Well, this is an interesting time: it’s the first time that the majority of the people I see most days know that I deal with SSA. I told roommate #2 last night (roomate #1 has known for several weeks), when we were discussing the imminent move and he wondered out loud if there was some way they could get me to stay.

“Well, here’s the thing about that,” I say to C., turning towards the sink.1 “I’m gay. So. Sorry to drop that on you out of the blue. But” — whoa, that’s weird, all the wind went out of my lungs. I’m more nervous than I thought — “that sort of makes things difficult. Sometimes.”

C.’s eyes are downcast. He pauses and then says, “Well…do you mean you’re gay, or that you have homosexual tendencies?” I almost laugh at him, because I know C. and his almost preternatural sense of integrity: he is torn between the desire to offer compassion and the need to speak the truth as he knows it.2

I also know he doesn’t mean “tendencies” as in “Awww, you’re probably basically straight except sometimes you want to have sex with men for no reason.” I know he’s aware of what this means for somebody, because we’ve talked about it before, when I brought up Henri Nouwen on the ride to work once and he said solemnly, “What a cross that must be!”

So I’m not offended, except maybe a teensy bit — does he really think I don’t know this stuff? — but I assure him I’m not about to jump on the gay pride bandwagon, that I usually use “same-sex attracted” but I wanted him to know immediately what I was talking about, etc., etc.

C. and I are not in the habit of having DMC’s, so it doesn’t go much further than this. We chat a little bit more and then say Compline,3 and that’s it. He says “God bless you, Steve!” about a thousand times and tells me he’ll be praying for me about a thousand more. Like I said, solid guy.

I’m getting the sense that this whole thing is a much smaller deal than I used to think it was.

1 It’s a well-known fact about men that we are better at talking to each other when we’re looking somewhere else. That’s why bars are built with the seats all facing in the same direction, and why road trips are so good for bonding.
2 Although if you straightsters should ever find yourself in a similar situation, the compassion part is probably better to start with.
3 Asking my roommates to join me for Compline was one of the greatest little decisions I ever made. So much better than saying it solo.

9 thoughts on “Here’s the Thing About That

  1. george

    I wish I could share your perception of the last paragraph but all the same as everyone says your writing is very touching (and all the good things..). I would like to say a profane word to appropriately state the compliment (don’t worry I won’t).
    Yesterday I was in one of these holes of sadness, pain, pity and loneliness that you think few people can experiment. A little better today just by chance I reviewed your story of Oct 19, 2011 and that was it!, same thing. So vivid, so encouraging!. I thank God for finding this blog and I pray for its people.

    Reply
  2. Laura Vellenga

    oh — and a rill is a stream (re: your question from the DMC post). as in:
    while fields and flocks,
    rocks, rills, and plains
    repear the sounding joy…

    from “Joy to the World.” sounds like the conversation could have been much, much worse, and glad that it wasn’t.

    Reply
  3. John

    I really don’t understand why so many people talk about SSA as if it makes you a member of a different species. I certainly don’t think of the gay people I know as being fundamentally different from me somehow, and I find the whole thing frankly puzzling. If you think of yourself as being some kind of freak, rather than just being some dude, then one of us is looking at this all wrong.

    Reply
  4. Sky

    John: I wouldn’t say we’re fundamentally different, exactly – the opposite is probably more true – but it’s hard not to feel as though we are, sometimes. With eros pointing in the wrong direction it’s more than our ability to marry that’s messed up. Man/man, woman/woman, man/woman dynamics are all fudged, which is always so *apparent* to us, and then there’s the feeling that we’re harbouring some dirty little secret, bearing a mark of shame for something we’ve had no say in, always fearing we’ll be “found out”, forever unsure of how we’ll be received. I don’t think the proverbial “coming out” is ever really done, even to ourselves. So… not different, but it’s easy to get tripped up by the little things. The world could use more people with your attitude, though :)

    Steve: Things get smaller in the distance. Great post, as always. Prayers and thanks, as always.

    Reply
  5. Melissa

    Steve,

    So glad for you that the situation, sticky and messy and painful as it is, has a measure of peace in it now. And I’m so glad your roommate received it so well; I pray that I would have in a similar situation.

    Also, I’m grateful for your prayers; if you wouldn’t mind, I’d appreciate their continuance! (Searching for a job in a particularly depressed area of the country, in a particularly money-tight field!)

    And I will continue my prayers for you.

    Melissa

    Reply
  6. Obapplepie

    My husband and I are both devout Catholic converts of about 5 years, and we both have SSA. I don’t know if it’s growing maturity, or just the perspective of sexuality that comes with faith that sort of cleared my eyes to the reality of sexuality. But it is a huge pet peeve of mine that sexuality is seen as IDENTITY in this culture. It seems so bizarre to label an entire person for one aspect of their being. It turns sex and attraction into a huge hulking monster of a thing that it really isn’t, so much emphasis in our society on who we want to ‘do’ and completely ignoring who the person really is. I also hate that affection, love, and closeness is viewed as sexual too, rather than the truth and purity of what it is. I choose not to label myself, because I don’t feel that I am a label, and I hate that we are constantly asked to define ourselves, shove ourselves in a strange box that never really fits. I couldn’t say that I’m ‘gay’, and I don’t see myself as ‘bi’, or ‘poly’ or any of the dozens of terms people come up with… how about I am just ME and I am who I am, and I try my best to live the religious and philosophical truth that I feel we all should aim for. Human beings are too unique to be forced into way too specific terms.

    Reply

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