Two men holding alcoholic drinks on a celebratory night out.

At the age of 22, “freak skydiving accident survivor” wasn’t something I had planned to add to my resume. But after a weekend lark led to a life-changing experience, it’s a reputation that has tended to precede me.

On that fateful day my instructor’s parachute failed and the reserve chute became tangled. We plummeted more than 4km to the ground.

Miraculously, I survived. My damaged spine would heal, but in the aftermath of the initial trauma I went from a carefree, fun-loving young man to an introverted recluse in constant battle with my physical pain and psychological wounds.

Over the next few years I clawed my way back to a new life. A previous relationship ended as the pandemic rolled in, but by March 2021 I was emerging as my new self and was ready to meet someone special.

Paul and I got chatting on one of the apps and instantly there was this good banter and a funny, cheeky connection. The gay apps can be quite transactional, so I found the earnest connection we seemed to have to be very refreshing.

Pretty soon we moved to WhatsApp, then FaceTime. In those first weeks, we easily and naturally shared so much of our past and something that stood out about Paul was how open and honest he was. I quickly found him to be a really inspirational person. The things he’s triumphed over resonated with me and I was so enamoured by his sensitivity to my experiences.

Within two weeks he was coming from Sydney to visit me in Melbourne. It all happened quite quickly and I didn’t have much time to collect my thoughts. I just rolled with it.

When we finally met face-to-face, I knew instantly that Paul was an incredibly special, one-in-a-million person. It sounds so corny and I hate saying it, but I felt like I had known him my whole life.

Brad Guy and Paul on their first-anniversary dinner

It was the first weekend he was down and while we had parked our deep trauma chat for the most part, I showed him some pictures of me after the accident. The one thing he said that I had never heard from anyone else was that he was proud of me. It gives me goosebumps even now. For someone to say they’re proud of the work you’ve put into yourself is a beautiful thing. And I felt the same for him.

It felt so safe and made me feel ready to enter something that was actually deep for the first time in my life. From that first weekend on, I didn’t think twice about the relationship. Everything was so natural, there was never any doubt. It’s been the easiest thing I’ve ever done.

Paul is wise. He’s already learned a lot of lessons I’m learning myself now and he’s helping me along the way too. The intimacy he put on the table, by sharing his past so freely, made – and continues to make – me feel seen.

Two years on we still live in different cities and maintain separate lives but we wouldn’t have it any other way – for now. I love that every time we see each other it’s an adventure.

Share This Article