Wednesday, September 03, 2008


But not in that order.
After the Goat’s departure:

I was out last night with some of my local gay friends. They thought it would be amusing to take me out to the last of this Nearly Main-line Metropolis’ gay bars, and introduce me to “my” social set. They were really very sweet, aside from a brief crossing of swords over the issue of Christianity, which I had not brought up—the important thing was that there was none of the eyebrow-lifting that has characterized my reconnecting with a number of gay friends from my long-spent youth. What really struck me about the bar, on the other hand, was the sense that my generation were the wallflowers, the “old fogeys,” and that the “culture,” the whole place, really, belonged to people young enough to be my children--those that weren't back at home on the internet, at least...

What I felt practically embossing itself on my forehead was the fact that these “children” knew so much more about what it meant to be themselves than I did. I think I can say without fear of exaggeration that I have taken a fair amount of new experience onboard in the last year or two, but I am only two years into returning to my former understanding of myself as a gay man, and in the intervening thirty years, everything, including “me,” has undergone “so radical a transformation” that “return” is in some ways, if not most ways, a misnomer. These “children” of twenty-five or thirty had in all likelihood been “out” since high school in most cases, had had more lovers [and probably more sex] since then than I can really imagine, and are no longer establishing the boundaries of where they fit in within the community they have made their own. They just live in it, and in their own skins, as if it had all always made sense.

It made me feel profoundly old, and profoundly young--a new, sadder echo of my line about being “half fifty-five, half fifteen.” All I can say with any sense of certainty is that I am heartily tired of being told what I will feel in the future; I can barely make out what I feel in the moment, myself, and I have no idea how I will reconcile the conflicting threads of my life that I am now trying to untangle. I am pretty sure I will find a way, but I think that it goes without saying that people who have not shared my experience of returning to a rejected self, “returning like a dog to its vomit,” as the saying sometimes goes, can have a clue as to how it will happen. And as my sometime therapist said to me over two years ago, the chances of my meeting anyone else who had been married for twenty-five years were slim.

These are my “invited dinners.” I have been shuttling between the various arms of the corporate octopus [McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Starbuck’s, Olive Garden, you name it] for lunch, and trying to find one or two nice places to have dinner, where I can take on a relaxing dollop of fermented malt or grape juice. Most of the places I knew from my visits lo, these many years ago, have gone under, even the bars where the guys on the floor occasionally treated me to beer and a burger. I have found a couple of places within walking distance of the hotel where I have to spend the evenings chatting up the Principals and presenting the project, and the various stages we have managed to reach--stages reached pretty much in order to make such presentations, actually, come to think of it.

But these evenings are now yielding to the better ideas of my various friends, who come along with their local knowledge, cars, and better sense of time, whisk me away for the required attitude adjustment, and return me to the Scene of the Crime in time for the evening ritual. I am sorry that I wasn’t able to make these rounds begin while the Goat was here, as I am now busy presenting these friends with an “idea” of the Goat, a "phantom," rather than the reality that makes sense of him. The real problem, though, is my inability to present my story to these friends in a way that makes anything resembling sense. I find myself saying things that don’t come close to what I am trying to say, that only confuse me and them, and more times than not, that offend these fondly remembered old friends as gay men.

The first night was the worst--nothing came out right. I went out with a friend of mine who has flirted with personal revelation for so long without actually saying anything one could hold onto, that we have all given up on finding out what is really going on in his life. What we know is that he has lived in a single room, officially single, for the last twenty-five or thirty years, and professes to be “over” belief of any kind. But he is so close with his private life that we all always assumed he was gay but in his own particularly private closet—not “closeted” in the classic sense, just so hermetically private in his own little world that no one else could get in, no matter how much he might want to. I am sure he has not been actually “single” all that time, but there has never been a person, of any gender, who could be introduced as a person “of significance.” Sort of a professional bachelor. Don’t ask; don’t tell. He is the only person I have ever met who lives as intensely in his own head as I have…

A very brief dinner tonight, because of the timing of this evening's events, with a friend I worked quite closely with for a number of years, the first committed “out” gay Christian I knew, attending church with his partner, and serving on the vestry—ah, the Episcopal Church!—which makes an interesting contrast with my previous dinner companions. An evening alone ahead, and then the one I have been dreading all along: the friend who kept angling for my attentions long after I had made it clear that while I had been “actively bisexual,” I was out of the running by then, and even repeated the offer one night when his partner was in the apartment with us, which made the friendship take on a tone I wasn’t sure how to deal with. This was not the kind of relationship I expected to find on either side of the street, frankly… and now I've been in one...

Well, sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Hang in there, all.




  2. When I go out to a gay bar or some event here, I also feel that this is the younger folks time. They grew up with seeing gay people everywhere, in movies, TV, singers, politicians etc, so for many of them being gay is their "normal". Unlike us who were raised to feel like freaks. They know more about who they are than I probably ever will. It makes me happy to see them so strong and comfortable with being gay but sad also that I did not get to have that. I can't do anything about it so I try not to let it bother me and just move on.