245. polysemy


Rosalind-Russell-Mame-Dennis-Auntie-MameThe past two weeks I’ve been working on a graduate education scholarship application in the records and information management field, and consequently started saving my blog entries on this site to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine project.

I’ve been adding a few every day and am up to the entry where Seth comes into the picture.


Going back over those early entries when I was just coming out and to terms with the challenge that was proving to my then conservative Christian morality and upbringing is fascinating. Not to mention extremely uncomfortable at times to read how different a person I was.

Ah, and yet…

The other evening I was saying to my housemate how I just don’t want to have sex these days because I’m single, and all I can seem to get is these meaningless flings that only serve to remind me of what I don’t currently have but want. And unfortunately, it’s not for lack of attention. There are probably plenty of guys who would date me if I were mutually attracted. But it usually goes that they’re interested and I’m not, and vice versa.

C’est la guerre

Furthermore, I said, I’m done hooking up with other people’s partners (both with their knowledge and sometimes participation), adding that I’m tired of “being someone else’s dessert when I haven’t had a solid meal in ages.” And how it all plays into my fear that no matter how successful or accomplished I may be in life, I’ll always be fundamentally alone.

As Sartre wrote: “Je suis condamné à être libre. I am condemned to be free.

So it was curious later that night when I ended up hooking up with a friend of our’s who came over for drinks and to play Cards Against Humanity… who is in a relationship. We’d been talking outside in the hot tub about families and hangups, and I think something in my mind snapped of no longer wanting to be defined and constrained by my past, my family, or my damage. Of my fears and anxieties determining where I can and can’t go.

Most of all tired of feeling paralyzed into inaction by my fucked up, over-analytical brain.

I’m reminded of what Rosalind Russell’s titular character says in the 1958 film Auntie Mame: “Life is a banquet, and most poor [sons-of-bitches] are starving to death!” And it bothers me that I’m aware of this, of everything that’s currently going for me right now, and yet I don’t really know if what I’m apparently missing is what I want.

For example:

There’s lots one could say about this. That’s it was 2010. That it’s reflective of extroverted, urban, nonreflexive New York City gay culture. Hell, that it’s Jake Shears.

On the one hand, my repressed, proper, conservative, wannabe-19th Century inner upper-middle-class Brit looks down on such extroversion, disapproves of the embrace of unrestrained sensuality, because (if I’m being perfectly honest with myself and with you, dear reader) I don’t feel comfortable or empowered to be that way myself.

But is that authentically me? Sure, I don’t often push my comfort zone and pursue new experiences… but am I the kind of guy who just wants sex, with or without intimacy or connection?

A friend of mine posted on Facebook today:

You know you’re one of those East Coast gays when for weeks at a time during summer, it seems like half the people in your news feed are either going to, currently visiting, or just returning from P-Town… and the other half are on Fire Island.

That kind of lifestyle, frankly, sounds like hell for an introvert of introverts. Being surrounded by (presumably) all manner and ilk of carefully groomed, stylishly dressed, cosmopolitan, pretentious, hyper flirtatious gay men… no, thank you.

But on some level, I wish that I were the kind of person who could fit in with and at least enjoy myself in that crowd, that I were truly self-assured enough to mix with any company and not give a damn what anyone else thinks, or whether or not I get laid.

Mostly, I’m weary of feeling as if I don’t belong—that I still haven’t found my gay tribe. Because I’ve found my librarian tribe. Those folks are cool. With Sunday Assembly, I’ve found my secular tribe. But 99.9% of those I’ve met in these circles are heterosexual, and while they’re wonderful folks, I don’t 100% belong. But there are so few gay men who I actually like, and that makes me very nervous that there’s no one out there with whom I’m actually compatible.

Because I’m not looking for “good enough.” That’s how I ended up with Jay. Again, no thanks.

The reality is that I’m not queer, “gay,” fabulous, femme, masc, jock, twink, etc. I’m me, whatever that means. I’m a recovering fundamentalist Christian who is finally (albeit glacially) coming into his own without the bullshit and baggage of high school and having conformity beaten into his shoes. I don’t have a label, or a modality.

These days, I’m committed to being uncompromisingly myself. That seems to intimidate guys who are accustomed to other guys who fit neatly into pre-fabricated boxes.

 <<Brief rant ahead>>

And this is my main issue with gay culture, with the Scissor Sisters video, and all of it.

I’m tired of feeling there’s something wrong with me because I don’t want to party, to get drunk and stupid, to jump into bed (or the bushes) with some guy I just met. I felt that way in San Francisco, I’ve felt that way with gays here in Minneapolis, with friends of various boyfriends…

It’s my gripe with gay porn—with picture-perfect guys selling us the idea that you have to have some perfect, unattainable, sculpted gym body to be accepted, that gay men primarily interact with each other sexually, and that this is “normal.”

No, it’s not normal. It’s bullshit, and it’s not realistic.

Am I alone in this, or do other people feel this way too?

11 thoughts on “245. polysemy

    • David

      There’s a part of me that wishes I were confident (and, let’s face it, well-built) enough to do that. You’ve lived! That’s not a little something.

      • No, it’s not a little something! It’s porn sized 😛 I wasn’t confident at all, btw. I had to drink almost a whole bottle of wine to go through with it each time. Turns out 20 people in a room, screaming, hot lights and Balkan languages doesn’t turn out to be that sexy.

      • David

        I will have to take your word on that (unless, like the good librarian I aim to be, I can dig up footage somewhere!). Gradually, as I get to know people better, I’m finding that few of them actually feel as confident as they may appear. Perhaps it’s just that few of them are as honest as I tend to be!

      • That’s exactly it. Even now, at this point of my life, I get up and have to cajole myself into being ‘myself’ while looking in the bathroom mirror. Most of the people I know well, some much older than I, tell me it’s the same for them. We’re all bluffing, some of us just learn to do it better than others.
        The ‘I am what I am’ people get nothing they want, get nowhere. The ones who observe what works and what doesn’t are able to get something from life. Not perfection, not fairytales, but a real life that really works.

  1. PaulDouglas

    I completely agree that finding healthy community is difficult, David, but if you keep growing in authenticity and genuineness with people of similar interests and values you will create community around you. I too am an introvert, an ex-christian and a complete abstainer from substances that socially lubricate, so I can feel your pain. As gay men we grew up in shame and were highly unpracticed in showing our real selves to the world. We often doubted our self-worth, our senses and our intuition and that affects how we learn (or don’t learn!) how to make friendships and how to become good, healthy lovers. We have to work extra hard to make up for these handicaps, but it can be done.

    Healthy people attract healthy people. You clearly have done an immense amount of work to become healthy. Keep it up, be patient and you will start to see results, I’m convinced.

    • David

      Thanks for commenting! Yes, so-called gay culture does those in it few favors by compounding the sense of incompleteness and unworthiness that most of us already get from families and from society in general. More of us just need the courage to stand up to those social forces and walk away to build something better. As Fiona Apple sings, “Try to live in a lovelier light.”

  2. Violet

    David, just letting you know that I’ve closed my blog, but am doing fine…will still be here reading and commenting on your blog.

    As to the topic at hand, I think it’s somewhat unfortunate I lost my devout religious values after I was already middle aged and married…I wonder what I would have been like when young without god holding me back in the sex dept? I’m still a pretty reserved person in general though, so perhaps it wouldn’t be any different. But then again, what if it could have been? I missed out on so much. 😦

    Coming across someone you have the right chemistry (to have a long-term relationship) with is not an easy thing. Then even once you’ve found them, the chemistry doesn’t always stick around. Relationships are damn complex.

    I do hope you find your tribe, where you fit and feel good. The only tribe I’ve ever found are the online atheists at WP…that’s as close to having a home as I’ve ever felt.

    • David

      I’ve been following your progress on your blog, Violet, and have to say how proud I am of the steps you’ve taken to extricate yourself from what seems like an impossible situation. It’s also been neat to follow your progress as you’ve moved further away from your faith. It’s rarely an opportune time to lose your faith, or to find authenticity. There’s only the now. It doesn’t make the consequences or the cleanup any better, but it’s up to us to make being free worth the price of admission. There’s no god, no cosmic force to do that for us.

      I’m so thankful that you happened across my blog and that we’ve had the opportunity to connect!

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