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Andy reminisces – 21 books, 21 years on

July 12, 2015

I was made redundant a month ago (don’t worry, I was and continue to be very very happy about this). One of the things I decided I would do to stop me getting up at 7 and opening a bottle of wine was read some of the many, many gay books I read in London around 1993-95, when I came out (late bloomer). And then, with typical self-indulgence, I decided I’d blog about them too. So that three people could read about it.

The things you find in a copy of a book you haven't read since you lived in London in 1995... both these clubs, Substation and GAY, closed a few years ago.

The things you find in a copy of a book you haven’t opened since you lived in London in 1995… both these clubs closed a few years ago.

There was a cerebral angle to my coming to terms with my sexuality as a 20-something, mostly because I was a wanker and thought I was intellectual, like. Also I was a huge reader. These elements overlapped, particularly once I was in London and free of the pretty much fascist tendencies of the area of rural Victoria that was my home during the early ’90s. (Given the recent reaction of the Gippsland Times, my first employer in those very same early ’90s, to Nationals MP Darren Chester’s astonishingly brave (and very surprising) decision to announce his support for marriage equality, “pretty much fascist” seems still pretty much accurate.)

I will admit that reading about my homo brethren, at the time, was probably a gutless distraction, for a while, from actually, er, “interacting” with them…

Not all of the books I’ll read date from exactly 21 years ago. I still remember buying Edmund White’s A Boy’s Own Story at the long-gone Angus & Robertson on Swanston St on March 13, 1992, and later depositing it beneath my seat at the Melbourne Tennis Centre as I watched the Amy Grant concert I was in town with friends to see. Why was I buying Edmund White novels and attending “contemporary Christian music” gigs on the same day? Your guess is as good as mine.

There are one or two books I’d like to think I read in London but know I didn’t buy until I was back in Australia – things like Christos Tsiolkas’s Loaded, as well as David Leavitt’s The Lost Language of Cranes, purchased secondhand with a dollar rather a pound figure scribbled on the first page. There’s some bleed either side of that 21 years, but these are all books I read during my formative years as an outish, proudish gay man.

All terribly self-indulgent, and nobody’s going to read it, and I might not even bother finishing it, but it might give me a basis for something more substantial a bit later on. It’ll just be me banging on, although Netty’s more than welcome to put in her two bobs’ worth if she wants to.

Entry 1 in a day or two.

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