Alistair Barton is the host of Picking at Perfection, a podcast that aims to explore and break down perfectionist expectations.
And on this episode of Lost Spaces we’re doing something a little bit different – instead of visiting a club we’re going to a youth group.
Alistair says that the youth group he went to as a teenager gave him a safe space to explore his identity with a group of young people that were outside of his school and outside of all the expectations and pressure that he felt there.
But it wasn’t all arts, crafts and ping pong!
We caught up to talk about the group, growing up in the suburbs, and his number one teenage crush, Hot Gay Joey.
It’s almost a rite of passage, isn’t it to have a school sort of crush it at that age and do the sort of giggling and blah, blah, blah. And that’s, that’s what I wanted. That’s something I feel like I missed out on and was missing out on at the time. So I just used to pester everyone. And as soon as I had a whiff of, you know, there’s like, I think there’s a gay guy. Now. Who knows him introduced me. And then obviously, it would again kind of happen that, you know, there was not the immediate attraction that I was kind of expecting, so kind of just got to terms with it, I guess.
K Anderson 00:30
Hello, I am K Anderson, and you are listening to lost spaces, the podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode, I talk to a different person about a venue from their past, that memories are created there. And the people that they used to know. My guests on this week’s show is Alistair host of the picking at perfection podcast, a lot of peace, a show that aims to explore and break down perfectionist expectations. And this week, we’re doing something a little bit different. Instead of visiting a bar or a club, we’re going to a youth group. Alistair says that the youth group that he went to as a teenager gave him a safe space to explore his identity with a group of young people that were outside of his school and outside of all of the expectations and pressure that he felt there. But it was an all art crafts and ping pong, we caught up to talk about the group growing up in the suburbs, and his number one teenage crush. Gay, Joey. Oh, and I have to say, before we get started, if you are heterosexual and you’re listening to this episode, I make some assertions about what it’s like to grow up as a heterosexual that may or may not be correct. So do feel free to call me out if I am wildly off base.
Even though working was really quite a big place, it was still everyone knows everyone kind of vibes, you can walk in the street without being stopped and, and saying hi. And for me, that was one of the massive things that I wanted to get away from a move away from working for. And I have friends that still live there. But I don’t enjoy going back and just being recognised kind of thing. Because I think there’s kind of like a fakeness to it of people stopping in the street and saying, hey, and it’s like, oh, how are you? And it’s like, realistically, we haven’t spoken in, you know, 15 years. In some cases, I don’t think you really care how I am or what I’m doing unless you want something from it unless you like that people add you on LinkedIn, because they see that you’re in a similar industry. So it’s like, Okay, so this is going to end up with a, it’s not a meaningless kind of request, it’s, you know, there’s loaded, there’s something that they want. Yeah, so I guess I just don’t like sort of fake society. And we were talking before we started recording that I’m a bit more of an introvert. So when you run into people in the street, do you just go through the sharada? Or do you just like try to zip it
K Anderson 03:26
I apologise to anyone that I’ve ever avoided in person is not listening to them. So I guess there’s like two scenarios. So like, if you see them from afar, and if they if you recognise them before they recognise you, if it’s someone I don’t want to speak to, then I would just as I keep my head down, try not to be noticed or whatever. And then if they notice you, you’d be like, Oh, hi. And if you can sort of look them in the eye and keep walking, then I would do that. But yeah, if they stopped me in the street, you know, I’ll go through this rod. But yeah, I don’t know, I just, I, I have a special dislike for it, because I don’t like off the cuff kind of chat, because I feel like I misrepresent myself, like, maybe there’s like a natural need to want to impress them. And, you know, tell them all of your achievements and things like that, and almost like, you know, put up barriers, I guess. And I’m just I’m not into that whole kind of thing. And honestly, if I haven’t stayed in touch with with someone, then I don’t really not care about them. That’s the wrong word. I wish them well, I don’t mean wish them any harm, but there’s obviously a reason that we didn’t stay in each other’s lives. And that’s fine. I think you have to accept that and move on from that rather than labour out and pretend to want to meet up and catch up over drinks sometime and
K Anderson 04:46
that never happens. Is Is there a fear of judgement in there?
Oh, 100% Yeah, I like I fear everyone’s judgement for sure. That’s something that Yeah, comes I think everyone deals with fear of judgement, right? I can’t. It’s fear of being judged. It’s fear of just being seen, like having the kind of conversation with them, and what will they think? And how will you compare to them as well? Like, what if they’re, you know, it sounds so stupid What if them in a more successful kind of role, and that wouldn’t make me feel so good because we’re the same age or similar age and I would come away thinking I should have done better, worked harder, and got to where they’ve got, I guess that comparison culture.
K Anderson 05:26
I also like, I’m just touching an awkward conversation list of who always goes awry. I mean, I fuck it, I fucked it up immediately, because people are like, how are you? Yeah. And I don’t just say, Oh, I’m great. I say, Well, I got like, this funny knee at the moment. And then this is happening. And then this is happening. And then they’re just like, Oh, yeah.
They don’t really mean how are you? They just their natural expected responses. Yes. And so let me give you an example. So I ran into a friend. So I was back in work in recently, seeing my parents, I was just in town. And I ran into someone, it was actually a girl that I used to, like, in year seven, we like had a boyfriend, girlfriend kind of thing. And, you know, she’s absolutely lovely. And in that instance, I didn’t regret kind of stopping, but it is awkward. So she was like, oh, how are you? And like, I was like, Oh, um, I got engaged. And like, I took my ring off and showed her like, why would you do that? Why do you take your ring off and check out and then I dropped it in the street, had to take it. And I was like, that’s the kind of stuff that I get into, like, I’m not prepared to talk.
K Anderson 06:31
Maybe it was, maybe the solution is whenever you leave your house, like hype yourself up as though you’re going to be talking to someone, and then you’re just start talking to strangers at the bus stop. Yeah, I’m
just an awkward person, I guess. I think I prefer social context.
K Anderson 06:49
Yeah, I just don’t prefer people to be awkward and themselves, then polished and kind of boring.
Yeah, that makes sense.
K Anderson 06:58
But yeah, most people that when they stop you in the street, they just want you to be kind of boring and say, Hello platitudes, and then be on your way. chasing your ring down the street,
I guess is also on a relay. And like, I can’t relate, because I would never stop someone in the street myself. Because if they’re in the street, you know, they’re running an errand or, you know, they’re they’re doing something else. Maybe if they’re maybe they got
K Anderson 07:19
kicked out of the house, and they’re just killing time.
Yeah. But if you ask them how they were, they would say, Yeah, I’m fine.
K Anderson 07:27
So even a really good friend, you would just not want to sit up and talk to them.
I’ve probably Well, yeah, I don’t know, I would probably wave but maybe continue walking. Because like, this is the thing. Like if I’m out, it’s for a purpose. I’m not just like wandering around like, aimlessly looking for people to chat to. It’s like, I’ve got a I’m in a rush, I’m running an errand. I’ve got to pick something up or something like that. And I guess I just think that everyone is like that and doesn’t really want to be interrupted because they’re on their way somewhere, or they’ve got something else in mind. I guess for me, everything has to be done with like, a purpose or an end goal. Yeah, I guess not very nice to talk about people, but
K Anderson 08:06
like, why don’t you just say to them, sorry, you’re not on my to do list today?
I think I would end up with not many friends. I guess that is the point I’m getting to. And I think my friends would know, like, they like if they were listening to this. They’d be like, yeah, that’s that Lester. That’s just part of his ways kind of thing. I am kind of a bit more of a blunt person, I guess. But yeah, maybe we wouldn’t say that. I would say something like, I’m in a rush or I’ve got to go.
K Anderson 08:36
I think so. This is advice from a complete stranger. And you can ignore it. So absolutely. Just go ahead and do that. But like, sometimes those instances and I’m not saying that I’m like, super into them either, like because sometimes it’s just like, Oh, please like pavement, can you just swallow me up? I don’t want to talk to this person. But sometimes, like, it’s just a magical little moment of happenstance. And it can like, help you solve a problem help you look at a situation in a different way or make you think maybe I’m not so terrible at conversation because I actually got through that and didn’t cringe. Yeah,
it’s a good way.
K Anderson 09:17
Like, you’re not good. No, no,
I have the advice. I’m very like a maybe a blinkered person. So like when I say I’m running as you know, running an errand or something to pick up. Like that will be the only thing that’s in my head, and I’ll be very like, and that’s why it’s sort of blindsided when someone interrupts you and it makes it almost more of an awkward exchange because you were one not ready or not expecting it and two, you’re focused on something else. So it’s like a double whammy of Oh, oh, you and Mike. Yeah. Oh, let me put myself in my mindset of 10 years ago when we knew each other. You liked history what you’re doing with that. Now, it’s almost like a you know, you have to recall things and it’s not acceptable if you don’t remember things about them and ask how they, how they’re using it, I guess I’m gonna make a lot of friends through this episode I can tell.
K Anderson 10:03
I pretty much I mean, so So my advice, okay, this is this is also free advice, you know you’re getting getting quite a lot of value out of me today. If you’ve got, if you’ve got headphones in, then you can just pretend pretend you’re on a phone call. That’s simple. But if you don’t just start talking to yourself, because then they’ll think, oh, he’s so caught up in his own world, he didn’t notice me. And then you can just keep walking.
That is good advice. I might take those ones
K Anderson 10:32
I do all the time or just start singing.
I was telling myself to be such like a bad person. But like, you know, I do stuff in tax people grudgingly. Yeah, well, yeah, I guess. To be honest, like, I don’t do it to hurt anyone. There’s no intention of that. Yeah, it’s just, it’s just a thing, I guess.
K Anderson 10:54
Okay, but like, I’m totally paying attention. If I ever see you in the street or in a pub or at a concert, I just will not talk to you. Promise.
Well, you can wave like the wages. Okay?
K Anderson 11:05
No, no, no, no, no. I’m going all in. Can we? Okay, cool. That’s fine. I’ll just look through you.
How about that just jump on your phone, like a millennial. And like, text me and say, I saw you and be like, yeah, hey, and then we can just not image each other in person.
K Anderson 11:20
That is so annoying. That is so annoying when people do that. Like when you get a text message Three days later, or like later that evening saying, Oh, I saw you out on the street today. And why are you telling me this? What am I going to do with this information? Why didn’t you come and say hello? Yeah, I’d rather just not know. Yeah,
K Anderson 11:45
So what were we talking about? We’re talking about the difference. So we’d like you to always have this vision. So like, you know, growing up in a town, did you feel stifled by that and like ready to break out? Or was it like something that you weren’t really aware of?
I guess, I guess I did do I didn’t break out of the type of place that it is, I’ve just moved to kind of like a clone of where I used to live. But in a place where people recognise me, I guess. It was, it was almost like, not knowing what was out there. Like we did go to lunch, you know, I make myself sound like I was locked in a room and not allowed out. My parents, like, you know, took us up to London to see shows and things like that. And, you know, that remains to be a passion of mine, like going to the theatre and things like that. But it always always this kind of like overwhelming place that was super busy. And we were always kept, you know, very close. And you know, that can be overwhelming as a kid. And I think it’s still kind of has that vibe of it’s nice to be in but it’s not. I don’t think the lifestyle of actually living there is is for me, it’s nice to visit and sort of have a fantasy day of Oh, yeah, I could say do this live. But I think that doing that every day would be far too too much for me. I think definitely from like an LGB. T perspective, though there was really nothing I’m working on that even resembled that a local pub called the I think was even a Wetherspoons pub called the gig house used to have there’s gays like a gay night on Thursday, which got cancelled because of like, really low attendance by the time that I was actually of the legal age to go. So that was upsetting. And yeah, I guess it did have a, you know, because obviously London has a massive kind of gay scene. But I wasn’t super confident back then in terms of maybe being able to take myself up and break into that kind of scene and do something with it, probably because I hadn’t been super exposed to it at the younger age.
K Anderson 13:40
And so then, like, at what age were you when you had inklings of
gayness? gayness? I would say, like, maybe from like, 1314 perhaps, I hear this, like a lot of people talking about I guess I always knew I was different. Maybe just not knowing why or maybe not different, but didn’t fit the norm kind of in society or the society that I was growing up in, but couldn’t quite pin down what it was. And I think my sort of peers at school realised before I did, I used to sort of get bullied for it. And maybe that kind of set me back a little bit because it had this negative association of being gay. So it was kind of like, I don’t accept it in myself, because it is so negative. Yeah, but I would say probably from around like, 1314 that kind of age. And then I came out at the age of 16 I
K Anderson 14:34
think it was so then at the age of 1314 coming out and working well not coming out, but you know, being aware of your sexuality. Were you able to find anything that you could access?
I don’t think so. Yeah, like I think I probably of course like Google these things and I think I probably saw the third gaze night or you know, like occasional game night but Obviously, that was for over 18. So maybe there wasn’t necessarily the support in place for younger people sort of having those kind of thoughts and feelings and realisations. And I guess that’s really where the the youth club kind of came in, I think I was going to use cover like maybe 815, just before that kind of full realisation and actually announcing it to the world. And there was sort of people there that I sort of saw as, as different or again, not fitting kind of society’s norm that I could relate to, and they’re also a little bit older as well. So it was kind of like a, maybe a showing of the fact that there is other ways to, to live and be in and that is kind of okay, but not in like, they weren’t preaching in that kind of way. It was like just an example. And you know, kind of get that vibe from other people.
K Anderson 15:49
So what made you like interested in the youth group in the first place?
But you know, I actually can’t remember I think always, I used to go with my neighbour and I think we were sort of looking for we knew each other because we were living down the same road used to play up as plays kids together when we grew up. And I think we almost wanted like a friendship group together, because he had his school friends, I had my school friends, but we didn’t want to mix those. So and I think his mom suggested, oh, you know, there’s a youth club down at Barkham Community Centre, and we were like, hey, yeah, sure, we’ll give it a go. And what’s funny is that he actually didn’t like it. He didn’t stick I think we went a couple of times together. But I had found this group of individuals that I related to and really clicked with. And maybe that excludes him a little bit. So he didn’t want to continue. But I carried on and sort of made friends with these older kind of kids. Some of them were my age, but it made me feel really cool back then to have friends that I could talk about at school that no one else knew. And that we’re older. That makes you sound cool, right?
K Anderson 16:52
So then, I have in my mind, I never went to a youth club. And I think I was always a bit like, oh, use clubs. They’re kind of a bit like, twee and geeky and square. I shouldn’t be saying these words to you. Sorry. And but something Okay, so I’m projecting on you here, correct me if I’m wrong. And I’m only saying this because I think we have this in common. The great thing about those types of groups is the organised fun.
K Anderson 17:26
Where you don’t have to make small talk with people. You don’t have to,
like awkwardly make your way through the room. You’re like, all focused on doing something. Yeah, for sure. And that almost breaks down some of the awkwardness and the barriers, because you’re all in doing the same kind of activity for sure.
K Anderson 17:42
So what kinds of activities were there? I knew you were gonna ask that I didn’t
want to remember many of them. There was like a big sort of educational programme, I guess, because it was run by social workers, there had to be like an element of safeguarding or educating. And we used to have like, I don’t know, maybe once every two months, something like that the sex education lady used to come in. And we used to have like, that was probably the I remember that being the probably best youth club because it was just hilarious, because we’re all sort of taking it seriously, but not taking it seriously. And it was always the same lady like she was just the sex education lady it bless her, I can’t remember her name. But obviously, she did these training sessions and moved from Youth to Youth group group kind of thing. And it was just hilarious like it was. Because when you’re you know, having sex education at school was almost like a formality. But this was like a completely free environment where you could literally just ask anything, and she would sort of give you an answer. But it was sort of No, no holds barred kind of thing about.
K Anderson 18:38
So what kind of questions were asked? Oh, like,
I would be so great to talk about it. But you know, the sort of, did I think I randomly asked, why do we need a toilet? Why do you always need a way after sex or something like that? You know, like, weird sort of, you know, when there’s rumours that go, they go?
K Anderson 18:57
Do you have an answer to that question about needing to pay after sex? Cuz I want to know,
well, I don’t know if I asked the question or if I just remember that, but she answered it from like, a female perspective. So I don’t know if that inferred Yeah, exactly. Sorry. Maybe I know, I think I asked her maybe she made the assumption that I was talking about a partner. I don’t know. I was probably really awkward and asking why I’m making it sound really big. And like, Oh, we had such fun. And we’re so open and honest. And I was sitting crying in a corner.
K Anderson 19:29
Like terrified to put your hand up.
I think that must be like the first session maybe in the second session that I saw was more open about kind of the questions about non traditional sex if you like, they’re not between a man and a woman kind of thing. Whereas it school kind of maybe it was more rigorous down that route. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I remember my sex education being like a man or woman have sex and it makes a baby. And sometimes men and men have sex but we won’t talk about that kind of thing. That’s just, you’ll have to find out about that. If you want it kind of thing like I guess putting a condom on applies to both So,
K Anderson 20:03
yeah, well, I mean, not for lesbian sex. The first thing I want to pick up on is the fact that you say traditional sex and I love that. And then the second thing I apologise I think
there’s no word like popular sex. Like, is that the most popular?
K Anderson 20:21
How about heterosexual sex? Okay, they
go. Quite right. I yeah, so I’m not the most woke person for sure.
K Anderson 20:28
No, no, no, no saris. Sorry, just the idea of like a traditional sex like, we are going to follow this tradition of Harry’s. And yeah, maybe it’s maybe it’s just me trying to get funny, I think. Yeah, I think like, when we learn about sex between men, it was like, Oh, and if you do this, you’ll probably get HIV Really?
lols. lunchtime. Oh, my God, if that’s what they said to you, then I had it much better.
K Anderson 20:55
Yeah. And like, I didn’t grow up in this country. But anyone who grew up under Section 28. So like till 2004, or something like they would just wouldn’t even bring it out. Yeah. What a boring lesson if none of it applies. But the other thing, like, obviously, I can’t speak from a heterosexual perspective. But okay, where am I going? So there’s something that I really like lying about how if you’re heterosexual, you’re just told, oh, you’re going to be the dominant one, oh, you’re going to be the submissive one. And this is how you’re going to have sex Off you go. And then if you’re not there, then there’s like all this. Like, there’s all these decisions. And sometimes I’m like, I just don’t want a decision. But but that’s actually just completely false. Because there are all of those decisions in heterosexual relationships. It’s just that they’re kind of brainwashed into thinking like that. They don’t have the decision, and they have to comply with these stereotypes. And it would be great if sex education was like, Oh, hey, by the way, even though you’re heterosexual, you might want to have her fist up your ass. And that’s okay. Yeah, yeah. Just make sure she wears a glove.
I think what’s difficult about the whole thing is that no one can talk from everyone’s perspective, like you were just saying that you can’t you can’t speak from a heterosexual perspective. And like, that is that is part of it. Like no one, no one knows what anyone else is experiencing, let alone You know, what a group of people are experiencing. So it’s as easy as super tough.
K Anderson 22:26
Yeah, I think like one of the gifts of not being straight, is that you get that opportunity to say like, oh, everything that I’ve been taught, like, doesn’t apply to me. So like, I need to, like, think about how I’m going to live my life and like, consciously make all these decisions. But if you’re like heterosexual, and you’re able bodied, and you’re white, then you go through life. And it’s far, far easier just to accept everything that you’re told, like, this is what you’re gonna do here. This is what you’re going to do here. And then you’re gonna have kids, and then you’re gonna buy a house. And so you don’t have that moment where you’re like, Oh, actually, like, What do I want? Like, what do I want to do? And so, either that point never comes or used to have a midlife crisis.
That’s it. I’ve never had put out like that. But that is amazing. Like the fact that Yeah, now that you’ve put it like, I mean, not that I ever wished I was straight or anything like that. I’ve always been very happy with who I am. But I’m even more happy. Having gone through what you’re saying about taking more conscious decisions for not being the norm. They’re almost going through the motions the way you’ve put in like of just society, like you say expecting, you know, marriage baby, or midlife crisis.
K Anderson 23:40
Oh, yeah. Because that is kind of a rite of passage now, isn’t it? Like, you know, you have to go through that kind of thing. Like, blow everything up and start again. It’s quite exciting, huh? Yeah. I want to buy stupid car. So like you didn’t know before you went that they were going to be like other queer people there. No, that’s true. But after you went, like How did you know?
And what how did I know the other people were like? Yeah, yeah. I guess I like didn’t. So it was a long kind of movie. Not long. It wasn’t maybe a couple of months sort of discovery, I guess. I’ve just like integrating with these people and being sort of friendly and making friends and being in the group and it was always it always used to end of our lucky coming next week. And there wasn’t the in those days like a WhatsApp chat or used to all have each other’s numbers and be like, Oh, you know, you’re going youth club this Friday. Yeah, can’t wait kind of thing. And this one time, one of the girls brought her friends along that would it wasn’t normally part of the crew. And there was like a passing of someone said, Oh, and you know, this is Nick has a boyfriend or something like that. Maybe it wasn’t so outright as that but it was like, Oh, yeah, your boyfriend does that or something like that. And there was little closeted gay me way. For this kind of reference, and my ears literally perked up and I was like, Oh my God may maybe he is maybe I didn’t miss hear that. And I remember having like a separate conversation with that girl being like, is Nick is He Is he gay kind of thing, like on the sidelines because I thought it was so taboo back then she was like, Yeah, yeah, Jordan talked to him about it. And I was like, Oh, my God, no, like, and I was like, but good to know, kind of thing. And from that point, I was probably this annoying person that kept sort of subtly, but not very subtly asking her questions about him and hinting that she should introduce. And that sort of, I think, as me ending up in a relationship with this guy, Nick was this sort of outing a guest, but it was nice that I didn’t have to say it. It was just like a group of people that were like, Oh, yeah, Nick and Alex started together now. Like, that’s the that’s the thing. There was no like, Oh, my God, like Alice’s gay. He’s come out. It was like, automatic acceptance and understanding, I guess.
K Anderson 26:00
So. Okay. Just let’s just make sure that I’ve understood this correctly. So this friend brought Nick to the group. And then you became obsessed with Nick and then you started dating him?
Okay. So I remember I think, yeah, okay. Obsessed is probably the right word. numbers, but good friends with her. I guess I was intrigued. I was like, open like, So Nick has a boyfriend. And she was like, Yeah, like he’s gay. Like, there was just like, the questions I was having was like, This kid that didn’t understand it, and was trying to discover it because they related to it. And I think it ultimately ended with me asking for her to give me Nick’s number. And then it spiralled. Sort of from there from chatting. didn’t mention earlier that Nick had a boyfriend.
K Anderson 26:46
Yeah. Did you break him out?
None of that disclaimer in there. I’m sure it was x. And we didn’t really last very long. He was kind of like my my first ever proper boyfriend. But I guess I think I just jumped on the first person that I knew that was like me kind of thing. I so sorry, Nick. If you’re listening, I’m sure. It’s fine. But I think there was of like, Oh, my God, I finally met this other gay person who’s like me. So of course, we’re gonna be together. Exactly. Yeah, that was kind of it. It was like this could be this could be the only gay person I ever meet, which is obviously massively wrong. But you kind of think that as a kid sometimes. So yeah, I think it was just sort of still kind of a kiddie type of thing back then. That wasn’t like a real relationship. It was, you know, just texting that person extra often. And it just fizzled out. When I say how did
K Anderson 27:40
you get together then? So was it just that you hounded him?
Probably just pestered him into it? I think he probably took me on like, what I would say is a date, but it’s not really, you know, back then it was like, I think we just probably walked to the park or something. We used to hang out a lot as a group. And just that I mean, that was anything we did, like hanging out. It wasn’t really anything. It was like loping off down to the park or wherever. And I don’t know, maybe I tried to hold his hand sometime. And that was that kind of thing. Is it giving you nostalgia? No. But
K Anderson 28:12
do you remember like how much bravery that took to initiate something like holding someone’s hand? Or like brushing against them gently? Like,
Oh, God. Yeah, absolutely. And yeah, it was all I guess, the real part of it was going on behind closed doors, because, you know, it was like happening via text. I was like, you know, if it’s via text it’s not open. People don’t know. It’s not in front of a crowd kind of thing. I’m not necessarily outing myself.
K Anderson 28:42
But I guess during that time, they didn’t have aubergine or peach emojis today. That is true. That is true. What so what did you have to talk about? Oh, my God.
That would be such a trip like reading have probably been very depressing to be honest.
K Anderson 28:59
Do you like me? Do you like like me? Yeah,
probably. I imagine I probably pestered loads. But yeah, I remember feeling particularly safe in this group, but not wanting it to get out from this group at that stage, which was kind of why maybe it was nice to have separate group of friends from the people at school because, you know, people at school you see every day so it can be rough, if you know things sort of go wrong, or if there’s rumours, bullying or whatever. Whereas this group of people, I sort of felt safe, it was like weekends, no one that I knew of had sort of friends and comments, I could almost be myself, it was like, you know, what we’re talking about earlier, kind of like reinvention of having this new friendship group that I could be myself with before I prepared to be my real self in my actual real world of school.
K Anderson 29:45
And so it was kind of a blessing, man, that robe dropped out.
Yeah, I guess so. Yeah, cuz I probably wouldn’t ever wanted him to find that out being a neighbour and sort of maybe making a passing comment as parents or something like that. But yes, you’re you’re quite right. It could have gone very different. I was outed in that way by him.
K Anderson 30:02
So who cares about Rob? Let’s talk about Nick. And so what happened with Nick?
I think I sort of made the because like I was saying earlier, I am so dumped on me straightaway, because I was like, Oh my god, the first gay person that I’ve ever found, like, we must be destined for each other. And then I think maybe as I more came into this group of people that knew people that were comfortable with their sexuality on the way out, you know, I’m not saying there was, you know, hundreds of gay people, but there were more sort of within the circles that they went around. And there was this really attractive guy. I wish I could remember his name. There was this really attractive gay guy that had the nickname of like, if his name was Joey, it was like, Oh, yeah, it’s hot. Gay, Joey. Like, that was just his nickname. And I was like, maybe I don’t want to gay Joey and so it was like, okay, so I realised that maybe we maybe I rushed into it of like jumping on the bandwagon as soon as I found someone. Yeah, Nick, if you’re listening, I’m really really really sorry. I should have used a break maybe. I guess he sort of I was open to this as well, but I was like, Okay, this is you know, any need to do something.
K Anderson 31:09
Said Nick was just like, run of the male standard. Not very exciting. Oh, no, he
was like a lovely guy.
K Anderson 31:16
What was wrong with Nick?
nothing was wrong with me. Like his Yeah. He was really nice was lovely to me. He was Yeah, like part of the kind of emo kind of crowd. You know, like black hoodies like baggy clothes, that kind of vibe. Yeah, I have no idea. I’d love to see the the text that I know that dumped him in and understand my
K Anderson 31:37
attempt, Tim by text.
would say that was my shallow self. But, I mean, we’ve never fully like declared as well. I guess we were but you know, it wasn’t anything. Um, sort of demeaning at childhood kind of relationships. It wasn’t, you know, we weren’t engaged.
K Anderson 31:54
But the good news in all of this is that you broke his heart.
That’s good news. Just paints me in a
K Anderson 32:04
Yeah, yeah. Like so you didn’t get your heart broken. You were like, I’m bouncing and I’m off to see Hot Gay Joey.
But mean, me and hot gay Joey never worked out. So that’s the sad bit. But um,
K Anderson 32:17
oh, no, you didn’t lock in your second option? Yeah,
like, um, yeah, it wasn’t reciprocated from from Hot Gay Joey. That was for sure. Yeah, it’s like Nick was, I think I was maybe, like, 14-15 at this time, and then came out at 16. I’m pretty sure Nick was like, 18-19. So there was already an element of him sort of being super, not super comfortable, but more comfortable.
K Anderson 32:39
But what an 18 year old getting dumped by a 14 year old. Nick, have you Alistair, you’re a loser? I’m so sorry. Anyway, sorry. So he was more comfortable.
Yeah, so I was still at this awkward stage of, and I don’t think he held it against me. But I was, you know, like literally just on the very cusp of like discovering myself and getting comfortable with myself. Whereas I think he’d had a lot more maybe exposure to that and understanding of it. Like, I think I’m pretty sure he was at college and things like that and was, you know, he was not more Yeah, like more into his journey and more comfortable whereas I was at the start of my kind of discovery. To say like, different places in our life is very cliche, especially at that age, but that’s kind of what I’m getting at in terms of he kind of understood that it was my first ever relationship with another guy so maybe it was never gonna last. I’m sure he’s very happy now with went up with someone I didn’t we didn’t stay in touch. So
K Anderson 33:46
let’s, let’s start a social media campaign where we look for him. Okay, so you dumped him via text because of Hot Gay Joey. So tell me about Hot Gay Joey.
Okay. I wasn’t like hey, it’s because I wish I could remember hot gay Joe. His real name is Adam. I’m not sure. Anyway, we’ll go with hot gay Joe is an alias. I hate gay Joe. He made me kind of realise that Okay, there is this other world of, you know, gay guys that I can better not that Nick wasn’t hard, but looking back was not even that hard to be honest. Like, but I guess I was just like, establishing levels. Maybe I thought I was settling. Like, that sounds really mature to think of that age. And I’m sure I didn’t think of that. But at that age, I was very much a sorry, I’m looking back to it now. That’s what I was doing. I was being like, this is as good as I’m gonna get. And then it was like introduced to a whole nother world of you know, there are more gay people out there. There is more choice. This is not it forever. And it was kind of like okay, well, I’m not going to settle then I’m going to explore I guess and just be be open and, and I guess that probably led to me sort of coming out. Coming out like coming out to everyone. So I had A couple of phases of coming out there was the the soft launch,
K Anderson 35:04
or did you like have a spreadsheet where you said,
I probably did. So yeah, this is gonna make me sound really old. But we used to always meet up on our secondary school on MSN and just sit and chat to each other on on chat rooms basically. And I came out to my friends and peers by putting I wish I didn’t remember what I wrote, wrote, put something like, I’m gay deal with it in my like status line, and everyone sees on MSDN and everyone gets a notification for and I just to this day, remember that night, and I can, there was a lot of planning that went into it. I definitely consulted with a couple of friends sort of telling them before and I was like, This is my plan that’s going to happen on you know, Tuesday, the eighth of May. And it was like an all of them
K Anderson 35:46
bless. Have you helped me workshop what the headlines will be?
Yeah, well, all of them, bless them. We’re like, we’ll be online for that night. You know, like to not help you but like to support you and that kind of thing. And the the status line went up. And I’ve never had so many MSN messages in my life. To that day, like MSN was like a thing that you added everyone on, even if you weren’t really friends with them, and even if you didn’t actually have a chat conversation with them. And I just remember getting so many messages from people that I never speak to being like, just like, hey, and I think they were like testing the water to see if I’d been like, spammed if someone had like, got hold of my account hacked you Yeah, like cuz he you know, people are cruel, or, you know, that’s the kind of like a prankster thing that you do when you went over someone’s house. And I think it was like testing the water of, you know, is this actually our store? is this? Is this a real coming out? Or is this a prank kind of thing? And I think the second line that would come in would be like, so is it true? or something to that kind of effect? And it’d be like, yeah, yeah, it’s true. And then God, a must have taken so much bravery to go into school. The next day, I did it. I must have done it on a weekday. I didn’t do it on a weekend. Yeah, I can’t even imagine. And I can’t even remember that’s probably there was so traumatic that I blocked it from my mind, but the bravery the next day. And I remember actually, because I guess writing on MSN was my way of not having to confront it in person of being like, you know, it will go I won’t have to say it out loud if I write it online. And obviously, I didn’t have the whole entire school on MSN. So the next day still, because people were talking about it, who had run MSN, and they were okay with it. But it was overheard by other people that I didn’t have on how to trickle out. Yeah. And it was like, I kind of didn’t plan for that in my head. I wasn’t ready for it. And it was, it was my worst nightmare to kind of have to say it out loud like that. And actually can sort of confront it and come to terms with it and for fear of what people would would say and respond. And I distinctly remember a conversation outside of that queuing up for maths or something like that. I said, the math block, and people were talking to me about it, or, you know, it was being said, and I think one of the like, not to sound cliche, but one of the school bullies or, you know, like, people that weren’t particularly nice, interrupted the conversation. And they were like, you know, something along the lines of more like, really, like, it’s actually gays admitted it kind of thing and almost making fun of it. Because if they hadn’t, the news hadn’t reached them that it was true was something that they would use as a bully sort of line and make fun of instead of actually coming to terms with it, and that I don’t remember, I’m pretty sure someone stood up for me and was like, Yeah, he is like, it’s come to it. He said it out loud to me, you can’t use it against him kind of thing. And I think the bully was like, well respect and just sort of turned around kind of thing. It’s almost like they were using the fear against me. But then when it was out in the open, and you’ve you’ve claimed it, they’re like, Oh, we can’t hold that against you anymore, because you’ve owned, I sort of settled down after that. I guess. It was probably quite an easy, peaceful coming out. The one thing that I was super worried about, so this was all just to my friends. No, no family involved. So there was like a big thing of if you come over to my house, don’t talk about it. Because it’s it’s just friends at the moment that no this it was just wave one of the coming out kind of schedule. Do you want to hear about coming out to my family? Yeah,
K Anderson 39:07
yeah. So So we’ve talked about phase one wave wave? What like, what, how many phases? Were there? First of all,
I think there’s two a total total. Okay, two big phases. So the I think there was a year gap between the school coming out and the family coming out. And if those out, I don’t remember the exact reason why I wanted to the deadline that sounds like such an organised break. The deadline that I set myself for coming out was because I was going to a lady gaga concert with my parents and two friends. And I was like, I want to be myself with the Lady Gaga concert. There could be some hot men there that, you know, interested in me and
K Anderson 39:44
I and I want to be able to make out in front of my parents. Yeah.
I want to live my true life and Lady Gaga songs. So yeah, thank you, Lady Gaga, if you’re listening to this, because that was an amazing deadline you sent me And yeah, I guess it was again, having a bit of a conversation with my friends talking to them about what I was gonna do. And yeah, they were really big support system to me. I didn’t realise it at the time. But looking back, I think, you know, how good of them to be so carefree and detrimental at that age to be so mature and support someone in such a big, you know, life occasion such as that. And so the night came, I think it was a Friday night and I did that classic. I think there’s a theme with me, it has to be like, I don’t like saying these things out loud. So I wrote it down in a letter. My parents were and my mom has still has the letter. I said the other day, you want to read it? And I was like God, no, like, it is the craziest thing ever. And so they dropped me at a friend’s house for Friday. And I just when I was getting out the car, I just said Oh, and they were going to the pub. And I was like, here’s something for you to read in the pub. I just like to pass the letter through to the front seats. And I remember my dad just kind of like awkwardly taking it and being like, Okay, all right. I think maybe in their heads, they maybe knew what was going to say. And then there was dropped off at my friend’s house and they everyone was like, Did you do it? Like Did you give them a letter? I was like, Yeah, like I did it. It was I’ve done it kind of thing. And maybe like 20 minutes later. I guess my parents didn’t want to keep me waiting and worrying or whatever. They phoned me and they were like, it’s totally fine. Like it doesn’t doesn’t change anything. We still love you that kind of kind of vibe. And I was just very like, I would say probably shirty, like standoffish or being like, yeah, like, Okay, I know that, like, I know that sign like, Yeah, thanks. And I just got on with the night like, and continue doing whatever we were doing at my friend’s house. And then obviously, there was a bigger follow up conversation at home when I got home or the next day or something like that.
K Anderson 41:46
So why do you say you you were shirty?
I get like okay, so maybe not discharging mean like angry or aggressive? I mean, like maybe kind of uncomfortable or awkward and just being like one liners of Yes. I’ve never been like a person who’s totally comfortable talking about emotional things and things like that with my my parents in particular people in general probably. Yeah, it’s probably about the sort of opening up for for being judged for the potential of being judged and things like that. But yeah, I just, it’s just a bit cringe, isn’t it? Like a you know, it’s nice, it’s really nice to hear that nothing will change and they still love me. It’s kind of cringe to hear out loud. And I guess part of me kind of shuts down and just goes like, yeah, yeah, of course. I know that like, whilst inside and like, sort of dying of cringe.
K Anderson 42:33
Is there also something about like, the moment not living up to what it is in in your head, like, especially if you plan something for so long, like, I’m going to do this, this is how I’m going to do it. This is the sequence that it’s going to go in. If there’s a message that’s just like, Oh, yeah, we’re totally cool with it. That’s like a bit anticlimactic. Right?
Yeah, I think that that definitely is part of it. I’m always I’m someone for the drama and like, I love the drama. And, you know, my friends were ready to be like, you can stay here if they like kick you out, or something like that. We were always probably amping it up a bit more in our heads. The main thing for me was like, now I have to talk about it. Now I have to be open about this, like world that was once private to me is now open on the table to discuss because, like, you know, my family have always been quite open about discussing things like sexual health, sexual partners, boyfriends, girlfriends, that kind of thing. And it was like, now I have to sort of be subject to that, but in a way that it applies to actually me. Okay, you know, like previously, I guess the assumption had been made, like, you know, always wear a condom for protection against getting a girl pregnant. And then like, now it’s like wear a condom for protection against AIDS. It’s kind of like, before I was like, well, that’s not applicable to me that the getting a girl pregnant thinks I could ignore this awkward conversation that I’m having my parents, whereas now it actually applies just like mentally opt out. Yeah. Now I have to like listen up and actually
K Anderson 43:57
pay attention. And so then what was that conversation like the in person conversation?
It was uncomfortable. I would say that for sure. Yeah, I mean, I don’t remember it word for word, but it was very much coming from my dad. I think there was like an underlying tone of worry for sure. That and they said this also annoyed me Never if any, any parents listening and their their son or daughter comes out, they can never say this to them. They’re like we sort of deep down knew because of you know, you dressing up sometimes and things like that. That was kind of the thing. And I was like, damn it like I haven’t been covert. That’s really upsetting to here.
K Anderson 44:32
Hang on, hang on. Hang on. I’m really sorry to point this out. But you were going to a lady gaga concert with your parents like the following week.
Yeah, okay. I wasn’t official. I just don’t think that’s what anyone wants to hear. But I like Yeah. And okay, I can relate to on a parenting level. You know, like me, my mom literally gave birth to me and there’s a connection between a mother and their child that you can’t describe kind of thing so she knew deep down and then that is very If that sort of mothers,
K Anderson 45:01
you wanted them to be like, oh, we’re so shocked. You’re so Butch. Yeah, prom.
Queen, I am. Just so Bert. he-man magazines. And yeah, but the underlying tone from them was worry, like, you know, where we’re happy for you. And we accept you, but we worry about you. And one of the big things that they talked about, and it was like a sticking point in our family about the whole gay thing was like HIV and AIDS, because still carries this stigma stigma that it is kind of like a gay disease. And, you know, ultimately, that is how it spread. But yeah, that was one of the first things that that they said to me, like, we would worry about you getting HIV or AIDS, which is probably not the most encouraging thing to hear. Yeah,
K Anderson 45:47
like, that was kind of part of the conversation that I had with my parents and, and also just a general, like, we’re worried about, like, the homophobia in society, and how you’re going to be subjected to that and how life is going to be harder for you than it would be for you if you were heterosexual. And, and, you know, as I’m getting older, and I’m seeing more and more examples of, of how my life is harder, because of things that are beyond my control, I can understand and relate more to what my parents were saying, but also, like, probably not the right time to bring it up. Right?
Yeah, let’s have a little moment, we’re
K Anderson 46:25
really happy for you, but you’re probably going to die soon. Like it’s
your, and they were saying the same as well, now, you’ve kind of reminded me about like, the the stereotype or the stigma that society carries and how it might be held against you kind of thing. But you know, no one ever really wants to hear that there’s never really a good time to tell someone that their life is going to be as standard more difficult than perhaps other people’s. And, you know, it must be so hard as a parent to be a balance of supportive and advance of caring, because, you know, I would say that if more parents raised their children to be, you know, free air and you know, not hold stigma and things like that, then it would be, you know, great, and there wouldn’t be a need to be caught more cautious if you are a gay person, or other kind of diversity. But what comes first, like encouraging people, because you can’t encourage someone to be free and who they are. And then one day, you know, them get hurt for being true to themselves when they could have maybe, you know, done a bit of social engineering and, and not so put themselves in that situation. So a big example for me Actually, what we’re talking about that to bring up, you probably have an opinion on this. And there’s some places and someone Someone asked me this recently, maybe it was my parents or family, they were like, do you hold hands everywhere, like me and Rob, when we’re when we’re out in person. And they there is places that we will not hold hands to not draw attention to the fact that it isn’t. And they were like, Oh, you know, that’s, that’s sad. And I was like, yeah, it is, but like, what sad, like not holding hands or, you know, getting beaten up for who you are, or potentially hurt kind of thing. And that’s kind of what I mean by social engineering in terms of like, reading the room and knowing when it’s the right moment, to be affectionate. And to do that. And when it’s potentially safer to not do it, which is kind of almost like hiding. Someone could probably call me out on that and say that you’re hiding it. But you know, what, is it better to hide to be safe? Or is it better to make the protest? I don’t know. I don’t know if there is an answer to that question.
K Anderson 48:23
Yeah, I remember like, when I was younger, I used to be so defiant about it and be like, No, we are holding hands. We are going to walk down this road and hold hands. And then as I’ve gotten older, I realised I’m actually not that affectionate. So now I’ve like, nearby, it’s like, I don’t really want to hold your hand because your hands clammy. And it’s like, this is annoying. And if I didn’t hold your hand, I could do like other things with my
face. Nice to do.
K Anderson 48:55
I mean, linking arms. I don’t mind that but holding hands. I don’t Yeah, I’m just not really into it. But yeah, certainly
fair enough. I get that.
K Anderson 49:06
But yeah, like, I mean, again, the bravery that it takes for that very first time that you hold hands in public. Just hats off to anyone who’s plucked up the courage.
Definitely, unlike, you know, thinking sort of thinking about this, like, we wouldn’t have as many gay rights as we do nowadays, if someone wasn’t willing to, to stand up and to do that kind of thing in public and make the protest. You know, and it is kind of thinking about it out loud. It is kind of sad that maybe I don’t feel like I’m able to make that protest sometimes. And, you know, just like, you know, people literally marched in London when it was illegal to you know, raise awareness and there’s me like not wanting to get a half an insult hurled at me because I’m scared to hold hands. Like, you know, I’m actually I’m probably at the root of the cause of some of society’s problems by by not doing that and making it normal.
K Anderson 49:57
Yeah, but you need to like live to fight. Another day, right, Lincoln True enough that we’re looking at the The other thing I wanted to ask, so what do you think that youth group taught you about yourself?
This question, what did youth group teach me? I think just overall, like maybe acceptance? Yeah, I just got this sense of like, it’s there was just no judgement. I don’t know what it was about this group of individuals, whether it was the fact that I don’t know they all came from a different upbringing, or the fact that they may be all considered themselves is somewhat outcast from society. It just felt like such a non pressured environment, like everyone was just okay with whatever, or whoever you kind of were, whereas school and family, because you’ve grown up with a lot of those people. Obviously, you’ve grown up with your family. But I mean, like the you’ve been through school with all of your friends, they pretty much stay the same. There’s almost like pressure because they know you so much. I think this has been a theme throughout my sort of what I’ve been saying. But it was almost like an opportunity for reinvention because you’ve grown as a person, and you’re actually not the person that everyone else thinks or expects you to be. So going into a new environment, lets you be your true self rather than your expected self. My goodness, that sounded very philosophical, but I actually stand by it.
K Anderson 51:26
Do you have any memories from urine cuisine that you want to share? Well, if you do, then please get in touch. I want to create the biggest online record of people’s memories and stories. Go to law spaces podcast.com and find the section share a lost space and tell me what you got up to. You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as lost spaces pod. And I’m super lonely there. So please come and say hello. Find out more about Alistair via the picking app perfection website which is picking at perfection calm or follow him on Instagram. Picking at perfection. links will be in the show notes for the programme. Don’t worry, I’ve got you back. Last basis is not only a podcast, but a concept record as well. I have been writing songs about queer venues and the people who used to live their lives there. And we’ll be releasing songs over the next year. You can hear the first single well groomed boys, which is also playing underneath my talking right now on all streaming platforms. If you like this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribe, left a review on your podcast platform of choice or just told people who you think might be interested in giving it a listen. I am K Anderson and you have been listening to lost spaces.