Jethro Gardiner - Superhero
3 min read

I loved my upbringing. I was very fortunate to be raised in a family that fostered endless amounts of imagination. I always knew that I would fly. My parents and siblings helped to craft the person I am today; a determined, resilient man with an almost-too-much-fun character.

It turns out I grew into the kind of person that this world needs – and for that I am thankful. Growing up, I would dream of being a superhero – unlimited powers, the gift of flying, and being on top of the world. I was invincible.

Whanau - Jethro Gardiner - Superhero

As I look back, I realise, I never really wanted to save the world, I just wanted to escape from it. But, if I was a part of a world that needed a superhero, I wouldn’t be one with fancy gadgets, long capes, or a double identity, I would want to be one with every lesson, every emotion, and every spiritual connection that I have learnt or made throughout my life. Most importantly, I would have to be my most genuine Gay self.

While it has taken a lifetime to know that I am everything I need to be. I’ve realised there are many who aren’t at this point yet, they aren’t equipped and sadly are living double lives. These are often forgotten, and the people I advocate for.

Gym - Jethro Gardiner - Superhero

If you are wearing a mask and are reading this, I’m not going to tell you to come out. If you are not at that point yet, I applaud you for being who you are right now. You may have chosen those around you over your true self.

When you look in the mirror, don’t see yourself as hiding. You have one of the greatest superpowers of them all, you are selfless.

Believe me when I say I too wore a mask, I lived in a world that didn’t cater to my inner sexuality, but I was happy, I was fulfilled. I knew deep down that this happiness had an expiry date. So I changed, and I moved to New Zealand, where no one knew me. I could start again, like a blank comic strip, ready to be filled with new characters, heroes and adventures. I could become the superhero that I had always been.

Work - Jethro Gardiner - Superhero

That comic strip is still being painted but as I look around, I don’t stand in the gay world, I’m gay in the straight world – and I think that is a powerful position. I say this because as I look around at those that share my space, I see people who have learnt about, loved and supported my world. By joining me on my journey, they have grown in their own ways because they now understand what it takes to be Gay, to be True.

My biggest superhero will never be to fly, it’s the ability to bridge two worlds together – the Gay and the Straight worlds, proving that they can co-exist.

It’s here that I realise that maybe the world doesn’t really need superheroes after all. Maybe it just needs each of us to do what we can to bring people together. Even though we come from different worlds and we may not understand each other’s struggles, straight people in my world have truly let me shine.

Friends - Jethro Gardiner

They continue to amplify my true self and my love for being authentic, they are saving the world right alongside me, they just needed a little bit of direction.

Just like Peter Pan told Wendy, John and Michael “second star to the right and straight on till morning”.

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