Surfer’s Nipples

2004 finished tattoo and scars

“In the past, I had often been stared at and asked about the sizeable scars on my chest. At The House of Dancing Water, no one asked. My fellow divers seemed curious, but no one ever approached me. As for our performers, I knew they had seen so many scars in their lives, they had stopped asking each other for such details a long time ago.
Our moto riders once saluted me as a fellow surfer, after seeing me bare chested in the theater basement. I had stared at them, uncomprehending. “Many professional surfers surgically remove their nipples to avoid the agony caused by abrasions,” they explained to my astonishment.
Apparently, I had surfer’s nipples. Who knew?”
(Excerpt from Paralian, Chapter 30, “Macau Pool”)

For many years, I had agonized about my scars, had felt self-conscious and shy about taking my shirt off in public. I dreaded open stares and questions. I worried too much about what other people might think.

Then, I “cured” myself by confronting the issue head-on and chose to become a SCUBA diving instructor, later an aquatic performer trainer, jobs which required me to work with my shirt off most of the time. People sometimes stared openly. But it didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. They talked. But people always do, don’t they? What and how much they talked didn’t have any relevance to my life. Even more important, as I looked around, I saw scars of all shapes and sizes. I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t gone through life unaffected.

Gradually, I relaxed. All was fine. I wasn’t a freak, standing out from the crowd. Alone. Apart. Isolated. Instead, I learned, I was one of many. A small pebble in the diverse and forever changing sea of humanity.

Liam Klenk on Goodreads

goodreads to-read

The only thing I don’t like about writing is that it gives me far less time for reading. So many books out there… so many fascinating themes… alternate realities… and lives, I’d love to disappear into for a few days at a time.
Are you on Goodreads? Here is my page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14425961.Liam_Klenk
See you there sometime, maybe?
And off I go. Today is both, a reading and a writing day.

Presentation at Zurich Insurance Group

Yesterday, I was invited by the Zurich Insurance Group to give a presentation on diversity, inclusion, and transgender, combined with reading from my book Paralian. There are no quick fixes, no recipes, no instruction manuals. But I do believe there is nothing more valuable than personal experience. So that’s what I gave, as always striving to be straightforward and honest… and simply sharing my journey whilst leaving space for people to come to their own conclusions.
It was a great evening!
The organization was superb.The audience was delightful and the questions I was asked during the Q&A session were thought provoking. Thank you so much to my awesome audience, to Zurich Insurance Group, and to the PrideZ team in particular, for welcoming me with such warmth and enthusiasm. This was definitely a highlight for me as a public speaker and an event to be fondly remembered!

This is to you Dad

2002 dad liam and sami

For my Dad. I love you.
Check out my story here on Bored Panda.

Or, of course, you can read it right here:

When you were little, you had a tame chicken, then a crow, and later an Alsatian. You named them all ‘Jakob’. No points for creativity but, most definitely, for purity of heart.

When your wife couldn’t have children of her own, yet craved to be a mom, you said “yes” to adopting me from an orphanage, even though at the time you weren’t even sure you wanted to be a dad.

While I grew up, you struggled with responsibility, your marriage, and your sexual orientation. You weren’t a poster book dad during those times. But being a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world and you did the best you could.

After school, I frightened you many times with my rather adventurous career choices. You voiced your concern but never tried to press me into your mould. You let me be my own creation. And, no matter what I did, even if it took me far away from you in every sense of the word, you told me you were proud of me.

Whenever I was impatient with you, even when I was cruel and judgmental, you forgave me. You beamed when you saw me and had tears in your eyes each time I left.

During the many times I couldn’t handle my financials, you lent me money. And when I was too broke to pay it back, that was ok, too.

When I told you I was transgender, you struggled for a while, but nevertheless gave me my very first straight razor and a bottle of Davidoff Cool Water early on during my hormone therapy, long before there was any facial hair to shave off.

Whenever I fell in love, even if sometimes it must have been obvious to anyone but me I’d run headfirst into a wall, you didn’t question my decisions. You let me discover the bewildering universe of relationships for myself.

When I wrote my first book ‘Paralian – Not Just Transgender’, you paid my rent for a year so I could stop working at my day job and write full time. You trusted me. This even though I lived halfway around the world and, when you asked, I didn’t give you a clear description of what I was writing. All I said was, “It’s going to be a book about my life.”

When Paralian was finally published two years later, you read it. I was authentic, at times painfully honest. Amongst other things, I outed you to the whole world as gay. You weren’t upset. “This is a great accomplishment,” you said, “Amazing really. I am so proud of you.”

My wife and I travel over to see you once a month now. You instantly accepted her and love her with your marvellous, warm-hearted open-mindedness.

I’m still haunted by my childhood memories at times. When they come, like dark clouds covering the sun, I can’t help being angry, or impatient and too tough on you even now. You can be so naive, so utterly out of this world. It’s your greatest strength and Achilles heel all wrapped into one.

No matter what though, I know who you are Dad. You’re my best friend. My true family.

You are a thoroughly authentic man with the kindest heart I’ve ever known.

I love you.

And I am immensely proud of you, too.

Word of Mouse

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Today’s a writing day.
As of now, I am four chapters into my second book.
And I guess it’s time to share with you what it will be about.
I can’t say too much yet since I am still in the developing phase and, honestly, am making it up as I go along.

It’ll have depth.
It’ll be fun.
It’ll make you think.
It’ll make you laugh and cry.
It’ll be unusual.

That I can promise.

The working title of my new book is “Word of Mouse”. It is semi-autobiographical but rather than on me, it will focus on the wonderful animal companions I’ve been privileged to have by my side over the years. In anecdotal short stories, “Word of Mouse” will focus on the life lessons they taught me. On being yourself and letting others be just as they are. And on the importance of truly listening to the souls around us.

So watch this space 🙂 It’ll be worth it.

“Some people talk to animals.
Not many listen though.
That’s the problem.”
(A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh)