A Walk in the Woods With a 20-year-old Gay Man

A Walk in the Woods with a 20-year-old Gay Man

Through my visibility on social networking sites like WordPress, Facebook, and Blogtalkradio, I occasionally get a message from young gay men in various stages of coming out, political awareness, and relationship issues. I enjoy the interaction with these men, as I see in them a younger, very naïve, and less cynical me.

Usually we have long IM chats or an occasional phone call. I have never met any of these men face to face as most of them usually are living in less than gay-friendly locales increasing their need to reach out into cyberspace for a Real.Live.Contact.

 One young man (we’ll call him Joey) was a 15-year-old living in Canada, attending a Catholic boys school, and wanted to know: “How do you really know if you are Gay?” While there are many ways of answering this, I have been blessed with a marriage to a psychiatrist and when I get one of these simple questions, I merely nudge him in bed and ask, “How does one know they are really Gay?” His answer; quite simple, “What do you focus on when you masturbate?” Nailed that one. So I asked Joey that question and he said, “Yep, thought so. Now what?” That wasn’t as easy as he was not out to his family, his classmates, etc. Nor did he know of any safe outlets in the Toronto area for LGBT youth services. I did suggest a few books he might read and some websites specifically geared to his demographic. I heard from him a few times after that. He came out to his best female friend. His mother discovered gay sites on his computer and she did embrace his coming-out. He did find a youth group that I believe he is still active in. He did call me in a panic the first night he went to the group. The poor kid lost his virginity 10 minutes after arriving on a trip to the men’s room. Oh well, no way I could have seen that one coming. All in all, I chalked that one up as a success story.

The rest fall in categories from a few sporadic questions and then never hearing from them again – to regular contacts peppered with new questions and experiences, not unlike what you would share with a close friend. But yesterday, I had a new one that opened my eyes that suggested to me that the future isn’t entirely that bright.

A young college student, Evan, 19, messaged me about a week ago complementing me on this blog as well as my Facebook profile on my Internet radio show. (www.blogtalkradio.com/stonewalllive) He was pretty much still in the closet, had not had sex yet with either a male or female, but was very much aware that he was gay and attracted to men. There were some red flags that I did detect but deflected as best I could. He liked my body, said I was hot and his type; to which I quickly showed him my recent wedding album and started talking about seeking relationships with available men. I gave him some anecdotes about the classic gay man longing for the straight best friend or the already-partnered gay man and explained that this was normal in the journey of finding people to interact with.

He explained how difficult it was to be in a Christian University with a roommate that was obviously not gay friendly. He said he had some trouble identifying with the “out and proud” gay “lifestyle” that he witnessed at the school, which had a Gay Straight Alliance filled with “marchers, drag queens, and perverts” (his quotes)

I chalked all this up to being young, inexperienced and having a bit of self-loathing. Come on! We’ve all been there to a degree. I remember telling myself many times that even though I would be an out gay man I would never 1) March in a Gay Pride Parade, 2) Dress in drag, 3) Bottom, 4) Get married to a man, 5) Understand Transgender men and women. Well, I’ve done all 5, and I am proud to say they fell pretty quickly. But everyone has his or her own speed on this journey and I promised myself I would not judge. I only told him of my own initial thoughts and how they evolved over time as I met and grew to love my gay life.

But all that changed yesterday. While discussing what type of person he would like to date, I casually mentioned that he would do better after he became a bit more comfortable with his sexuality. In 2013 I knew that if and when he wanted to date/get laid/hookup all he had to do was hit the Grindr or A4A application and he was good to go.  Evan was a 6-1 swimmer and martial artist with a quick smile and good eye contact. (we had a few Skype sessions). I explained that the closet was not a sexy place and some men might find it a negative point in continuing a relationship/second date/etc. He explained that he was not going to tell anyone that he was not out to his family and friends and that he was an expert at compartmentalizing. I told him I thought that being pretty open and honest made for better sex/friends/life. His answer:

“My personal life has nothing to do with who I have sex with.” OK I thought…then things got worse. He then said, “And I hate that you think gays are different than straights. We aren’t. We are exactly the same just like to have sex differently. Fuck you and all your rich old pervy men who want to mold us into some kind of gay-rights clones.”

 Like most gay men I’ve had enough therapy, both formal and on-the-job to know that sometimes outbursts like this stem from a deep internal conflict that the OTHER person is having, not what you said to them. Knowing all that, I still was pissed and it being the Internet, I excused myself and signed off.

Then I got to thinking.

What was Evan going to be like in 10 years? 20 years?

My hope of course, was that he was going to have an evolution and become an intelligent, well-rounded young man with integrity. He would bounce around for a bit given his strict religious background, but eventually settle down with a partner and either adopt a baby or have children by surrogate. I had their same-sex parent-teacher night in my dreams when I had a cold hard thought.

Maybe this is all he’s going to be. Another cynical, sometimes-substance-abusing, dance away lover who feels all men are merely sex objects and that the gay community is so screwed up, nothing can be done about it. He’ll move from gay mecca to gay mecca, hit the circuit parties, sculpt his body, but never getting the gold ring. In other words, end up where a lot of guys I know; envious of those in long-term relationships; never seeing that their initial outlook on gay life never changed.

I’d like to say that I went back and found Evan and spoke to him again. I did not. He vanished, profile and all. Perhaps he found another gentle ear.

One can dream.

 

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Sadie-Sadie; Married Ladies

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Sadie Sadie Married Lady

My apologies for the several week hiatus. Between the two family weddings, and our own, I’ve scarcely had time to share with you my gentle readers my latest adventure in M to the third power,  M cubed, (Muscles, Money and Mayhem).

I got married.

Really; license, boutonnieres matching outfits and all.

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It started a few months ago with the Supreme Court striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, passed during the Clinton Administration and signed by President Clinton (even though he didn’t have to sign it…and did NOT sign many laws that went into effect, but that’s another story he’ll have to answer to later..trust me) But back to the marriage. You see, married couples, heteros up to now, could transfer wealth at death in such vehicles (I love to use the word vehicles in sentences like this with no cars or movement involved) as life insurance, personal property such as homes owned jointly with NO FEDERAL TAXES levied.

That was the the basis of the Windsor v. IRS ruling. Edie Windsor was legally to her spouse, her spouse passed away, and because she and her spouse were both women, the IRS levied a $300,000.00 tax bill on her for the joint property they had paid for while married. If one of them had a penis and the other a vagina, the tax bill would have been $0.00. While my husband and I wouldn’t be on the hook for that much, my attraction to male pheremones and big biceps would have put either of us in a trailer park if one of us died.

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So with the end of DOMA and the IRS ruling that same sex couples married anywhere could file jointly and be recognized as legal heirs in the eyes of the Federal Taxation Rules, I  texted my partner of ten years and said, “Babe, we should get married while we are in California just in case something happens to one of us” He texted back “Sure” and the romance was on.

Turns out you can apply for your marriage license and schedule your ceremony all online for California weddings. There is but a 30 minute waiting period between getting your license and having the ceremony in California. Some states have up to a five day ‘cooling off’ period; I guess in California thirty minutes is all you need to get rid of your regrets.

But back to me, I mean us, since now we are legally married in the eyes of the IRS, California and the other 13 states and District of Columbia.

The wedding ceremony was wonderful, brief, successful (we had all the papers on the first try) and cost $77 bucks. That being said, the rest of this blog has to do with how it feels, at least for me, to be married.

While it is just a piece of paper, and love goes way beyond that, right? Well, no it does not. It really feels different. I no longer have to say, “my partner” and then go on to explain that its not a business partner but life partner and then feel compelled to add how long we’ve been together, how long we’ve owned a home, how and where we met; you get the picture. All I say now is that we are married and this is my husband. Period. A terrific shortcut I might add.

I feel more equal to my hetero married friends now, as it should be since I didn’t get a discount on my taxes for sucking dick. Whether they look at me differently now, I can’t say; but most of them seem genuinely excited for us and to tell the truth, it spills back over to us. Excited and gratified, relieved and comforting, it does make a difference.

So to the cynics out there who say marriage is a dead institution, I give them this. Anything that can make a tired old queen like me cry and then feel good about himself; and didn’t involve a mental health copay is no small feat. I love my husband, my marriage license and moving toward all 1138 rights that ALL married couples should have.

Here come the grooms.

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This Time I’m Wearing My Own Clothes To My Wedding

Rented Suit

This Time I’m Wearing My Own Clothes To My Wedding

One week from today I will be married in the rotunda of San Francisco City Hall. My soon-to-be husband and I have been together for over ten years and even though we keep saying to ourselves nothing will really change…it really does feel some kind of wonderful to have it finally happen.

You see for us, gay marriage was not even a dream a decade ago. I was born in 1950, he is a year older, born in 1949. We both married women in our early 20s thinking that society would never accept our hidden desires; to have a stable emotional relationship with someone you were physically attracted to. Homosexuality was still listed as a deviant behavior in the medical books on the day we both married women in the 1970’s. In a rented tux, in a world that called me sick, I vowed to uphold the laws of Moses, swear undying love to a woman I had sex with while dreaming of a man’s body. Six groomsmen and my own father in clothes we did not own stood by me and witnessed this expensive, religious, lovely charade.

I am not making excuses for entering into my first marriage with false pretenses. I knew I was gay, experienced gay sex before my wedding day, and knew it was going to be a tough go. But I think a lot of straight grooms have second thoughts on the big day for as many good reasons; doubt, honesty, pressure to conform, family obligations, etc.

I did hurt my ex-wife’s expectations of her life plan. Well more than that actually, I probably ruined her life for a few years with my coming out. She had suspicions of course, but you really only see what you want to see and even though my teenage son figured it out one afternoon when I eyed a hot waiter while he eyed a buxom waitress at the same restaurant.

This time will be different. Not only have over four decades passed, but a seismic shift in the political, religious and societal scene on marriage equality. My fiancé and I shopped together for the slacks, shirt, sweater and even matching belts that a city clerk will preside over our union. To be frank, the rabbi that married us had the personality of a cardboard box and left the rabbinate a month after my first rented tux wedding to become an accountant.

In my own skin, in my own clothes, with full love and devotion, I am getting married next week. Sorry about the first one, I had my doubts, remember?

Photo by docnate75

Why Do We Write?

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Why do we write?

 

What human need does writing fulfill? From the caveman drawings in France to the Dead Sea Scrolls to Thomas Jefferson’s Federalist Papers why does this species feel the need to write? To express ourselves not by human auditory voice, but by symbols carefully crafted to imitate and represent our human emotion.

 

Like all writers I have moments of clarity when I sit down at my computer or writing pad and the words just flow. It’s as if I’m not the real author, but some mystical being has taken over my hands and I am channeling his/her song.

 

Recently I have been working on a book, part memoir – part self help book that began from a repeated phrase from friends, “You should write a book.” I’m not sure where they got the idea that my life or my thoughts would be any more interesting than theirs or any other Gay-Male-FormerlyMarried-Grandfather-Husband-Jewish-TallSkinnyGuy on the Planet.

 

So the title of the book is “Muscles Money and Mayhem: How I Found the Good Life, a great Husband, and Peace.” Observations and musings of living as a gay man in South Florida probably won’t make the NY Times best seller list, but it does fill some sort of need, probably the same one that caveman in France felt when he scratched his musings on the wall.

 

So to continue with the thread of Why do We Write; I’ll throw in some basic human needs and let the gentle reader see where they fit in.

 

6 Human Needs

 

CERTAINTY

VARIETY

SIGNIFICANCE

CONNECTION/LOVE

GROWTH

CONTRIBUTION

 

When I look at this list, I immediately think of where you are in your life right now makes all the difference in your needs. To younger people, Love and Growth take center stage and you burst out into the world as a unique individual. You find a partner, establish a career and all the while take so many of your needs for granted. Towards the end of your life both Certainty and Significance come out of the shadows and the joy of accomplishment or the pain of regret fuels our last days.

 

Moving away from the morbid. I showed a friend these six needs and he said, “Damn, that’s why Facebook is so popular. It fulfills all the needs in about 5 minutes. I laughed. But then I realized he was right.

 

I wonder if that caveman is pissed right now.

 

Straight People Have Hobbies Like Arts & Crafts…We Gays? We Judge!

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How quickly can you decide whether a guy is fit? rich? educated? kind? 5 seconds? 10 seconds? Faster? Going back to our evolutionary biology, how quickly we could tell if someone was going to eat us or fuck us was the difference in survival and so the ones left on this Earth are the ones that were better at figuring out who would give us the most children and who would not kill us. Makes sense if you are being chased by a saber tooth tiger and you only have a few moments to decide where to pop your nut for the most progeny. Not so much now.

What’s left of this vestige of our ancestors is the knack we have of judging EVERYTHING. Your mother always said, “Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover” but we now have scientists working with artists to do just that.

So why are we so quick to judge so negatively in Planet Gay? What does it mean when we perceive someone as too effeminate? too fat? badly dressed? driving the wrong car? We are giving meaning to some external cues that someone we believe are the true authentic values, expectations, and strengths of that very person we are judging.

Could it be that the years of gay men being surrounded by all these negative societal words and actions make us internalize them and then somehow protect ourselves from others getting close by quickly dispatching them with our quick judgements?

Next time you pick up a book, take it home and love it.

A Blog for a Hot August Day

ImageWhat Life is and Isn’t

‎”Life isn’t about keeping score. It’s not about how many people call you and it’s not about whom you’ve dated, are dating, or haven’t dated at all. It isn’t about whom you’ve kissed, what sport you play, or which girl or guy likes you. It’s not about your shoes or your hair or the color of your skin or where you live or go to school. In fact, it’s not about grades, money, clothes, or colleges that accept you. Life isn’t about if you have lots of friends, or if you are alone, and it’s not about how accepted or unaccepted you are. Life just isn’t about that.

 

 But life is about whom you love and whom you hurt. It’s about how you feel about yourself. It’s about trust, happiness, and compassion. It’s about sticking up for your friends and replacing inner hate with love. Life is about avoiding jealousy, overcoming ignorance, and building confidence. It’s about what you say and what you mean. It’s about seeing people for who they are and not what they have. Most of all, it’s about choosing to use your life to touch someone else’s in a way that could never have been achieved otherwise. These choices are what life’s about.”~