"homo hill" | thursday | may 1, 2008 | 8:00 am
DVENTURES ON HOMO HILL. The theme of this year's
EDstravaganza! My week-long (sometimes longer) celebration of my birthday. Actually,
this year's festivities have been pared down. I mean I am getting older, wiser, and perhaps
a bit more reserved (but hopefully not more conservative). My birthday itself falls on next
Tuesday, which is just a bad night to do anything, frankly. So, EDstravaganza 2008 will be
held over two days. Part One will be at the following Thursday's
Part Two will be the following Saturday with
dancing. Here's the
flyer (I love taking old pulp novel covers and doctoring them up):
read footnotes |
• • •
"boyfriend-shaped hole in the door" | tuesday | may 2, 2008 | 1:36 pm
HIS IS ON MY MIND: RELATIONSHIPS.
I cannot claim that I am an expert. Nor can I claim that I have had very many. So, as
Greg and I pass the four month mark (pretty darn respectable among "the gays"), I am
retrospective about my past relationships. I stress the lower case 'r'.
When I was coming out, I really didn't
know very many queer people, much less have any queer friends. So, like many newly
decloseted people, I found refuges and sought friends online. Granted, this was back
before fancy web-based chatrooms and pretty instant messengers. I never really got into
ICQ, which was much like
the ham radio of the Internet. Rather, I hung out at a select few social and game
My "first relationship" (which does deserve the scare quotes) was with a guy I met on
one of these social MUDs friendly to the LGBTQ community.
We got to know each other,
talked online for hours, and eventually talked by phone. However, like many online
connections, he lived clear across the country from me; he was on the west coast and I
was on the east. But the net romance blossomed anyway. It was a romance in its most
broad and abstract sense because I think I was in love with the idea of being in a
relationship more than the actual relationship itself. Now, as a longstanding netizen,
I have never been one to poo-poo online connections and relationships. I think there
are all sorts of different ways we can form circuits of desire and attraction and
sociability. But my relationship with this "proto" boyfriend was better virtual than
actual. We did eventually exchange photos and letters and more phone calls (again,
this was before everything became easily digital). We even planned for him to fly
out to meet me finally face-to-face. But alas the reality of the fantasy caught up
with me and I had to acknowledge my own superficiality and idealism. I wasn't really
attracted to him, at least not by his pictures. He was pretty nerdy, overweight,
nelly -- all things that I wanted to dispel about my own self, my own body, my own
behavior. So, when he wanted to close the gap between us, when he wanted to actually
hold his body against mine, I panicked and ended the relationship. I used all of
the stock excuses (ironic considering I had never been in a relationship before): I
said that I just wasn't feeling the relationship anymore, that I wanted to figure stuff
out before I could commit, that I had to figure out myself before I could be with
someone else, that I was too scared, too shy, too lame. I'm sure he saw right
through it. And that was that. I never talked to him again. He never came around
the MUD anymore. But, as a testament to the relationship, he was my first "boyfriend"
and it has left a lasting impression on me.
My next relationship, my "first" relationship -- also began online -- but did cross the divide into
the material, the physical, the actual. I've written briefly
about him. He, too, was long distance
but at least on the same coast and only five hours away. We had a pretty intense online
and phone relationship before we decided that it was time to meet. I remember the weekend
he decided to drive up. Unlike my first relationship, I had not seen pictures of him
beforehand (though he had seen mine). It was extremely nerve-wracking. But he showed up
at my doorstep late one Friday night. I opened the door to find someone who I was
attracted to. And the rest is history. We dated for about five months, but only really
saw each other once every month or so. He was the first person I had ever slept with.
And I can honestly say that I did fall in love with him. Unfortunately, the relationship
ended because of the distance and because of my own immaturity. He was the first guy to
complain that he did not think that I was invested in the relationship, that I treated him
like he was just another friend. It was the classic case of him being more into the
relationship than I was at first, and then by the time I was ready to commit, he was on
his way out. Frankly, I had no idea what I was doing. I was newly out. I found someone
that liked me. But I kept looking around to see if any of the other pastures were greener.
I felt like I needed to play the field when I should have been paying attention to what
was already in front of me, in my lap, in my life. I really liked him, a lot, and I miss
that relationship. Granted, this could all be nostalgia. But the first relationship, the
first real realtionship, will always hold an important place in your memory.
My second, live, face-to-face relationship
started off well. I met him at one of my favorite
coffee houses in Washington, DC. We chatted each other up. We hung out a couple of times.
And then he moved in with me. At the time, it was more of a favor than any kind of true love
at first sight. He had just moved to DC and living with a coworker, a much older man who
repeatedly tried to seduce him. So, we got him out of there. How stereotypically lesbian
of us, right? Well, we ended up dating for only a couple of weeks, one of which I spent
sick with the flu. And then he broke up with me but continued to live with me for almost
a month and a half. Friendship and nice guy and knight in shining armor aside, I eventually
asked him to find his own place, which he did without much fuss, and we parted ways. He
was sweet, cute, and artistic -- all things I like -- but we never really got to know one
another before having to share space. I should've known early on that things wouldn't have
worked out when we talked about the kinds of guys we liked: we didn't seem to share a
similar taste in men. I would point out someone who thought I was cute, but he wouldn't
think so. He would point out someone who he thought was cute, and I wouldn't think so.
It would leave me thinking: is that what he sees in me? I chalk it up to inexperience and
a earnestness (desperation) to find, cuddle, nurture, and hold on to a relationship that
motivated boyfriend number two. Though we never really reached the "stage" of calling
each other "boyfriends," it was definitely sudden, intense, and intimate. The power of
the couple is not something easily reckoned with; the social, sexual, political,
even economic pressure to "be with" someone is massive, pervasive, naturalised, and
covertly and overtly policed. As a newly out gay man (who felt late to the game), I wanted
validation and vindication -- both as worthy of and valued in a relationship and
as actually, provably, practicingly gay!
It would be a number of years before I found myself in another relationship. I was a
terrible dater. I never went out on dates. I never got asked out on dates. And though
I thought I put myself out there, I never really ever really scored. The long menu of
things that went into this serious lack of any game is too long to get into now. Suffice
it to say it was a combo pack of insecurity, low self esteem, poor body image, aggressive
personality (ironic, eh?), and all of the -isms that mainstream, American, metropolitan
gay male culture produced, perpetuated, and packaged as compulsory to be the "it" guy.
It would take me
moving to San Francisco before I would find my third
relationship. My dating record in SF wasn't much improved. You would think that moving
to "gay mecca," to a place bigger, brighter, and more diverse than suburban Maryland would
have opened the mangates to sexcapade after sexcapade. Alas, I did not find much gay gold
in heeding the Pet Shop Boys' exhortation to
"Go West." I did
go out on a few scattered dates, usually with men the age of my father. I figured I would
at least "try." I even inadvertently got kidnapped for a night. But these adventures
didn't amount to much. Eventually, I met my third boyfriend. He was a friend of a friend.
And if you asked when we started dating, most people would have answered on the first
night we met. He was one of those guys who I clicked with immediately, who clicked with me.
The first night we met we hung out and talked well into the night. We became friends. He
said that he hadn't really much experience with men. But as they say, when in Sodom do as
the Sodomites do. I really liked him. I still do. We dated about a month and a half. And
then he broke up with me claiming that he wasn't ready to be in a serious relationship with
a man. (He had the added complication of a long-term girlfriend back in his Midwest hometown
whom he hadn't really broken up with or something.) It was a terrible loss for me, though
we did manage to stay friends. (Though a week later he started dating another guy in our
circle because, I think, of drugs or some such.) I would have liked to have explored that
relationship a bit longer. It was good, and the end actually surprised me. Years later,
and we're talking almost a decade now, he's the only boyfriend that I still stay in
contact with and who I'm
happy to see when I can.
Then there is the great desert.
A great stretch of time and space, life and distraction, loneliness and a kind of self-imposed
abstinence passed. I left San Francisco. I moved back to Maryland. I settled into
my thirties. And I kind of gave up on the possibility of romance, of dating, of love.
All the while, everyone around me was fulfilling their romantic destinies (sometimes
over and over again). Friends hooked up, friends dated, friends married, friends bought
houses, friends had children. I was still a graduate student. I was still poor.
And I was still single. There were times when everything was fine. I could convince
myself that life was all right. That I could be whole and happy and content and fulfilled
by myself. And there's a part of me that does believe that -- that's healthy. There were
times when I railed against the system, decrying
heteronormativity and homonormativity.
There were times that struggled, yearned, cried, sighed, hurt, hungered, and wished
for a partner, a lover, a best friend. And then there were times I was
just angry. I didn't date when I moved back to
Maryland. I was too busy. I had other priorities. I wanted to finish my Master's and
move on. And my life just wasn't set up, opened up for the possibility of a relationship.
Some of that was my fault. Some of that was circumstantial.
In 2005, I
moved to Seattle to continue my education. I also
moved because I knew living in the suburbs of Maryland wasn't going to get me anywhere in
my love life. I needed to be in a city, in a gay neighborhood, and meeting more people.
I could've stayed in the Maryland area and would have if I hadn't gotten into the
University of Washington's PhD program, but I would have moved into DC, into the city.
Like San Francisco, I hoped that Seattle would be a sea change for me. It was a progressive
city. It was a queer friendly city (for the most part). And I would be living in the
gay district (for once). But, like San Francisco, even being in the gay plunge I couldn't
muster a single date. I joked to one of my friends in the English department that if I
didn't get laid in Seattle by New Year's, I was going to leave the city. Well, I didn't
get laid, nor did I leave the city. The following year the same threat was made but
this time I said if I didn't get laid by the end of the year I would jump off the
Aurora Bridge. Well, I still didn't get laid, nor did I jump off a bridge. This past
year, the threat was once again made. And though by New Year's Eve night I still
hadn't gotten laid, I did finally meet someone --
Greg -- and I was "saved" by the skin
of my teeth.
Eight years in the desert finally came to an end.
And now I'm thinking about this new relationship -- how it is different from and how it is
the same as my past relationships. It's been a long time since I came out of the closet.
And I've lived a lot of life, which undoubtedly informs and inflects everything I think and
do and feel. I know I am a much more mature person now compared to back then. And I
am more integrated, more self-accepting, and more at peace. I'm still trying to suss out
my expecations in this relationship. I know the obvious ones: companionship, attraction,
honesty, friendship, mutuality, sex, and perhaps eventually, love. I just don't know
what the inobvious ones are. But as I have said before, I am learning a lot about
myself and what it means to be with someone with Greg. On that level, I am very happy.
I know that one thing that is different in this current relationship compared to my
past ones is that I am ready for it, I am advocating for myself and my feelings, and
I feel like for once I am open to it. One thing that is the same is that I get attached
very quickly and wear my heart on my sleeve. But that doesn't necessarily have to be
a negative thing.
I think the pace that Greg and I are at is perfect. This isn't a race. And there definitely
is not destination or finish line. It's a journey, an exploration, an adventure, albeit
shared. I don't mean to wax poetic and cheesy and abstract. But metaphors are powerful
for a reason. How I see this relationship, how I understand it, and how I describe it
affect it. Affect me. Affect him. I like the words I've spent so far. And I am
glad and proud of myself that I can write about it.
read footnotes |
• • •
"seis de mayo" | tuesday | may 6, 2008 | 9:47 am
APPY BIRTHDAY TO ME. Happy birthday to me.
Happy birthday from a lobster. Happy birthday to me. (Just in case you think I've cracked
even more than I already am -- that is the song they sing when it's your birthday at
Red Lobster. Well, it was many years ago.)
Look, I've gotten e-cards! The first one is from my friend Cate, who like god has a sick
sense of humor.
The second is a little more wholesome from my friend Nancy, who knows I like kitties. (My roommate
Jane and I have been thinking of getting a cat and naming it either Chauncey or Ponzu.) Meow.
read footnotes |
• • •
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