Over 30 Years Of Love And Laughter With My Gorgeous Gay Friends
Sitting in the beautiful sunshine, (thank you Melbourne) at my local café, St Rose, sipping a latte. Life couldn’t get much better. I feel blessed to have a wonderful life, filled with love from so many people, but some people I love are not feeling this way.
I never make opinions on this blog and never will. I don’t judge people, because we all have reasons for doing what we do, whether I like it or not. But as I sit here, in the sunshine, sipping my latte, my heart is full of sadness. I read an “opinion” of someone today about gay people. It made me sad.
I will always remember the words of Ange, mother of Jacob in our article “My son is gay, and that’s ok.”
"He is my son and I love him. This is the way he is. He didn’t choose this."
Ange has an incredible and loving relationship with Jacob, which leads to an excellent understanding of how he feels. But unfortunately, not every family feels this way. I have friends and clients who can’t speak to their families about being gay, which too makes me sad.
Attending Hanna Gadsby’s award-winning comedy show “Nanette” at the Melbourne Comedy Festival was controversial.
As reviewed by The Guardian, her show begins with a primer in how stand-up works. You set up the tension, then you defuse it, says Gadsby.
And defuse it she did. I was shocked to hear Hannah’s story of growing up gay in Tasmania, a state that decriminalized homosexuality only in 1997, and Hannah is still to this day damaged by this. She experienced gender violence, which today is still a common occurrence for gay people.
I would like to share with you the joy my beautiful gay friends, Ken and Ivan, bring into my life, and the life of my family.
I met Ivan at a gym course. We were both aerobics instructors at this stage, furthering our education. One night I wasn’t my happy self after being retrenched from my job. Ivan noticed and came over to me, introduced himself and asked if I would like to have a coffee after the class. He is such a beautiful soul who always cares about everyone. I must point out that at this stage I had no idea Ivan was gay.
Coffee with Ivan (my Hovie) was a defining moment in my life. From this coffee, I commenced working at the Collingwood Leisure Centre, where Ivan was a Manager, instructing aerobics, then a receptionist job became available and I accepted the role.
I had never met a gay person before, and I remember being horrified to learn Ivan was gay, and I didn't believe it until I met his partner Ken.
Being open to a close association with them developed into a friendship that has now lasted over 30 years.
Ivan and Ken (who I will refer to as my boys) introduced me to a friend of theirs, a good-looking blonde hair man who I instantly fell in love with, and married 23 years ago. Simon and my friendship with the boys has been full of love and laughter, and today with an enormous amount of negativity still around with the gay marriage debate, I wanted to share some of the fun times I have enjoyed over the years with my beautiful boys.
In our younger days, I would go out dancing at The Peel hotel with my boys as Simon would go home to the babysitter. After a fabulous night of dancing to 80’s tunes, including cloud surfing, they would drop me off at home, where I would climb in the front window at all hours, which Simon would leave open for me.
Ivan and I taught aerobics together (team teaching classes) all around Victoria for years, where we would have our last cigarette before the class. Often when our Saturday afternoon class at Collingwood LC finished, Ivan would pick me up and throw me into the pool. Anyone who knows Ivan knows he sweats a lot. His greatest trick during the classes was throwing his arms out in my direction and giving me a spray.
Going for dinner at the boys’ home in Northcote was always an experience with Mr. Organised, Ken. Ken’s famous dish is chicken and leek pie, which he called “Cockie, Leekie Pie.” Amazing! Ken would keep a list in the cupboard with the names of people who came for dinner often and write down dishes he had made for them, so they received a variety of meals.
Ken also has his list of fabulous movies. The more tissues involved, the better the film. His favorite is “The Color Purple,” and he loves “Steel Magnolia,” where we have referred to Ken as the character “Wheeza.” Bitchy, but with the kindest heart on the planet.
The boys have often babysat for me. The first time was when Luke was a baby. They proudly walked him around Northcote, showing off their baby. I arrived back to a note on the door saying “Quiet, baby sleeping.” They should have written “Baby cooking” as they had Luke wrapped up in blankets in front of the blazing heater.
Ivan often babysat the children when they were older. I would come back to him having purple and pink hair spikes and nail polish after an evening of “beauté” with Emma. Then there was the time I was called into the school as they were worried after Emma told a fabulous show and tell session about her gay Uncle Ivan who gets drunk when he babysits us, plays murder in the dark and ties Luke, Josh and I to the trampoline and drives off in his car.
Ivan makes me laugh all the time. He shares wine with me, and beer with his mate “Simo.” Ivan doesn’t mind going bald. He keeps telling me he will grow the hair out of his ears and do a comb-over.
Ivan is always the MC at all our parties. He co-ordinates aerobic dance moves for everyone to enjoy and performs the full Village People mega mix routine, costume changes and all.
I always give Ivan something fun for Christmas. The year I was ill in hospital, where I wore huge “Bridget Jones” style underwear, I gave Ivan the additional packet as a joke. Ivan took these up to Cairns to our friend John (gorgeous Auntie Joan), who tells everyone that Caz’s undies are the best cleaning wipes. The only thing is he won’t hang them on the line as “what might the neighbors think?”
Ivan sadly lost his mother suddenly at a young age. Ivan’s father couldn’t cope with both Ivan and his brother, Darryl, so Ivan being the youngest was raised by his strict Auntie.
Ivan felt his mother knew he was gay, but his father was very old-school. When Ivan was in his 30’s, he thought about coming out to his father. Before Ivan's dad arrived, he set up the VHS to the video the Melbourne marching boys in the Mardi Gras, which Ivan was a team member. Ivan’s dad was ok when he told him about being gay, but as Ivan pressed play, his father said: “That’s ok son, but it doesn’t mean you have to go parading it around the country.”
Ivan has never pressed the stop button so fast.
Ivan and Simon would water-ski together with the boy's boat, called “Kenivan.” They needed somewhere to store the boat, so Simon and Ivan cleaned out Aunties shed, where naughty Simon found a fire hydrant. You can imagine who was covered head to toe from the hydrant, Simon laughing his head off. Ivan has always been a great sport.
During our time holidaying at Frankston beach, we have many memories of Ivan. After a day in the sun, pulling the kids up and down the beach on boogie boards, never wearing sunscreen, my darling Ivan would love his glam tan – beetroot red. One Easter Ivan dressed up as the Easter bunny, where he looked more like an Easter lamb, but the funny part was he scared the living daylights out of the kids, jumping out from behind the couch.
When the kids were little, Ivan always dressed up for Santa Day we had with our Collingwood LC friends. Santa would always arrive on his roller blades up the street in Carlton and play forever with the kids on the swings. He even dressed up as Blinky Bill on one of the hottest days in December to entertain the kids at one of Joshie’s birthday parties.
Ivan now works in traffic control. Everyone calls him the dancing lollypop man as he is always happy to race over to help any old lady across the road. He also chats away to everyone, going over and beyond what is required. Ken is now a retired school Principal who generously volunteers his time, often during the night and weekends. Both boys have big hearts. Everyone loves them.
There are so many more stories I can share, like chasing Ivan down the street, pretending I had a spider in my hand (Ivan has a massive phobia of spiders), or when we were all at gold class watching Harry Potter. Simon threw a handful of popcorn over Ivan, which happened to be in the spider scene. I will leave what happened to your imagination.
Or the time when Ivan thought he was celebrating his 50th at our home with a couple of the family. Oh no, everyone was there. Family and friends, all wearing feather bowers. We had sparkle everywhere, the red carpet, A Queens outfit for Her Majesty, and a day of games and fun, especially when Ivan and Ken did a makeup lesson on Josh and Emma, then couples swapped their clothes for a red-carpet competition.
Or when we held our Cup Days, Ken would have the whole day planned out, with numbered golf balls for the sweeps. He enjoyed it until Simon kept cheating and writing different numbers on the balls! The kids loved it as they have never heard someone yell at their Dad so much, and get away with it!!
As you can see, the boys sure are a special part of our family, so much that Ivan is the Godfather of our youngest son, James.
With this in mind, I hope one day to be able to blog about the boys wedding (if they choose), but remember; I hope they have the option to be married.
Many gay friends have found it difficult to obtain a home loan due to not being married, or not be next of kin to their partner through death because they are not legally together. Another reason I voted yes.
I hope you enjoyed the adventures of the best friends any girl can have. I don’t know what my life would be like without my boys, but I sure do know it is a lot more colourful, full of fun, laughter and more love than I could ever ask for from them.
Ken and Ivan, if you are reading this, I love you both so much, and I can’t wait to create more fabulous memories with you.
Thank you for reading. Please share with anyone who wants to be loved as much as I have over 30 years of friendship, and hope to be loved for 30 more.
Ok, for a few more laughs, here are 2 more photos of Ivan and I modelling in the 80's.