Monday, October 10, 2016

A Fish Out Of Water

It seems the more I venture back into the gay male community, I find I have so little in common with it.

So, I'm beginning to wonder if I'm even gay anymore. Or even want to be. 

Yes, an attractive man will still catch my eye, but that's about it.

With all the emotional battering and bruising I've been through recently, I know I'm not ready for a relationship, and it will be quite a while before I may be ready due to my lack of trust in gay men and, to a lesser extent, in people in general. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure I even want anyone underfoot.

I did not go to Pride this year. Not that I wasn't feeling prideful, but because I was still nursing a broken heart and soul, and my introversion has been in overdrive lately. Just the idea of the thought of being alone in a crowd was overwhelmingly crippling; coupled with the idea of being in a sensory overload situation-hundreds of scantily clad men, innumerable references to love and sex, and people in various states of substance overload-all seemed terrifyingly paralyzing. No, I was not going.

I was recently talking with my straight neighbor who has been helpful with some home repairs now that I'm managing my home by myself. He asked me if I was seeing someone. I replied that I wasn't and didn't want to because I find myself moving far slower than most gay men. I mean faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar slower, a snail's pace.

Men are physical- and physically oriented. They are attracted to the wrapping, the external. It's a guy thing, I'm told. Really? I find that's merely an excuse or a result of socialization. I'm a guy, yet I prefer the gift itself, the internal. I prefer to wait before taking any more intimate steps. And I mean wait a looong time. That doesn't mean to say I don't appreciate a good looking man, but it is not the only reason to get to know someone. Or to simply be a piece of meat. Unless both are consenting to it. Then please enjoy, just don't expect me to be as casual as you are simply because I'm gay, too.

I also don't get the throwing shade so common in the community. Because we've been hurt by so many people throughout our lives, I understand it can be a pre-emptive defense mechanism; "I'll get you first before you get me!" But, being mean is just plain ugly. And bad karma. And the thrower usually ends up looking worse than the throwee.

Or the judgments: "Did you get a load of what she was wearing? Looks like someone threw up!" But, if she's happy, then STFU. Unless she asks for your opinion.

The ageism: "He was, like, ancient. At least forty." My young friend, you'll be forty some day. Plus, you wouldn't have many of the rights you have today if it wasn't for the generations before you. Or the reverse, the older men who will only date men under a certain age.

The shallowness: No fats, no fems, no Asians, no blacks, no Latinos, no whites, no blonds, no gingers, no brunets, no twinks, no fur. I understand we all have our preferences, and certain types will catch our eye more than others, but a great relationship just might be with someone not necessarily your 'type.'

The substances? I was chatting with a guy at a concert who said he always takes a ride service, so he can stay drunk all night. How charming. I played on a gay kickball team and every social event involved several gallons of alcohol. To be fair, I do enjoy a glass of wine or a beer with dinner; maybe a cocktail once in a while.

And pop culture: What’s a Sia? And I’m always confusing the House of Thrones with the Game of Cards, or hearing something about a real housewife somewhere near Pomona, I think. I have no idea about the new television programs. Or movies. So, I'm at a loss at awards parties.

(Disclaimer: To be fair, shortly after my divorce, I had to make severe budgetary cutbacks, and my television provider went. The only things I could watch were on my DVDs or on an app that didn't require a cable account. Nor could I afford to go to movies at that time. So, I got used to not watching current programming or current movies. And I'm still not that motivated to.)
And all the hoopla over certain actors and whether or not they'll do a full-frontal shot in their latest film! Or whether it really was him in that full frontal shot. Does the man not have a mind and a heart?

And you simply can't be gay if you believe in monogamy, or you are a whore if you don't.  

I accept the fact I might be coming off as judgmental here. I don't mean to. I appreciate the differences in the community. I'm merely trying to find myself in a community where I feel like a fish out of water. So, how do you fit into a community that encourages you to express your individuality, but decries you when your individuality goes against the grain of the very nature of the group?

Recent events have also shown me that I NEED a relationship to develop organically from a friendship first. Many gay men don't like going slow. I have often heard the phrase, "It was love at first sex on the first date." Relationships based solely on sexual compatibility or attractiveness never last long.

And it seems like everyone is relationship-oriented, or maybe just hook-up oriented. Except me.

I knew I needed to step out more; so, I decided to join an LGBT social group on that advertises itself as a "fun group of lesbians and gay men who will go hiking, have picnics, and just hang out." Sounds cool and very social. I clicked on the "Join Us" button and was directed to the questionnaire, as all new members needed to be approved by the administrator of the group. It seems to be a standard procedure for many groups on MeetUp, not just LGBT groups, so it didn't surprise me.

I answered the first question, "What part of the SFV (San Fernando Valley) do you live in?"

Okay, no problem. I answered easily enough.

Second question: "Single or taken?"

There I froze, my hands hovering over the keyboard.

WTF? This appears to be a social group, right? Then WTF difference does it make if I'm single or taken? I believe that particular conversation would be better off building organically between the parties concerned.

I skipped the question and answered the next one: “Favorite restaurant in the area?”

My favorite closed down, so I thought of another one.

I clicked on 'next' and some red words flashed, "Please answer all questions." The single or taken? box was highlighted. Evidently, I had to answer that question.

I realize that being part of a social group can lead to the formation of new friendships that could turn towards something romantic but shouldn't you get to decide when and who you want to know your status? What if I don't want it plastered on my group profile? Even on Facebook, you have the opportunity to not declare a relationship status. But, evidently, I had to put something in the box. And yes, this might not be a big deal to some but for me right now it is. Single implies I'm looking or at least available for a relationship, which I am not and I don’t like giving the wrong impression. Taken would be lying which could invite questions as to why my boyfriend never accompanies me, and there's too much to remember when you begin lying or inventing boyfriends. Plus, to me, the word taken implies being kidnapped or the relationship is against your will. I thought of some clever reparté like neither, or unavailable, or I respectfully decline to answer this inane and judgmental question which suggests this group is more about matchmaking than just socializing. But, I decided against it.

But I was still curious as to why this relationship status question was even mandatory for joining a social group. I thought I'd email the organizer and ask. But, I was so put off by the idea of the question that as I re-read my email, I realized I came off as antagonistic and bitchy, so I deleted it. Perhaps I should forget it.

Or at least calm down, because the curiosity was still getting to me. 

Later, I tried again, a little less antagonistic and bitchy, but still couldn't send the email. I hit 'delete.'

Then it hit me. If I'm having such trouble with this question, then maybe this group is not for me. I'm not ready to venture out after my recent misadventures. Perhaps in time.

I guess I'm in my own space right now.

And that's okay with me.

Which is all that matters.


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