“I want my boys to have an understanding of people’s emotions, their insecurities, people’s distress, and their hopes and dreams.”
~~ Princess of Wales Diana
Whenever I go to another city it is a goal of mine to go to a gay bar in that city. If it’s only for a day or in passing that usually doesn’t happen. But when I am there for at least a weekend? I really try to make it happen.
If I am staying with friends, especially straight friends, they often don’t understand. What difference does it make if it’s a gay bar, they wonder. A bar is a bar.
I find that they say that for several reasons.
1) They don’t get it. They really don’t. They’ll be the kind of straight person who is really not prejudiced, not narrow, not unfriendly. They have no problem with me being gay. But I have noticed that even some of my closest most loving friends have been sorry for me that I will never have a “normal life.” They don’t know that I don’t want their life. And they will often ask me why GLBT people often like or need to celebrate Gay Pride. “Do you go back to being ashamed the other 360-some days of the year?” one friend actually asked me. The very fact that he asked the question is why there we have Gay Pride.
2) Sometime being gay is of so little consequence to them, they really are so unconcerned with my sexuality that they don’t see a need for a gay bar over a straight bar. These people are almost harder to try and explain my want or need. They don’t see that they are the exception rather than the rule. They don’t notice something that is best expressed in Harvey Fierstein’s script for the movie Torch Song Trilogy;
Try and imagine the world the other way around. Imagine every book, every magazine, every tv show, every movie was telling you should be homosexual. [But] You know you’re not.
They’re so cool they don’t realize what it’s like to live your whole life in a world where (until recently) every book, every magazine, every tv show, every movie was telling me that I should be heterosexual. (in fact I was quite shocked when I recently binge-watched the first season of How to Get Away With Murder and by far the hottest sex was the gay sex and that the straight sex was pretty sad and boring)
3) I live in a world where nearly everyone around me is heterosexual. It’s all male/female couples who think they only real goal in life is to have kids and raise a family (although I’ve known women who don’t have or want kids and who have been ripped into by women who tell them they aren’t “real” women because they don’t)
Pretty much all my neighbors for instance are straight. They are for the most part cool. Again, they don’t care that my husband and I are gay and a couple. But still, they all have each other. They are “normal.”
I go to gay bars and to Gay Pride not to get laid but so that for one day or the occasional evening that I am the “normal” one.
Recently my friend (and fellow writer) EM Lynley kindly took me to the San Francisco Eagle. It was on a Sunday in the afternoon (she picked me up from the airport too) and it was the big beer bust. We got there around three, just about the time it started. The SF Eagle caters to an older crowd. It’s not about twinks and techno music. It’s bears and leathermen and guys in their forties and fifties too. Skinny guys and fat guys and old guys.
Guys. Just guys.
So not only are they gay, but they’re guys like me.
As I got more and more excited, my heart beating faster, feeling as if I were at home, EM put it into words. Words that showed me that she gets it. She said, “You’re among your people.”
And she was right.
Then again, two other straight female friends took me to Pecs, a gay bear bar in San Diego. One was Erica Pike (another awesome author) and she got it. She understood. Her cousin got it enough to take me even though I know she was tired and would rather have gone to bed.
It’s nice going somewhere and instantaneously fitting in. Even when the crowd is click-ish and not the least bit interested in some fifty-some-year-old stocky guy, I don’t care. I am with people who understand me. Who deeply and thoroughly understand me.
Maybe they were kicked out of their house when they came out (at least that didn’t happen to me), who have been cursed at, called “faggot,” who have lost jobs or apartments or more. I have a gay friend who found the perfect house, just the one he and his lover wanted, but when the owners found out they were a couple the owners jacked up the price so high they couldn’t afford it. This couple gets me bone-deep. They understand not only the pain….
….but the joy.
I’ve had heterosexual sex. More than one partner too. I lost my virginity at about nineteen and I was…well…surprised. I waited so long (most men lost it by sixteen) and I was like…this is what everyone is so excited about? This is what inspired the novel The Summer of ‘42? This is why Shakespeare wrote sonnets? I mean I didn’t hate the sex. I didn’t hate the sex with the mother of my daughter. But I also didn’t understand why it had driven men to murder and to the kind of cheating that makes them lose everything.
So, in trying to understand, I decided that no one liked sex. They it was this big cosmic cultural joke. That when men bragged about sex they were just bull-shitting. They didn’t like sex either but they were afraid they were the only ones so they talked about it as if they did like it.
Then almost a year to the day later I was with a man the first time. His simple kiss—just a little thing hours before we did more—well, it made my knees buckle. He had to stop me from falling on the ground. And when we did do…more…it was explosions and volcanoes and waves crashing on the beach. It was galaxies spinning, and meteors slamming into the Earth. I quite literally couldn’t feel the bed beneath me.
And I quite suddenly realized that people did like sex.
Now if a simple sex, if a one night stand was so powerful, imagine what it was like when it was love! Imagine what it’s like when I roll over in the night and find that body next to mine and know it is a man’s body!
My legally wedded husband!
We’ve been married over a year, a year and a quarter, and I still can’t believe it.
To quote The Color Purple; “I’s married now! I’s married now!”
I am not saying—please understand this!!—that only gay people get me. I know there are a host of people out there who, for some reason or another, do get me. Something has put them on the outside. Something has made them feel that they don’t “fit” either. It’s easy for them to identify with me.
So tonight I am thankful for EM Lynley—who at least comes close to “getting” me. To Erica Pike. To Thora R. Kristjansdottir, who for very interesting reasons “gets” me just fine. And JP Barnaby—who for reasons all her own really really “gets” me.
And a bunch of other MM writers, both male and female, who “get” me.
For a host of readers who read MM and who “get” me.
But for most of all, to all those gay men who have experienced and lived through what I have lived through and who understand me to the marrow of their bones.
As EM Lynley said, “My people.”
Thank You God, thank You Universe, for my People.
I am truly blessed.