Neulich wurde ich auf ein Charakterprofil einer Schweizer Politikerin in einer der hiesigen Zeitungen (ich meine, es war die NZZ) aufmerksam gemacht. Normalerweise werden in diesen kurzen Portraits vor allem die Errungenschaften und Leistungen einer Person aufgezählt. In diesem speziellen Fall schien es dem Redakteur aber wichtig, der Leserschaft ein weiteres Detail nahe zubringen: die gute Dame ist verheiratet, mit einer anderen Frau.
Derlei mediale Offenbarungen lese ich in letzter Zeit häufiger. Man denke etwa an den ehemaligen Landrat aus Regen (Bayern), Michael Adam, der als erster schwuler Landrat in einer vermeintlich stockkonservativen Region gewählt wurde und damit groß in die Presse kam. Für dessen politische Ambitionen man sich eher randständig interessierte – wohl aber für die Tatsache, dass er mit einem Liebhaber inflagranti im Büro erwischt wurde. Abgesehen von der dezenten Anrüchigkeit, die der Nachricht selbstverständlich zusätzlichen Wert verleiht, bleibt die Sexualität eines Menschen weiterhin ein Zuckerl für den Boulevardjournalisten, der damit die niedersten Triebe seiner Leser anschreibt.
Mich machen solche Meldungen allerdings in zwei Richtungen nachdenklich.
Einerseits stört es mich, nein: es ärgert mich. Ich bezweifle, dass sich die oben genannte Schweizer Politikerin maßgeblich durch ihr Privatleben definiert – jedenfalls ihr politisches Wirken wird darunter eher weniger zu leiden haben. Da fiele es schwerer ins Gewicht, wenn ihre Partnerin Chefin eines Medienhauses oder eine mächtige Wirtschaftsmagnatin wäre. Hier ließe sich ein Interessenskonflikt ablesen. Aber so? Oder ist es für das politische Wirken eines jungen Mannes wirklich entscheidend, ob er sich als Schwuler in einer konservativen Region durchsetzen kann? Ich möchte niemandem zu nahe treten, aber ich hoffe doch, dass die sexuellen Eskapaden eines Politikers normalerweise keine schwerwiegenden Auswirkungen auf das Leben der Mitbürger haben.
Das ist im Übrigen etwas, das ich immer wieder mit viel Belustigung zur Kenntnis nehme, wenn sich Menschen, die an schwerer Homophobie erkrankt sind, zum Thema äußern: diese Leidenschaft, sich in die intimsten Angelegenheiten anderer Menschen einzumischen, selbst wenn dieses Privatleben sich hunderte von Kilometern anderswo abspielt. Bisweilen wird das Internet eben zum Schaufenster für den arbeitslosen Gaffer.
Die Geschichte hat aber auch eine zweite Seite, die ich deutlich positiver bewerte. Denn nicht nur für mich, insbesondere und vor allem auch für jene jungen Männer und Frauen, die noch mit sich und ihrer Sexualität hadern, ist es äußerst wichtig, Identifikationsfiguren wahrzunehmen. Woran sonst sollten sie erkennen, dass mit ihnen alles in Ordnung ist? Die Schulfreunde machen, wenn es blöd kommt, dumme Witze, verwenden “Schwuchtel” oder “Schwuppe” kopflos (oder gar beabsichtigt) als Schimpfworte, die eigenen Eltern sind offensichtlich auch nicht die richtigen Ansprechpartner. An wen sich also wenden? Wann immer ich Geschichten lese und höre von Jungen und Mädchen, die keinen anderen Ausweg mehr aus solch einer Situation wissen als den Selbstmord, dann fließen bei mir die Tränen. Jeder Selbstmord ist tragisch, doch diese sind so wahnsinnig überflüssig, sinnlos, vermeidbar. Mit etwas mehr Füreinander.
Es mag also just für jene Menschen, die immer noch mit sich im Unreinen sind, eine große Erleichterung und ein Lichtbringer sein, dass es Menschen mit ähnlichen oder den gleichen Gefühlen auch in der hohen Politik, im Sport, im Film und Fernsehen, in der Kunst, der Literatur gibt. Ich bin glücklich, wirklich glücklich, über jedes Videospiel, in dem neben heterosexuellen auch homosexuelle Beziehungen abgebildet werden – in einer erwachsenen, in einer ehrlichen und gefühlvollen Weise. Dafür gibt es inzwischen viele gute Beispiele.
Wenn man selbst nicht betroffen ist, dann kann es einem gut und gerne mal “zuviel” werden. Als Disney plötzlich beschloss, eine einzelne Figur aus ihrem gesamten Portfolio lesbisch werden zu lassen, wurden Stimmen des Unmuts laut, die “Verschwulung” führe nun wirklich zu weit und wenigstens die Disney-Charaktere könne man doch in Ruhe lassen. Bisweilen kann ich für die Reaktionen sogar Verständnis aufbringen – auch wenn ich sie nicht teile. In den letzten Jahrzehnten erlebte die LGBT-Bewegung einen Befreiungsschlag nach dem anderen, und eine Gefühlsregung, die über Jahrhunderte hinweg unterdrückt und beseitigt worden war, bahnt sich endlich Licht. Dem ein oder anderen mag es nicht geheuer sein, wie viele Menschen es dort draußen gibt, die sich ihr Leben lang verstecken mussten oder selbst heute noch ihr Coming Out mit einem äußerst schmerzvollen Schritt in die glühende Lava vergleichen.
Aber: Es ist notwendig. Wie so oft trügt der Schein – die Welt wird nicht schwuler, lesbischer, bunter, nur weil man die Realität plötzlich abbildet. Auch wenn ich das nicht schlecht fände. Manchmal muss man anerkennen, dass die Welt nicht so aufgebaut ist, wie man es das ganze Leben lang gelernt hat. Wer sich dagegen wehrt, kämpft einen Kampf gegen Windmühlen. Doch wer bereit ist, das zu akzeptieren, der wird vielleicht eines Tages auch erkennen, dass in all dieser Vielseitigkeit sehr viel Wunderbares steckt. Und nur sehr wenig, was das eigene Leben weniger lebenswert macht.
Mich würde natürlich auch interessieren: Was denkt Ihr dazu? Was empfindet ihr, wenn ihr in einem Artikel förmlich mit der Nase auf die Sexualität eines anderen Menschen gestoßen werdet? Findet Ihr das in Ordnung? Notwendig? Störend? Oder sollte man das gar völlig unterlassen? Seht ihr eine Diskrepanz zwischen der Realität und dem medialen und kulturellen Abbild, wie es sich in den letzten Jahren manifestiert? Ich freue mich auf Eure Meinungen. 🙂
Once upon a time, there was a prince. Not the regular type of prince. He was neither tall nor slim, neither athletic nor tough. In his palace in the center of his country he had 90 rooms, most of them filled with shelves and books and papers. From the very morning when the first rays of sunlight gently touched the ground up to the deepest nights, enlightened by the final rest of a candle, he sat in his rooms and read. He studied a lot, and all across the continent he was known to be a famous writer, scientist, a wise and knowing person.
However, he was not well liked. After a couple of years into his reign, the people started to wonder. They suspiciously gathered in their taverns and bars and started rumours. “He never tried to marry!” they said. “Who will be the next prince once he is gone?” Others claimed “He keeps that much of a distance to everybody! I know some courtier who has only seen him twice in three years!” Yes, the prince was wise and gentle, but he kept his distance.
Ten years after he was crowned, the prince had to host a huge festival. It was a celebration of his coronation, and thus there was no way for him to avoid this kind of event he hated so much. All the people on his lands were invited, there was food and beverage, loud music, there were clowns and artists. The people were running across the meadows of his palace, joyful. Later, in the evening, young girls and boys strolled away, hid in the giant maze behind the palace, trying to get some lonely moments.
Inside the palace, the prince was sitting on his throne. A fantastic ball had been organised with all those honorable people from everywhere – princes, princesses, some barons, even a high member of the church dared to come to this mundane activity. They held a dance just in front of the prince, who did not want to join. Caught in his own home he sat there and rolled his eyes.
It was more than just randomness, it was fate that he recognised that young man at the other end of the hall, who secretly chuckled. It was a handsome young man, not much younger than himself, with a shining smile. Maybe one of the courtiers. He had seen the prince and his boredom, and he thought it to be funny. That guy, he was a prince, powerful and mighty, rich and adored, but if once in a while there was a festival just for him he rolled his eyes.
The prince blinked several times, then slowly shook his head. The young man though, still looking at him, simply shrugged. The prince frowned, but the young man grinned. Whatever he did, that young man reacted to him, and the longer they played their secret game, the brighter the prince’s mood got.
At night, when the festival slowly ended, all the other noble people bowed in front of their host and gracefully thanked him for his hospitality. One of them was that man who had stood there in the corner, playing his games with the powerful lord. But before the prince could stop him, he turned around and fled the room. Helplessly the prince stared after him.
On the next day, the prince got up late. His thoughts were filled with strange and strong images, and thus he did not dare to sleep a lot. He had spent hours within the library, but the page he read never got turned. He was deeply sunken in thoughts about his life, circling around himself. And even on this next morning, he returned directly to his library, his cozy chair where nobody in this world could disturb him.
“Mylord?” one servant hesitantly said as he came closer.
“Yes, what is it.” The prince was not happy about the unknown disturbance.
“There is a letter for you, mylord. A young man delivered it this morning. He said it would be important and ease your mind.” With these words he gave the small but carefully written letter to the prince.
He did not have to read the letter to know its origin. Carefully, almost scared, he opened the sheet and started to read. Some servants gathered behind the door, and they all were almost shocked when there was laughter coming out of the dark room! They had never seen their lord to be delighted by any disturbance in the morning, and still, this letter had amused him! It had been written with care and ease, with wisdom, with a sensitive empathy and many words.
Some hours later, the prince left his study room. “Servant!” he yelled, and one of them quickly rushed towards him. “Take this letter. Go ahead and bring it to the maze within our gardens. Leave it there, close to the fountain.” The servant bowed and took the letter without any look of inquiry.
This was the starting point for a strange ceremony held for a long time, and the servants wondered a lot. Every day their lord received a letter in the morning, and in the afternoon he sent another one into the maze. They never knew the addressee and even though they had a close look at the maze they never found out.
One day, though, things changed. Another letter arrived at the prince’s palace, but late in the afternoon, which left the prince nervous and unsteady. He ordered his men and tried to use his time, but his mind was racing. When the letter arrived he ran to the library. And did not come out for several days.
When he finally returned to the living, he looked pale and thin. His skin and his eyes were sad and full of tragedy. But his voice was harsh and stable as he yelled “Servant! Saddle the horse!” He had not been out on a ride for ages, and the servants shared worried glances, but they did as he ordered. And so, the prince went out on a ride, with nothing more than a little bag over his shoulder and his horse between his legs.
Three weeks he rode into the same direction, passing cities and villages and meadows, churches and taverns and mountains. Some people he passed raised their brow, saying “Did you see that man? He almost looked like our prince!” And then, when he had crossed his land’s borders, people said “Look at that man, whom nobody will stop, he clearly knows where he wants to go!”
The wild ride brought him into countries he had never heard about, into the deepest wilderness and along unknown civilizations. But his eyes were steady, his route was clear, and his horse was tired.
After three weeks, he reached his final destination. A small village in the middle of nowhere, hardly called to be the home of the living. Some crows were sitting on a large rock next to the road, staring at him like he was the first man in centuries to come along. The meadows were green and bright, the trees were tall and telling stories of centuries, the sky was bluer as his own sky has never been. It must have been paradise.
The prince stopped at a certain house. He did not care for the beautiful landscape, he did not care for the wilderness, he did not care for the emptiness. He got off his horse, bound it to the fence and stepped towards the door. But when he lifted his hand to knock on the bright wood, the door opened before he could do so. A young man had opened. The young man he had seen at the hall, so much time ago, during his celebration.
“Why did you come?” the young man asked, and his voice was filled with bitterness.
“Why do you say it like that?” the prince asked, and his fingers fumbled for his bag. He opened the lacing and threw the bag on the stairs. Inside the bag, there were dozens and dozens of letters, each and every single one of them once carried into the palace. “You know why I came.”
The young man did not even waste a look to the ground. His dark and sad eyes sparkled full of despair in the sun when he looked at the prince. “You shouldn’t have come. I told you so.”
“Why? I am here, I told you I would come.” the prince replied, trying to do another step towards the door. But the young man shook his head, left the door frame and stepped outside the house.
“Look at this. Look at all of this. This is my home, my world, my life. Wild meadows. Lonesome trees. My beloved village full of emptiness. Now think of it. You are a prince, what do you know of the world we are living in? You have the meal, the beverage, the books. You have your palace with servants and fine clothes. I love my life, but I cannot give you what you are looking for.”
A dark and bitter sadness was in his words.
“I told you, many times, but you never listened. You live in your own world, unwilling to experience reality. Now, here you are. This is the real world. Far from any of your fancy visions.”
Then he turned back to the prince, sadly staring at him.
“I wish you would have never come.” He turned his back and went up the stairs and into the door. Within the door frame, he stopped for a moment.
“You are wrong.” the prince then said with a gentle voice.
“Is it the meals I miss in the morning? Is it the beverage in the evening? Is it a soft and gentle bed I cannot live without? Is it a palace full of thousands of servants I cannot live without? Is it a people who never loved me I would grief about? There is no money, no property, no comfort in life. I told you, thousand times, and you denied, everytime.
“You wrote to me about your dreams, your future, your destiny. You told me your story as if it were mine. You shared your fears, your sacred wishes, your anger and pain. You stormed into my life with a smile and hook me with a gentle letter. Yes, you told me never to come. But… you told me who you are.”
The prince did a deep sigh, bowed down and took the bag with all the letters.
“You told me never to come. I came. For you. When I wake up in the very morning, my first thoughts are about you. My joy, my grief, all my emotions were packed in those moments with your letters. My fun and pride, all my soul was covered by writing to you. When I dined, I imagined you sitting there, reading my lines. Smiling. You were everywhere. You told me I was crazy. I am. But I knew it. And I wanted it.
“You told me it cannot be. You told me it will not be. You told me my words would never be right, and here I am.” The prince did another deep sigh. “I came here for one reason. One reason alone.”
The young man turned around, and anger, despair, fury were in his face. “Who do you think you are! What do you want! There is nothing I can give you! There is nothing here! I cannot stand it, so go, leave, and accept it!”
The prince looked at him for some moment, then he reached for another letter, a closed one, which had been hidden in his jacket. He handed it to the man who took it, hesitatingly.
“I understood. You could have seen.”
With those words, he turned around and went down the stairs.
The young man, though, he opened the letter. There was not much in there. Just one single line.
I wanted to be the one who made you smile. And to give you what you need.
“But… you were! You are!” the young man said, still staring at the words.
The prince did not turn around. “You could have told me. Too late.” he said.
If you look close enough, you see another page attached to the back of this story. A little piece of paper with some hastily drawn lines. It seems like some stories don’t end the way everybody believed them to end.
The young man looked up again, staring at the back of the prince. But suddenly, the lord turned around, and their eyes met, for a split second, little more than an eternity. The prince’s feet, they took him back towards the stairs, up the stairs, and as the young man opened his mouth in surprise, they were met by the prince’s lips. Heat and agony paired, thrown into a vortex of desired pleasure. Willingly, he closed his eyes, as he feeled the start of an eternal fire kindling. And the door closed. Behind them.
Note: I tried to do some voice acting here. Please be gentle. I love you all. x
It all started in ninth grade. Not the common type of love story where suddenly at the beginning of the semester a new face shows up and you immediately fall in love. Then, for the whole semester, you grief in unspoken love, until – eventually – you reach the desired heart during the holidays.
He – a young lad called James – had known him for ages. They went to the same class in primary school. They had serious arguments in sixth grade, when the boys started to fight about a certain anime type of thing. You know what it is like – either you love my stuff or you are my enemy. He had laughed at him in eigth grade when all the others were able to talk about their first “serious” relationships – but he, he couldn’t.
On this particular Monday, they had an exam. Math, very basic stuff. Something like “you got a y here and a z here, but the thing you need is an x, so do the kind of magic we taught you and scribble it down”. Marius – the other guy – was sitting right in front of him. Cool and calm as usual. “No sweat!” was his well-known phrase, and for some reason, his grades were good. Even though he was not the kind of guy to sit at home and learn a lot. A mysterious young lad.
The exam took hours. Well, in all honesty, it took like 45 minutes. But even 5 minutes can seem endless if you have no clue. James gnawed on his pencil. The clock was relentless and there was this thought which thing might happen earlier – the pencil to be gone or the time to be up. It was the time. Once the school bell rang, the teacher came along and collected their sheets.
There it happened. A little booklet fell to the ground when Marius started to pack his things. Just for a moment, but long enough that James was able to recognise the cover. “Doctor Who.” Some kind of fan magazine with short stories and fan made drawings. He knew the magazine, he was a huge fan. He had even submitted some short stories. For a short moment, James blinked and stared at that back in front of him. Marius? Could it be that he shared the same fandom?
This is not the kind of romantic stuff you read in books, you know. There was no magic sparkle. There was no sign that suddenly heaven came to earth. There was just one little thought: “Oh. I wouldn’t have known.”
Several years later, they all gathered again, all the pupils of the same class. They wore black. It was a rainy day. What a cliché. A rainy day in November for a burial. They all stood there, some arm in arm as they had married, others lonesome, but all with sad and worried faces. In the front, there was the priest and some woman, the mother. Her makeup was gone, not due to the rain, but due to the tears. The priest welcomed everybody and gave some soft introductory words. Then the mother stepped forward.
She trembled. “I… Thank you, everbody, for attending this…” Her voice broke. Another woman, obviously not related to her but kind, put a hand on her shoulder. The mother breathed, deeply, started again. “Thank you for coming. I don’t know how to do such a thing and I…” Her voice broke again and she fumbled on her dress with nervous fingers.
“He would have loved you all to be here. I know it. I know it, even though he never said it.” Some people burried their hands deeper in their pockets, other shared sad and worried glances. “I… he was a special boy, my young boy, and I miss you so damn much.” It was over, she broke in tears and was not able to recover for some minutes. The rain was pouring all over them, but nobody even dared to move a single step.
When she eventually came back, she snuffled and shook her head. From the inside of her coat she brought a little book. It was bound in bright colours, pink and yellow, a light blue and some green. There were drawings on top, some hearts, some stars, even a unicorn. It almost fell when she tried to open it.
“This… I need you to understand. All of you. And myself. This…” she held up the book a little bit “is… was his diary. A precious gem I found some days ago but did not dare to look into until yesterday. It is full of the stories and feelings of a young man trying to find his role in the world. There is one passage… only one… you need to hear.”
The silence all over those people got stronger. The rain got darker, colder. Instinctivly they grew closer, when she started to read. Her voice was shaking, but got firmer with every word, with every line her son had written. These words were written by her flesh, and she brought them to the light.
May 2, Tuesday, 19h
Why. Why me. Why not anybody else. I haven’t done anything. Why the fuck me?
He looked at me, again. Dark, brown eyes, sparkling in the sun, radiant. I have seen them so often and still find new details. The way he looks at something he’s interested in. The way he looks in disgust. His eyes when he is laughing. His glance when he is sad. I know every single mood and still there are new to come. This look he gave me? I’d call it “disinterest”.
I seriously don’t know what to do anymore. This fucking fuck book of a fucking book! It all started there, and it never ended. Why me? Why the fuck me? It could have been anybody. I just wanted to be normal. Happy. Somehow. I wanted to be… enough.
I don’t know how to stand yesterday. I went home from school, and as usual I passed the little park where he loves to play with the others. They had played basketball and were sitting there, making fun, jokes. He was happy. He wore that muscle shirt, yellowish, and his skin shone in the sun light. Does this make any sense at all? Fuck, no. Who cares. I passed by. I heard him. I fucking heard him. He was making jokes, and everybody was laughing. One of them was shaking his head. Then, he stood up and yelled “Oh come on, faggot, this was funny!” and they laughed.
I don’t know how long I must have been there, unable to move, until they recognised me. They stared at me. He stared at me, his eyes still sparkling full of fun. He meant it. He said it. He… Not him, too. After all, not him.
I cannot stand it anymore. My father saying that “they” all should hang. My mother just nodding and cleaning the kitchen. My best friend’s mum who said “they” try to kill us all, they bring diseases and are rubbish and like some kind of shit. The priest in the church yelling that “they” are a failure in HIS creation.
For fuck’s sake, what shall I do? God, if you are exist, what shall I do? What have I done? Wrong? I tried it all. I tried it fucking all, and I failed. I failed my Mum, I failed my Dad, I failed my whole family. My friends. My teachers. Why me? Where did I do wrong? I cannot ask them. God, hell, no, never. And I cannot stand it.
He was my anchor. Since that one moment when he dropped that book. Gosh, it’s over anyway, so why not finally write it out. Yes, I started to observe him. To stare at him. I realised his beautiful face, these magical eyes, that smile which brought sunshine into my life. That body which was neither muscular nor slim, but just perfect. His moves. His voice… I should note down his voice, right? Especially when he laughs. It is a small, a gentle laughter, but so attracting. There are so many things and interests we share, and he does not even know. I know. What shall I say? “Hey, Marius, I like what you like, what will that make of us?” Oh, I should remove that sentence, but I lack the energy.
He, for all people, said it. Called us. Named us. Not him. Please, please lord, not him. My anchor is broken and I feel like I’m drowning. But I will try to be strong. I try to. I promise.
The mother’s voice fell silent, and they all stood there and nobody was able to move. Some stared at her, unwilling, unable to process what they just heard. Others sobbed or cried silently.
“This entry was written one day before he jumped.” the mother concluded. She eventually went silent, trembling, shivering, not able to say anything else. The book, it fell out of her hand and into the mud. It was his diary. The little diary with that unicorn, and when they all had found out about it in tenth grade, they had laughed at him. A boy with a unicorn. He ran out of class, crying, and nobody cared – they all just laughed.
The sound of heavy steps. A trembling hand went to the ground and took the book. He was not wearing his yellowish shirt today. He was wearing black. For several minutes he stood there, his back to the others, looking into the grave, they all just saw his trembling. At some point he started crying and his steps took him away from the grave, his friends.
They all looked after him. Soon he was gone, hidden under some trees in the rain, alone. One voice alone reached out for them. She was his former girlfriend. Marius’ girlfriend. There were no emotions left when she did the final blow.
“He loved him. He had told me in tears. But had never told James. And that little magazine about Doctor Who? He bought it because of him. Why, James, why have you never asked?”
The room was dark and cold when he entered. The wooden planks underneath his feet creaked and squeaked with every step he did, just like his grandmother’s house. Whenever he visited them as a young child, he loved to sneak up and down the large old staircase in the middle of the night, trying not to wake anybody. Sometimes he succeeded. But in this room, the sounds evoked something different. He felt alarmed.
With trembling fingers he reached for the matches. Short and strong strokes should fire up the light. The first one breaks, the second fails, the third one finally produces a small, soft glimmer, just enough to bring light into darkness. He held the newborn fire to the candlestick and kindled it, spread the light and the warmth. Light came into darkness and shapes left the deepest shadows.
The room was empty. Only one lonely scaffold stood there, in the very center, and on it a canvas. He had a quick look through the room. Dark and dusty rectangles at the walls showed where once there had been framed pictures and shelves. Everything was gone. He shook his head. What could possibly have happened?
One week ago, just a couple of days ago, the room was full of life. He had visited his good old friend, a painter, a true artist, who was working on his new master piece. There were pictures on the walls thriving of colours, of joy, of happiness. He had bought new furniture to create an atmosphere of coziness. He was excited.
“Here, my friend,” the painter said as he pointed to a canvas hidden underneath a blanket. “Here I create my new master piece. It will be what I have never been before. A piece of love and joy, a piece of dedication.”
“Let me see!” he demanded, went on and tried to remove the blanket – but got stopped.
“Don’t you dare!” the painter shouted while grinning. “This will be a surprise. You will see something of mine nobody has seen before. At the right place, at the right time. The only thing I ask from you is trust. Trust me. Believe in me.”
One week. Now he was gone. He had left without a word or a note, not even the neighbours had noticed his departure. The only thing left in this room full of emptiness was this scaffold. And the canvas. The canvas which had been hidden underneath the blanket.
For some reason he hesitated. Should he dare to have a look? His friend, so full of eagerness, so full of joy, he had put a lot of emotions, of time, of energy into this piece of work. Now he was gone. What would this piece of work tell him? Show him? Evoke in him?
He took a deep breath and surrounded the scaffold. There it was. The true master piece of his friend.
It was a canvas completely covered in black.
For several minutes he just stood still. He breathed. But he did not understand. This was the famous master piece? This has been the work his friend had not wanted to show him? For Christ’s sake, he had spent money, energy and time in his friend’s work and abilities. He had trusted him. The only thing he had asked for was trust and dedication to his work. He received nothing at all. A canvas covered in black. Two emotions rose in his chest – a deep, dark feeling of anger. But also an emptiness, a deep disappointment.
The letter took him some time. Over and over again he tried to find the right words to his friend. He was gone, unreachable, was he? He didn’t care. Yes, he was a wonderful artist, but he had shown no feelings, no emotions, his paintings were just that: paintings. He was looking for something else. Something, that could touch his soul. His heart. Everything. And suddenly, the words came out of his mind, and he put them all on the paper. In many lines he told his friend what he never dared to say to him. In the end, he took a small nail and attached the letter to the black canvas.
Some weeks later, the artist was seen at an auction. The hall was filled with hundreds of people, all staring at the big black canvas at the stage. They were mumbling. They were wondering. What kind of picture might that be? Who should ever want to buy that? And nobody did a bid. Not a single person.
Then, the artist cleared his throat. A quick look to the auctioneer, silently asking for some last words. He did a step forward, and suddenly, in the light, everybody could see his face. His eyes, once sparkling in green and brown, full of life and joy, they were like dead. His face was pale and thin. His words were clear, but without soul. He was hollow.
“This picture is my life.” he started. The people stopped talking, some of them bent forward to listen to his words. While everybody was dragged towards him, he reached for his pocket and took out a small tool.
“This picture is my life.” he repeated. “Dark. Without any colour. Without any soul. Plain. And that’s what many people think. That’s what many people see. That’s even what I see when I look at myself.”
Tears came up, not just in his eyes, but also in his words, and still, his face showed no reactions to the words.
“This picture is my life. You look at it, you wonder, you cannot understand. None of you dared to bid. None of you cared about it. You were wondering, yes, but none of you asked.
“There has been one man, though, and he had asked. I have to mention him here, because I wouldn’t be where I am without him. At all. He cared. He asked. He listened. And reached for my life, and I reached for his. I called him my friend, and still, he was so much more. I gave him trust. I gave him dedication. Life is never white like an unpainted canvas, nor is it black like a surface covered in oil, I told him. He listened, he nodded, he agreed.”
While he was talking, he went over to the canvas and started to use his little tool on it. First in the top right corner, then in the top left corner. The reached for the center. And for the bottom.
“This picture here is my life. I presented it to him, pure and raw, as it was. There is no bigger gift in life I can give than life itself. I presented it to him, and when I closed my studio after I had prepared everything, I smiled. He would understand. Nobody else would. But I had told him.
“And he saw it. My picture, my life. He looked at it, the dark, black canvas. He stared at it. For a long time. And then…” he reached for his pocket and pulled out a letter, lifted it, a letter which was crinkled and winkled and wet of tears. “… then he did not understand.”
Standing in front of the picture, he took a small pause, and while they were looking at him, they could almost hear his soul break.
The artist, he stepped aside, and with a brief and strong movement he ripped the black surface of the canvas. Underneath, though, there was another picture, which had been hidden by the dark layer. The people gasped and it took them several moments before they were able to process.
Underneath, there was a picture so marvellous, so wonderful, they never had seen anything like that before. Shapes and colours were combined to a master piece of warmth and life itself. One older lady in the first row touched her heart and sighed fulfilled of empathy. There were open mouths, but overall, people feeled a change of mood. All their bad feelings, their bad thoughts, they were gone, and they started to feel life itself. There it was – the true master piece, the artist had spoken about. And it showed life itself. Birth. Youth. Adolesence. Love. Sex. Death. Everything.
“This picture is my life. Not the surface. This life was meant to be given. In the dark, encouraged by the words of someone special, it blossomed, it grew, it became what I ever had dreamed about. It took time, yes. And I did not dare to show it to him. I had to figure it out. I was vulnerable. I knew, he would understand. I knew, he would be waiting. This is not just some opus major, this is my life.”
The people started to overact, they rised their hands and shouted enormous sums towards the stage. The auctioneer’s eyes were sparkling, but before he could start the next round of bidding, the artist lifted his hand. Everybody fell silent.
“This picture is my life. I don’t offer my life to just anybody.”
And from the ground he took a blanket and wrapped his life into it. Hidden. Once again.
Abstract: Germany legalised same-sex marriage. Maybe. A political party and several politicians already prepare to sue against the new law – claiming it to be contradictory to our constitution. Just some mental notes why my first joy about the same-sex marriage has cooled down drastically.
London. It was one of the last days of a fabulous holiday. A perfect sunny day when we – my friends and I – realised that “pizza all-you-can-eat” is an actual thing in the UK capital. £14 to eat as much pizza as you can – and drink as much soft drinks as you want to. The bad thing though: you are stuffed after a couple of pieces. But I don’t want to go into details.
After this incredible discovery, we went to Waterstones, a gigantic bookstore ranging over four levels. Bookstores are always critical. I usually cannot enter them and leave without a couple of new books. Nonetheless, this time my chances were quite good – I had already spent most of my travel money and was kind of freaking out if my money could possibly suffice until my flight back home. How shall I put it? I left with a book. A new book. And I had no idea what I had done – but this bought might have changed my life.