Living In Opposition

Something strange began to happen to me last weekend when I went up to visit my brother and his family in a city two hours north of where I live. My sister-in-law Pam sort of knew what I am doing, working on this project, and had read a couple of the postings. She found some of the images a bit shocking, especially the ones with “The Full Monty” exposed. She felt a bit uneasy reading it because it was so intimate, and she felt she should have known about what I write about, that I should have talked to or told her about them in person. I am not sure where my brother stood on it or even I he had seen what I am doing. I feel a closeness them I have not felt in years but I must admit there are still a few scars that haunt me when I visit. This past weekend I was having a great struggle in my head and felt I spent a great deal of the weekend defending and explaining what it is I am doing, because I wanted to be apologetic. I actually felt a little bit of shame for becoming so honest and forthright with my images of naked men and my exposing my personal thoughts. I began to see that I am putting so much of my life and energy into something that perhaps should remain hidden. I began to see how intimate and personal the project has become. So why would I feel shame for being myself? For letting the world see my inner struggle. Perhaps a lot of my life has been lived in shame. What is it I am trying to prove? Being isolated and alone, writing and producing images in my studio without any real connection to the world but what I filter in via the Internet. How narrow that focus and world has become. I did not realize the depth to which I had gone. It is easy for me to just put my thoughts out there, because I have a big heart and believe in being frank, upfront and honest. It’s what brings me to the heart of my imagery and very quickly gets me to the core of revealing my subjects.

In many ways my brother Mark is the reverse mirror of myself. He represents all the things that should be perfect in the world, the ideal American Dream. Our lives have been a race though time as polar opposites, our own “A Tale of Two Cities”. He settled down early, took a job of security, raised a very large family that is tight and strong, that will carry on his name in tradition. They have an extraordinarily beautiful home, are happy, content and satisfied. His children are grown and are now having many children of their own. They all just returned from what seems like a perfect all-family vacation to Disneyland. I have not seen so much joy, warmth and connection in a family as theirs. I felt like a stranger on the outside looking inward for in many ways they are all strangers to me. Why am I not a part of their cozy world? They have always been so far away and I afraid to interact, because I was so different. My brother is one year and a day younger than me and has already retired and is now onto a second career. It seems that I have always compared myself to him and often it makes me ache that I did not follow in tradition, especially as I get older. There is no legacy from me that will be carried forth; it will end with my life. But I feel while I am here I must explore and let someone know my life did have meaning and purpose. That I have touched other peoples lives in my little remote corner of my own sheltered world.

This journey is really about me, and my relationship to thoughts, imagery and issues I have struggled with thought out most of my life. I have reached a stage where it is time to reveal a history of who I am and the experiences I have lived, the darkness included, because there is so much darkness that has defined it.

4 thoughts on “Living In Opposition

  1. smilebreatheandgoslowly

    >Terry…it is so easy to forget that when we bare our souls through our photos or writings on the internet..that there are REAL people..people we love who are or may be reading it..and seeing sides of us we have been too afraid to share. I dont' know you except through your art, but I am so proud of your courage and your willingness to be REAL in a world of masks. I very much enjoy seeing you reveal who you are.
    Kim xo

  2. Beach Bum

    >I have been interested in these ideas, both from the perspective of a gay man having to explain myself to my very religious family (how much info is TMI), as an artist, and as a member of a profession where the professional role is often more important than the individual playing the role.

    There are no easy answers, and I think that one does need to strive for balance. Revealing everything does not necessarily equal great (or even good) art. On the other hand, great art requires revelation on the part of the artist.

    Of course, the easy answer is to tell your family that if your honesty disturbs them, they don't have to read it.

  3. Pam

    >Let me preface my comment by saying I think your work is amazing.
    Nudity was something that was ingrained in me to be ashamed of. I think you are brave and your work takes my breath away in many ways, the shame part is mine not yours brother.
    My failure to communicate effectively is my bane. My past and things I would never be brave enough to blog about leave me still seeing nudity in a skewed perspective. I had hoped in our conversation you would hear the comments about how brave I think you are and how proud I am of you because that is what was in my heart and what I wanted you to know. I felt I had not been a good friend to you by not knowing you better and I am sorry you felt the least bit chastised or ashamed. Everyone has a load to carry, and like Lena Horn so beautiful put it … is not the load that breaks you, it is how you carry it. I do not sit in judgment of you. I love you, admire you and am proud of you. I am honored to call you my friend. As an artist I am jealous of you. Your ability to follow your bliss and take the road less traveled in your creative process is amazing and I brag about you every chance I get! I thank you for the beautiful comments and perspective about my family we have had a long road to get where and are really enjoying the fruits of our labor, thank you for noticing!
    Thank you for opening the window to your soul and letting me in.
    Love, Your Fan Pam ..

  4. oruboris

    >I'm sorry for anyone who can look at your images and see anything but beauty. The problem is theirs, not yours… and your words are as strong as your pictures.

    I think as gay men we put way too much emphasis on questions of reproduction and legacy. How many fathers do you know that *really* connect with their children? How many kids *really* understand who their fathers are? More often, each sees the other like masques in greek drama, all emblem and archetype, empty inside.

    The artist passes on something more important than genes: he shares attitudes, concepts, perspectives… he fathers dreams. His legacy begins the instant someone is impacted by his work, because to be moved is –by definition– to be changed.

    Such a legacy manifests in seconds, not generations, and impacts multitudes, not a mere handful.

    We are our own legacy, chaging the world for one another and lessening the weight of pain and shame on the next generation of gay and lesbians. By simply being honest and open about who we are, we are changing everything.

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