Friday, January 25, 2008


On our last night together last weekend, the Goat and I cranked things up a notch. Not a big notch, and not anything to get excited about.

Just a pair of gloves. "Just" a pair of gloves. Leather gloves, of course. But it suddenly seemed like something cracked open in me.

Part of it was the response to the gear. So far, so good. The other part was the sudden feeling that if all it took to turn my crank was a pair of gloves, I was in a very weird place, if not necessarily in a bad way. It was another of those recurring moments when a part of my brain stood up in the midst of the carnage and whispered, "What the @#$% is going on here? How did we get here? And if we're here now, where are we going?"

Well, I suppose none of this is news. But it felt like a real pivot point, somehow.

I couldn't shake the image that suddenly came into my head at the time of all my "friends and relations" gathered around watching what was going on. This is essentially the old "naked in front of a audience" dream that has been around since I was first called on to do something in front of a PTA meeting at eight or nine. But the contrast between what was going on in the privacy of my own brown paper wrapper and what anyone who "knew" me would think of "me" if they could see what I was doing was suddenly present. Very much present.

It's not necessarily a bad thing to be reminded of how the rest of the world thinks... how I used to think. I'm now quite comfortable with the journey I'm on, though I don't really know where it's headed or when I will find I have crossed a line I had no intention of crossing. But I have a pretty good idea of the general direction; I've known for decades what I was not allowing myself. And, if I don't find out what I am now, when am I going to find out? I am not exactly a spring chicken. God only knows what fault lines run through my "friends and relations" and what is hard-wired in them...

I'm glad I don't know, frankly -- what little I do know has made me quite sure I don't want to know more.

But there is something about "leather" that trumps "queer" in the revulsion sweepstakes for most "normal" people. As I get to know more leathermen, it's becoming clear to me that many of them are "out" to their compatriots, but are otherwise very cagy about what they let on to others beyond the obvious fact that their partner[s] are men. It's something like being "positive," I suppose. Lots of people are out at work, but not out about all things... But it's not the same: no one is going to be endangered if you happen to drop a harness or even more intimate gear at work, but blood, while not in many important ways thicker than water, is a bigger problem.

Well, who am I to judge anybody at this point?

Just a Boob in the Big Woods.
And happy to be there.

My Florida sister is up visiting my mother. A year and a half ago, she was the one person who seemed at once to understand why I had left home, however much she might not understand what was going on. What she said was: "You wouldn't be doing this if you felt you had a choice." Hearing that was like a week at the seashore, considering some of the other shit that got tossed my way at the time. Anyway, so here she was again, cagily avoiding the subject of her own rather rocky marriage, and asking me the $64,000 question:

Did I think I had done the right thing?

It was a really tough one to answer. I can't really imagine, now that everything is set in stone and over with, anything having gone differently. But I had to admit that I had no idea whether I had done the right thing. On one level, there is no question but that I could no longer live in silence, and there was probably not a whole lot of question but that it was only a matter of time before my careening emotions focused on one man and burnt us both alive. So, it was probably a good thing in terms of what might have happened if I had stayed. On some level, I am happier than I was.

But, knowing that I bought the end of my own suffering by inflicting suffering on the four people I love most in the world makes "the right thing" almost impossible to define. Or to accept, once defined. I basically had to fall back on what she had said at the time. If I could have done anything else, I would have.

I keep meeting complete disbelief when I tell my gay friends that I would have been willing to stay married and stay faithful. I had in fact offered to do so, but not at the price of silence, and not at the price of any kind of promise about what my emotions would be: I was watching myself jump from one flaming mess to another, and knew that sooner or later, the flames would leave the internet and my noggin and take on "a local habitation and a name." I could not promise the emotional loyalty that my wife, quite rightly, felt was her due. But the disbelief is not only irritating, but puzzling: I had done it for twenty-five years already, and I quite likely have less time than that left. Silence was the issue.

I had tried silence, and it nearly killed me. Those days were gone.

What we were together was probably was doomed at that point, which would mean that leaving was the right thing to do. But how exactly had we gotten to "that point"? That is the burr that stuck in my mind during my talk with Miss Florida, and it sticks there still. We hadn't gotten there for twenty-five years, and then suddenly: there we were.

It's a mystery to me still.
What tipped the balance?

I don't really think I did the "right thing."
I did what I had to... and there's a difference.

Hang in there, all. C

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