Life has been interesting. Chinese curse or simple fact? Perhaps a bit of both. I’ve never understood the entire ‘choice’ argument that more than a few souls cling to. I am an odd soul, content within myself for as long as I can remember. Sexuality didn’t bother me in the least. For most of my teen years, I was simply uninterested in the concept. Dating… well, I tried it with a couple of girls but never with any intention of it going anywhere.
Most would think it a matter of trying to fit in or to explore my own burgeoning puberty. This really wasn’t the case. I was and am a certifiable loner. I am happiest on my own, doing my own thing. Peer pressure was not a factor in my life. I usually had a good friend or two, mostly relating to school, but not really extending much beyond there. I was more interested in reading and writing and avoiding my mother as much as I could. Contrary to the stereotype, I was a ‘daddy’s boy’. For all the good it did in the end, since he was missing from my life for well over 9 years.
Sure, I was practicing what all boys do best in the beginning, masturbation. The oddity was that my fantasies were very diffuse. A lot of the material that led anywhere near an actual fantasy was general in nature. The usual Playboy mags didn’t do it at all. I had access but always went after the cartoons. The women were pretty, but did not elicit so much as a twitch from down below the belt. I would have to say Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series managed that (Valley of the Horses, The Mammoth Hunters, etc.) with conscious visualizing and impending relief. Jondalar kept my interest pretty handily without me really thinking about it all that much.
My first clue that I was gay came my sophomore year of high school. A girl I had a mild crush on, intellectually, had no interest in me other than as a friend. And had no issue discussing guys she thought were cute with me. I listened to the litany of names, placing faces in my memory to them and fairly bored but staying attentive for the friendship. Then came ‘the’ name of names. Scott Martell. The face popped up like a MySpace profile and I was suddenly interested. Hell yes, he was cute! And right on the heels of that epiphany was that I really liked guys. I sat for a moment absorbing it. And then I mentally shrugged. Ok. (Thanks Jill, once again, for opening my eyes and all without a clue that it happened right under you nose.)
I stopped dating at that point. Now I knew and I didn’t feel it would be fair to any girl to continue along that path. Besides, why waste time and effort on it? Some people talk about denial and trying so hard to be something else. Or they find they are genuinely bi-sexual. Nope, not me. I accepted it without a fuss and kept my own counsel. Riverside being a conservative magnet and somewhat redneck at the time meant a bit of prudence was called for, is all.
I guess part of my attitude could be because I had a lot of other things to be worried about. My relationship with my mom can only be described as disastrous and dysfunctional. So many talk about their sexuality being the cause of most of their grief and hardships as teens. Not in my case. Again, so many describe being loners or picked on for it. Mine were simply because that was part of my personality. I preferred being alone not because I was gay, but because that is what I wanted. I was picked on because I was extremely tall for my age and did not know how to fight. This makes for a prime target even without the ‘gay’ part. I never took being called a faggot seriously. I did not hold it close to my heart and tearfully bewail the tragedy. I shrugged and went about my own business.
You could say that none of my reactions are typical. God knows I have had that discussion more times than I can count with my husband. He shakes his head constantly when we talk about my childhood and teen years, even my reactions now. He tells me each time that most others have a quite opposite reaction to most situations. I am a puzzle to him. Given a childhood that is often used as a defense argument in a courtroom, I turned out totally opposite. I have my quirks, but they really are pretty mild in the grand scheme of things. I think the biggest triumph is that I even recognized love when I found it under my nose.
I am a major homebody. It goes back to being a loner. The gay community puzzles me to no end. I don’t get a majority of the reasons for it. Sure, I understand the abstract concepts. But the reality of it is just beyond me. I don’t do the club or bar scene. At least not in the last 15 years. Not since hubby and I met. And even then I was only there to play pool. I wasn’t looking for a hook-up.
We made out that night, after spending the entire evening all the way to closing together. In his car, things started to get rather hot. Until I pushed him away. I told him I didn’t want to have a one-nighter. That I wasn’t interested in that and it was not why I was at the bar. He convinced me to give him my phone number, which I reluctantly gave him. Over the next 2 weeks, he called me faithfully every night and we would talk for several hours. I finally gave in and we slept together. The rest followed after that.
Another of my oddities; I have always been quite upfront and open with my sexual identity. From the time I figured it out, I didn’t hide it. I might not speak about it every sentence out of my mouth, but I always answered a direct question about it honestly. For some reason most people never actually asked. It wasn’t until I hit 20 that people finally did. I guess I gave off mixed signals and they chewed on that for a long time. But then, I am just a puzzle in general.
I think the big difference for me is in how I view my sexual identity. I am gay. It is a part of me. There is a lot more to it than that though. It is a part of me without being the entirety of my being. I am also a shaman. I am also a writer. I am an HIV test counselor. I am a video game buff. I read constantly. I am not political until needed. I have a hereditary neuropathy that I deal with daily. I am a mentor. All of these make up who I am, not just my sexuality. I have a hard time understanding people that make sexuality the majority of their being. I am not saying it is right or wrong. Just that I don’t understand it.
So, I generally only go to Pride when I am literally working. As in, I am doing HIV testing at the event. It doesn’t really hold anything for me. Sure, the eye candy is fun. Ok, there is a presence of ‘community’. But these are not things I find I need. I don’t fit the pattern. I think there are more differences than common points for me with other gay men who are part of the society and community they have created for themselves. The only important thing that joins me to them is my sexuality itself. I like sex with men and I only have sex with men. That is the bottom line and the only thing that matters, ultimately. The rest is statistics and preferences.
So, I guess my point is: don’t make assumptions. Not about anyone, but especially about each other. Accept the variations. Accept the commonalities. Rejoice in individuality. Rejoice in the coming together of cultures. Marvel in the changes. Our youth are growing up in an entirely different world from us. I am glad. I find more in common with them than I do with my own generation. I am not so odd after all. Just a bit ahead of my time for a 40-year-old man. Who knew?