Thursday, June 17, 2010


Here's a final quote from John Cloud's June 21, 2010, Time article "Gay Days in the Magic Kingdom," which doesn't need an introduction:

'"Twenty years ago, there were hardly any visible portrayals of our community other than the pride parades," says Chris Alexander-Manley, 52, president of Gay Days Inc. and one of the volunteers who helped organize the first event [at Walt Disney World] in 1991.  The media tended to show "the drag queens and the extremes, the leather people," he says. "But that's only a small part of the overall community."  A gay day at the Magic Kingdom was a way to emphasize that many gays just want to ride a roller coaster with their partner like any other couple [p. 70].'

Proof that the gay community is diverse, and that the most visible part of it doesn't represent the vast majority of gays and lesbians, who are like everyone else and want only the same things.

The Gay Connection

Ever since I was a little boy, and became aware of Disneyland, I've been utterly obsessed with the place, spending twenty of my vacations there between 1976 and 2007, at considerable expense traveling from Western Canada.  I've long wondered if there's a connection between being gay and being a Disneyland freak, and I believe John Cloud, in his recent article "Gay Days in the Magic Kingdom" (Time, June 21, 2010) has made as good an attempt as anyone trying to explain it.

Cloud writes, "For many gays and lesbians who grew up in the latter half of the 20th century, childhood was a time of anxiety and secrets, faggot jokes and spitballs.  There was, literally and figuratively, no Glee.  Going on the teacup ride or getting wet on Splash Mountain was a way to reclaim an unfinished adolescence [p. 70]."

Amen!  How many of today's gay and lesbian adults enjoyed a long and carefree adolescence?  I didn't.  In fact, I don't think I even had an adolescence, let alone a childhood, for that matter.  Long before I moved into my teenage years, I was earmarked as a fem, a fairy, and a faggot, and I spent the better part of my school experience with my bully radar on, trying to keep my head down in the hallways as I came and went, while being acutely aware of everyone around me, so I'd be sure not to attract attention to myself, yet get safely from A to B without facing the usual humiliation and abuse.    

In retrospect, I see now that going to Disneyland, from the age of sixteen to forty-eight, was therapy.  Once safely inside the park, I knew that not only would I find myself in a world far removed from the real one, but also I could comfortably let my guard down.  I didn't have to be on the lookout for my tormentors.  I didn't have to worry that, at every turn, I might run into someone who'd throw my books on the floor and kick them down the hallway; who'd point at me, call me names, and laugh; or who'd try to trip me or punch me or physically abuse me in some other way.    

I've long considered Disneyland to be home in a way that nowhere else on earth is.  It's been a place where I was able to escape from my tyrannical father and my embittered mother; where the kids at school were far, far away from me; and where I could, finally and at last, be myself without facing ridicule and judgement.  The need to escape has been an ongoing theme in my life for as long as I can remember--escape from everything that was hurtful, and even escape from myself sometimes, as I struggled with being gay and trying to accept it.  

Well into middle age, Disneyland continues to be a refuge for me, the only place that allows me to be the child I never was, and that helps me see there is good in the world, as well as enchantment and compassion and love.  Even today, when I race headlong toward the park entrance, after getting up at 3:00 a.m. to catch various shuttles and flights to Anaheim, Town Square on Main Street, U.S.A., just seconds away, I know I can exhale.  I know for the short period I'm there, I don't have to toughen up against the world. I don't have to be on my guard for anything that might cause me pain. I don't have to be anything more than I am in that exact moment--a little boy who wants nothing more than to feel free, to be safe, and to have fun.


(Note:  The contents of this post may be offensive to some.)

Last night at dinner, I read quotes to Chris from an article written by John Cloud in the June 21, 2010 issue of Time just received in the mail.  The article was titled "Gay Days in the Magic Kingdom," with the subtitle "How Orlando's theme parks became home to one of the biggest [gay] pride events in the world [p. 69]."

Beyond the first Saturday every June, when as many as 150,000 gays and lesbians take to the parks wearing red shirts, many of the more adults events, in what has become over time a week-long affair, are held at an enormous Doubletree resort in the vicinity of the Disney property. As you might imagine, especially with gay men involved, not everything associated with Gay Days at Walt Disney World would be considered good, clean, family fun.

Referring to the most recent event that took place this past Saturday, June 5, Cloud writes, "In another part of the expo, closed to those under 18, there were huge displays for companies that sell pornography, sex toys and lubricants.  A Doubletree desk clerk doing his best to be professional was given a handwritten note:  CALL ME, SEX MUFFIN. A phone number followed [p.70]."

To which I responded, "Oh, those gays.  Give them an inch...they want eleven more."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Complexities of Love

I admit that when I first met Chris, I was excited about what was happening to me.  But I'd felt similarly excited about what was happening to me when I'd met men prior to Chris, hoping and believing in my heart that each one was the right person, the one I could embark on building a life with.  For so many different reasons, that hadn't happened.

So when I met Chris, on that warm summer evening of June 13, 1992, I was excited, but I was also cautiously optimistic.  I'd always thought I needed to find someone who was younger than me, perhaps much younger.  Most of the other men had too much baggage. They'd been in relationships that had broken up badly.  Or they had expectations about what they wanted in a partner, and no one would ever measure up.  Or they still hadn't dealt with some of the junk they came with because of something that had happened in their pasts.    

Chris was younger than me, by nearly ten years.  And, even on the evening we met, I knew he was different.  There was a sweetness to him that none of the other men had had.  I was later to find out that he'd had almost no experience with other gay men, which I believe to this day worked in my favor.  No jaded queen, he.  Chris was genuine, and sincere, and innocent in a good way.  No baggage.  We could create our own history as we went along.  That is, if what we had continued long enough to have a history.

If I could use just one word to describe myself during those early days of Chris's and my relationship, hands down the word would be insecure.  Several weeks into what we had, I knew Chris was the young man for me.  His parents had done an amazing job of raising him well.  I knew I could trust him, that he was honorable, that his heart was in the right place.  And he and I thought the same way about the most important things, and were different in other ways that kept things interesting but didn't present insurmountable obstacles.

In other words, I wanted this man, and I wanted him badly, but I had no precedent for finding the right man and keeping him.  So I kept thinking that, at any minute, Chris would catch on to me.  He'd see something in my character or make-up that would put him off, that I would be the very thing I didn't want myself in a partner.  And I worried that whatever it was would compel him to push me away, ending the possibility of a future together when it had just started.

A few months in, wonder of wonders, Chris and I were still together.  In fact, we'd spent so much time together--virtually every evening after work and every weekend--that I couldn't see myself without him.  I didn't want to see myself without him.  The thought of that paralyzed me.  How could we be so compatible, have such a great time together, and not be meant for each other?  In the back of my mind, I still felt it could fall apart for the most arbitrary of reasons.  If he no longer wanted to be with me, I knew that was it.  I'd learned this lesson before.  There would be nothing I could do.

So I wanted to know that Chris was not only physically connected to me but also emotionally.  I felt that if he'd already begun to invest in me and us emotionally, we'd have a greater chance of succeeding.  I'm not proud of it, but I started testing him to see just how much he wanted to be with me.  I'll go one step further.  I started testing him to see if he loved me.  More than anything else, I wanted to be loved--even though I had only just started down the rough road of loving myself.  

Did I love Chris at that point?  I doubt it.  I kept asking myself that, but, because I'd had so little experience with love, I didn't know how it would feel when I was in love.  Instead, I think I was totally infatuated with him.  Or I was totally infatuated with what was happening between us.  Finally, finally, I had someone special in my life.  I knew for a fact that Chris was one special young man.  And, yes, I felt a sense of superiority in relation to my single friends, who envied me because I had an attractive and attentive young man in my life.

One day, I found a small, hard lump on the left side of my torso.  I was so upset.  I thought, you've got to be kidding.  Just when I've found the man of my dreams, I end up with a tumor that could be cancer.  This can't be happening.  I couldn't wait to tell Chris. Not only did I need his empathy and consolation, I also needed to see his reaction.  If he took the whole thing lightly, maybe that would tell me he wasn't as emotionally invested in me as I was in him.  On the other hand, if he was upset, perhaps I'd have what I needed to prove that Chris was really mine.  Like I said, insecure.

We got through the lump episode.  Chris gave me what I thought was an appropriate amount of care and  attention, and I went to see the doctor.  Turns out it was nothing more than an accumulation of fat cells and not cancer after all.  I was most grateful for that diagnosis, but, at the very least, I came out of it knowing that Chris was there for me, and that what happened to me made a difference to him.  It was something, some kind of commitment to us, and I was happy to have it.

Somewhere along the line, I told Chris that love was a curious thing in my family.  That my parents, sister, and I probably loved each other, but we'd never told each other, or shown it in any demonstrative way.  So I told Chris that I needed us to be different.  I said that I wouldn't play any games with him.  If I loved him, as I thought I was beginning to, I would tell him and show him.  I hoped that if I was honest with him about my feelings toward him, he's be the same with me.

Love's a funny thing.  You can't force it.  You can't make it happen if it's not there.  And there's no getting around that.  But I thought that if I showed and told Chris I loved him, he'd feel comfortable showing and telling me he loved me, too.  I admit the first few times I told Chris I loved him, in those first heady days of our relationship, the words probably sounded forced.  I felt uncomfortable saying them because they were foreign to me.  To that point, had I ever told anyone that I loved him?  Nope.  So I had to get used to the feeling of the words myself, and I had to prepare to hear and receive them from someone else.

I upset Chris several times.  When I told him I loved him, and received a noncommittal response in return, I out and out asked him if he loved me.  He looked pained by the question.  I saw confusion register on his face.  And discomfort.  And hurt.  I had his back against the wall.  I was asking for an emotional commitment from him long before he was ready to give one.  And there were several occasions when I had to console him by telling him we had time to figure out how we felt.  Secretly, I hoped that he'd come to feel about me the way I thought I felt about him.  I believed that the longer we were a couple, the more likely he was to come around and profess his love for me.

But what was really going on here was that I didn't want to invest any additional time into our relationship if there was no hope that he would ever love me.  I was already thirty-two, I knew what I wanted most of all from another human being--namely, love--and if Chris was either unwilling or unprepared to love me, then, I'd be devastated, no question, but I'd have to cut my losses and move on, hopeful to find what I needed from someone else.  I prayed that wouldn't be the case.

I always believed that when Chris became older--that is, when he hit the age I was when we met--he'd mature as I had, he'd become more comfortable with the concept of loving someone else, and he'd be more willing to tell me he loved me and to show it more readily.  I remember saying that very same thing to his sister, Connie, shortly after she and her three children returned to Canada from New Zealand to live.  I told her I loved her brother, that I thought he had a wonderful spirit, but that it had been challenging to get him to commit to me emotionally.  All I could do was hope he'd come around.

Alas, when Chris turned thirty-two, nearly ten years after we'd met, the words "I love you" still didn't come easily or readily to him.  Instead of telling me what I wanted to hear, he did one better and showed me.  A job opportunity came up for me in Victoria, a city Chris had made clear in the past he didn't want to move to.  Later rather than sooner, we had our heated discussion about what we'd do as a couple, and there was the real possibility that our relationship would come to an end eight years in.  It wouldn't be the first time a gay couple had split up when one person wanted to go one way, and the other wanted to go another.

We moved to Victoria in August 2000, and, eventually, moved back to Vancouver in April 2009, once I'd quick my full-time job to write, and Chris won a supervisory position.  This time, I didn't want to leave Victoria and move back to the big city, but I did because there's no question in my mind that, after nearly seventeen years, I love Chris, and I couldn't imagine life without him.  Living in __________ would be far better than living in Victoria, alone, back to square one in terms of finding the love I always wanted.

I'd like to write that finding love was easy for me, that it was the proverbial fireworks/love-at-first-sight scenario, but it wasn't.  I had to wait until I was thirty-two to have the opportunity to know and feel it.  And even when I believed the opportunity was there, I couldn't be sure it would ever happen.  There are always two people in a relationship, and you may know--or not--how you feel about someone else, but you can never truly know for sure how someone else feels about you.  Particularly if that someone has had little experience with love himself, and isn't comfortable saying the three words or physically demonstrating how he feels.

There's a huge risk involved in loving someone else, and we never know where taking that risk will lead us.  We could get hurt, big time, but we could also find the real thing. Sometimes, love doesn't come to us exactly in the form we'd like it to.  It isn't all romantic movies and swelling music and explosions.  In real life, love is more complicated, complex, elusive.  But, without forcing it, you'll know when it's there, in whatever form it takes.  You'll know when you feel it toward someone else--without having to ask yourself if you do--and you'll know when someone else feels it back.  And, believe me, there is no greater feeling on earth.  It makes everything else you go through to get it completely worth it.  Trust me.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Gay and Lesbian Boomers

Recently, I had a visitor.  Fiona is someone I came to know when both of us, along with a number of students from senior secondary schools around the province, attended the Summer Theatre Workshop at the University of Victoria--in 1975.  That's right.  Fiona and I have known each other for nearly thirty-five years, although we lost touch somewhere around 1976 and didn't get back in contact until she located me on Facebook last fall. Since then, we've exchanged a few messages and finally got together last week.

Among the subjects we talked about, during our brief but delightful visit, was my writing. I told her that, when I'd first set out to begin a writing career about two and a half years ago, I'd written forty gay relationship essays, at a time when I'd hoped, upon submitting them to "XTRA! West," that I would be the new voice our local gay and lesbian newspaper was looking for.  I thought since the paper had never, to my knowledge, featured articles or personal essays from someone in a long-term, committed, and monogamous gay relationship, the editor might be interested in what I had to say, and I might have the chance to make a contribution.

Unfortunately, that was not the case.  Disappointed, I didn't drop my idea, and I sought another outlet for what I hoped would be worthwhile, particularly to those single gay men who wanted to be in relationships, and to coupled gay men who were curious about how another gay couple handles such things as money, aging, and monogamy.  Eventually, I came up with the idea to use this blog for that purpose--to share aspects of the relationship I have with Chris--although, over time, it's become so much more.

"Does "XTRA!" publish mostly those types of articles?" Fiona asked.  By "those types of articles," I understood her to mean primarily with sexual content, or with a sexual slant. Yes, I had to answer.  There's no question "XTRA!" is focused on the younger gay and lesbian reader, emphasizing such topics as clubbing, drinking, partying, and associated pursuits.  Of course, to be fair, there have been political pieces, too, and news stories about gay bashings, the resurgence of beards (which I quoted in a recent post), and an Olympic athlete coming out, for example.  But "XTRA"'s target audience is obviously young, single, into the clubbing scene, and I, as a middle-aged, gay man in a long-term relationship, have moved far beyond that.

I suspect many, many other gay people in the same situation have moved beyond that, too.  Those of us of a certain age haven't stepped into a club for years, maybe even decades, and have increasingly lost our interest in the gay community as a whole because it's youth-centric and all but irrelevant to us.  In other words, either we've lost touch with what it means to be gay (which I doubt), or our publications think they're still serving the needs of our entire community by emphasizing cute faces, tight skin, abundant muscles, and things you can do with them.  (I recently found a post from a fellow blogger in the Vancouver area who is considerably younger than I am and equally disenchanted with "XTRA!", so I can't be too far off in my opinion.)

My point is this.  There's a huge gay community out there that's no longer youthful, but that's just as important as those whose lives depend on partying and clubbing.  As the boomers grow in number, so do the number of gay boomers, and there's a whole market of established, usually affluent, and influential men and women, whose interests are not being served, and whose voices are not heard.  These people are in their forties or older, in long-term, committed relationships, and they've moved out to the suburbs, finding the gay villages no longer have the allure they once did.  

The opportunity to reach out to these people is enormous because, in some respects, not only do they feel disenfranchised from the cities and towns where they live (because we're gays living in a straight world), but also they feel disenfranchised from the gay community.  Let's face it, the gay community has always been about youth and beauty, and, over time, older gays and lesbians slowly disappear from sight, settling into areas where you might not expect them (like __________, for example); living quiet, suburban lives; and losing touch with each other.    

Someone needs to publish a newspaper or magazine from the perspective of older gays and lesbians, in the same way that Moses Znaimer came up with the idea for "Zoomer," "Canada's Boomer Lifestyle Magazine."  Znaimer's recognized that 14.5 million Canadians are over forty-five years of age, and "they are the single most influential consumer group in the history of the world.  They have more money and time than any other demographic by far [taken from]."  And some of them are even gay.

In fact, if we are to believe that one in every ten people is gay (I think the figure is probably higher), then that means in Canada alone, there's a gay population of nearly 1.5 million over the age of forty five.  With a  population of almost 310 million, who knows how many people in the United States are over the age of forty-five, and how many of those are gay and lesbian, but it's safe to assume there are many.  In short, a huge market exists, in just North America alone, for a publication that serves the needs of older gays and lesbians (not to mention presenting an enormous opportunity for middle-aged gay writers to contribute to it).

If I had the money, the means, and the connections, I think I'd start a publication intended for middle-aged gays and lesbians like me.  True enough, much of what we want to read can be found in mainstream publications, like local newspapers and national magazines.  But, like I told Fiona, the gay sensibility, or spin, is lacking in these publications, and there are many issues specifically concerning us that can only be addressed on pages that target us.  If someone were smart, on the ball, and into making money, they'd see what an opportunity there is in providing us with material and subject matter that's meaningful to us at this stage in our lives.  I can't imagine who wouldn't benefit--from advertisers, to readers, to writers.

If anyone's interested in putting this together, go ahead, use my idea, and count me in.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


And so, in a world with so many people alone and lonely, who don't know if they'll ever find the ones for them, Chris and I celebrate our eighteenth anniversary today.  There were times when I didn't think we'd make it this far as a couple.  I'm grateful beyond all measure that we did.  And I look forward to many more years together with Chris.

Don't ask me why, but for some reason it's extremely important to me that everyone who wants to be in a relationship be in one.  More than anything else, I wanted that for myself before Chris and I met, and, now that I know what it's really like to be in a fulfilling and committed and loving relationship, I want the same for everyone else who wants it.

I also want it for everyone else who wants it because it means, at least in my opinion, in the case of gay people, that they love themselves enough to believe they deserve to be in a relationship.  See, I think there's a difference between gay people who are single and gay people who are coupled.  The difference is that gay people who are coupled learned to love themselves regardless of being gay.

When you truly love yourself, you are open to the possibility of a relationship in your life. When you truly love yourself, you are open to the love someone might offer you.  And, more importantly, you believe that you're deserving of it.  How many relationships breakup because one or the other doesn't believe in his heart that he deserves the love of someone else?  You do deserve it.  You just have to believe it.  That's one of the toughest challenges for most of us.

And something else I know to be true:  Single people, I suspect gay or straight, believe they know who the right type of person is for them.  I want someone who's like this, or I want someone who's like that.  They believe that if they find someone exactly as they specify, they will be the most happy, the most fulfilled, and their relationship will have the greatest chance of success.

But that's not necessarily true.  I could never have imagined that the person I'd be the most happy with, that I'd have the greatest chance to share a successful relationship with, would be Chris.  Who knew he'd be almost ten years younger than me?  Who knew he'd be so different from me in some respects, and so like me in others?  Who knew we could adapt to each other, without compromising who we are in the most important ways, and make a relationship thrive for so many years together?

So the moral of the story?  Love yourself so someone else can love you, too, and leave yourself open to the best possible person.  Someone or something far greater and far smarter than you knows exactly the type of person you should be with.  Accept the possibility of that.  Have faith.  Turn it over to God or to the Universe or to your Higher Power.  Stop standing in your own way.  Stop limiting yourself.  Believe that you deserve to be loved, and believe the right person out there for you may not look or be anything like what you think.  That's when that person will enter your life, and you'll never look back except with the utmost gratitude.              

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


So yesterday, I was working on the outline for the novel I plan to write.  Using the "Steps to Creating an Outline" on pages 226 and 227 in Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, I arrived at question 8:  "Who is the novel's antagonist, what is his main problem, conflict, or goal, and what does he most want?"  

To help me with my answer, I consulted The Oxford Dictionary of Current English, to be clear on the definition of antagonistand learned that it's an "opponent or adversary."  As I thought about my novel, I didn't see how any of my characters are opponents or adversaries of each other, so I wasn't sure where I'd find my antagonist.

Then I decided to consult the notes I'd made from reading the chapter on "Antagonists" in Maass's book.  Here's what he had to say:  "Sometimes the antagonist is nothing more than life itself.  Infertility, divorce, married lovers, thwarted creativity, terminal cancer--the antagonist can be the relentless, small, unavoidable domestic tragedies that happen to us all [see p. 68]."  This got me thinking that maybe my antagonist wasn't a human being. Perhaps I needed to look at it on a broader scale.

Then it came to me.  My antagonist was homosexuality, the condition of being gay.  But that didn't sit right with me either.  Sure, all my characters are gay, and what they want most is probably the result of being gay, but how could the concept of homosexuality be an antagonist, even in a work of fiction?

Of course, I could personify homosexuality, make it like another character, even give it a goal, so that it could act against the other characters in various ways to achieve its goal. But it seemed to me that being gay was simply a condition, a state of being, with no personality, no goal, no want or need to achieve anything. Like many other situations in life, being gay is neither good nor bad, it just is.  It's what we do with it, or our reaction to it, that makes all the difference.

A-ha.  That's when it started to make sense, and I found my real antagonist. Internal homophobia was my characters's opponent or adversary.  Now I was on to something. Since all of my characters are gay, all of them necessarily have reactions toward being gay that affect their lives in ways they may or may not realize.  Their reactions may be slightly different, but the results end up being mostly the same.

At some point, I sat back and started to take a closer look at my own life.  I had to ask myself the question:  Is internal homophobia an antagonist in my life?  And, unfortunately, I had to answer, yes, it is.  Many of the blog posts I've written over the past year reflect the permutations of what that looks like.  For me, as I'm sure is the case for many gay men, internal homophobia results in self-esteem issues, which manifest themselves in our lives in so many ways, directed toward other gay men and toward ourselves, whether or not we're aware of them.

In the case of other gay men, I've written about this before, but it's worth repeating.  Not all gay men are created equally.  There's a class system within the gay male community. Those who are better able to hide their homosexuality look down on those who can't. Like the fems and the fairies and the queens--the ones who many of us laugh with, or at, and think they give us all a bad name. Why don't they butch it up, we ask.  Why do they have to dress in sequins and feathers?  Why do they have to gesture so wildly?  Why do they have to sibilate? They attract attention to themselves for all the wrong reasons.  Thank God I'm not like them, we think. Thank God I don't have to be around them.  If I spent time with them, even dated them--the thought makes me sick--they'd make me look bad. People would think I'm gay.  

Do you know why I know this happens?  Because I do it myself.  When I had difficulty accepting myself as a gay man, I didn't want to be in the same room as these faggots. They were creepy.  They put me off with their screaming flamboyance.  You know why they put me off?  Because I saw me in them, although that's the last thing I would have admitted, to myself or to anyone else. Truth be told, every gay man has a queen inside of him.  It's part of what makes us gay.  Some are just better able to control the inner fairy than others.  

You know what used to piss me off?  Back in the day, I read personal ads in the local newspapers.  I was looking for a relationship, so I had my nose constantly in the "Men Seeking Men" section.  How many times did I read descriptions like "straight acting, straight looking, expect same" or statements like "no fats, no fems need apply"?  I haven't read a personal ad in some time--I know most of that business takes place online now--but I'll bet you still find words like these in the ads that run today.  We don't like gay men who are obviously gay, who show us what being gay looks like, and who rub our noses in the fact that we're gay, too, and share the same territory as them.  

But I believe the most damaging manifestations of internal homophobia are directed toward ourselves.  For example, I've long believed that the smoking, drugging, and the excessive drinking of alcohol are among the most prevalent examples of internal homophobia in the gay community.  When countless medical reports confirm that all of these activities lead to a myriad of health issues, from addiction to heart disease to cancer, why do we continue to do them?  The only answer I can come up with is because we hate ourselves, and we don't care if we live or die.  How else can they be explained when we know better?

It's no different for the obese person.  He's heard it preached time and again that eating healthy food and getting plenty of vigorous exercise is good for him.  But it's not until he comes to the realization that there's no greater reason to get healthy than for himself that he's likely to take any of the advice and incorporate it into his own life on an ongoing basis.

I've always felt that promiscuity is another manifestation of internal homophobia and low self-esteem.  Sure, men are dogs, and we like sex, whether we're straight or gay.  I get that.  But, over the years, I've witnessed countless gay male friends screw nearly everything in sight.  While I watched from the sidelines, because I had more respect for myself, I tried to understand how perfectly rational, attractive, and desirable young men could indulge in such misbehavior. And the only explanation I could come up with was because, like everyone else, they needed to connect with other human beings, but they would only allow themselves to connect physically--which was looked at as nothing more than getting themselves off--rather than emotionally--which involved admitting to themselves they were really gay, and their physical as well as emotional needs could only be met by other men.  Just like the gay men who will have sex but not kiss on the mouth, because the latter takes them too close to having to admit who they really are.

I used to think the greatest homophobic threat against me came from the straight community--the religious fanatic, the thug on the street, the girl with the bottle of liquor in her hand, hanging out the open back window of a car, yelling gay epithets toward me and my partner as they quickly sped by.  Sure, I took a lot of teasing about being gay at the hands of impertinent straight people, including some of the young males I attended grade school with.  But the teasing ended over thirty years ago.  If anyone has done a number on me, in terms of making me feel badly, time and time again, for who I am, it's been me.

I've flagellated myself far harder over the decades since school than anyone ever did then.  Sure, the roots of my own self-hatred originated in what others said about me and physically did to me as a result of their own homophobia, but, overall, I've lived a good life as a gay man.  Virtually everyone I've told I'm gay to over the years has been supportive beyond expectation.  For the past eighteen years, I've been in an openly gay relationship that's been as much of a marriage as it can be without having the license. And I've never once felt like I was held back, in either my personal or professional lives, because I was gay.

No, the biggest homophobic threat I've ever experienced has come from within me.  More often than not, I've been my own worst enemy in terms of perpetuating what I believed everyone else thought about me.  I've been ten times, no, one hundred times, harder on myself because I believed everyone around me had these negative thoughts about me, and I obviously believed I should have them about me, too.    

Being gay is like everything else--if you don't live consciously, you continuously tell yourself things that hold you back, that take away a bit of your soul every day, that prevent you from loving the one person in your life who most deserves it--YOU!  When you become aware that you're doing something, because someone points it out to you, or because you finally wake up and realize it, you have the power to change it.  Of course, it's easy to fall back into the old behavior patterns because that's all you've known for years, even decades, and, whether it serves you or not, it became your M.O. over time, the way you lived your life, the way you looked at yourself.  But when you know better, you do better.

Consider yourself told.  If you exhibit any of the signs of internal homophobia, either against other gays and lesbians--whom we should support because we're all part of the same community anyway--or, worse, against yourself, stop it. STOP IT NOW.  From this point forward, you know you do it.  You have no excuse for continuing to do it.  Just imagine how much stronger we could be, individually and as a community, if we stopped hating ourselves and each other, and focused on what makes us intrinsically worthwhile and valuable.  As I see it, there'd be no stopping us.

Stop allowing internal homophobia to be an antagonist in your life.  Give forgiving and loving yourself a chance.  You deserve it.  You're entitled to it.  You might even like it.   

Friday, June 4, 2010


Here are a few interesting questions:

1.  When is companionship a good enough reason for two people to be in a long-term, committed relationship?

2.  When is a relationship built on companionship preferable to being alone and lonely?

Something to think about.