Gay Times July 09 - Issue 370
In The Know
Pete Jordi-Wood, 29, is an animator, illustrator, writer, student and VJ. He has been a home carer for his mother since he was a child.
More from Gay Times July 09 - Issue 370
I've been a carer for my mum on and off since I was five years old and my dad walked out. I'm turning 30 this year, so that's about 25 years of worrying.
One in three of us will become a carer for a period of time to someone in our lives; a lover, a parent, a child, a friend...
I'm fucking great at cooking! I learnt basic practical household skills, like going shopping for food and cooking when I could barely reach the oven.
I had an amazing, exciting few years whereby I essentially ran away from my responsibilities in life. What I learnt though was that caring wasn't always about being physically there with someone who needs you; it’s actually a state of mind.
If you meet a young or adult carer, offer to take them and the person they care for out one weekend for a drive to the beach and a picnic or to the movies. Or help them find someone to look after the person they care for and take them for a wild night out.
Carers will have 10 times more fun with you than anyone you've ever gone out with because they will really appreciate the freedom. Every second of it.
Gay carers aren't all just “nice” boys that stay at home – but we do probably share one good trait: empathy. It's a pretty amazing trait to discover within yourself, and we've all got it. It's not this physical attribute you can list on a profile, and it doesn't tick any boxes when selling yourself as a potential boyfriend, but I stick by my guns – empathy is hot.
There's a stigma attached to home carers. It says in big, bold, luminous letters “BAGGAGE”.
In some ways that stigma is quite ironic. Carers have had to perfect the art of not being so needy in life, whilst the person who stigmatises them is showing how incredibly needy they are themselves in that they are looking for someone in life that needs to pay them such limitless attention.
The amount of Gaydar profiles that say "Looking for someone with no baggage" is just hilarious. We all have it. It's how we deal with it that matters.
I'm doing a degree in animation. It was my goal to do a degree by the time I was 30. I'll graduate next summer and it will be the biggest achievement in my life.
I'm determined to not live a mediocre, dull, boring life in which the highlight of the day is filling a dossett box with pills or making a lasagne.
I wrote a novel and am co-writing a new one with a good mate I met on Myspace. That's hopeful for people who have so many responsibilities at home because whatever your location in the digital age, you can still work on all sorts of exciting projects. It's a positive time for letting those who were previously so hidden away find their voice and speak out.
Carers face the danger of becoming invisible to themselves as well as society, to the media and the government. When your entire life revolves around someone else, talking about that person and how best to make their life better, you start to forget that you have an identity yourself.
The most exciting thing for me at the moment is being part of the VJ collective Us & Them. We create visuals for DJs, which clubs project on screens at big parties. We've been mentored a bit by the awesome Godfather of VJing, Brendan Byrne, who did VJing for Heaven in its early days.
VJing is outrageous, fantastical and fun. You create this visual alternate reality, and so creating content for parties is my way of being a part of them even if I can't be there to VJ myself because I'm needed at home.
I love clubland because I forget everything in the music. I just love the night – the person I care for is fast asleep, and although you never stop worrying completely, it has always been a massive escape for me from responsibility.
You rarely meet someone in a bar, ask them what they do and get the reply, "I'm a full-time carer for my mum/dad/sister/brother/disabled child" because they aren't in the bar, they're at home looking after someone. Or they're in bed, knackered.
I want young carers, and gay ones specifically, to know that they aren't alone, and that the future is bright – it’s not some endless life of responsibility. I want them to know that they will love, fuck, have crazy wild parties and discover their youth at some point.
If you are a carer, save up a little money and get a local caring agency privately to cover your caring role for a night out. You have to learn to factor in the cost of it, but every town has a caring agency or two waiting for your business, so give them some. It's not as expensive as you think it is.
Gay boys should be more open to a bit of baggage: If someone has had to carry a load of it around their whole life, then it probably means they've got strong arms.
Words: Joseph Galliano
Photo: Justino Esteves