On Winning

29 Sep

I was recently awarded the 2010 GayVN Award for Best Newcomer. Here’s what’s on my mind.

Winning

Why don’t we know how to talk about winning yet?
We know how to talk about losing, failing, crying, broken hearts. We know how to write about tragedy, make movies about cancer, document catastrophe.

I won the 2010 GayVN for Best Newcomer, and I noticed that when I sat down to write about it I had no idea how.

Stories of winning are often preluded by stories of abysmal failure – the baseball team sucks, but works and works until finally, somehow, they win the World Series or whatever. Or the nerdy girl who everyone hates finally gets the popular boy after she lets down her hair. Everyone, it is said, loves an underdog.

I’m not generally inclined to point out socio-religio-economic factors in narratives, but this pattern does display the perfect capitalist and communist and Christian/Muslim narrative. That is:
Start poor + effort = A climax in wealth!
Or: Start oppressed + organize = revolution!
Or: Work your ass off + die = Reward in Heaven!
One slanted upward line. Flat without the contours of imagination, we begin in poverty and end in reward.

It’s as if we have to experience hardship to celebrate happiness. Is that a different, forgotten definition of guilt? No one can be alive, happy, excited, privileged, loved, without having a shadow to redeem it.

Worse still, If we never achieve reward, it’s out “fault”. We fucked up.

Connected to this is the notion that we somehow “deserve” our hardships. When someone dies of lung cancer: Imagine the shaking heads when we find out that person smoked. Or when someone tests positive for HIV and people say (sometimes in hushed tones, but other times, loudly, rudely), “Well he should have worn a condom.”

If we step back and look at our friends and our lovers, how can we not be ashamed by this backwards thinking? We praise work and suffering. We blame those in pain. We demand that joy and happiness and success be redeemed by turbulence. What kind of world do we want to live in if we demonize the joy of others?

I’m not sure when this all started. Was there a time when we were happier for each other, more connected when one of us succeeds, more loving when one of us suffers?

It has something to do with thinking of ourselves as intensely disconnected individuals: A win is a win for me, not anyone else. So is a loss. The disconnection that accompanies the isolated individual’s success or failure makes him uneasy with both.

So now, even when we win, when we succeed, we are often afraid.

A friend of mine won a GayVN and I caught his twitter feed later – Someone had asked him if he won. When my friend replied that he had, he wrote something like, “Well yes, but we’re not supposed to talk about it, right?”

Like sex used to be, success is a taboo. Too often, we hate the things that have brought others happiness and pleasure.

I don’t agree with the “death to the ego” notion espoused by Buddhists or new age thinkers. I’m happy I’m an individual and have a boundary and what (at least seem like) my own personality and tastes. I think the individual makes sense at this point in time. But I’m trying to figure out how to be myself – in this case, when I win something – and not feel badly telling you about it.

Look, even here, I’ve talked about failure, fuck up, remorse, redemption because I can’t just say “Thank you.” Because I fear saying, “I really did deserve it,” without experiencing rebuke.

Let me start again.

I won the 2010 Best Newcomer GayVN award. Thank you! I deserved it.

Everyone that got one deserved it.

I don’t care if some performers are better than others or one movie was better shot than another, or if -as was claimed last year – there was corruption in the selection process, or if some studios should have been recognized more, or if the whole ceremony was fucked up and self-congratulatory (it wasn’t).

I felt this great feeling when I went up to the stage – people were clapping and smiling and shouting. It wasn’t amazing merely in the winning – it was amazing because it was clear to me that we’re not isolated individuals. We’re in this together. We were there for each other.

I know I’m not always this clear. I know that sometimes I make fun of people, I forget that we’re friends, I laugh when someone trips, and I blame people for their problems.

But right now, it makes sense.

Thank you for the award. Let’s be in love with winning again.

17 Responses to “On Winning”

  1. joao paulo September 29, 2010 at 2:55 am #

    Habibi,I love your sensitivity and your style of writing!

  2. hbcoastalboy September 29, 2010 at 4:53 am #

    Conner,
    You write so well and so thoughtfully. You are one of my favorites and I am glad you won and feel good about it!

    Something that has been brewing within my thinking. The porn celebs have created a big audience. They commend alot of attention. Do you think they can direct this now for the good of our community? Help prevent teen suicides- encourage get out the vote- even promote safe sex again?? Can their life be more than out of control parties? Can they help to help each other for good…

    Just a thought.

    • Conner Habib September 29, 2010 at 8:49 am #

      I think implicit in porn is the good of the community – which is why I always wanted to do it.
      Porn actors have been portraying a positive version of sexuality for decades now. While I think we can do more, I think it is equally the public’s duty to catch up with porn, not just the other way around.
      An open question for anyone who likes pornography: Porn actors put their entire lives on the line to celebrate sexuality – what are you, the non-porn actor – doing to make the world a more sex-positive and liberated place?

  3. Laura-Ann Jackson September 29, 2010 at 5:15 am #

    Congrats on your win! This post reminds me of that Dostoyevsky quote about man being “extraordinarily, passionately in love with suffering.” Insightful and a pleasure to read…as always.

    • Conner Habib September 29, 2010 at 6:28 pm #

      Thank you – This is, I believe, the first Dostoyevsky reference on my site. We should throw a party! A dark, depressing party. :)

  4. Steven daigle September 29, 2010 at 7:02 am #

    You did deserve it and you should shout it from the mountain tops. Congrats mister, I was on my feet applauding you. Thanks for the secret shout out.

    • Conner Habib September 29, 2010 at 8:45 am #

      Thanks Steven. You know I really think the world of you and I’m so happy we’re talking more these days. :)

  5. evilgene September 29, 2010 at 6:29 pm #

    great post.. winning is great, feeling connected is even better. congrats again on the win.

  6. Sverre September 29, 2010 at 10:54 pm #

    Too true what you say about how every narrative is being framed within the context of someone overturning bad luck or overcoming the odds. Thus retaining the status quo.

    However, from the picture of the books at the head of your blog I can see that you’ve found a handful of books (I’ve read three of them as far as I can decipher titles/authors) that try and subvert and/or expand upon the judeo-christian-muslim narratives or communist-vs-capitalist conflict lines that you mention. Alan Moore being an obvious favourite for anyone thinking outside the box. Any box!

    Based on that glimpse of your reading list, may I suggest this wonderfully amoral book by Spanish author José Luis de Juan (if you don’t already know it):

    And, lest I forget, congrats on your GayVN award!

    • Conner Habib September 29, 2010 at 11:36 pm #

      Thanks for the congrats, the response, and the recommendation! My reading list is so long right now, but I’ll put it on the list! Love!

  7. Laura Scappaticci September 30, 2010 at 1:14 am #

    I have this picture of you wearing a pumpkin outfit and singing “A pumpkin is a pumpkin…” on stage in preschool.

    Thank you for accepting your award with pride. I always like the way I feel when people say thank you to a compliment with a real acceptance of their skills and hard work. It feels better for everyone.

    I love you. Sis

  8. Lotta Roti September 30, 2010 at 3:17 am #

    Whoa, Conner. You just described the crisis I’m battling with. I have everything that would make me happy: a loving, supporting husband, an opportunity to do what I love, unwaveringly loyal large and crazy family, and the list goes on… but I can’t enjoy it because my lack of success and subsequent suffering makes me feel guilty and not deserving. I am a creature of my culture, and this amplified by recurrent clinical depression. Sigh…

  9. Oblomov November 2, 2010 at 12:38 am #

    Yes, winning… One month has passed, and I’m late to congratulate you. And I truly do! I’m thankful for the joys and pleasures you have provided me, and I’m glad you were awarded for them. So I’ll take this chance to encourage you to keep up delivering your best. Sadly, a prize doesn’t stand forever. It cellebrates the works done, but it does not guarantee the ones yet to come. At best, it serves as a landmark, a reminder of an achievement –call me killjoy, but I still believe in long-distance running. You were cherished as a Best Newcomer, and I hope you enjoyed your success as much as you claim. Today, however, you have a greater task ahead, that which comes after newcoming -and we are looking forward for it!- Rest assured, as long as you keep on deserving it, we’ll keep on praising.

  10. victor November 29, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

    This is the best written blog I ve read in a long time.
    You forgot envy as the driving human feeling against
    success among our brothers.The Garden of Eden and Rousseaus noble savage are myths about an idyllic life.
    Your two heads are superb and keep on delighting us.A hug!

  11. Coralian June 23, 2011 at 2:25 am #

    Consider then an award won but not deserved or that was wrongly given. Would you say that you deserved such an award or does it not make a difference and only the moment of it counts? I like true or absolute definitions, argue as you will about the “absolute” thing. It seems then that winning or losing doesn’t matter. We feel different sets of emotions because of how we are conditioned. The truth is, “something” happened. Fullstop. Expending an emotion really is just up to the person; so then reacting is what makes all the difference.

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