So I am currently wrapped up in the madness that is Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It is my first time taking part in the festival and I am finding it gloriously over whelming. The colour and flare are just joyous; the city feels so alive with spectacle and people are by far the loveliest folk I have met.
I have been spending most of my day's flyering on the Royal Mile, an Edinburgh tradition and one that many performers have a love/hate relationship with. On this particular day the sun was shining, the rain had held off, for that hour at least, and the Mile was packed with all manner of people. As I bounced about handing flyers to potential audiences and individuals hungry for a bargain and the promise of an enjoyable show, something caught my eye. It was a quick, blink of the eye moment, an innocent event that was virtually unobserved by anyone else.
The event in question was simply two young, twenty something lads walking past me, holding hands. My eyes locked on the embrace. Fingers loosely intertwined, the boys not even looking at each other, but still connected. A smile shot across my face and to my surprise I let out a small but audible giggle.
Why would a sight like that cause me to giggle I hear you ask, well my ever faithful readers, for me that simple, everyday, blasé action I see as an act of bravery.
I grew up in a loving household with wonderful parents and a great older brother. We lived in a modest home in a suburb just 40 minutes out of Sydney. It was, looking back, a great way to grow up. There was, however, a dark cloud that hung over me. For as long as I can remember I was the subject of quite intense and harsh bullying. I was a loud, attention-seeking child, dramatic one could say. However, from an early age it was obvious that I wasn't like the other children and certainly not like all the other boys.
It all started out small, the bullying. A few bouts of name calling from other boys in my class. But over time the boys began to group together and the insults got more and more frequent. As time went on the effects of this began to take their toll. I didn't understand why this was happening. I was just simply being me, acting the way that came naturally.
The years went by and as I moved into high school the small words turned vulgar and threatening and the abuse became a lot more frequent. I would beg my parents to change schools or to let me stay home, to stay in its sheltered walls, safe from a world that seemed to everyday tell me that the person I am and growing into is wrong. I would avoid the bus, cling to the few friends I had for protection and tried to fade into the background. I longed for the day when things would be different, when I would find a place where I would be accepted for simply just being me and a place where, as I had by then full accepted who I was, I would be able to hold my head up high and hold the hand of the boy that made me feel amazing!
All of these feelings of fear and eventual excitement rushed over me as the boys left my sight. I had wanted to run up and hug them and tell them how brave and remarkable they are. I remember those feelings of joy and strength I had when I held a guys hand for the first time. It maybe trivial and seem an everyday sight for some but for me and many others, its such a sign of hope and sets off a spark of joy of things to come.
Gavin Roach is currently performing his one man show Confessions of a Grindr Addict at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 2nd-26th August.