BOOK CORNER – A COLOURED IN FULL FLIGHT: THE PATH TO SELF-ACCEPTANCE BY GEORGIE CALVERLEY

Written by Georgie Calverley

 

At the end of part two, I found myself banished from the nursing diploma course. Being kicked out a few months before my final examination was painful, and though many saw it coming, I felt the punishment was harsh. Admittedly, I kissed my best friend, a male of course, who was also married to a senior sister, and someone I also called my best friend. They tried to keep me on the straight and narrow, but no amount of talks, advice, begging, arguing or lectures did any good. I was truly a law unto myself.

Sadly, after four and a half years, I was a lost soul with a mind of my own. The shy insecure teenager was gone. Freed from books, work, lectures and hospital routines, I avoided everyone in the beginning. Unemployed and embarrassed, I gave my parents a lame excuse as to why I left, knowing my scandalous secret would be safe. Of course, I had to find other work, and even though I got a lesser nursing certificate, no other hospital would hire a marriage-wrecker.

It came as no surprise what came next. Without a job and direction, I found ways to keep things afloat. My walking and running excursions kicked into high gear, and since I had no income, I had no choice. Begging and borrowing from my family, I ran amok and often stayed away for days or weeks from my family home. Among friends, we dissected my antics, reason for losing my job and cried over the injustice. I was a top student, even if naughty and they should have let me finish the course.

For the latter part of 1990, I lost direction when a sudden and unexpected path led to a door I vowed never to enter. Tagging behind a new friend, the church became my haven, and with a spring in my step, I found a purpose in life. Working as a shop assistant at a plant shop dented my esteem, but the meagre salary did the trick. I felt worthy, appreciated and loved by my new set of religious friends. Parties and dancing were forgotten during home visits, prayer meetings and youth outings. Baptised twice and reborn, not everyone noticed and appreciated the change for the better.

Needless to say, by the end of 1992, I was a fallen angel as some church elders felt no amount of prayers, praying or baptisms would cleanse my filthy gay body and soul. To save my sanity, I moved and found myself travelling to the most dangerous city in South Africa, Johannesburg. This was not planned and after living in a tiny town with little or no gay life, I literally jumped into an ocean of colourful gay rainbows. Like all new adventures, the glitter and shine is quite extraordinary, until the eyes, mind and body adjust to the layers hiding in the dark.

Part three follows my journey along the dazzling streets, bars and clubs of Hillbrow, and despite it all, I became a registered nurse. My professional and social lives were extreme opposites as I juggled pleasing society, my colleagues and patients. 

Once again, I got caught fighting unseen demons within, as my life spiralled out of control. Unsure why I went off track, I struggled and fought in silence, hiding my pain and problem under flutes of wine and barrels of beer.

I was a happy, smiling, friendly and carefree person, or so I made everyone believe. My patterns of behaviour were repetitive and often destructive, from the party scene to the males I attracted, all the time creating an image of a loner, self-sufficient and reliant. Inside, I needed acceptance, friends and someone to tell me I could be loved by another person of the same sex, without any price or prizes attached.

Traumatized by the years of bullying, I always felt buying friends, friendships or company was the only way to keep them close and interested. If I had nothing to offer, physical or otherwise, I was no good to anyone and despite all I did and no matter how many compliments came my way, I assumed there was a price to be paid. For years, people made me feel dirty, ugly and not worthy of decent attention. Gay men could never be accepted as productive members of society simply because our heart and hormones directed us away from the norm.

When I finished writing the books, I felt sad and depressed, realising how much I was battered into submission by the bullies and society. Thankfully, I lived to tell my tale while many of my brothers and sisters fell under the weight of a harsh and unbending society.

For those who did their best to stifle my gay urges, human desires and natural instincts, I never fought back and in hindsight, I chose reading to keep myself from falling apart, and never did I imagine that my story would one day be read by friends and strangers. Isolating myself from the harsh and horrible surroundings, I let my mind travel and can honestly say I am happy with the journey that made me the person I am today. 

 

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