On Homophobia and Masculinity: “Shame”


We were the kind of drunk you can’t really get once you’re adult, once you have a job and pay rent. The kind of drunk only teenagers can achieve. Delirious to the sound of our own nonsense, K and I staggered back towards Jayne’s mum’s garage.

Pat and Jayne peeled away ahead of us. Their hazy dark shadows disappeared into the distance as we trailed behind.


       I fucking love you, K said to me with a smile- he laughed, his attention pulled away.

You too, bro… you’re obviously way more wasted than me,

Screw you-u-u


His last words struck with a hiccup, face turned up into a snarl. He shoved me hard just below the collar bone; unbalanced, I fell back.
What are you doing?


Don’t fucking laugh at m-m-e-e


Another shove to balance broken syllables, his face drove in close to mine.


What the fuck are you guys doing?


K’s older brother strode over – I hadn’t seen him until now – his presence shifted K’s attitude.


       Together, we poured into the garage. Weathered carpet cuts laid from wall to wall. Rushed graffiti and blinking fairy lights and a cheap cylindrical fold-out bed. Wasn’t much but it was enough to be ours. The only place we could smoke in ease and there was something in that.

The lights blew and K’s brother and Jayne seemed to be fucking each other; always Pat and Jayne. The music wasn’t as loud as their drunkness calculated.


What the fuck was that about before? I whispered to K.


I stared fiercely into the pitch black.


I love you


We were best friends. He had always been a better brother than any of mine had been. He and his dad only had each other, so I was always around. It just worked.


Stop fucking around

Is that wrong?


I staggered out into a wall; my head was spinning; I staggered out into the dark.


I didn’t talk to him. Years. When he came out I still didn’t talk to him. He never called. He could not be a real man. I was the last of our high school friends to reach out to him. Everyone knew I was last. He never answered. They stopped texting me- but I was a man. I am a man. I am a man.


word by Sam Fresco

colour by Fintan Magee

Born in Lismore NSW, Fintan Magee moved to Brisbane as a child and began drawing shortly after. In his early teens he was exposed to Brisbane’s graffiti culture and began painting on walls.

Moving away from traditional graffiti in recent years, his large-scale murals often inhabit the isolated, abandoned and broken corners of the city. Mixing surreal and figurative imagery his paintings are deeply integrated with the urban environment and explore themes of waste, consumption, loss and transition and contain a sentimentality and softness influenced by children’s books.

He has traveled extensively completing projects in Sydney, Melbourne, London, Vienna, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Moscow, New York, Oslo and Dublin amongst others. His diligence, technical skill and progressive approach to painting have solidified his reputation as one of the leading figures in Australia’s Street Art and Contemporary Mural movements.

aliens in the delicatessen


I’ve known for over a week now that Han is an alien, and it’s actually been a pretty normal week. Han and I work at Coles – me in Liquorland and her in the deli in one of those meat-stained aprons, her brown hair tucked inside an oily hair net.

It happened in the cool room. I was hiding from Drunk Dave who regularly sang in the middle of the wine racks and had to be escorted out, shaking and telling us he couldn’t leave without his wine. Han had been told to take a breather after she’d got shirty with a fat-necked middle-aged man asking for 17 slices of tasty cheese, cut ‘as thin as tracing paper.’ We sat down on the beer battered chip boxes to be sarcastic and chew on twiggy sticks for a while.

My mouth was hot and lined with salt and fat when Han told me that she was pissed off at everyone that day. I asked why. She said she hadn’t been sleeping well. ‘My brother, who’s also an alien, is being teased at school, big time. I’m so angry for him. At night I just lie there and think about punching their fucking faces in.’ She was looking straight at me, watching for my reaction. ‘I’m an alien, you know? And it seems like we still need protection. After all this time. My dad’s right.’ It didn’t really shock me – Han being an alien. I’d grown up being told about aliens by my parents, and had watched the landing on telly when I was five. I didn’t care, and I sure as hell didn’t want Han to think I didn’t like her anymore.

‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘I think you’re right. There are some dickheads out there who are scared of anyone different from them. Your brother’s lucky he’s got such a cool big sister.’

It’s Tuesday and I’m cleaning out behind the dumpsters, where our most regular customers head to zonk as soon as they’ve paid. It’s a shit of a job – we Rock Paper Scissors each week to work out who does it, and I did Scissors one too many times. Han’s called in sick and I’ve texted her but she hasn’t replied. As I’m coming in from the back I pass through the lunch room. The TV’s blaring. Steve from Shelving turns around, his eyes wide like paper plates. ‘Didya see the news? They’re taking the aliens back into detention. Say it’s for their own safety.’ He has a floppy sandwich in his hand and sauce on his upper lip. ‘Hey maybe that’s why Hannah’s away today! I always thought she was weird.’ He laughs and chokes and coughs up a bit of mushy bread.

‘Shut up Steve,’ I say. ‘You don’t know anything about it.’

I don’t know anything about it either. I scroll my phone for Han’s number and press down hard on the picture of a green telephone. She doesn’t answer but I’ll keep calling.

word by Laura Helen Mcphee-Browne

colour by Patswerk