Thursday, October 10, 2013

Only Sometimes

I can't tell you the number of times, as a result of this blog, I've given a gay person the advice to accept his sexual orientation, because he is what he is.  And to hate what you are essentially amounts to hating yourself, or, at least, a critical aspect of yourself–one you can't turn your back on and still live a fulfilled life.  But I wonder if it's ever truly possible to make peace with being gay, to get over what you are completely.

Perhaps I'm only kidding myself, but I think I look gayer some days more than others.  That is, sometimes, I think I do a better job of hiding it.  Like when I'm unshaven for a week, wear clothing that would look appropriately masculine on any male, and put a cap on my head.  Then, maybe, I might just pass as straight.  Like I said, maybe. 

Sometimes, I just don't want to look gay.  I've attracted enough attention to myself over the years. Now that I'm in my mid-fifties, all I want to do is get from point A to point B without anyone noticing me.  All I want to do is go about my business, just like everyone else, not have to face the looks I get from some people, and be reminded of the way I'm different.

Take today for example.  I shaved this morning, and my hair turned out a little swoopier in front than I would have liked.

Before I left to go to Save-On Foods, to pick up a few groceries, I looked in the bathroom mirror. Gay.  I looked gay.  I saw it, and I knew some people who saw me would too. Should I hide under a cap, cover my swoopy bangs?  Or should I say, "Fuck it, they can think whatever they like; they're no better than me"?

I decided to go cap-less.  I also wore a pair of khaki walking shorts, a navy blue "Grouse Grind" T-shirt, and running shoes.  At least I thought my attire worked for me.

So there I was, walking through Save-On Foods, toward the self-checkout, and I passed a man, obviously straight.  Taller than me and about as grey-haired, he looked grubby, like he'd just gotten off work.  I saw him take a glance at me.

And, in that instant, the look that crossed his face was the one I've seen countless times over the years–the very one I needed most to avoid today.  In that instant, I saw him judge me, make an assumption about me, right or wrong, saying what he thought of me without uttering a single word.

For all the advances gay people in general have made over the decades, there are still those who will always disapprove of us, no matter what.  They don't have to say what they think about me to my face.  I'm not stupid.  Their expressions say it for them.      

Most of the time, I can shrug it all off, tell myself that whatever he thinks about me is his problem, not mine.  Most of the time, I feel positive enough about myself to make that choice, to feel impermeable to the judgments of others.

But not today.  I was out of sorts.  Something was bugging me, and I didn't know what.  All I knew was, I didn't feel like myself.  So those looks I'm used to getting, that I've learned to shrug off…well, they're difficult to take sometimes.    

Honestly, I don't think I should have to take them–ever.  Because I don't think I should ever have to receive them.  I don't deserve them.  I don't think anyone has the right to look at me the way he–and it's always a he–did.

This is my appearance.  I have no choice about that.  Like it or not, it's how I present myself to the world.  And I'm sorry I can't look the way you'd like me to (although, admittedly, I sometimes try). I'm sorry the gay person I put out there offends your sensibilities.  I'm sorry you have to know I'm here when you look into my face, when you see what I wear, when you watch me walk, when you listen to me talk.

But, most of all, I'm sorry you have the opinion you do of gay people.  Because, if you got to know me, you'd find I'm not so bad, after all.  Actually, I'm a lot like you.  I'm in a long-term relationship, I love my partner very much, I live a settled life.  And I struggle with getting older, and fulfilling my purpose, and making a difference, just like you do.

So what do you gain by looking at me that way?  Does it somehow make you feel superior to me? Do you see yourself as being right, and me as being wrong?  Do you wonder why people like me can't just go away, so you don't have to look at us, so you don't have to deal with us, so you don't have to be reminded we're here?  And so your children don't have to look at us, they don't have to be exposed to us, and they don't learn people like us exist?  

I'm okay with being gay.  Or, at least, I've learned to be okay with it, because it's what I am, and what I will always be, and what choice do I have?  I just wish I didn't have to look like me…sometimes.

Okay, all the time.  Because I'm tried of being judged.  And because I never know when I'll be made to feel like I did all those years ago, when I hated myself, when I wished I was anywhere but here.    


  1. I wish I'd been there to give you a hug, my friend.

    1. You are very sweet, Wendy. I could have used a hug.
      Thank you for your kindness. I appreciate it.

  2. Dear Rick
    I want to say a few things to you. First of all, as you know, I'm straight. I believe that we're all on this planet for a purpose and that if we're living an honest, caring, unselfish, respectable life then we have nothing to be sorry for. And we certainly do not need to be sorry for the thoughtlessness of others.

    I will be 55 years old next year. I remember, in my younger years, having very few friends because I was fat. I lost weight in my early 20's through diet and LOTS of excercise (4 hours a day) and people I knew who wanted nothing to do with me when I was fat now wanted to be my friend. I refused their friendship. I didn't need it. Today, I'm considered fat. Does that make me any less a person than one who is thin? than one who is tall? than one who is gay? Deffinitely not!

    You, my friend, have no need to appologize for who you are and you certainly do not need to appologize for the ignorance of others.

    You will always look like you. It's just a fact of life. And if the gay person you are offends anyones sensibilities then so be it. Don't appologize for being who you are. Be the best you can be and to hell with everyone else. Their opinions don't matter a hill of beans in the whole scheme of things.

    I understand how you felt that day, but I also know that if we allow what we perceive to be the judgment of others to cloud our own lives we will always and forever be at the mercy of those who are of little or no consequence to us and that is no way to live.

    Lift you head high Rick. You have much to be proud of and grateful for. Those who matter, who truly love the person you are will always be there for you and will truly appreciate the unique and special individual you are.

    Hugs & much love

    1. Loretta, I'm deeply touched by your comment. You didn't have to offer it, particularly revealing so much about yourself, which I realize must have been difficult for you (both to live and to write). You have no idea how much I appreciate your kind words.

      It's not often I feel the way I did on this particular day. Hence, the title of the post. Plus, as I wrote, I was vulnerable, weakened, the day it happened. All of us experience occasions like that. For some reason, we find ourselves more susceptible to the thoughtlessness of others.

      I knew, when I wrote "I'm sorry" for being me, that I didn't really feel that way, and I might hear from sensitive readers who'd feel I had no reason to apologize. I'm not sure I meant to apologize at all; perhaps I should have used the words "So what" instead. But, like I said, I wasn't myself.

      I'd like to think how far I've come over the decades, in terms of how I feel about myself, is reflected in everything I've written here. I know you understand how difficult it is to come to terms with who you are, even to love that person.

      But, sometimes, all of us have lapses. And that's why, after careful consideration, and knowing this post wouldn't reflect how I feel about myself most of the time, I thought it was important to publish it, so readers knew lapses happen. They are very human thing.

      That said, I've taken what you wrote to heart, and it will stay with me. I know the next time I find myself in the position I was on that day, I'll recall your compassionate, heartfelt words, and they will help to guide me and put what's happening into perspective.

      Once again, Loretta, thank you. You are an amazing and generous human being and friend, and I truly appreciate your kindness.