Time for a monthly check-in, which is about all I can manage right now between school, work, and attempting to manage my ever-growing stress level.
All that to say, this might be a little scattered.
It’s Halloween and my social media feeds have been filled with photos of people’s costumes—or, in the case of many of my gay friends, technically just enough clothing to constitute a costume.
Halloween and its importance to gay men is one of many things that perplex this young-ish curmudgeon’s heart. I understand the historical underpinnings of the holiday and the appeal, but as someone who doesn’t even wear shorts in the summer, is currently wearing three layers, and finds unfocused sexual energy uncomfortable, it’s a weird festival.
Here’s what comes up when one Googles “halloween gay.”
A Pride.com article calls Halloween “every LGBT person’s fave holiday,” opining that “Gay people just love Halloween now, don’t we?”.
Samantha Allen at The Daily Dot wrote a great piece on how Halloween became the gay Christmas which is highly recommended. Basically, like Pride, it was a post-Stonewall response to living in a highly repressive time in the States for LGBTQ people. Allen writes:
On October 31, the curse of being queer in a straight world is temporarily lifted. All bets are called off, along with all the shame and fear we have been made to feel. For 364 days every year, many of us try to blend in but, on Halloween, we can proudly stick out…
It’s still the only night when acting gay is not only OK—it’s downright de rigeur.
So… I get that. I understand that for many LGBTQ people, reappropriating “queer” for themselves was empowering and liberating. However, for myself, I find conflating “queer” and “homosexual” problematic.
In my day-to-day life, I don’t try to blend in. I don’t play a role 364 days a year. I’m not effeminate, flamboyant, or gender atypical. To paraphrase David S. Pumpkins slightly, I’m “[my] own thing.”
I’m one bushy moustache, woodworking shop, and XL polo shirt removed from being Ron Swanson… if Ron were a liberal Democrat, vegetarian, and weighed 150 pounds, that is.
And frankly, twenty-eight years of my life was spent pretending to be someone else and I’d rather work at getting comfortable in this skin, doing any exploring of gender or sexuality on paper and in writing.
My therapist has observed on several occasions how much of my identity is based around being an outsider, an outlier, an “other.” It makes sense that this would be unconsciously incorporated into my identity as a out gay male, although it’s cultural institutions like Halloween and Pride that make it difficult for me to identify as a gay male. I don’t really fit in with the hypersexual boy culture that seems characteristic of many of my peers.
I’m more comfortable with the descriptor “homoromantic demisexual androphile” because at least that tells you something about my orientation(s). Physical attraction really only occurs when I deeply connect with someone. I’m a male who is sexually and romantically interested in other males with whom a strong emotional bond is shared. So it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that hookup apps like Grindr or Scruff are conspicuously missing from my phone.
In fact, two weeks ago on October 18 marked the one-year mark of the last time I actually had sex. I simply haven’t been attracted to any guys who would be attracted to me.
It’s all very confounding.
There is so much pressure in the gay community to hookup with anyone who is available, to be slutty, to radically eschew heteronormativity. That doesn’t leave much room for people like me who are primarily emotionally rather than sexually oriented.
I’ve known for a while that there are a number of well-defined psychological personas within me. These are at least four aspects of my personality that emerged and solidified over the years in response to different perceived threats or challenges.
There’s the tall, dark, quasi-menacing father/protector figure who becomes furious when I make mistakes or fail to achieve to his expectations.
There’s a morally ambiguous figure who is highly driven and a little bit sociopathic who pushes me to be ruthless with myself and others.
There’s an emotional hurricane figure who is an embodiment of my more animal instincts, who gets upset easily and easily flies into panic and/or rage.
There’s also the hurt, confused, and wounded child.
All four of these constructs interact with each other in different ways and would rise to the top of my consciousness to take control depending on what the situation called for. In this way, by separating and compartmentalizing these different aspects of myself, I could take control and protect myself.
Trouble is, after nearly 30 years of this I’m essentially walled into a mental fortress with four potentially volatile people.
While thinking through some of my motivations for wanting a boyfriend/partner, it finally occurred to me last week that the thing I really desire most is a sense of warmth that has historically been lacking from my most intimate relationships. Growing up, I don’t recall ever feeling that way about my home life or my parents. Mostly, home was associated with anxiety, fear, and suspicion.
So there are the usual things I’d want from a relationship: a sense of belonging, home, acceptance, and yes, a primary sexual partner.
But it was this desire for sense of warmth that expressed itself recently which took me by surprise, because I realized that so much of my life has indeed felt chilled, as if I’ve spent most of it wandering alone on a windswept moor or something similarly Brontë-esque. For once it would be nice to find someone with whom to share a hearth.
However, in observing interactions and pairings, it appears to be so easy for everyone else. And frankly, one doesn’t find a relationship at my age and station in life.