My objects of significance are two: one is a bunch of keys for my work and my home, and the other is my wallet . They represent my security and my access to the world, I suppose . . . it’s really about their representation because there was a time when I was dirt poor and living from hand to mouth and I felt I had no access to the world or place in it. . . I have always been very good with money and I still am and, I think for me, it’s a reflection of where I am now in my life, now it’s just a feeling that I have some sense of security in the world.  Having realized my dreams and having experienced poverty, I just view material possessions as peripherals to my experience on earth.

As well as financial security, emotional security is very important to me. I struggled to find a relationship with anyone in the UK because nobody seemed to have really understood my experiences and I often battled with the ”othering” that is shockingly prevalent in the LGBTQ community in the UK.  On top of the ”othering” from mainstream society, I remember constantly feeling attacked from all sides.  I came out/was outed in an all-white Scottish high school when I was 15 in 1992 but nothing prepared me for the level of scrutiny that came with dealing with white gay men in the UK.  I found myself constantly playing the ”where are you from?” game and I remember just being left with a constant sense of alienation with the attitudes and values that I came across in the LGBTQ community in England.  On the one hand, white gay men are calling out victimization but are the first to victimize others – people of colour and women, especially.  The other side of the coin for me was especially disturbing – the fetishization of men of colour by white gay men. So, you’re either an object for sex or an object to be scrutinized and ”othered”. Needless to say, I never felt emotionally secure in England.  In the end, I opted out of relationships with gay men and had many relationships with married bi men who really understood me because they were dealing with the same level of (inner/outer) conflict, I suppose.

The first guy I met who actually understood me was a Dutch guy; he did not have any of that cultural baggage that white gay British men have or had.  When I met him 8 years ago, it was like a breath of fresh air.  To be able to connect with someone who did not hold any assumptions about who I am and what I supposedly represent to him.  His ego was in check and I changed my whole life for him. I moved to The Netherlands 6 years ago and we married 3 years ago. I recently purchased my dream home and we are very settled; we are looking forward to a lifetime of financial and emotional stability; the two most important things to me hence the wallet and the keys. My career in education has flourished here and I am content. It took a long time to get used to a domesticated and stable life after years of instability but I would say that I have adjusted very well to the highly organized society that is The Netherlands.

I don’t know what I would say my objects of significance might be in the future; probably the same. It’s just who I am.

Nasim, Persian/Iraqi heritage, male, 41, b.UK