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An Apology, and a realisation, and hopefully a step towards being a responsible man…

This morning – at least in Australia – we’ve woken up to the news that, unsurprisingly, Donald Trump big noted himself by telling a journalist as a star he could get away with grabbing strange women by the pussy.

This post isn’t about that. It’s not even about strange women. It’s about the women I knew when I was baby Queen, the behaviour I portrayed, and how in hindsight I really should have known better.

I was a titty-grabber.

No sugar coating it. There’s no need. I used to think it was funny. I never once stopped for a second to consider that it was inappropriate. I was gay. They were my friends. It was a laugh. I’ve come to realise as I’ve aged it wasn’t appropriate nor was it a laugh. While my friends may well have laughed it off at the time, it made them uncomfortable, and for that I apologise.

I can even remember sucking someone’s boob at the Stonewall one night for drinks. To be fair, she did have her boob out and in my face before the bartender finished saying “suck her tit and you both drink for free for the rest of the night,” but I tell this because while she didn’t mind and neither did I (it wasn’t the first time) it could easily have been inappropriate. I didn’t think that night beyond “free booze.”

It isn’t a behaviour I’ve continued to do.

As we all grew up and grew older, it seemed to just stop on its own. Same with my useless party trick of being able to undo a bra with two fingers. And while it’s not something I would do now it is something that back in the day I did without thought. I never considered the people I was doing it to would see it as anything other than a joke.

As a gay man, I meant nothing but the laugh that would come but that is no excuse. It’s part of the entitlement I guess, that see’s me look at tweets like Trump’s and condemn the man now.

But what is the difference between him grabbing a woman’s pussy and me grabbing a friends boob when I was 24 and out for a night of drunken stupidity.

Being gay does not give men an excuse to be an arsehole. To be blunt, as gay men, we should know better.

I recently read an article from a lady in the Sydney Star Observer – I think. She talked about how gay men never hesitated to grab her boob. The comments (from the gays) were vicious. While I was reading the post, I thought back on my younger days.

I remembered one friend punching me, another laughing and swatting my hand away and I found myself thinking “Fuck is this what they were thinking? Was I that much of a jack ass”.

While I don’t remember anyone saying “no” I also don’t remember anyone saying yes either. I never bothered to ask before I grabbed, so permission never crossed my mind.

I can’t take back that behaviour, and it’s easy to type “I was young and dumb”, but the fact remains I did what I thought I was funny with no thought to how my female friends felt.

So I take this opportunity not only to admit that I did be wrong but to apologise without reserve to anyone I made feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. Intentions be damned. It’s about how I made others feel.

If I ever made you feel less of a person, or uncomfortable, you have my heartfelt apology and my commitment to do better. As a 43 year old I can honestly say “I’d never do that”, but as a 24-year old, I did.

And to those men – gay and straight – who have done similar things writing it off as a joke doesn’t make it one. It is at best an invasion. Keep your hands to yourself.

If you want to joke with female friends, tell them a knock-knock joke. Honestly, looking back on it I’m surprised at least 2 of the women I’ve known didn’t tell me a punch-punch joke.

People crap on feminists like Clementine Ford for standing up; for being vocal about her body and her right to decide who see’s it or who touches it. I saw a bunch of whinny arse tweets from men my age and older about her book release. Her book Fight Like A Girl was written for a reason.

I fully understand why people like Clementine Ford are vocal. Someone needs to stand up for the girls that aren’t, and frankly, it’s a shame the men around them aren’t doing it when they see other men behaving like fuckwits.

Here’s the thing.

If men treated women with the respect, they deserve people like Clementine Ford wouldn’t have to be advocates for social change. My behaviour as a young queen embarrasses me today. It makes me feel like I was an idiot. And you know what; I was. I knew better. I did it anyway.

The other thing is if anyone did that to a woman I know, or a girl, I’d break their fingers. You touch one of my family, my friends and I’ll make you wish you’d decided to pick your nose in public instead. Again that’s with hindsight, but hypocritical or not I’d make you aware of how inappropriate you are.

As someone whose body was used against them by others, I should have known better. I didn’t. And for that I apologise. I promise to do better. And I promise to say something, to stand up when I see others behaving as I used to.


    • You’re more than welcome Carolyn. I know it’s done something I’m currently being torn apart on twitter by “men” who are calling me “weak”. Stupid pricks.

      • Their response to your open, candid and powerful article says a lot about those men and the struggle good men have in speaking up about gender equality and the cessation of domestic and family violence. We always know when we’ve butted against a power ‘line’ in human relations when the response becomes dismissive/vitriolic and punitive. Always remember, when you come from a good, pure heart, with a social justice agenda, the negative responses are always about those responding, not the visionary.

      • Thank you. I never thought about it in the day, but I do now. I’ll try and do better moving forward.

  1. I hope more men, whatever their sexuality, read this piece and think about how they treat women. I am about the same age as you and in my youth had more than one “friend” (and both gay and straight) who thought it was funny to sexually assault me. And I mean far more than just grabbing my breasts. I did say “No” and “Stop” but they and others always dismissed me as being “uptight” because it was “just a joke”, and worse, other men laughed along an encouraged it. I internalised that for a very long time, feeling shame for feeling violated by my friends, for not being “chill” enough.

    As I got older I saw it for what it was – sexual assault aimed at humiliating me. The entire point was to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed because ha ha, isn’t that funny to embarrass and shame young women, they’re so stupid. When perpetrated by gay men, it was usually followed by the declaration that of COURSE it was a joke, as though I’d be attracted to YOU. Straight men usually just said “Oh shut up, you love it, you’re finally getting a bit of action.”

    I saw that article you mentioned above and the comments on it and the misogyny was rampant. It made me feel sick. I have stood up my whole life for my gay friends and fought like a lioness for gay men to be treated with dignity and respect, and it HURTS to see so much rank misogyny thrown back at me and other women.

    It would be nice to see a few more have lightbulb moments like yours.

    • Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I’m sorry you experienced what you did. Regardless of the ‘reasons’ in their heads – and I can only speak for my own – actions like that need to held up and the behaviour held accountable. As I said, just because I thought it was ‘funny’ didn’t make it so. If I’d had the situation reversed I would have been mortified. I just didn’t think of things like that when I was younger. Maybe it’s getting older, maybe it’s the impact of social media and seeing these actions as the lives of others. I hope there will be many more lightbulb moments for others, and that maybe one day you’ll get the apology you deserve.

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