I was raised on a rural Canadian island with a heavy dose of reiki therapy and crystal healing. My mother’s parenting strategy was an extension of her job as a life coach, holistic medicine meets hardcore veganism (laughs). Basically, we believed in things that were different from everyone else around us. That really shaped my sense of self. I’m grateful to have been raised in such an unconventional environment; it means I weigh things differently.
As a kid, my time was spent running through the forest with a bow and arrow. My identity was open to run free. I could be a little boy for all intents and purposes, because that’s what I wanted at the time. I came out as gay around age sixteen, but it didn’t bring with it that sense of independence a lot of people feel. It wasn’t until I moved to the Netherlands that I felt the freedom to explore. I realized that life would form around me if I just take the time to meander a bit.
In Amsterdam, I’m confronted with sexuality on a regular basis. I can’t readily identify with structures surrounding gender here, and I like that. It makes me focus more on myself and less on what other people think of me. I personally don’t fall into clear binaries, and I don’t feel the need to fit into those boxes here. Queerness extends far deeper into the fabric of one’s being than any single term can describe, and this city provides space for that.
Nowadays, I work as a designer and portrait artist. My illustration work involves translating a clear vision for someone else, and my portrait work allows me to look through an ambiguous lens in investigating people’s character. Looking back on my adolescence, I spent a lot of time painting a portrait of myself for others. These days, I’m learning to identify what is and isn’t true about myself, and that’s extremely refreshing!
Here in this city, my community is what I cherish most. I think my biggest fear in life would be losing the ability to build honest and meaningful relationships with other people. But as my mother used to say, FEAR is “False Expectations Appearing Real”. So, when folks move to this city and ask me for advice, I tell them exactly what I’ve learned in Amsterdam…
“Find your people, it’s going to make walking through life that much easier.”
#EoA Interview with Ramsay Drover
by Marilyn Volkman