improvement when it comes to Australian media (gay or straight) when it comes to Asian-representation. That is why I took part in the underwear pageant at Stonewall a while back as the only Asian participant that night. I knew full well that I would not win despite having a wicked body because I think the Australian culture has not evolved enough to appreciate Asian beauty yet (the media is to be blamed for this one). I feel a need to not only put the face of Asians out there but also a masculine and positive image of Asians. I made my stance clear on the stage that night that I was there because I needed to increase Asian-representation in the gay community. That was not very well-received especially after I commented to the judge (AXN magazine editor) that AXN has not featured an Asian as a solo cover model before–true but perhaps too straight-to-the-point. I went away from the contest that night with my head held high and a bitter taste in my mouth at the same time–did I not win because I was being too Asian or was I simply not hot enough? It is one of those questions that can never be answered–that is why we need to strive to reach a level where that question need not be asked in the first place.

Q: Is this kind of racism in the gay community getting better or worse?

A: I know straight Asians get racism shoved in their faces all the time (by straight white Aussies) so we gays should not really get special treatment in that sense. But to me the most unacceptable form of racism is the kind you get from gay people–the people that knows first-hand what it feels like to be discriminated against. During Mardi Gras last year when I marched in the parade with ACON, the organisers were giving out party favours and we were all pushing forth to get them as we knew they were limited. I was there with a group of Asians and some white guy next to me just shouted out "only for those not on a visa". I was really offended at that time and that totally spoilt my first parade-march experience (I just moved to Sydney from Singapore a few months before that). On hindsight, I should not have kept silent after that caustic comment but I was new to the country then and decided not to "rock the boat".

Still I think it is getting better both in the gay and straight world but that came about slowly through gradual acceptance and not by media campaigns, which are important. There is a lot more that can be done and I think there should be a clear direction and concerted effort to target this particular issue–we should not just let time solve the problem. In my opinion, the white majority (especially those in the cities) are currently facing a culture shock within their own country due to this sudden influx of immigrants in the recent years. This is totally understandable–they see us as competition and a threat to their culture and livelihood and thus give a kneejerk defensive reaction in the form of (overt and covert) racism. Once we know the root cause to the problem, we can then better structure the plan to eradicate it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Swordplay

I have done 3 shoots in the past few weeks to take full advantage of the warm summer weather and so I think it is time to post the pictures from my last shoot (that took place in winter). I know I should not have kept all of you waiting but too much of a good thing can be bad... Hehe. Conceited much?

The pictures in this post were done in the same studio, by the same photographer and on the same day as those from the reflection series. Of course there was first the compulsory oiling up with the help of the photographic assistant. Then came the arduous task of getting the lighting right. You see there were two light sources and the photographer wanted to get it exactly right. Of course things had to get more difficult with the lights sometimes not firing but finally he got what he wanted and the shoot with the sword started.

It was fun posing with a samurai sword for the first time although it gradually got heavier and heavier as I got more and more tired. We also threw in some shots of me wearing a silver mask. I am not sure if that went all that well but still the whole experience was quite interesting. At the end of the shoot, we were all so famished but fortunately by that time we had very nice pasta already prepared by the photographic assistant–talk about having multiple talents!

I will be involved in another shoot this weekend to complete a photographer’s series that’s meant for his first exhibition. Apparently for the shoot, I will be painted silver from the chest up including my face and hair to achieve a dipped-in-paint look. I was promised that it could be washed off easily–it better be for I have to attend a party after that!















Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hunting

I have been procrastinating for the longest time to start the process of buying an apartment and at long last have physically started the arduous journey to my future home a few months ago. You see, there is really no point in renting because one cannot do it forever and since property prices will only rise over time, it makes perfect sense for me to buy sooner than later. Some people might want to continue to rent and use their savings for investments that yield higher returns (ie. higher risks too) and then buy as good a piece of property as they can get with their investment earnings while others simply earn a living through buying, selling and renting out properties. For me, I am quite risk-averse so I am happy with saving my guts out so as to quickly buy a place to live in, finish paying the mortgage as soon as possible and then moving on to continue putting my money into high interest savings accounts (ie. a risk-free investment). Of course I am also open to upgrading to a better place in the future if I can afford it.

It is really hard for me to find an ideal apartment because of my numerous requirements presented in the following order of decreasing priority:

- It has to be in the city
- It has to be within walking distance to any station that serves the line to my workplace
- It has to get the nod from Ision
- It has to have 2 bedrooms or at least 1 bedroom and 1 study
- It has to have a reasonably-sized balcony
- It has to have a split-level loft-like layout
- It has to not come with amenities like concierge, gym, pool, spa, etc
- It has to not come with a car space
- It has to be within walking distance to the supermarket and gym

I have so far not come across a single place that meets all (not even most) of the above requirements that is within my budget but I know I must be patient (ie. at least a year should be given) since I definitely do not want to end up regretting what I have purchased. Some people think that the commitment made to a bought property can actually be more important than that made between partners and I think I agree to a certain extent. I just know that a lot of research and thought has to be put into the process.

I cannot say that I am a seasoned property-hunter at the moment but I have learnt a thing or two throughout this stressful-at-times hunt:

- Although not compulsory, it is important to engage the services of a solicitor and mortgage broker (the latter is paid by the lender not the client). However always check what they say with a neutral third party as they tend to have their own agenda to push across
- Stamp duty (ie. tax on your purchase. Can you imagine that?) can be avoided for properties less than $500,000 and reaches a maximum value at $600,000
- An offset home loan has an associated savings account that earns no interest but is used to offset the loan principle to minimise the payable interest
- Every time you apply for a pre-approval or renew an expired one, your credit report suffers one hit (zero hits equals a perfect record)
- To avoid mortgage insurance, you must not borrow more than 80% of the value of the property assessed by the bank, NOT 80% of the actual purchase price
- The Australian cash rate used to be as high as 17% back in 1990 when the science of inflationary control was still not very well-understood
- Take the price printed on advertisements with a huge pinch of salt for they are there simply to entice you to the property
- 90% of auction attendees are there to just watch and not bid–many of them are from neighbouring units and are there just to see how much their property is worth currently
- The mineral boom and national broadband project will increase demand for workers in the next few years driving wage rates higher which will increase inflation and will subsequently be curbed by an increase in cash rate by the Reserve Bank. This means that interest rates will have a net rise in the next few years assuming the banks can secure enough offshore funds to lend.

Recently the Reserve Bank has increased the cash rate by 0.25% and the banks subsequently raised their loan interest rates by twice of that (even an interest rate hike four times that of the cash rate is apparently not uncommon) without increasing their savings/term deposit interest rates. My pre-approved home loan rate increased from 6.57% to 7% and it expires in about a month. Since all signs point towards further interest rate increases and I can already see property prices starting to drop (which means that my current rent will soon increase. Darn!), I will continue to keep my eyes open (and maybe start considering off-the-plan apartments) and put in aggressive bids/offers when good things come along in this buyer’s market. Just in case that you find all this sounds exciting, trust me, it is not!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Musical journey (7)

When love ends, how much grieving time should we allocate to the deceased relationship? If we moved on too quickly, does it mean that the feelings weren’t deep enough in the first place? Why should we go through the same process over and over again? Do we really need pain to remind us that we are still alive, that the love we had was true?

Different people fall in love to different extents and this is dependent on many factors. But more often than not it all boils down to one’s faith in love and one’s level of maturity. In my opinion believing in love blindly is useless and being too analytically sceptical about it is not useful either. Often faith and maturity work against each other and so attaining the correct balance is the key to finding a successful relationship. Needless to say, all parties to that relationship need to achieve that balance.

The great thing about faith and maturity is that the combination not only helps in falling in love, it aids in speeding up the healing from a broken heart too. With a strong combination of the two, one can learn from the failed relationship, fine-tune one's needs, adjust one's behaviour accordingly and set new goals. To someone who has achieved that balance, all the questions in the first paragraph of this post become irrelevant.

This month’s musical journey is about a person not having that balance. He tortures himself every night and revisits the same point in time when it all started. Time to him essentially stops as he remains stuck in a perpetual loop of self-destruction. In the end, he reaches the end of the tunnel but he does not see light. Instead, he loses all sensation and his faith in love. This is a story of what we should all not do.



[零时零三分]

/词 / : 锦泉/

若心囚禁了思念
时间就会凝聚成句点
那么沉重
像带着那用铅球装饰的项链

昨夜飞不出清晨
让千层灰覆盖了灵魂
那么沉重, 无法呼吸
在黑暗中无奈沉沦

又到了零时零三分
又到了寂寞和无助的那份岔路, 无尽延伸
又看见孤单和彷徨重叠循环
我觉得冷

又到了零时零三分
又到了电话旁边瑟缩地枯坐哭醉苦等
又听见心跳和心碎的交响曲
我熄了灯

没有爱, 何谓恨, 没有你
我会狠心让自己溺于枕边泪滩不再辗转翻滚
不再想你

熬到了零时零四分
也到了遗忘交替麻木的那地点, 宁静难忍
只看见镜子里面站着一个
我不认识的人




[Three Past Midnight]

If the heart imprisons memories
Time will grind to a full stop
It becomes so heavy
Like wearing a ball and chain around the neck

The previous night fails to fly to dawn
Enveloping the soul with a thousand layers of dust
It becomes so heavy
And makes it hard to breathe
As I sink deeper into the darkness

It is three past midnight again
There I am at the never-ending crossroads of loneliness and helplessness
As I see them overlap and encircle each other
I feel the cold

It is three past midnight again
There I am at the phone, on the floor, inebriated and waiting
As I listen to the symphony of my heartbeat and heartbreak
I turn off the lights

What is hatred without love?
Without you, I will heartlessly drown myself in the tears beside my pillow
So as not to toss and turn
And think of you again

It is finally four past midnight
When forgetting-it-all takes over numbness in this deafening silence
When all I can see in the mirror is someone I barely recognise




Sunday, October 31, 2010

Musical journey (6)

Lately there has been a lot of media attention around gay teen suicides arising from bullying. Thinking back I have also encountered sexuality-related bullying though it was mostly in the form of name-calling and social-ostracising. It was a miserable time but thankfully I had enough sense and discipline to channel all my energy into school work and unite with other geeky outcasts for strength. I figured if all else fails and I ended up having a wretched life with no friends and support, at least I would still have excellent academic qualifications to shove in their faces. As time passed, my plodding along the awkward path of growing up with my head hung low slowly became a confident stride with a strong sense of self-identity (and a wicked body to match). It was not easy but life does get better and though the challenges of life never end, grown-ups will most certainly look back at their maladjusted adolescence as a mere speck of insignificance. What does not kill you makes you stronger and no, that is not just a weightless adage, it is one of the truest statements to live by.

Recently my colleague’s boyfriend committed suicide and her life was totally wrecked. No one can ever profess to fully understand the pain and suffering another goes through and hence no one can and should point the finger of blame when such tragedies occur. I for one cannot fathom why anyone would think that there is no other way out. All we can do is to stand by and support the people they left behind as well as look out for signs of depression in those close to us and offer assistance when we can.

This month’s musical journey is a little morbid for it delves into suicide (not from bullying but from heartbreak). I have written this song a long time ago for I wanted to look at love songs from another angle, a very dark one. This song starts at the instance when the heartbroken slashes his wrist with a shard of glass as he slowly fades away and he closes his eyes ultimately to see the white light when the song ends. I hope the music, words and video all help to trigger the deeply-silent image of utter helplessness and numbness I wanted to portray when I wrote this piece.



[白光]

/词 / : 锦泉/

天空抹上了灰
打翻了玻璃杯
谁替我受了罪
我的血流给谁

时间没了知觉
黑暗 无声肆虐
此刻我能飞越
历史每个空缺

你再一次浮现
心却没一丝念
你站在地平线
我慢慢合上眼

远处白光在闪
我门 不再关上
你我终于静下
痛渐渐被遗忘

天空抹上了灰
打翻了玻璃杯
谁替我受了罪
我的血流给谁




[White Light]

A veil of gray shrouds the sky as the glass shatters
My blood shall flow for the one who bears this sin

Time loses all its senses as darkness quietly rages
Yet I am lucid enough to clearly see all the gaps I have left in history

You surface once again but this time my heart no longer holds on to you
I slowly close my eyes as I see you standing there on the horizon

A white light shines in the distance and the door to my soul is no longer closed
You and I finally fall into silence as we gradually forget the pain

A veil of gray shrouds the sky as the glass shatters
My blood shall flow for the one who bears this sin




Saturday, October 16, 2010

The reflection series

Time to reveal some flesh again people! This series of shots was done at a friend's studio on top of a piece of perspex to achieve that sleek reflective and symmetrical look that the photographer wanted. I like collaborating with him because he is very passionate about his work and pushes himself very hard and hard workers appeal to me. As a result of this positive energy, I put in even more effort to get the results that we both wanted. Also I had the pleasure of being made up before the shoot by his assistant who is also his partner. The entire shoot lasted a full day (which left us absolutely famished and exhausted at the end) and there was another series squeezed in as well but that will be for another post. I really love this series not only because I have not done something of this genre before but also how it shows another side of me and I hope you would like it too. I will certainly have him shoot me again but the next one will be done outdoors for summer is looming right in front of us!


















Visit http://www.nickclarkephotography.com for more of his work.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Musical journey (5)

Some of you might not know this but I write both Chinese and English songs. However many of them are not that musically-presentable partly because I am too lazy to tidy them up and hence I do not exhibit them much. In this post I shall share with you one of the more complete ones that I have written.

As you know, I went through a phase of not knowing what I want in life like everyone else and quickly fell in love with a tall English businessman when I was back in Singapore though at that time I was 110% sure that I knew exactly what I wanted. Being intent on finding a relationship, I allowed my focus to blind me instead of letting love do the job. I misinterpreted his signals and fumbled with my own as I spiralled in a degenerative cycle of falling too deep too soon too often. Notwithstanding the ignorance I was harbouring, all those intense emotions were good fodder for writing songs–this song was written within a very short time as everything flowed so smoothly then as if it were a match made in heaven. I put together the video for the song using clips from the movie "Soundless Wind Chime". Although that is a very depressing movie, I chose to see it from another angle and used that for this song (one with a happy ending or at least the ending that I wanted back then).



[In Your Arms]

Looking for a grain in the desert of love
Will the sun ever meet the moon high up above?
Wishing by the well, a silent prayer in the wind
We hope to find a heart to live within

I know it's not easy, this silly thing called love
But we still found each other against the odds so tough
And now I'm contented but can never love you enough
I see you in the distance, to you I run

There you stand, tall as you are
Arms wide open, you shine like a star
In your arms, I am safe from harm
They never tire, they're never far

There our souls blend into one
Time stands still when I am in your arms
I get weak though you give me strength to overcome
Anything as long as I'm in your arms






Of course that brief on-off-and-then-back-on-and-off encounter landed me in utter frustration and worse still made me even more bent on finding a partner till I burnt myself out. That is the scary result of not loving yourself and thank goodness I have stripped that destructive behaviour off of myself for some years now–all my subsequent English compositions were all love songs for Ision!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Loving yourself

Plain-Jane Aaron meets gym-hunk Barry. It all starts out fine and Aaron falls in love with Barry within a week. Barry feels lukewarm about Aaron but does nothing to indicate that. Aaron thinks Barry feels the same as he does and sends twenty lovey-dovey texts a day to Barry. Feeling suffocated, Barry ignores all of the messages and continues to date other people without telling Aaron. The more distant Barry gets from Aaron, the more Aaron wants to come close and Barry decides to run further away. A vicious cycle is initiated. Eventually Aaron stops obsessing over Barry but ends up devastated. Subsequently Aaron’s self-worth dwindles to zero but to everyone around him, it is as if nothing has happened as life moves on with hundreds and thousands of Aarons roaming around.

Sounds like a familiar story? I bet many of us have been an Aaron for at least once in our lives–I sure have. But unlike many I am fortunate to have come out relatively early in my life, which is something that really speeds up one’s growth as a homosexual person. I once read somewhere that all homosexuals have two birthdays–one on which he or she was born and the other when he or she comes out. If you fall for someone aged 30 biologically but had just come out when he was 25, you must realise that you are with someone at the homosexual age of 5. Coming out is the first step to self-love, which is something that can solve almost every problem in your life.

The phrase “loving yourself” has been thrown around a lot but what does it practically mean and why is it important? The chief ingredient in “loving yourself” is knowing yourself, something which is easier said than done. To me this comes with maturity and life experiences eg. one cannot truly understand what one wants in life without going through what it feels like having something one doesn’t want. The best lesson in life is a hard one and without going through a few Barrys, how could Aaron fine-tune what he really wants in life? When you know yourself inside out, you will be able to set specific goals to what exactly you want in your life and then start working towards it. This is when life gets really efficient–when you weed out the things slowing you down and focus all your energies on your target. Life is too short for you to sit around or going about it aimlessly. Being an Aaron at 25 is learning but still being one at 45 is depressing.

Another component of knowing yourself is being acutely aware of your limits. Sure, parents like to teach their kids to reach for the sky but how many of these kids with presidential dreams actually become presidents? However knowing your limits does not necessarily constitute a defeatist attitude–a practical dream is no lesser a dream than an overly-grand one. In the Aaron-Barry story, as cruel as it sounds, Aaron needs to understand that Barry is out of his league. Of course no one should stop Aaron chasing after Barry but time would tell Aaron after much had been wasted that his pursuit will fail in the end. I know this sounds shallow but after resisting it for years on the grounds of superficiality, I finally decided to hit the gym and get a nice body so as to boost my self-confidence and I tell you it works, especially in the gay world. Either Aaron lowers his standard or he raises his own status but he should never fall into an endless loop of chasing after the Barrys of the world and lament how tragic his fate is without realising the root cause or doing something about it.

Once you have successfully tackled the biggest unknown in your life (ie. yourself), you are well on your way to greater things. One more thing to note is that “loving yourself” is not a manifestation of selfishness. I for one would not want to mess around with people who are unsure of themselves. I would rather they take care of themselves and find their bearings in life before knowing them–yes, to me this applies to lovers AND friends. The journey of loving yourself does not stop once you have reached your goal or have found a long-term partner. Take the latter as an example–even in a stable relationship, the two people in it have to still exist as individuals with their own identities and beliefs. Many relationships start out intense and continue to remain so as both parties subjugate their own ideals and ways of thinking all in the name of compromise. Don’t get me wrong–I still believe the hallmark of true love is sacrifice but I also believe that the heart must be in the right place when you make that sacrifice and you can only do that if you truly understand yourself and your needs. Being totally co-dependent in a relationship is unhealthy as one should not let another person define one’s own life. We are all responsible for our own lives and we do that by first taking that big step of starting to love and know ourselves. Only after we conquer that battle can we start to love someone else–they deserve the same strength and confidence that we want our partners to have. If everyone bears that in mind and practise it, the weird everyone-is-searching-for-true-love-yet-everyone-remains-single-and-lonely phenomenon currently plaguing this world will cease to exist.

It took me about seven years to get to the point where I genuinely know myself and since then, armed with all the life experiences and lessons, I have become one of the more well-adjusted gay persons I know of in this predominantly non-gay world (I am not tooting my own horn for my friends can easily attest to that). I am not saying that I don’t falter, of course I do. But when I do make mistakes, I know what the consequences are and have the tools I have previously readied to deal with them. Even if I don’t, I continue to use these mistakes to enrich my book of life lessons and then move on to remain focused on my target or set new ones. To the uninitiated I can come across as pompous and arrogant because of how sure I am about myself but one of the best products of truly knowing myself is being content with what I have yet still having goals to constantly fight for. That to me is the ideal balance I have finally achieved after all these years.

So if you are still struggling with something in your life or have unresolved issues that stop you from living the way you want, why not take a step back and look at yourself in the mirror? Do you really know who that is you see?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My first step

I've done it! I've really done it! I've finally taken my first step to further my career in this new land and in a way, my life in Australia actually begins from now.

For a long time, I have been very dissatisfied with being a contractor at just above the entry-level. You see, being a very experienced consultant is a perk on its own because you can charge an obscene premium for that "experience" and that can be way above the salary of a lowly refinery engineer or even the boss of said engineer. I can totally get that but as an almost entry-level contractor on permanent secondment to the client, I neither get the high pay nor the career development and training a junior person is supposed to get–I am plain sick and tired of having to beg for training opportunities! Moreover I do not see the potential to move interstate (or to god-forbid Middle East where opportunities abound) within my engineering firm as a benefit and so the eager-to-root-himself-in-a-new-land mentality in me becomes a further push factor. And don't even get me started on how my blood boils from being under-appreciated for my hard work for it pales in comparison for being treated like a weirdo for being super-efficient in his work.

Lately the discontent simmering just under my skin worsened as Caltex introduced the Refinery Manager's Award where employees get rewarded for outstanding effort. Contractors if they are part of a team are entitled to this award but all other award categories are meant only for employees. It so happened that an ultra-lazy colleague of mine (a Caltex employee) received such an award recently and that pushed me over the edge whilst still scratching my head wondering how the hell did she deserve that. If even a curry-loving woman spending on average 6% of her time (yes, I have been tracking the hours on my spreadsheet–that is only the time when it is audibly-obvious to EVERY ONE that she is not working–there are countless more hours spent M.I.A., off "sick" and surfing the net) on private phone calls could get an award as an employee while a hardworking contractor like me gets zilch, it is time to release that simmering discontent.

A few weeks back my two-year anniversary working at Caltex came and I have been waiting for ages for that day to arrive when I can negotiate with my Caltex boss regarding jumping over with all that work experience. I had that discussion and was pleased that he mentioned that I would be a "strong candidate for many positions" at Caltex. Finally! Some recognition! Coincidentally, an engineer left the company soon after and that was my opportunity to apply for his job and make that switch. As a contractor embedded within the client company, I have the advantage of applying for that position internally. And I just clicked the "Submit" button.

The irony (there is always a catch) is the nature of the position (it pays roughly the same as my current one by the way) I have just applied for. It is the role of a process control engineer–exactly what I was doing for two years before I relocated to Sydney. Am I then pushing myself to go through some sort of regression? Granted that I did not really learn all that I could from my previous position (because of human issues–a micro-managing group lead), it still takes an acquired taste to become a control engineer and I am not totally sure that I have that taste. But this is my perfect opportunity to get through the Caltex door and shouldn't I seize it? I have the exact experience for the role as well as a good recommendation from my Caltex boss–what more can one ask for? Somehow during the interview I must downplay the get-my-foot-in-the-door angle and impress the panel with my fervent love for the role... To complicate matters, my department really needs me now to deliver a project within schedule and if my Caltex boss were selfish, he would not want to recommend (and release) me. Fortunately I think he is not that sort of person but it is a complication nonetheless.

Regardless of the internal and external struggles and difficulties involved in this endeavour, I have just crossed the point of no return and now my intention is out there, vulnerable and open to scrutiny. I will hear from the recruiting team within two weeks–wouldn't it be strange if my Caltex boss were part of the interviewing panel? Well all I can do now is to cross my fingers and start dusting the "How To Ace An Interview" file in my brain. Give me all the luck you've got!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Musical journey (4)

It has been four months since Ision and I went into an open relationship and things between us have not really changed much. In fact the relationship is at its strongest point yet–we rarely fight and might I say are at the stage where we love and miss each other’s idiosyncrasies. Frankly I cannot attribute all this to the open relationship for certain but all my “pre-open” fears that I might be injecting unnecessary instability into our relationship have all been allayed. I love my baby more than ever before.

You might think that an open gay relationship automatically involves lots of action, merry-making and the like but that is plainly untrue. Neither of us is actually getting more excitement in the sack than before. I don’t know about Ision but my reason for not fully-making use of my license-to-mate is that I have very high standards when it comes to casual sex. Of course the fact that I find the whole process of sex cumbersome and the endless partying pointless does not help the situation either. You can say that I am too lazy or do my cost-benefit analysis too stringently and you would be right.

Believe it or not, things can still be hunky-dory in my current state normally but the problem comes when occasionally I get THE need. When that happens, although the freedom to indulge totally sets me as free as a bird, that does not mean that satisfaction is guaranteed. Cruising can be quite hard for someone facing the three-sided dilemma–very high standards vs finding sex cumbersome vs strong periodic urges. As you can see, it is two against one and as a result nothing much happens. I must say being in close proximity to an abundance of fine specimens in the gym when one is horny yet not being able to jump them there and then is a real pain. You would think that that would motivate me to work harder right?... it’s back to the three-sided dilemma. Ision would so be shoving “this-is-self-inflicted-pain-so-don’t-whinge-at-me” in my face at this point. Who could blame him? So what do you think is the solution to my problem?

Let me now bring this back to the title of this post. Like what I have said earlier, cruising for sex is not an easy thing. I remember when I were still single many years ago, I managed to convince myself that being promiscuous was wrong and that I should focus my energy on the search for love instead. The STIs that loomed out there cast an even darker shadow onto the tussle between my brain and my loins. Yes, it became a struggle back then when I still had not fully-ironed out the kinks in the coming out process. Every sexual encounter would result in much guilt which made the next one even worse. And under those circumstances this composition was born–when battling between giving in to temptations and sticking to my principles provided the perfect conditions for writing songs.


[禁果]

/词 / : 锦泉/

别拉着我 答应自己不再堕落
沾上蜂蜜的毒针 抵抗见血的诱惑
面对着我
那尖锐无比耀眼诱人的轮廓
无声地 滚烫地 切割着我

把我锁在旋涡 怎能挣脱
若心化为真空 怎能错过
血里病菌流动 加速脉搏
罪恶感烧成火 无尽挥霍

无处可躲
那熟悉又清晰的疼痛催眠着我
闯的祸 我的错 请勿怪我

把我锁在旋涡 怎能挣脱
若心化为真空 怎能错过
血里病菌流动 加速脉搏
罪恶感烧成火 无尽挥霍

感性放肆挑拨 理智离我
当爱选择折磨 无话可说
求你从轻发落 我的罪过
染上了瘾的我 咬一口禁果




[Forbidden Fruit]

Don’t pull me in, for I’ve promised myself never to fall again
The poison needle dipped in honey now has to resist the temptation of blood
Right in front of me, that sharp, dazzling and attractive silhouette
Silently and scorchingly cutting at me

How can I break free if you have locked me in a whirlpool?
How can I miss you if my heart became a vacuum?
The virus flowing in my blood quickens my heartbeat
The guilt bursts into flames as I squander it endlessly

Nowhere to hide, that clear and familiar aching lulls me to sleep
The havoc I have wreaked is my mistake but please do not give me the blame

As sensibility starts inciting wantonly, reason escapes me
If love chose to torture me, I can say nothing in defence
I beg you to please pardon my sins with leniency
For I am riddled with an addiction
As I take a bite of the forbidden fruit






Thankfully the problems I now face in relation to cruising stem from an entirely different place, one that does not eat at me. This is where maturity plays a huge role in personal happiness. I now know what I want in life and what makes me content. Imagine a “happy ending” that lasts a lifetime–wouldn’t that be worth more than anything in the world?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Nuding it up again

The final edits from my last shoot are out and they can be shared with my friends at last. This shoot took place at the Harold Park tram shed in Glebe. It was an amazing site and a photographer's dream. The setting was urban and run-down with a creative flair and a tinge of unpredictability. It was also the location of many celebrities' music videos and I guess with the backdrop of the abandoned trams, it is of no surprise. However sneaking into this gigantic locked premise was a challenge but we were lucky that day as we were directed by someone familiar with that place to enter via a very obscure secret entrance. Shooting nude when there was broken glass everywhere was a danger and I even cut my left sole but it was all worth it in the name of art. I might return to the same location for another shoot with a different photographer but that can wait for I have another nude studio shoot confirmed this weekend (more to come too seeing that the weather is warming up). I am so looking forward to it. Enjoy the pictures!














Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Musical journey (3)

Perhaps the most depressing period in my life was the few years after I came out when every little thing triggered a melancholic chain reaction in me. I felt that I was all alone in this world and that I would stay that way forever with no one to love me. I did not get support from my family and friends could not do much to help because it was my own personal battle. The dangerous thing about depression is that once you have reached that “sweet spot”, you could be sub-consciously (or even consciously) searching for sources of depression to comfort yourself and this would end up in a vicious cycle. I was always going for the saddest movie in the cinema and I would visit places where couples hang out so that I would feel even worse. It was the lowest point in my life as I wandered the streets all by myself, wondering if I had made the correct decision in coming out.

I guess this story might not sound too foreign to those who have ever struggled in their coming out but to those who are fortunate enough not to ever face this problem in their lives, it could not be further away from their comprehension. That story took place about ten years ago and although I am one of the most well-adjusted gay people I know, I will never forget the suffering of those few years–they serve to remind me how much pain I could actually withstand and how strong I have become.

As a sensitive and musically-inclined person, I have written countless songs in an attempt to relieve some of that pent-up depression and angst. In this month’s musical journey, I will share with you guys one of those songs–the one that best describes what I went through all those years. I hope you can feel that despair through my voice.


[梦里笑]

/词 / : 锦泉/

走过的思路, 穿过迷雾
应该更清楚, 但只有孤独

挣脱束缚, 却陷入了无助
是否走错了路, 已来不及领悟

明知道梦想在眼前眺望着那远处的我
明知道伸出双手也触摸不到
却知道我和寂寥在拥抱
也知道流泪后还得挤出个微笑

眼前一对一对, 我只能穿梭在他们之间
眼前牵手的牵手, 把我给推到绝望的边缘
我需要一个男人让我来爱到老
告诉我会有一天我会在梦里笑




[Smiling In My Dreams]

Having walked through the thought pathways
Through the bewildering fog
There should be clarity
Not only loneliness

Having struggled out of the shackles
I have lapsed into helplessness
Have I gone down the wrong road
I have run out of time for realisations

I know that my dream is in the distance peering at me
I know that it is untouchable even if I stretched out my hands
I know that I am in the arms of desolation
And I also know that I have to squeeze out a smile after I cry

I can only travel amongst the countless couples in front of me
Hand in hand they are, pushing me to the brink of giving up all hope
I only need a man to love for the rest of my life
Tell me a day will come when I will be smiling in my dreams





On the note of song-writing, I have recently joined the first-ever gay song-writers group in Sydney and will be going for the first meeting this weekend, a day before my participation in my first-ever song-writing competition in Australia (in which I have to sing 25 minutes worth of compositions). Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Winter report

It is now the coldest month in Sydney and that is great for this is the season best spent at home cuddled up with your loved one be it your dog, your mum or your partner. In my case, it is my big huggable bear as we hibernate together, away from the craziness called Oxford Street and Kings Cross. However I have not been kept idle at work and that is why I have not blogged for some time (shhh!) but work has eased a little bit of late and so I am grabbing this chance to squeeze in a winter report of the recent happenings, observations and thoughts in my life.

If you have not heard, Australia has a new prime minister, the first female one ever. It was a little dramatic the way she got into the position by ousting the previous guy from her own party which got the news and media all fired up for some time. You would think that a single, red-headed, out-and-proud atheist who has co-habited with her male partner (a hairdresser!) for the longest time (ie. living in sin in the eyes of the Christian fundies) would be a great advocate of gay rights and gay marriage right? Sadly, politics remain politics and Australia remains in the dark ages. However her actions would be under very close scrutiny from now on–her hypocritical pandering to the Christian right as an atheist for political gains must be exposed at all cost.

Still on the gay topic–recently the gay community here got into a bit of a flurry with the release of Sex and the City 2 as well as Kylie’s new album. Well I have watched the movie and listened to the album not because I subscribe to this gay stereotype (I watched because it was a group outing and I had no say; I listened because I do like Kylie and not due to her gay icon status). Of course the World Cup did not help pull gays away from their addictions and actually made things worse. I know that gays being averse to sports is yet another stereotype but if you put aside the folly of stereotyping, there is actually a big element of truth in stereotypes. For me, I got hit in the stomach by a soccer ball when I was young and swore off soccer (and sports) ever since (you can say that it all started with sports-phobia) and I am sure many others were not good at sports or even bullied because of that (especially so in this sporty country). So there is a very good reason behind gays avoiding sports and over time finding them boring. I am sure there is a parallel stereotype about straights not being attuned to their sensitive sides but it is highly unlikely that straight youths are being taunted in schools for not being able to sing and dance well. Though definitely unfair in comparison, I am not going to lose sleep over this (not when it is so nice and warm under my doona these winter nights).

In case you think that I spend my non-working hours doing nothing (but catching up on a highly-recommended series “Brothers and Sisters”), you are only partially right. Recently I hosted a visiting Singaporean friend for one week and we spent a weekend at a bed and breakfast in Hunter Valley amidst the vineyards. I am not a big wine-drinker but there were not many places that could be toured within a weekend that could be booked just a day before. I am glad we did it though as it was good to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life once in a while and totally relax in another world (this one takes place in slow motion). I also had the first experience of getting sloshed in the day. It was nice catching up with my friend and seeing another (albeit touristy) part of New South Wales. My friend lamented that there are no such getaway places within yawn-inducing Singapore and how lucky yet foolish I am for not taking full advantage of this “feature”. Interestingly, I used to feel the same way but now I complain about Sydney being boring. I wonder where my next greener pasture would be…

There is a stark contrast between my working and non-working hours for I guess it is completely logical to have an inverse relationship between how productive one is within the office and without. At the end of a crazy work day, I just want to wind down and do absolutely nothing (that includes not cooking). On the work front, things seem to be progressing well. I just had a week-long training, something that I fought tooth and nail for. Although it is totally ridiculous for an employee to have to jostle for essential training, one can actually work this to one’s advantage. By being aggressive in this regard, you can appear to be pro-active especially when some of your other colleagues are * L * A * Z * Y * with a capital everything!

Also, it seems that I have had the highest percentage pay-increment compared to all my other contractor workmates–my boss divulged this little titbit entirely of his own volition. Well that was a long time coming especially seeing that the company owes me a year worth of increment. During my performance appraisal, my boss (who knows that I am one of the better performers around) asked me how much I would like my increment to be (it was like giving me a blank cheque!). I feigned a sort of uninterested “whatever-the-market-rate-is” kind of response plus a “say-10%” with the knowledge that the current market rate is lower than that. Suffice to say I did not get as high as 10% but am happy that my performance is finally being recognised. In actual fact, a high percentage of a small number is still a small number so what I got did not matter to the company at all. My boss also told me that not everyone received an increment–I really hope the curry-lover did not get it! By the way, there is a running gag amongst the Caltex people that I am working too fast and that I need to be slowed down with more work–I genuinely do not know how to react to this–should I be a team player and try to fit in like the rest by being inefficient and unproductive? Anyway despite the positive outlook I have at work now, I think I still want to talk to my Caltex boss about jumping to Caltex next month (my 2-year anniversary as a contractor)–I am seriously dreading that meeting but for the sake of my career, I just have to bite the bullet and stop procrastinating.

Talking about procrastination, my buying of an apartment has officially moved from a phase of procrastination to one of impossibility (for now). I realised that if one were to borrow more than 80% of the apartment cost from the bank, one would be charged a hefty amount of loan insurance (to protect banks against loan defaults). This means that with the size and location I desire in my item of purchase coupled with the rapid rise in property prices, I cannot afford the 20% down payment at the moment. But I am almost there and when I am, watch out world of apartment-hunting, I will conquer you! To reach that goal, I am saving like crazy and thankfully the bank savings interest rates here are good. The one I am with is the best in town and is at the (risk-free) rate of 6.51% (with the paltry rates of < 0.5% in Singapore, no wonder people are pushed to invest in other riskier ventures). To save a lot means to spend a little and with the high cost of living in Sydney (it is even higher than that of Manhattan–can you believe it?) it means an extreme cutting down of unnecessary expenditures. I think I am doing rather well. I know I should be saving my tax return this year but maybe I should give myself a little treat (not that the amount would be anything decent).

So there you have it, my (hopefully concise enough) winter report. The season is up for a few more weeks and when it ends, I am not going to miss it even though I love it. When it is so cold, it is hard to organise outdoor photo shoots especially when they are of the nude kind (I am currently in touch with four local photographers trying to firm up several projects). With the cold weather, I also cannot be as close to nature as possible, something that I absolutely enjoy. So as Ision and I continue to warm each other up (the biggest winter perk), I will be looking forward to summer when the kits will all have to go!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Musical journey (2)

Being bilingual is one of the traits that I am rather proud of and a really good "proof" of that is that I write songs in both English and Chinese. This thought made me realise that firstly I have not uploaded any works that I only wrote lyrics for and secondly I have not shared any English songs that I have written thus far. I will address the first "issue" with this month's musical journey and then let you have a taste of my English songs in my subsequent posts.

The first piece was originally a tune I recently received from my dear friend back in Singapore which was by itself a collaborative effort between her and a member of a band made famous by a reality show-type singing competition. It is basically a love song in which the singer struggles to find the source of his pain–a toss-up between his still physically-lingering partner and his not being able to get over the doomed relationship.

Here are the words of the song followed by its translation in English:


[I Don't Wanna Cry]

/词: 锦泉//曲: 美莲 + Nic @ 迷路兵/

I don't wanna cry
感情已不在
请留在门外
是我太失败
倦意和依赖
缠着我甩也甩不开
让你靠近是我给自己的伤害
活该


I don't wanna cry, I know I've tried
黑夜和泪总得一起来
只因你早已渗透我血脉

I don't wanna cry, please say goodbye
给你机会还欠我的债
为何你还是不肯。。。离开

让你存在是我对自己的虐待
别再


I don't wanna cry, just tell me why
时间和泪非得要比赛
被思念囚禁我泥足深陷火海


I don't wanna cry, I don't wanna lie

若能从心把你哭出来
我愿意含泪继续。。。忍耐

你还是不肯离开




[I Don't Wanna Cry]

I don't wanna cry
Now that the feelings are all gone
Please stay outside the door
I have failed myself
For I cannot shrug off
The fatigue and dependence stuck on me

Letting you near is the harm I have caused myself
Serves me right

I don't wanna cry, I know I've tried
The dark night and tears always have to come together
Only because you have long seeped into my veins

I don't wanna cry, please say goodbye
Let this be the chance for you to repay what you owe me
Why do you still refuse to leave?

Letting you stay is the torture I have given myself
Not again please

I don't wanna cry, just tell me why
Time and tears are always in a race
Trapped by thoughts of you, I am knee-deep in a sea of fire

I don't wanna cry, I don't wanna lie
If I could cry you out of my heart
I would continue to endure in tears

And you still refuse to leave






The second piece in this post involves a back story. Back when I was still in Singapore, I performed 摇篮 in the first-ever concert put together by COMPASS (a local organisation that manages music-copyrighting and royalties) which showcased original compositions by its fellow members. I thoroughly enjoyed singing on stage and it gave me a high that nothing else could compare (it was held in the old Parliament House). A famous local song-writer was in the audience and he was looking for someone to write words to a Chinese song which was part of a local telemovie's soundtrack. He contacted me soon after the concert and gave me two days to write the lyrics with only a quick summary of the movie's plot (consisting of one or maybe two sentences). He did tell me that the movie would be distributed to churches as a preaching tool but I could not care less as that was really a golden opportunity for me (I was not even paid for my work and I was still totally happy about that) .

I remembered how the responsibility of writing for a musical giant weighed on my shoulders–it was constantly on my mind and I could not concentrate on my day job at that time at all. However I was impressed with myself for delivering the song on time (and the result) as well as having the chance to sing and record it (in just two takes ie. I sang the whole song once in one take and another time in another take with a different feel) at his ginormous (it can fit an entire choir) and state-of-the-art studio. He was quite easy to work with although as big names go, you would expect some level of diva-esque attitude. After the recording, I waited patiently for the finished product to arrive. The song came soon but the actual movie only came many months after that. It was so worth the wait for my name appeared in the closing credits–this has always been one of my dreams.

Here are the words of the song and as usual followed by an English translation:


[跌倒]

/词: 锦泉// 曲: Iskandar Ismail/

霓虹灯不再燃烧
笙歌不再听到
冷冷的月光紧围绕

憔悴的我哭倒

沉重的心脱不了
禁锢我的手铐
离开我的影子我才看到
我是如此渺小

爱的一切都输掉

赢回一室的寂寥
只有时间陪我慢慢苍老
叫我怎承受得了这煎熬

是非已不再重要
失去你的拥抱
我只能在一角跪地求饶
你能否听得到

昨天的我不知道

今天的痛我明了
如果能够让我再走一遭
我发誓不会跌倒

不想继续海中飘

回头是岸我知道
我的康庄大道今天创造
我发誓再也不会 跌倒




[Fall]

The neon lights burn no more, the party music plays no more
The cold moonlight wraps tightly around my haggard body crying on the floor

My heavy heart is unable to shirk off the imprisoning handcuffs
Only leaving my shadow behind could I see how small I am

Having lost everything I love
Having won a room of loneliness
Only time is left to slowly grow old with me
Tell me how I can live through this torture

Right and wrong are no longer important now that I have lost your embrace
I can only beg for forgiveness on my knees in the corner, can you hear me?

The old me did not understand my wrongs
As I acknowledge the pain today
If I were to have another chance to walk again
I swear I will never fall

I do not wish to continue to drift in the ocean
For I know the shore is right behind me
Today I shall create the road to my bright future
I swear I will never fall



As for the clip, I have included the original segment of the show when the song was played (with self-added subtitles). In the movie, the last verse was not included and this is why you can also find the complete song below the video.









I hope the classic Mediacorp-feel of the clip was not too much for you (well I could not do anything about that). Do look out for more musical journeys coming up!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tantric observations

You should know by now that I am a nudist (with an exhibitionistic flavour) and it would not surprise anyone that I chose to attend a nude tantric yoga session recently. I am a pretty seasoned nudist so it would take a lot to impress or shock me. As predicted, the whole nude tantric yoga experience was kind of bland but still I have made some observations from that night.


Observation 1: The dark setting flattered everyone, some more so than others. I did not need the room to be that dim myself but I am sure for the sake of the entire class, many would have deemed it necessary. There were lots of mirrors around too which was always a good thing.

Observation 2: There were quite a few cute and even hunky guys, much to my surprise. You see, a lot of nudists I have encountered are free spirits (which made perfect sense) and the philosophy of free spirits is to try to not control anything. Of course there would be exceptions but generally when people relinquish control, one of the things they let go is their diet and consequently their physical shape. Suffice to say there were good exceptions that night (with only one obese person).

Observation 3: Participants could share 10-visit passes (I did not think it was allowed) which meant that the cheapest anyone could pay for one session was $10. If you were not clever enough to take advantage of that, you could well be paying up to $17.50 per session. Naturally, I belong to the clever group and shared the 10-visit pass bought by the friend I went with.

Observation 4: It was a rainy winter night and yet there were almost 25 people there that Sunday night and this must be quite lucrative to the instructor. You would think that instructors charging that much would be 100% professional but as free-spirited gay men, it was hard to control sexual urges in front of other attractive free-spirited gay men. So as expected, the (gay) instructor was not totally professional. He purposely put himself in a group massage section of the class which had the hunkiest guy of the lot–this was a deviation from the normal class format. And as the massage went on, he was obviously concentrating on the hunk’s nether regions more than other parts. I know this was pardonable given the circumstances but I still felt that the instructor should be professional enough to not let this happen. Of course what made me feel more bitter was that the instructor was clearly not into Asians.

Observation 5: There was quite a bit of posing work as a couple and so it made sense to have the instructor partner someone with a person of similar built. I made a prior request to be partnered with someone of a similar (muscular) built with the knowledge that it might be too much to ask for. Fortunately my (Asian) partner was not too bad (he was cute too). The hunky (Caucasian) ones whom I was ogling would never be assigned to me because of dissimilar built and this was a major disappointment. How many muscular men (who are nudists) of my height are out there?

Observation 6: Frankly, I was expecting the experience to be more sexual but at the end of the day it all boiled down to one’s partner. There was a lot of mutual touching and if your partner were not touching the right parts for whatever reason, you might not want to bring your hands to those parts on him as well (for fear of getting him out of his comfort zone). However I felt that I was too tame and that might be why my partner was too tame as well. If I were to go next time, I would make it overtly sexual and push the envelope further.

Observation 7: We were told to come to the class freshly-showered and apply deodorant (for obvious reasons) but there were still people (one in particular) with very strong body odour problems (think people heavy on the curry diet). I really am starting to think that even if these people were to shower in bleach, the smell would still permeate from the pores (I used to think that they were just sloppy when showering). Mental note: steer clear of those people in the future (we could send the instructor an email before the class advising him not to assign particular people to us as partners–phew!).

Observation 8: There were opportunities to put yourself out there if you wanted to “cruise” around especially before the class when everyone was just standing around and waiting. I heard from other attendees that people sometimes proceed to full-on sex after the class elsewhere. This is totally understandable especially when people generally do not cum during such tantric yoga sessions and after being edged on for the whole time, it is difficult to not want to end the night on a happy note. I guess if I really wanted to push the envelope to the extreme, I could cum there and then (of course the partner would have to be into that as well). I wonder what would the others think if I were to do that?


So now the only important question left unanswered is “would I go for another session”? As I have mentioned above, I felt that I have yet to go the distance to make the class as enjoyable for me as possible. To be honest, I was also a bit displeasured that I was not propositioned for sex (all gay men are sluts deep inside if not already on the outside) especially when I clearly had one of the best bodies around. But then again I was also too shy as it was my first session–maybe I will up the ante much more in the next class (I would then risk incurring greater disappointment). In any case, it was still not time yet to stick the “been there, done that” label onto tantric yoga and so you will probably see me there in the next class for despite being stark naked, I still had spare inhibition to shed.