This month of pride, Atwood magazine invited artists to participate in a series of short essays in respect and celebration of the significance of the month. Today’s submission comes from internationally acclaimed Greek artist George Perris.
Perris recently released their third full English album No armor, an “exquisite insight into the songs that made him a worldwide phenomenon and the most renowned Greek singer of his generation”. In this essay, he opens up about his personal journey, coming to terms with the term “Pride” and its meaning.
I have spent my whole life struggling with this word and what it stands for. Ever since I was a child, I felt unable to be proud of myself or my accomplishments.
It took me a long time to understand why, regardless of the family traumas of my childhood. Until finally, I understood: it is this violence which was imposed on me for what I am, since I was very small. I may not have been beaten, but – like many of us – I received the most severe beating of all: I was made to feel ashamed of myself.
People laugh at me behind closed doors, gossip, isolation, irony and contempt were daily items on the menu of my childhood. I was brought up in a society where there were no examples of the normality of a same-sex personality or relationship. On TV and in magazines I only saw caricatures which made me even more ashamed of myself but above all afraid of the fact that deep down I was As their. Without public example, without education in schools, you constantly wonder where you belong if you are slightly different from others. You don’t fit anywhere and you grow up thinking there’s something wrong with you all the time.
However, I want to make one thing clear: I do not wish to point fingers at anyone, blame them or take revenge. I just want to show the person next to me that we are just different, but completely equal. It’s not their fault either, nor have they been taught not to be afraid of someone who is different from them, nor to respect them. I demand clemency as a position in life; maybe because I believe it’s the only way things will really change.
Over the years, I thought I got rid of that shame; I lived my life freely with everyone around me and honestly felt that was behind me. I was deeply shocked four years ago, when I started therapy, to discover that at 34 I had still not fully accepted my sexuality. There was palpable guilt and shame deep within me. That’s why today I don’t like the words “acceptance” and “open-mindedness”. I’m not looking for anyone to do me a favor and accept me; I also don’t want them to be open-minded into accepting one of my flaws. Above all, I despise the term “openly gay”; it hides defiance, even contempt. Otherwise, I would have to introduce you to my openly Spanish friend and my openly blonde cousin. I ask only to be accepted as fully equal to anyone else. To me, that’s the definition of a perfect world. We are all completely different, but 100% equal.
I ask only to be accepted as fully equal to anyone else. To me, that’s the definition of a perfect world.
That being said, I’m so proud to live in this era. I am so proud and grateful to those who came before me for not being persecuted for the person I love. I am proud that people of my generation have built an era of transparency and catharsis and that we can discuss these issues openly. Because it is our emotional demand to communicate the truth of the other. I think when someone shows you who they really are, that’s the greatest honor they can give you.
Today I am writing to you for one reason only: because I am interested in helping a teenager to accept himself in advance and not at 35 or in some cases never. Because I want to see this child tomorrow flourish and be fulfilled and ready to create stable and secure relationships in their life. If by my example I can fill a void that existed when I was growing up, then, in addition to my duty in music, I will have fulfilled my duty to society. And for that, I am proud. I’m really proud of all of us. – George Perris
Stream: ‘No Armor’ – George Perris
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📸 © Errikos Andreou