274. draconian



black_forest_gateauA few months ago, I experienced something that hadn’t happened in a while.

Now, I’m not reticent about my sexuality.

True, I don’t talk about it non-stop, and (contrary to how much I write about the subject) it isn’t the sole thing that defines me. But if asked or if I am in company where gender and sexuality are discussed, I am not shy about opening up about my experiences.

So it takes me aback when I have to come out to someone.

This episode happened following a gathering of friends in November as we were discussing a post-Thanksgiving get-together at my house. One of our newer attendees asked whether the decor would be Thanksgiving-themed.

“Decorating really isn’t my thing,” I said, and then joked, “I tend towards more of a sparse Scandinavian style, myself.”

She gave a look of mock surprise. “What kind of gay man are you?” she exclaimed. She was mostly joking (I think), but there was a hint of true incredulity in her tone.

I got this a lot in the first few years after coming out. Women would assume that I wanted to check out hot guys with them and provide brilliant, witty insights on the male psyche in between shopping breaks or redecorating their living room.

Sorry, heterosexuals. Your token queer I am not.

However, the episode got me contemplating the assumptions people might make about me as a gay man (specifically, what I’m interested in and who I have sex with), the various tropes and trappings of gay culture, and whether or not it was helpful to continue identifying that way.

Since the end of this past semester, I haven’t had much to occupy/distract my mind, so I’ve been mulling over what it means to be demisexual.

The common usage is to treat it as an adjective: you might only fuck people you have a close emotional bond with, but you’re still gay.

“You’re still one of us,” seems to be the subtext.

However, the fact that I experience sexual attraction but rarely, and then only with men with whom there is a strong emotional connection, indicates that I seem to fall more on the asexual spectrum rather than the homosexual.

It’s not that I’m seeking a label to define myself by, or a tribe to identify with, but rather to better understand myself (short-term goal) and hopefully develop strategies for managing friendships and finding a partner (long-term goal).

The challenge of dating is summed up in an article by Emma Lord:

… while you can generally tell on a first date whether or not you’d want to be friends with someone, it’s nearly impossible for a demisexual person to decide whether or not [they’d] be sexually attracted to [you] without the element of friendship and trust already in place… And you can’t exactly explain your feelings to someone you just met, particularly in an age when not engaging in romantic or affectionate activity on dates is considered a rejection.

While I have expressed frustration with the hypersexuality of large parts of the gay community, I am still cognizant of the history and significance that underlies its various communities and institutions.

Pride parades, for example, emerged shortly after the Stonewall Riots in 1969, and was a radical and political act of defiance in an age when being out was illegal. Although derided by many now as commercial and mainstream, they encouraged unity and solidarity in the face of oppression and later as friends and lovers were dying during the AIDS epidemic.

Gay clubs, too, served as safe spaces for self-expression, identity building, and community networking. Same for institutions such as white parties, drag shows, and leather bars.

Writers and activists encouraged LGBT people to reject the heteronormativity they had been raised with, to throw off the shackles of “traditional” models of sexuality and relationships, and express their liberation via total sexual freedom.

Kiyoshi Kuromiya wrote in the Philadelphia Free Press in 1970,

“Homosexuals have burst their chains and abandoned their closets… We come to challenge the incredible hypocrisy of your sexual monogamy, your oppressive sexual role-playing, your nuclear family, your Protestant ethic, apple pie and Mother.”

So, I get that all that silently informs, shapes, modern gay life.

Yet it doesn’t feel like my history, my institutions, ones that feel true to who I am.

Thus, when someone assumes I am mad for decorating, dress shopping, strapping on a leather harness, or running upstairs for a quick romp in the sheets, it feels like a denigration of my needs, values, and identity.

That the only way to be is to be a gay clone.

There’s another variable at play, however.

Yesterday, I learned that a friend of mine is randomly connected to Seth. (Yes, that Seth, of the 2011 birthday.) I noticed my friend had commented on a post of Seth’s, and asked how they knew each other. Turns out they’re in a gayming group.

My friend wrote: “There’s an inkling at the back of my head that I should be wary of him, though.”

Even though it’s been nearly six years, the shockwave of that night still ripples, supernova-like, through my life today.

Seeing that name again, catching a glimpse of his thumbnail profile picture, brought a sea of unwanted emotions and memories back.

That incident, and a handful of others (where I’ve experienced attraction, decided to open myself to the possibility, and been rejected), left me distrustful of my taste in men and ability to make healthy romantic decisions for myself.

I seem only to find myself attracted to impossible guys, or to guys who will end up using me for sex or to stroke their fragile male egos until they got what they came for.

I don’t know if other guys, the George Michaels etc, are simply satisfied with surface-level intimacy, if that’s all they want, or if they simply experience it in different ways.

Can any of us know?

Am I this way because of genes… Seth… my parents?

Who knows.

It is what it is.

023. phthongaphile

Colin Meloy and Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists

Colin Meloy and Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists

If I were the sort of person who had idols and celebrity crushes, this might be the moment for it.

Behold, my heroes!

A few weeks ago came the culmination of months of excited waiting and jumping up and down like a silly fangirl…

Rock the Garden 2009.

Why so ecstatic, you ask?

The Decemberists, that’s why. Only my favourite band in all of creation. And they were headlining the concert!

I feel kind of bad. In this picture they were standing off to the side watching the band right before them, Calexico, perform and I first saw Jenny and distracted everyone around me by pointing her out, leaning over the side of the rail trying to see the band. Then frontman Colin Meloy appeared, followed by Chris Funk, and then honourary Decemberists Becky Stark (of Lavendar Diamond) and Shara Worden (of My Brightest Diamond).

Needless to say, I was completely beside myself. And part of me felt bad that this band was putting on a great show and all I could think about was the next band.

It’s not like I have a crush on Colin Meloy or anything. For one thing, he’s not my type at all. I do have a little thing for Jenny Conlee though, kind of a keyboardist crush. Her work on Crane Wife was exemplary (especially on “The Landlord’s Daughter” from the epic track No.2, “The Island”). They’re just really, really good!

Yea, even amazing!

They are currently touring with their new album, the 17-song folk rock opera The Hazards of Love. From what I can decipher of the plot, it’s about Margaret, a maiden who falls in love with the shape-shifting William (faun by day, human by night), the son of the [jealous and possessive] Queen of the Forest. What follows is a twisted tale of love, perversion, infanticide, kidnapping, haunting and drowning.

And the music is divine. However convoluted the plot may be, the music is some of the best and mature that Meloy has written so far. And I got to hear him live!

Shara Worden as the Queen was absolutely incredible in her silver glam rock pants, working every angle in her performance. She just exuded sex. If I were straight… well…

So that’s all I’ll say. Go out and buy the album. Hazards of Love. Prepare to be amazed.

So that was two weeks ago.

This past weekend was Twin Cities Pride—the third largest in the nation, according to festival organisers. In 2006, Minneapolis had the fourth-highest percentage of GLBT persons in the adult population, with 12.5%. (That figure may be higher now.) Not surprisingly, the area has an active arts and theatre scene, boasting the highest number of theatre companies per capita in the nation (including the Guthrie)!

This year, even though it’s my first “out” year, I decided not to be in attendance. For one thing, the sight of drag queens and the like does absolutely nothing to boost my pride. And while the sight of shirtless, chiselled, muscular boys wearing next to nothing was temptation enough to go (I do like me hot some shirtless men), I can now see that anytime on my way to work. [insert goofy grin]

But pride in what? I ask.

I won’t go on about that because it’s a moot point and I’ve ranted about this before. I don’t aspire to be a woman or surround myself with gay icons or role models (e.g., Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand, Joan Crawford, Bette Midler or Cher), pursue promiscuity and multiple sex partners, go out clubbing (I can’t dance worth anything and refuse to make a fool of myself in public that way) or play into any of the stereotypes that culture expects me to fit as a homosexual.

As a blogger wrote recently,

If we want Joe Public to understand that GLBT is not about sexual deviancy, then half naked, leather wearing, whip carrying people are not exactly sending the message that we want them to understand . . . Is the purpose of the parade to widen societies acceptance, to honour our peers who made the parades possible in the first place, or just a party? If it’s one of the first two, then I think it damages everything that we want society to understand and also devalues everything that the earliest parades and marches worked to achieve.

It’s just not something that I’m comfortable with. I’m not “Loud and Proud.” My sexuality is something I treat with reverence and respect. It’s not a political tool or an activist badge. For me, it’s very personal, and I refuse to see myself as different. We’re just people.

As my boyfriend and I have discussed on many, many occasions, straight people don’t have pride festivals. They don’t flaunt their straightness in front of everyone and expect the general public to just accept them. Of course, they are accepted by Joe public and enjoy all rights and privileges therein:

  • Parents don’t have to explain to their kids what a couple stealing a kiss or just full-on making out is, unless said PDA gets so gross (as in, misdemeanour) to the point of calling the cops.
  • Old ladies don’t scowl at a man and a woman holding hands (and more) in public. Unless they’re just bitter old hags who scowl at everything…
  • Christians don’t show up to protest with hate signs at their weddings.
  • Straight people aren’t beaten to death just for being straight.

Granted, at Rock the Garden there were some very public heterosexual displays of affection (including a couple haxing sex on the lawn, according to a friend of mine); and honestly, shirtless guy with his hands all over his girlfriend right next to me made me uncomfortable.

As did the drunk guy trying (and I mean trying) to dance with his girlfriend. And hitting blond girl in front of them in the head twice as he attempted to twirl GF. Things were not working well for them that night.