Seven Quick Takes, Vol. 5: Polarities
Aug 16, 2013
1: Lovers Gonna Love
I’m still recovering from the overflowing love and support I got in the comboxes, and on facebook, and by text message, and via twitter. I’m delighted, but not surprised, to find out that all the people in my life who I suspected of being kind and compassionate and generous really are that way. Thank you all so much. More than one of your messages brought tears to my eyes,1 and one in particular actually reduced me to a human puddle for a short while.
It’s really weird to have hidden something for so long because people might think it’s creepy or ugly or bad or sad or gross, only to have everyone in the world congratulate you when you let it out. Whaa? I think I just had my native simile jarred.
2: Haters Gonna Hate
Of course, it was also weird to have my celibacy treated as a personal affront, and to be called brainwashed and “douchey”, and to be told that I’m only celibate because nobody would want to have sex with me anyway, and to be warned that celibacy is impossible and I’m bound to start raping people left and right at any moment. Okey doke.
These things didn’t bother me, partly because the support FAR outweighed the insults — like, a hundred to one — and partly because these people weren’t even yelling at me, but at some bizarre brain-monster that their own prejudices had conjured up.
They reminded me of the crazy homeless people who walk back and forth down the street all day, screaming at the air. You wish you could do something for them, but they can’t hear or see you, and if you get too close, they’ll just fart at you.
3: I’m Different From You
That’s what I want to tell people who don’t know why I felt it necessary to come out publicly. Being gay doesn’t just mean having a particular bizarre sporadic arbitrary desire to sleep with other men. It means dealing, day in and day out, with what Melinda Selmys calls involuntary currents of homoeroticism. It means, for better or worse, the whole way you relate to other human beings, both men and women, is a little bit different from what people expect.
So it’s not only about what happens in the bedroom, but also in the office, on the street, at the movies, and at the dinner table. It’s a big deal. I don’t mean that every human interaction is secretly, unconsciously, about sex, or even that sex is the most important human interaction. I just mean that if your sexual preferences are different from other people’s, it’s a good indicator that a lot of other things about you are different, too.
4: I’m the Same As You
…And that’s what I want to tell everyone else. When I make some personal revelation to Ryan G.2 about my jealousy, or envy, or loneliness, and he looks at me and says, “Yeah, that’s perfectly normal, I’ve totally been there” — even though he’s straight and I’m gay — this means the WORLD to me. Growing up secretly gay, unable to share the things you feel most deeply with almost anybody — this has the effect of reinforcing, ever more deeply, the idea that you are fundamentally different from everybody around you.
That takes a long time to unlearn. But unlearning it, piece by piece, is where most of my healing has come from. The things I deal with are ordinary human things. Most men have, at one time or another, experienced the discomfort of liking something that Guys Don’t Like, or being more sensitive than is supposed to be appropriate for men, or being jealous or envious of their male friends. All that stuff might be a bigger deal for me than it is for them, but it’s just normal guy stuff.
5: Talking About It
I had a delightful, somewhat beery conversation with a Kung Fu buddy last night, all about religion in general and Catholicism and Buddhism and atheism and agnosticism in particular, and why on earth someone would want to be celibate, and what tolerance actually means.
This is part of why I came out: because I care deeply about these things, and I want to lay all my cards on the table when I talk about them, or at least to have the option. And I want other people to ask the things they have been wondering, without feeling like I’m going to bite their heads off for it.
6: Not Talking About It
On the other hand, when I went to pub trivia with some friends last Tuesday, the subject didn’t come up once. At first I was silently all But doesn’t everyone want to talk about how gay I am?, but that soon gave way to gratitude: for them, it was and would remain a total non-issue, unless it happened to be relevant to the situation, which it wasn’t. That’s exactly the way it should be.
7: What’s Next?
I have no idea. There’s a documentary coming out about the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, and I’m in it, so there’s that. I’m not sure when it’ll hit the youtubes, but I’ll keep you posted. If you’ve emailed or facebooked or anythingelsed me in the last week, I probably haven’t responded yet, unless you clearly weren’t looking for a response. But I will, and if I don’t, I absolutely GUARANTEE that it’s an accident, because of overactive spam filters or accidental deletion or who knows what. If this is you, I’m sorry! Please feel free to be persistent.
Meanwhile, here’s a video of a hillbilly and his raccoon dancing to Aretha Franklin.