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Chris James

When were you Gay?

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In this world filled with dis-information, I am happy to see that there are those who still seek the truth about LBGT people.

http://www.slate.com/id/2303739/?GT1=38001

The facts in the article are well placed, but I was drawn to the statements by readers there at the end. For once there seems to be some intelligent commentary, or perhaps the forum is beyond the reach of those in the homophobic segment of society.

I personally cannot say I was aware of my sexual nature this early in childhood. I had no interest in role playing the female personality some insist exists in gay men. I do recall being more interested in what my boyhood male friends thought and acted upon by the time I was seven or eight, but then normal boyish periods of discovery soon followed. I crushed on another boy at age ten and even managed to kiss him. That I beleive was my watershed moment, although at that time in personal history I still didn't have a name for it.

I come from that generation who huddled under their school desks in absurd drills meant to preserve us from The Bomb. I was a teenager in the 1960's and discovered that the Free Love concept only applied to straight kids. The 1970's seems a blank, but the 80's brought us the Gay Plague of AIDS and like many in my circle of gay friends we marched in the streets and then felt guilty when we survived while so many of the bright and beautiful did not.

I do believe we are born gay and will eventually find proof of that in research. But science is under attack by those who scoff at modern discovery while clinging to a two thousand year old book for their knowledge. I often feel like huddling under that desk again. :pinch:

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Along these same lines, there was a very funny subplot in the season-ending episode of Larry David's HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm. Larry is dating a middle-aged woman who has an 8-year-old son who is clearly effeminate, likes playing with dolls, and loves fashion. The woman asks Larry to buy the kid a birthday present, and Larry gets him a sewing machine, which delights the boy, since he wants to make his own clothes. The woman is very offended and insists her son is too young to be straight or gay -- saying that he's just a child.

While it's a funny idea, no question, there are people of both sexes all of us might have known while growing up who clearly didn't fit the standard patterns and roles of adolescence. Me personally, I knew was different when I was 6, but I never had any desire to act like a girl, wear women's clothes, or any of that stuff. I remember a time when I was 11 or so when I had a female friend in elementary school who was very tomboyish, and she admitted to me in a guarded moment that sometimes (like the old Lesley Gore song said) she "wished she were a boy." I told her I felt the same way, but we both knew we were in taboo area. I eventually had a dozen or so flings with different boys throughout junior high and high school, always telling myself I was just "going through a phase." I'm sure some of the other boys thought so, too -- but ultimately, I figured out the truth.

Anyway, the Curb episode is a terrific one, and I didn't find it insulting in the least -- even when the gay kid makes Larry a fabric design with a swastika on it. A pretty, pretty, pretty funny show.

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I don't know. The article is so-so, both positive and negative, it seems to me. What exactly is "acting gay" as a kid or a teen or whenever? No, seriously. Why is playing with Barbie dolls or makeup or other girly things somehow one of the markers? Or certain music or clothing and personal grooming choices? Come on now, really. I'm not (entirely) being contrarian or "straight acting" or "gay acting" there. (What were those supposed to be again?)

Oh, I could go all down the list of typically masculine and typically gay male behaviors and check 'em all off, which apply to me and which do not. Ho, hum. The one that really applies to me is that, well, honestly, I want a close emotional relationship with another guy and yes, I want a close physical relationship with a guy. Duh. That makes it sound like it was always obvious to me. It wasn't. It was gradual and, for me at least, complicated, working out what it all was about, what it all meant, and...how in the blazes to find anyone else who'd listen or want to do the same...or whether I could be and do that and still be a good person. And by the way, I think that checklist is highly idiosyncratic. -- There are also several key moments, growing up, which would provide a laundry list of, "Yep, he's gay!" and, "Nope, most of those people aren't going to accept it!" but, "Some will, and guess what, several of the people who know him, figured it out before he did!" while, "Others refuse to see it, despite anything he says or does. They don't want to see it or accept it. That would mean they have a friend or relative who is...one of those homosexual people." Ahem, got a bit carried away there, sorry.

I could also refer to a very nice guy I knew in high school, Tom. Tom was our high school's first male cheerleader. Believe me, he took flak for it. So did I, when a football player objected and offered to beat us both up after school. (At least two teachers were within earshot and did absolutely nothing.) Tom...was Tom. He walked and talked gay, the stereotypical gay. As mixed up as I was about myself, I liked Tom and none of that bothered me. He was a great guy. (I didn't have a crush on him, either.) He got so much crap that I confided in a trusted teacher that I thought he wasn't safe, because there were threats. I even dared to say he could talk to me. (I would very much have liked that. I think I needed it.) Tom had said, though, that he wasn't gay. (I took his word for it and was quietly disappointed. Did I mention I was mixed up?) I could not bring myself to tell my teacher I was gay, though. I backpedalled. I think she guessed, but she had the class not to act like she noticed. She knew me well enough, I think, to know I wasn't ready. Or maybe she just didn't want to go there. But I prefer to think well of her.) Tom signed my yearbook that year. But he withdrew and went to another school. A few years later, I saw him in a local TV commercial, speaking Spanish. (And I still think he was great. And I only have my guesses that he was, like me, trying very hard to survive in camouflage, and internally unsure about himself.)

My point in all that is that Tom was the poster boy for what people think of as a gay teenage boy. Perhaps also that I was both more and less OK with that (and myself) than I knew at the time. What a mess. But Tom may have been gay, or he may have just been what he was, from a well-off background, allowed a lot of personal freedom to be himself, and trying very hard to navigate the stormy seas of adolescence. Gay or not, that checklist would have nearly every gay box checked...and probably several not checked. My point, whatever it is, is that some of us fit that stereotype of acting gay and some do not. (Uh, I do also, by the way, but in a slightly different manner than Tom. But er, apparently, it shows. ...And these days, most of the time, I don't care what people think of how I am. I did learn (mostly) that I am going to be how I am, no matter how I act. -- Also...dang, I wish I could've gotten to know Tom better.

What I'm trying to say, and doing a poor editing job at it, is that we have to be really careful in how we define those things about early predictors of being gay, of what's "gay" exactly. -- I would hate to think some poor kid gets punished by his family or bullied by his classmates for being a "gay boy," whether he really is a gay boy or not. If he is, well, fine. I wish there had been friends or adults to talk to when I was growing up trying to understand my feelings. I also wish there had been more positive interactions with other boys on that. Uh, and I don't mean only fooling around. There was actually way too little of that. It might have helped me figure things out better. Yes, really. Don't roll your eyes like that.

Yeah, I'm opinionated. So? :)

BTW, I'm not really trying to start an argument. I'm just being a little contrary and saying how I feel about it. To be plain, I think there is much, much more to it than even the gay-friendly behavior / psych / education and development folks, or the gay-friendly folks (including ourselves) like to pretend it is.

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Oh yeah, and to answer the thread title, "When were you Gay?"

Uh, at least since 11, but I didn't have it figured out by then. Also at 14. And thereafter, depending on how honest I could be inside. And oh boy, at 19 was when I finally couldn't avoid admitting it to myself. Yep, Ben is gay. (Yes, yes, I did hear the old joke, "How long have you?" "What?" "How long have you -- Ben Gay?!" (Hahahahah!) ( :stormcloud: ) "Very funny, haha." "Yeah, isn't it?"

* Note: Ages listed do not indicate actual play or activity. Or rather, not always. Er.... As I said, there was way too little of that, darn it. (And no, I'm not promiscuous either. More like the opposite, unfortunately.)

** Just because I say what I say, doesn't necessarily mean I feel one way or another towards any particular code word about gayness. Please don't make assumptions. Others have, and assumed wrong. That's unfortunate, because I'd like to be better understood. I'm friendly, for cryin' out loud.

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