Sunday, September 10, 2006

One of These Boys . . .

. . . is Not Like the Others.

The picture above shows me with my two sport-playing brothers in 1976.

Mum’s been recently sorting through many of the old family photo albums and when I saw this particular shot, I joked with my younger brother about how, in retrospect, it’s pretty clear to see which of the three Bayly brothers would eventually come out as gay.

Not long after we laughed about this photo, the current affairs program Sixty Minutes featured a segment focusing on the possible causes of homosexuality and how parents can recognize a child is gay.

One of the researchers interviewed was
Dr. Michael Bailey (how weird is that?) who maintains that the cause of homosexuality is still unknown, but that it’s most likely to be a combination of genetics and hormones. A child’s environment, i.e. the way he/she is raised, plays no part.

Well, I could have told him that, as could most gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) people who grew up with siblings who shared their environment but who didn’t end up queer. It seems such a no-brainer to me, and yet in the U.S. there remains a powerful movement preaching the message that homosexuality is a choice and offering “therapies” to “change” gay people. Of course, the
facts say otherwise.

Anyway, here are a few more images from the archives.

Above: Here I am with Deano, our family’s yellow Labrador, sitting under the big jacaranda tree in our backyard. This photo was probably around 1980. We had just come back from swimming in the Namoi River, something my brothers and I loved to do with Deano during the hot, dry Australian summers.

I remember how I would pretend to be drowning and call out to Deano. Without fail, he would always jump into the water and swim out to me. I’d grab hold of his collar and he’d drag me back to shore. He was a great dog. Sadly, he passed away in 1986.

Above: The Bayly boys – Chris, Tim, and Michael – photographed in the early 1980s.

Above: With my older brother Chris and our Great Aunt Phyllis (1913-1996), photographed in the late 1960s.

Above: Me with my younger brother, Tim, in the backyard of our home at 23 Beulah St., Gunnedah. This photo was taken in 1970.

I remember how, years later, Aunty Phyllis would look at photos like this one and the one above it, and remark, with a smile, that my brothers and I looked like “little kings.”

Above: My brothers and I in 1976 with my Dad’s grandmother, Emily Simmons (1892 – 1982) – known to the family as Gran. Don’t let her frail demure fool you. She could play a mean game of Snap!

Above: My brothers and I with our grandmothers in 1991. From left: Chris; our maternal grandmother, Olive Sparkes (1906-1997); me; our paternal grandmother, Belle Smith (1919-2005); and Tim.

Nanna Smith and Aunty Phyllis were sisters. Their mother was Gran. Both Aunty Phyllis and Gran are pictured in previous photos.

Above: With an outfit like this, I guess it was inevitable that I’d one day live in the United States!

I find it interesting that in this photograph I’m standing in front of a plant growing on a trellis, as this has become for me a metaphor for my relationship with the Catholic Church.

I see the Catholic tradition and my upbringing in it, as being like a trellis. It has grounded me and given me guidance as I, like a plant, have grown and blossomed.

Yet just as a plant, in its reaching for the sun, often extends beyond the framework of a trellis, I, like many Catholics, have stretched out beyond the anchoring framework of Catholicism while still remaining a part of this particular tradition and still being, in many ways, supported and encouraged by it.

I think that’s how religion should work. It shouldn’t restrict and hamper one’s spiritual growth but give us that initial push and ongoing guidance towards the source of life that births and sustains us – a source that cannot be contained by any one religious tradition; a source which is ultimately beyond all religious structures.

This has been my experience and truth as a spiritual seeker within the Catholic tradition. And I think it’s been many others’ as well.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Lesson from Play School
Those Europeans Are at it Again
Catholic Rainbow (Australian) Parents
The Bayly Family (Part I)
The Bayly Family (Part II)
The Bayly Family (Part III)
My Brother, the Drummer
A Rabbit’s Tale

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