I have never understood as a young man the necessity of being naked, not in the literal term, but emotionally towards other people. While struggling to get out of the closet, I painted a perfect picture of a perfect son who is living the perfect life. But soon enough, all the stuff you swipe under the rug will start piling up, and later it will consume you.
What I found intriguing staring at Harry’s Instagram ad were the words “Gay enough?” written on the cover of his book. I will later come to understand exactly was he meant by that, but my first reaction was curiosity.
As a gay man in his late 20s, I have experienced first-hand some of the negative behaviour that some gay men have towards some of their peers. So laying my eyes upon that Instagram post, I just had to click it. And then I saw the quote that would later prompt to write Harry personally and tell him a little bit of my story:
“Be the person you needed when you were younger!”
I met with Harry during this summer. After writing to him on Instagram about being so excited for pre-ordering his book, Harry actually reached back and offered me the chance to read an advance copy of it. This is something rare and I have only dreamed of being in this situation:
1. to read a good book before its publication;
2. to meet the author of that book;
3. to discover that the author is genuinely an inspiring person.
The best way to describe Harry’s book is by comparing it with a Matryoshka doll. As you start diving into his story, you discover layer upon layer, and the artwork that is being built in front of you starts to take new forms. What’s different than this doll is that Harry’s narrative starts small.
While reading Harry’s book and writing this article, I suddenly hit a wall. It took me several months to finish the book completely. I think it took me this long of a time because I was not writing only about his book, but also I was writing about my whole experience.
When I moved to Amsterdam a year ago I started this whole process of regaining control of my life and taking everything from the start again. Why? Because my life back home was not as fulfilling as it should have been.
After a very shitty year (changing 3 jobs that year and going through an identity crisis), I had very few moments in which I had to stop and just breathe. I had very few moments in which I actually listened to myself. And I had almost zero moments in which I actually said NO!
And then the right opportunity came: my boyfriend got a job in Amsterdam and the contract with my former employer was about to expire, so I decided to join him in this adventure.
When I arrived in Amsterdam, starting from zero, I began to visualize what was missing from my past life (let’s just call it like that for now). I started to see what was missing and I suddenly had this blank canvas in front of me that I needed to fill in with whatever colours were missing from my previous “palette”.
The problem is that while living my “past life”, I developed a set of patterns of a certain way that I should be, a certain way that I should be living my life, a certain way in which I should behave. All these patterns have been inherited from my cultural background, from the way I was raised, from the way our country was and is currently ruled, from all the rules that were there. I always created patterns to get me through life.
And when I came here, I have not only changed places, but I have also changed cultures. I mean, I am in a more, more, more approaching city, a more, more, more inclusive city, a city in which I am not afraid of holding my boyfriend’s hand while walking down the street, where I am not afraid to kiss him in public and show my affection just like any other regular people.
When I started to draw this new and improved life, I stumbled upon these old patterns and when I thought I was using new colours… actually, I was using the same old colours and I suddenly got very sad. And very lonely. And very unfulfilled, unmotivated, because I was painting with the same colours, expecting a different result.
At some point during my Amsterdam journey, I discovered Harry’s book. I started to relate to a lot of things he said in the book. While reading it, I’ve noticed one particular thing: a pattern in his behaviour of getting sucked into his old life, no matter how far away he would distance himself from it. This pattern was locking him in a cage, metaphorically, instead of setting him free.
And that is when it hit me! Harry’s story really struck a chord with me and it made me realise that maybe that’s what’s happening with me as well! I am falling into old habits, old patterns instead of letting myself create this new picture, that would, in the end, give me happiness. I was painting the same old stuff and then I was sad and frustrated that it was not turning out differently.
So I had to take a break. “Recess!”, I screamed. I took a step backwards because I was not able to continue reading Harry’s book because I would start spiralling about my own problems with my own journey.
One time I spiralled on the idea that I am not that far into my own journey as Harry was, and then I was a little afraid of what I would read further. Thinking about it now, I actually do not know what my blocker was, but I knew I needed to take a break from the book. It was raising a mirror in front of me, but somehow I was not able to break through it, it was just showing that same mirror again and again and again and I think I realized that I needed to take a break, have a seat, and just stare at that mirror until I find a way to crack it. To allow me to set my imaginary self free, to unlock my new beautiful colours so I can present to the world this new and improved me. To discover my new recipe. And the secret to that was what started this whole journey: Harry’s book! So I dived through that mirror and finished the book.
Harry broke his cycle! I am trying not to spoil any key points from Harry’s own journey, but he broke the cycle. I am now currently on my way to break my own cycle.
Finishing the book and reading his coming out letter (mail) to his dad has also inspired me to write a letter to my own dad. It will be a little different though. My father passed away in 2013. Also, he knew from my mom that I was gay.
I want to write him a letter, telling him how proud I am of myself. How proud I am of the struggles I’ve conquered and how humbled I am by the ones that have conquered me.
Thank you, Harry, for raising this mirror in front of me, for giving me the power through your words, for helping me on my journey to break the cycle.