20 YEARS AGO (2001)
1) How old were you? 21
2) Who were you dating? I was in an online relationship with T, who lived in California. Back then it was mostly on email, AIM and ICQ. I was madly in love, or at least i thought i was. Later in 2001, shortly after 9/11, i moved to America to live with her in a poly relationship with her boyfriend C.
3) Where did you work? I worked at a very small software company building solutions for customers mostly in the healthcare and ag industries.
4) Where did you live? I lived alone in an apartment in Highgate Hill area of Brisbane, Australia. Originally i had lived with S, a gay guy who i had been friends with for a couple of years, but when i came out to him as trans he said he wasn't comfortable with that and moved out.
5) Where did you hang out? I mostly went out to gay clubs in "The Valley", which at the time was a bit of a seedy part of Brisbane. One club which will remain etched on my heart forever was The Beat, which was mostly UK hard house downstairs and gay pop hits upstairs. They had a couple of drag shows every night, and did BBQs on the deck every "Sunday Funday". I also remember going to The Sportsman Hotel (oldskool gay bar) and The Wickham (gay pop hits), but The Beat was my home. Occasionally i also went to once-off raves and other events. I tried to get into the local goth/industrial scene because that was T's thing, but i went to a few gigs and never really fit in with the crowd. After leaving the doof (outdoor rave) scene behind, i didn't really have a crew any more.
6) Who were your best friends? God, i don't remember. After S moved out i didn't have many friends left in Brisbane. I cut off most of the people i knew when i decided to transition in 99/2000. Only a few people survived like jenndolari, an internet friend i still had from usenet era 5 years earlier.
7) What kind of car did you drive? I didn't know how to drive and had no plans to learn.
8) Were you Single/Taken/Married/Divorced? Not a fan of the term, but i was "taken".
9) Any Kids? No.
10) Pets? No.
Foto is from 2002, taken by T in California.
15 YEARS AGO (2006)
1) How old were you? 26
2) Who were you dating? In 2005 i broke up with T and got together with M, which at first had just been a casual thing but by 2006 it was serious and we were living together.
3) Where did you work? We had just moved to Melbourne and i was in one of my "fuck software development" phases, desperately trying to find something that i actually wanted to do. I continued working part-time remote for my old company that i had been with in 2001, while also searching for work in a kitchen as a dish washer or apprentice chef. In the end i gave up and became a software developer again, accepting a job at the Australian branch of a formerly-famous Silicon Valley company.
4) Where did you live? I lived in an apartment in South Yarra district of Melbourne, Australia with my partner M. I can't remember the exact dates, but i am pretty sure we were living with Z and J, two gay guys and fellow ravers who had made the move down from Brisbane. At some point M and i moved out to an apartment of our own near Chinatown.
5) Where did you hang out? Melbourne had its own gay district in Prahran around Commercial Road. There was only one club i cared about on that strip, which was The Market. The Market was awesome, they were a gay club which had the money to bring in top house music legends like Frankie Knuckles while still remaining unapologetically gay. I think i also went to some raves, but it was hard to find a niche because compared to Brisbane, Melbourne was a lot more superficial (fashion-oriented) or hipster/pretentious. I got into what we jokingly called "UGH" (underground house), which was a black/American/Chicago-influenced scene and attracted a bit more of a mixed crowd and less trainspotters. (American house music fans jokingly called a similar genre "TBK" - as in, house music, The Black Kind.) We'd get people like Derrick Carter or DJ Heather coming through from time to time, which was awesome. A burst of events were held at Tramp, which was a sketchy basement nightclub that briefly became a home for me, but the promoters kept switching it up.
6) Who were your best friends? J and Z who we lived with were close buddies. We had a whole ex-Brisbane crew of loud, obnoxious gays who got riotously drunk and tore it up all over town. I'm not sure if i had already bumped into my new raver friends like D, R and that lot. Our older raver friends from Brissy (R, J and all the gang) were kinda losing touch as most of them "grew up" and settled down/got boring, although i remember C coming through before she went on her travels across Asia and Europe.
7) What kind of car did you drive? I had learned to drive in the interim, but didn't own a car.
8) Were you Single/Taken/Married/Divorced? Taken.
9) Any Kids? No.
10) Pets? No.
Photos are from 2007. The big gang is our group of gays and party people. The cheerful Aussie is my former partner M.
10 YEARS AGO (2011)
1) How old were you? 31
2) Who were you dating? I think i must've been married to J by this point, because i was in Toronto.
3) Where did you work? 2011 was during those first few years in Toronto where i was in another one of my "fuck software development" phases. I think by that point i had kind of sucked it up and started doing part-time remote work, both for a small healthcare startup and for a consultancy firm, where my main job was writing up creative grant/tax rebate applications for tech companies who wanted to screw the government out of money. At some point in 2011 i started working full-time at a local company making IT monitoring software for banks and shit.
4) Where did you live? Dear fucking lord, i hope we had moved out of J's parents' place by 2011. I think we had. We were probably living in that basement apartment in Toronto's east side Danforth area where the heater went out in midwinter, where the place flooded, where we had a couple upstairs who were getting into domestic disputes every night, with that strange landlord who lived across the road in a completely gutted shell of a house that she was ostensibly renovating but actually it was all concrete and drywall for the whole time we were there.
5) Where did you hang out? Ugh, Toronto. Fuck. My life there was such a struggle in the early years. We didn't have a lot of money, and i felt obliged to not waste it, so i didn't go out clubbing much, if at all. I was an emotional wreck because J constantly wanted me to hang out with her family and her parents, who i did my best to be polite to but increasingly found insufferable. It was a huge culture clash, our values did not align at all. Through J i got invited to weddings and baby showers and all the kinds of events that i utterly detest, those hideous "parties" where people only show up to fulfil their obligations and smile fake smiles at a bunch of vaguely-related upper middle class assholes who they don't even fucking know. Awful. Then she joined NA, so she tried to loop me into that whole weird pseudo-religious sobriety cult too. I barely had a social life of my own, i had no energy for it. I had been going to a boxing gym for a while, but i kinda fell out of it, i think after having a total mental breakdown. I went to some mental health care group therapy sessions both before and after being a psychiatric inpatient. I remember at one we got to play djembe, that was a good one. I did love walking randomly around Toronto taking photos, though.
6) Who were your best friends? I didn't have any friends. My closest friend who i used to box with, she committed suicide. This was before i had the cash to really go out again, before meeting R at after work drinks, or M and the gang at a rave in Chinatown.
7) What kind of car did you drive? Like i had money for a car at that point. I couldn't even afford to go to a rave.
8) Were you Single/Taken/Married/Divorced? Married.
9) Any Kids? No.
10) Pets? No.
Photo is a webcam photo from 2010, i think?
5 YEARS AGO (2016)
1) How old were you? 36
2) Who were you dating? Praise the Lord, i was finally single.
3) Where did you work? I think 2016 is when i started to work at the tech company which i am now working for again. They are a small German company that never got into the VC rat race, but still provides software used by some of the hippest VC-funded companies in Silicon Valley.
4) Where did you live? Ah, Berlin. I don't remember which house i was in, but i only lived in two apartments when i was there and they were both on the same street in the Friedrichshain Nordkiez.
5) Where did you hang out? Katerholzig nightclub. Maybe at this point Katerholzig had shut down so i was going to the successor Kater Blau nightclub. Other places where i regularly hung out were Rummelsbucht nightclub and various shitty fucking punk/squat bars around my neighborhood, as well as a sports bar on the corner where i watched football and played darts and Skat (German card game) with local guys. What more can i say? Berlin is the greatest place in the world to be a raver. Sitting along the Spree covered in glitter, drinking beers, watching the sun rise, this is Berlin for me.
6) Who were your best friends? I'm not sure i had any best friends in Berlin, but i had lots of "acquaintance friends", like people i met at clubs who i knew their faces because we hung out every week and chatted about things going on in our lives, but we never exchanged numbers or names. I did have a bit of a crew, though - mostly around I and her gang of Spanish ex-pats.
7) What kind of car did you drive? No car.
8) Were you Single/Taken/Married/Divorced? I thought i was divorced, but as it turns out i wasn't legally divorced until several years later. Whatever. Divorced is a dumb category. I was single.
9) Any Kids? No.
10) Pets? No.
Photos from 2015.
1) How old are you? 41
2) Who are you dating? Very happily single.
3) Where do you work? Doing part-time remote work for the company i used to work at back in 2016 in Germany.
4) Where do you live? Small town in BC, Canada.
5) Where do you hang out? The vast majority of the time i spend in cyberspace because pandemic-related lockdowns have completely wiped out the rave/club industry, not that BC's "No Funcouver" and surrounding towns ever had much of one to begin with. When i go out, i just go for walks and try find quiet places to sit, usually in light industrial or rural areas where there are no people and i can see for miles and miles.
6) Who are your best friends? I don't have any real life friends. I keep in touch with a bunch of people on the internet.
7) What kind of car do you drive? No car.
8) Are you Single/Taken/Married/Divorced? Single.
9) Any Kids? No.
10) Pets? No.
No photos for today.
Looking back, i have to say that moving to Toronto and getting married was probably the most stressful thing that has happened to me in the past 20 years. I was an emotional basketcase in the early 2000s when i was trying to maintain a long-distance relationship with T, and trying to make house with her and C as a penniless migrant in small town California, but it was nothing compared to how utterly and completely my mental health got thrown in the trash when i was forced into that whole suburban middle class lifestyle of J's family and friends. I can categorically say that life will never be for me. I would sooner die than have to be a part of that world ever again.
It's also interesting that i don't always much remember my friends at the time. I don't think it's that i never had people i hung out with, or that i'm an antisocial person. It's more just that i don't really associate periods in my life with the individuals that were there. It's weird for me in this survey that they ask about partner and job first. Those details are more difficult to remember for me than the place itself. What triggers the vividest memories for me is thinking about the town i was in, the apartment, the shops and bars nearby, the nightclubs i went to. What sticks in my mind is my community as a whole, much more so than any specific partner i lived with or individuals i knew. That's what really matters to me, i think. Communities, culture, the music, the drinks, the food, the essential spirit of the place. Names and faces come and go, but the spirit remains, that's what makes the memories that count.