QN Magazine talks to Brisbane author, music reviewer and stand-up comedian, Thomas Bleach about his new work Damaged Goods. This debut book explores the author’s journey through life in an immersive experience that incorporates text, images, music and performance.
Thomas pulls together all the strands of his various interests and takes advantage of digital technology to bring us an experience that stimulates, resonates and evokes.
He began to release the book, chapter by chapter, on July 1.
Each week Thomas releases a new chapter along with a Spotify playlist of the songs relating to that time of his life and a gallery of images from photographers around the world, capturing the essence they took from the chapter through their lenses.
Thomas said his fascination with media in general led to his innovative approach.
“Breaking the book down to a new chapter each week it made it more consumable for people and not as daunting as an entire book,” he said.
“Adding in photos and music seemed obvious to me because it is how I connect with stories, whether scrolling through Instagram or searching for new music to relate to on Spotify.
“I wanted to share that side of me and encourage my readers to explore new ways to express themselves. At the end of the day, online mediums are the future.
“On public transport today, most people are scrolling social media on their phones or reading e-books. Very few are reading a physical book.”
Thomas Bleach speaks his raw truth
In Damaged Goods, the Brisbane author recounts his childhood in a homophobic family, coming to terms with sexuality, bullying, coming out as gay, falling in love, a broken heart, broken legs and mental health issues.
“Originally I began writing about coming out and my experiences in high school, but I struggled to find the right balance. I wanted to express a cohesive truth that was both personal and universal.
“Then I experienced my first ever break up. I started writing again and suddenly it hit me.
“We all feel like damaged goods. It is part of the human condition but a part we don’t talk about. Too much stigma surrounds it. “Writing about my feelings and life experiences with raw honestly enabled me to open up about things I always kept to myself.
“I always felt pressured not to show emotion publicly and to keep everything private because anything else was attention seeking. The truth was, all I wanted was guidance, not attention. I was lost.
“I decided to speak my raw truth and say it’s okay to feel like damaged goods because it’s a normal part of the human experience and we can only address what we’ve acknowledged.”
Documenting the raw truth of his life gave Thomas some challenges. His life story intersects with other people’s personal journeys.
“I felt an internal conflict to be completely authentic but also not to throw anyone under the bus or out them.
“I got around that with most people by changing their name. However, I couldn’t change the name of Mum, Dad or my sisters.
“I knew my bluntness would hurt them but we’ve grown a lot as a family so I asked them to trust me and let me tell our story so it could potentially help someone else.
“They agreed and have been really supportive.
“It has been emotional as they have guilt for things they said to me growing up, but of course, they have grown, and I’ve forgiven them. It’s a part of who I am now.”
How stand-up comedy helped Thomas Bleach grow
The Brisbane author also performs as a stand-up comedian.
“I’ve been doing stand-up comedy for two years now. I’ve drawn on stories in the book in my live sets. So, it only seemed appropriate that I did a show to represent the book.
“Again, it allows me to tell these stories through a different medium.
“Comedy is a way of expression. It’s very real to me as I’m finding a way to laugh about my hurt and grow as a person.”
Catch Thomas Bleach live at Brisbane’s Heya Bar on 12 September but meanwhile check out Damaged Goods at the website.
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