A phone call from an Oscar winner and shared trauma
Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020 - 11:30 am.

The talk I was gonna give last week didn't happen. Only four cars showed up to the screening of the movie. The person who contacted me, a gay journalist and activist, wrote me saying that the person in charge of the screening wanted to call and apologize. I didn't need an apology at all, because I know the arts are dismissed in my home country, but I appreciated the fact that someone would take the time to do that. By phone!

That's how I ended up on the phone with an Oscar winner, the gentleman who was in charge of coordinating the film festival, the screening of this movie about a romantic relationship between two men (The Strong Ones), and the discussion we'd have about it via zoom. This meant a lot to me.

He was very polite and charming. It broke my heart listening to him, he sounded so dissapointed and brokenhearted and angry because the local government was supposed to support the film festival but there was barely any publicity, hence only four cars showed up to the screening.

He won an Oscar in the 1970s, but with my home country dismissing the arts AND giving no shit about historical events, that doesn't mean a lot. He is a well-respected filmmaker, but there you go. He put on this amazing film festival that would give our capital city a boost, but then he was given little to no resources to promote it.

I told him I was honored by the invitation and available for whenever they reschedule the screening and discussion. They will at some point, the movie is beautiful, and a welcome departure from the usual narratives of queer tragedy.


I had a short work week. Monday and Tuesday were a holiday, although I worked a bit on Monday. Then I worked the rest of the week as usual.

I'm tired.

Perhaps tired is not the word, I have enough energy. I'm just tired of not being able to get out of the apartment, but we're still on lockdown. I feel like going to the small city by a lake and volcano that's like one hour and a half away. From my contacts on social media I get the feeling that COVID-19 is gone in my home country. From my window on a 4th floor looking out to a busy street I get the same feeling about her. And yet, hospitals remain in emergency.

There's a solar eclipse on Monday and it will be best viewed in the surroundings of that small city with a lake and a volcano. So my city is still on lockdown, but the airports are open and I fear a spike in contagion these days, plus the holidays, so thanks, I can handle staying home.

I think my being a bit burned out is coming out mostly in my relationship with Helen, my girlfriend. I've snapped at her three times this week, two if you count that last night I didn't respond and simply walked away. I "walked away" from the conversation, really, everything happens on WhatsApp. I think my reasons for snapping were valid, but the intensity was uncalled for.

She's very understanding, and of course I've apologized and tried to make sense of where I'm coming from. That's still a lot of emotional labor for my taste, however, given that I don't want to be bothered, but also, she deserves an explanation.

I've found myself enjoying the fights, though. I don't plan them! It's just that while I'm in the middle of it, as I'm typing careful arguments fueled by my anger, I start grinning with delight. I'm always one to fear confrontation, but I don't fear it with her. It is puzzling.

Last night, I was telling her I'd watched the ending of Please Like Me* and I was feeling down and a bit triggered so I was going to bed, we would talk the day after to confirm our Saturday night call.

The "confirm our call" line made her use an emoji that annoys me (she doesn't know that and God, such emotional weight I place on a tiny drawing), and she said that threw her off because she thought it was confirmed. That's a throwback to our previous fight, about me telling her we could cancel our call since she's home and may want to meet with friends, and her thinking that means I don't want to talk to her.

Using the word "confirm" was a poor choice on my part, because indeed it was confirmed already, but clearly we had different goals. I was hoping she would pick up on the "triggered" part and offer some comforting words, not frown at my presumed lack of interest in her. So yes, I snapped again.

But I didn't say anything after she said "good night <3" and I just put away the phone. I tried to calm myself thinking that she doesn't need this. I kept thinking she's a good, kind, caring woman who offered to take my parents a copy of my book that she bought herself (the post service here is limited at the moment so I can't), and she also bought them chocolates because she'll go to their house and she's not one to show up empty-handed. Ultimately, she's the only girlfriend of mine that my parents will ever meet, and they'll never know it.

*Please Like Me, right. Andrew and I watched it, a beautiful and hilarious show that breaks your heart with its portrayals of mental illness and suicide (and other topics, like abortion and masculinity). The near-ending hit so close to home, as the 23rd will be another anniversary of Andrew's brother dying by suicide. I'm more and more convinced it was suicide as time passes by; I just hope it was something he wanted, as twisted as it sounds. But anyway, I was left feeling very raw after the last episodes, and Andrew seemed frozen watching them, except for the tears piling up in his eyes.

I used to think that I was very attunned to Andrew's trauma. I'm very sensitive to triggers for him, and since his brother's passing I'm appalled at how many people fall so casually to their death in series and films.

I mean, I *am* attunned to his trauma, I'm quick to hold his hand and even hold him to my chest in certain situations. But just a few months ago I had a thought: hey, maybe I'm traumatized too? Maybe this despair I imagine Andrew feels over his brother's death is also my despair over my brother-in-law's death.

I guess this is wanted to talk to Helen about, not whether I wanted to have a videocall with her or not.

Anyway. This weekend I have to work on some publicity for my book, so I'm excited. I have to respond to an interview for my publisher's website and my own website is almost up. Haha, it's all about me. I truly enjoy pretending I'm someone important.

I'm pretty sure I had something else to say, but this is where I stop.

The happier and tougher of seasons is upon us, so be kind to yourself and to others, but also don't put up with any shit. As someone said on Please Like Me, you don't have to be resilient, it's ok to break. Stay safe.

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