Saw a caption a few weekends ago on one of the blogs I follow that read: “Don’t go to bed alone this #PRIDE weekend.” It accompanied the picture of an adorable, lightly bearded guy in briefs laying in bed with a sexy “come hither” look.
I certainly wouldn’t have kicked him out of bed, but that’s not exactly the kind of thing I go for these days.
Minneapolis Pride (or “Gay Pride,” as my mom refers to it) was a few weeks ago at the end of June. And I decided to skip it entirely this year. My friends (gay and straight) who found out I didn’t go reacted with surprise to horror.
“But, it’s Pride!” they all seemed to be saying. “Isn’t that, like, gay Christmas?”
I didn’t go the first couple years after I came out, partly because I wasn’t interested, but mostly because I didn’t know anyone to go with. My first few years as an openly gay man were lonely, truth be told. Aside from the handful of hookups I had in the months after I broke up with my first boyfriend, I didn’t know many other gays. It really isn’t until late last year that my circle of friends became much more gay-weighted.
My first Pride event was about two years ago, when I went with Kristian, a guy I dated for a few months. Last year I manned booths for Minnesota Atheists and the HRC, the latter at which I got badly sunburned and a mild case of sunstroke. There were plenty of hot, virtually naked guys to look at; plenty to drink (if you don’t mind cheap beer that’s overly priced and that one has to get cash for); and plenty to do, but that was about it.
This year… I dunno. It feels as though I haven’t stopped moving since relocating to Uptown at the beginning of June. There’s been a lot to do with cleaning and making my new apartment liveable (there were three straight guys living here before me, and the managers didn’t do much to clean up after them when they moved out), and also simply socializing with people now that I’m so close to everything in this area.
Another factor was the passage of both the marriage bill in Minnesota and the overturning of section 3 of DOMA, and knowing that there were going to be a ton of couples there, many of which were likely planning weddings. And there I’d be, by myself (even if it was with friends), and feeling like that there’s this special, exclusive club that I’m not a member of.
Mostly it came down to my frustration with just not feeling like I belong in the “gay community.” I realize that there are a lot of people who also feel this way, and also that there’s no monolithic way to be “gay.” Hell, the whole premise of the LGBT movement is diversity, right?
So why didn’t I feel that I really belonged at Pride?
Part of it is the party atmosphere that seems to pervade both Pride events and gay male culture in general. It’s one orgiastic celebration of… something. From the pounding shitty house music to the drag queens to the raucous laughter… it’s not really my cup of tea. I don’t do well with forced merriment. It’s the garlic to my vampire — a sure-fire method to keep me away.
I just don’t feel very “gay.” All I share in common with most gay men is our mutual attraction to other men. That’s about it.
- I could care less about Perez Hilton, Ru Paul, fashion, gossip, or pop culture. I’ve managed to remain relatively Glee-free, and intend to keep it that way.
- Gay bars? Too loud, crowded, and mostly full of obnoxious twinks. Or older men who still think they’re twinks.
- Calling other men “her” or “miz”? *Gag.*
- Obsession with show tunes? Only if they were penned by Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, Jason Robert Brown, Noël Coward, or Kurt Weill. Aside from Sondheim, most gay men I know haven’t a clue who the other three I listed are.
- “Opera queens” sobbing over Romantic operas (e.g., Puccini, Verdi, Donizetti)? Not me. Edward Rothstein penned a New York Times essay in 1993 about the intimate relationship between gay men and opera. In it, Wayne Koestenbaum is quoted as saying: “We [gay men] turn to opera because we need to breathe.” Spare me that bullshit. I will say that, thanks to my friend Matthew, I have a growing appreciation for Wagner, but it feels more akin to collegiate admiration than the growings of a deep, abiding passion.
There have been times in the years that I’ve come out when I’ve felt pressure to “act” more “gay,” as if people (especially my women friends) expect me to be more like the stereotype of a gay man — i.e., queeny, witty, frivolous, overly dramatic, etc. And that’s not me. What I said when I came out holds true today: I’m the same person I’ve always been, albeit more honest.
Basically, there is virtually nothing “campy” or feminine about me, not because I’m self-loathing but because it doesn’t interest me. This is a primary reason I feel alienated from the gay community. I don’t feel that I “fit in.” I feel no need for luxury, as epitomized by “old guard” gays like Liberace. In terms of decorating and clothes, I prefer a sparser, more “masculine” style. The music I like tends to be angular, rhythmically and harmonically complex and muscular and characteristically unromantic, a fact that scandalizes most of the gay men I share that fact with.
Also—I don’t want to have sex with every guy I see, nor am I capable of doing so. (Thus, why gay clubs don’t really appeal to me.) Honestly, I don’t see guys as meat, or as conquests. I have to really connect with someone to get to that level of intimacy.
In short: I’m me. An iconoclast. And always will be.