Saturday, November 19, 2011


I wanted to find a picture of a bridge for this post, as bridges have become symbolic for me on this journey and I have another bridge to cross at some time. Without a picture of one, I chose a picture of Mt. Edgecumbe outside Sitka, Alaska. All will be made clear, shortly.

Sitka was the final stop on my last big physical-journey where I carried baggage. I still carry baggage on this spiritual-journey. And some of that baggage involves...


There I said it. It's in print. My next bridge but with baggage.  Well, some of my baggage anyway.

I know I need to address it, and I know I will, some day. One friend suggested I just go get laid; have fun; after all, I'm single now, live it up!  Another suggested I go on an actual date, but don't preclude the idea of sex afterwards. If it feels good, just let it happen.

After coming out, I had my share of casual encounters, and felt very empty and hollow afterwards. This was what I call  a 'delayed adolescence' many gay men go through when coming out later in life. Since we didn't or couldn't openly date guys in high school, we needed this exploration of self now that we could openly admit our attraction to other men. I was, after all, trying to discover this new side of myself and more specifically, what I did and didn't like about sex, as well as learn what two men actually did together and which of those activities did I really want to do.  All of this left me in a mild state of confusion and depression as I was trying to align my behavior with the values I grew up with. So, my early gay years were a whirlpool of emotions trying to discover my sexuality while reconciling it with my Christianity.

While I have shaken off the majority of the beliefs and ideals I learned when I was a practicing Christian, like being gay will send you to Hell, there are a few so ingrained in me I still live by them. Casual sex is one of them. It just doesn’t necessarily suit me.

As for dating? That would suggest I'm actively looking for a boyfriend or relationship. I’m not ready for anything. Right now, my emotions are still all over the place. I have too many changes going on in my personal and work lives to be worried about getting to know someone else and what he likes, both in and out of the bedroom. Also, right now I don’t have the time and energy to focus on dating someone and that’s not fair to him.

With my emotions still all over the place, I fear that if I do find someone to fool around with, I may end up becoming too attached too soon, for too long and for the wrong reasons. Been there done that, twice. Sex, for me, is more about the intellectual-spiritual-emotional connection to the guy than the mechanics, though the mechanics can be fun as well. However, separating the emotions from the mechanics has never been easy for me. 

Yet, emotions shouldn't be discounted. Fear and trust are very strong. Yes, I am afraid. Afraid of becoming too attached too soon to someone for the wrong reason. I'm still hurting a little from my divorce, though the pain is subsiding. Other recent events have left me a little shaken still, but time will heal that as well. Dare I also add fear of my performance; will I be good enough? the fear of feeling empty and hollow again? the fear of rejection; will he call me in the morning? or next week? ever?

Trust is also big with me. I just don't hand my body over to anyone to do with as he pleases. I mean, yes, I am there, too. But, sometimes things can just get out of control. Though, to some people, relinquishing control is indeed part of the pleasure. I'm not one of them.

And the biggest fear: diseases. When can you trust someone to be honest about their health? When you first meet? After a cup of coffee? Just play safely and it shouldn't be a problem? Yeah, right. It can be a problem for some even before playing. I've been out of circulation for 26 years, it's a fear I haven't had to confront in all that time.

A friend had also suggested finding a friend with benefits. A friend with benefits? Sounds like something from Social Security. "I need to see my friend for my monthly benefits." Not for me.  As I said, I’m way too emotional to separate the friendship from the benefits-ship. I eventually want a long-term partner again, so when I meet Mr. One-and-Only, how do I end the benefits-ship without the possibility of someone's feelings getting hurt? Or if both parties are agreeable to just ending the benefits, what if Mr. One-and-Only is the jealous type and doesn’t want Mr. Benefits around? I then have to make a choice. Call me Sophie. Or worse, what if Mr. One-and-Only and Mr. Benefits want to compare notes? Kill me now.

Yet, I long for the touch of another man. I won't deny the drive is there. Sometimes. But, mostly, it's the cuddling I miss; the leaning against him watching television, or reading together; it's the kissing, the caressing, the hand holding as we go to the Pride Festival, or to a club. It's the having someone to come home to after a long day of teaching, to talk to of world events; not the character development in our latest reading selection or the numerous fragmented sentences in the last essay I graded, or how am I going to explain Wegner's theory to non-English speaking students.

For me, sex is not the cornerstone of the relationship, like it is for many people. I've known couples who've fallen in love "at first sex." If the sex is great, then the rest will be, too. And, there are some couples who can separate the emotion from the sex. "Emotionally faithful but physically unfaithful;" an open relationship. I don't get it, it's not for me.  I salute those who can, if they choose it.

For me, it's the communication and the connection. The brain is the most sexual organ, in my opinion. Seduce my mind and you seduce my body.  How well do we communicate with each other? May I share my innermost fears and/or dreams with him? Will he share his with me?

I know it will happen, and the first couple of times may not be the best. After all, I will be getting used to touching another man, and getting used to him touching me, while confronting all my emotions and fears. All things happen for a reason and at the time they're supposed to happen. And then I will awaken from my dormancy, like Mt. Edgecumbe.


I have always liked Thanksgiving more than Christmas, not necessarily for the food but for the meaning behind it; giving thanks for our blessings. So, in this season of giving thanks, I think I will.

First, I am thankful for the typical things. I am grateful for being alive, being healthy and reasonably sane.

But, I am also grateful for some atypical blessings.

I am thankful for my divorce because I am moving out of an unhappy situation and along a path to peace and happiness, and discovering more of who I am. And loving him.

I am thankful for my mortgage because I have a home to come home to. And I am building credit, post-divorce.

I am thankful I have ninety-five students to teach, so I can pay the mortgage and the bills, put fuel in my car, and go out, occasionally.

I am thankful for the financial sacrifices I have had to make to prove I can, and will, survive.

I am thankful for the cat box I clean twice a day because I have a loving cat to keep me company.

I am thankful for my two spoiled Pomeranians with extreme separation anxiety who love me all the more when I come home.

I am thankful for the probing, sometimes painful, questions my friends ask to push me further along in my journey.

I am thankful for Mother Earth who has provided me with all I need for my survival; the materials for the clothing on my back, the food in my stomach and the shelter I sleep in.

I am thankful for the Universe who has provided me with the opportunities to learn what a dynamic man I am.

I am thankful to the Universe for providing me the difficult and often painful lessons to teach me to overcome adversity and learn what a strong man I am.

But, I am most grateful to the Universe for taking care of me.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dichotomy, Paradox, or?

I think I am a living dichotomy, or a paradox. I'm not sure which.

Shortly after my ex-husband moved out, I caught up with a long time friend and informed her of the pending divorce. She was sympathetic and concerned over my emotional and mental well-being.  I assured her I would be fine, was optimistic about the future and had told her of this blog. She was interested in reading it, so I sent her the URL. A few months later we talked again, she asked how I was doing, and I told her I was kind-of-maybe-perhaps-sort-of seeing someone. She went ballistic. "Why do you feel the need to get into a relationship after just getting out of one? It's way too soon, you don't know yourself and need to spend time alone getting to know yourself again. Oh, and I just love your blog."

Oh, really. So, she'd read it. I think she missed some important points. And I promptly told her so. And which ones.

But, she did have a point, sort of.

There is a big difference between being alone and being lonely. And there is nothing wrong with being either. It's in the attitude.

Being alone implies a comfort in being by oneself; in being able to support and entertain oneself.  You can enjoy your own company.

Being lonely implies a need for another to meet certain needs, and not necessarily the physical ones. (Yes, we all have the need for just touching and hugging, but that's not the one I'm referring to. And you know it.)  But, the need for social interaction, mental stimulation, conversation. etc. also is a strong one. And my dogs and cat just look at me strangely when I try to share the day's events with them. 

I have always been an independent person. I am the eldest child by three years. I learned to entertain myself at a young age, and always have. I enjoyed being by myself at times. I was a reader, my brothers were not, so I needed the quiet and spent a lot of time in my room. Plus, it's part of my Aquarian nature to be independent. Giving up that need for independence is not easy for us and when we do, it's for someone who will respect and even nurture it. I am relearning how to be alone after being in a relationship for nearly 25 years. My first partner and I were together nearly nine years before he died, and about nine months later began seeing my ex. He asked for a divorce after fifteen years.

I have always been a lonely person. My parents divorced early in my life, I was 5, and shortly thereafter my mother relocated us to another city in the middle of my kindergarten year. Soon, she married again, and my stepfather was relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada and six months later he wanted to move to South Dakota where I completed the first grade at age six. We continued this gypsying around the country until I was going into the seventh grade at age twelve, when for the first time I attended the same school for the second year in a row. We lived in that community for a total of four and a half years before we started moving again and always mid-year. My freshman and senior years of high school were the only ones I started and finished in the same school. All this moving made it difficult to make lasting friendships. I grew up very lonely which enforced my wanting to be by myself much of the time.

I learned some valuable lessons from all this. First, I hate moving! Even rearranging furniture can bring anxiety unless it's negotiated carefully. (My ex surprised me with it once, I couldn't breathe for 10 minutes, and didn't speak to him for an hour!) But, I have also learned moving is necessary at times and therefore, I can prepare myself for it.

I have also learned not to attach myself to friends, as they are transient. Sooner or later, one of us will go. The length of the friendship depends on the lesson(s) to be learned. I didn't have a regular circle of friends until college. And now I don't see them anymore. They have moved on to different parts of the state and country and aren't on Facebook, that I know of. I've grown close to some of my colleagues at my school, but over time they, too, leave for varied reasons. In all the years I've been there, with all the revolving doors, I have remained frequently in touch with a grand total of two people. I'm not counting the occasional emails forwarding urban legends or prayer requests.

So, I hate moving and don't attach myself to people because they (or most likely, I) will leave due to relocation.

Sounds about right.

But, that isn't who I am.

I am a very social person. That's also part of being Aquarian.  I love having friends.  They are important. Friends can be a sounding board, someone just to hang with, or watch your back. I was always jealous of the characters on the show "Friends" because of their closeness. I have a small circle of friends now, but few close gay male friends. As I go through this transition in my life, it is that perspective I need. Yet, it can be very difficult to make friends as an adult. It's not like we have a giant playground to mingle in or someone forcing us to get along. And as adults, we have that 'other' aspect of human nature to contend with, that can blur the lines of friendships and make things more complicated.

I think before I begin moving forward again, I need to spend time learning just to be alone, not to get to know myself better, but to better appreciate my self-sufficiency.

And, I think before I begin moving forward again, I need to make sure I have the loneliness in check, so it doesn't cloud my judgement. As it did twice before.

But, first and foremost, I need to expand my gay male social circle.

So, am I a living dichotomy or a paradox?

I don't think I'm either.

I think I am just human.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

New Identity

I never did expect to have to come out of the closet again. But, I feel I am. Sort of.

As I have met a couple of other gay men and ventured into the community, I feel so lost. What does it mean to be gay and single? Or just gay? Especially after having been away from it for so long.

I recently attended the reading of a play in order to give feedback to the writer and to get out of the house.  The reading was held in West Hollywood, known for two things, lots of gay men and an extreme lack of parking. I was a bit apprehensive being around all the men, but don't know why. Maybe it was too soon for me, I don't know.  When I entered the auditorium, I selected a seat, second in from the aisle, and sat down setting my camera bag on the chair to my right. Presently an attractive man approached me, asked if the seat next to me was taken, pointing to my camera bag. I replied that it wasn't, removed my bag, and he sat down.

"I love the idea of this play, it's all about sex. Hi, I'm John."

Is that what being gay is, just about the sex?

The irony of this reading is that it coincided with a West Hollywood Holiday: Go-go Boy Appreciation Day. Seriously? Is that what being gay is? Idolizing and ogling half-naked young men? It's no wonder some people think gay men are so youth oriented and older gay men are tossed aside like used condom wrappers. Now, I must admit, I do enjoy looking at cute, young guys, but there are some beautiful older men who are just as nice to look at.

A while back a friend introduced me to a couple of his friends and we all went out to West Hollywood. It was an interesting evening as I wasn't in the greatest of moods, especially for ogling guys, but the company was great so I went along anyway. On the way home, two of them talked about Lady Gaga and Adele, which is an odd mix of singers to bring up in the same conversation! I must confess, I am not drawn to either of them. Gasp! I know. Revoke my gay card. I love Cher, and Cyndi. Ok, I'm safe.  

So, being gay is all about the divas and their music?

A gay colleague was asking me about gay themed movies to recommend to his straight-but-not-narrow friend to aid her in her understanding of gayness (I prefer the term 'gaiety') and gay culture. I had heard of, but not seen, some of the ones he'd mentioned, The Crying Game and My Beautiful Laundrette are two that come to mind. I felt awkward not being able to recommend more. I mean I have seen a few. I cry every time I watch The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; Latter Days; or A Love to Hide.
 It's nice to support these type of movies to show the industry we want to see more of them, but is it what being gay is all about?

I remember having all these same questions as I first came out so many years ago. Back then, I learned being gay meant you were attracted physically and  emotionally to the same gender, that it wasn't all about the s-e-x; that is was also about l-o-v-e.

I also learned being gay was about being true to yourself and finding that identity. And now that my life has taken a new turn, it's time to find that identity again. But, I now have the added component of age. What does it mean to be a single gay man in the middle of his life. I mean life is different at 23, when I came out. Life, at that age, is about partying and discovering yourself as an adult. At my age, I've supposedly done that. But, have I? Do we ever?

As a gay man, I don't have to get Lady Gaga. I can appreciate her for her talent, and her contribution to the community. I don't have to get Adele. I can appreciate many people do. And maybe in time, I will get her. She does have a beautiful voice. I have always been drawn to more upbeat rhythms. After all, I spent my teenage years in the disco era, and came out shortly after, but that's not to say I don't appreciate a good torch song. I don't have to see every gay themed movie that comes along. Some aren't even that good.

As far as sex for the sake of it, I never really did appreciate just getting off with a stranger. It always felt awkward. It still does.  But, maybe that's just who I am.
Maybe all of it is just who I am; a gay man who loves other men, who doesn't have indiscriminate sex, who unapologetically listens to, watches and reads the music, movies and books of his choice. 

I am who I am.

Maybe that's my new identity.