My journey of accepting who I am
Aaron had the idea to start, "QueerDaze.“ Although we have no idea where it will go I am enjoying the idea of being a Blogger. I believe that it might be quite fun to put a microscope over my life and really begin to examine it, how I have lived and how I have gotten to where I am, Despite all of my missteps I have been so lucky.
When I say lucky don't be confused there was a lot of hard work, sadness, anger, pain and love involved to be lucky. I also know that it doesn't matter if your gay, straight, asexual, bisexual, transgender or whatever it may be corny but the key is simply learning and accepting who you are not who others want you to be be. Unfortunately it took me about 45 years to learn that lesson.
I knew by the time I was eight that I was different. This is so odd because at that age we don't even know what different and normal is. It was just a nagging inside of me that set me apart. Somehow I knew that I had to protect myself. Even stranger I did not know from whom.
I played the normal game all through high school, playing sports, hanging out with the guys and even dating girls. Looking back I think it was the guys I always wanted to be like, that I had crushes on. This was the 70's and I am sure most kids had no idea what gay was.
It was not until college that I slept with my first guy. Thinking back I still had no idea what the term was, for what I was doing. I am not sure when gay. became part of my vocabulary.
I can still remember his name. What I can't remember is what kind of furtive sex we had. It happened a few times. I don't even recall if our clothes were on or off. I am sure we must have been drunk every time. All the girls used to have crushes on him and he was the only gay person I knew.
I don't know how I knew he wanted me but I did. One time we were at a party fucking around and were caught by a bunch of my friends. I was surprised that after we were caught no one even mentioned it to me. In hindsight I can see they accepted me for who I was. I was the one who could not accept myself. This was probably the last time I messed around with him. I know I hurt him very badly when I stopped having sex or being friends with him. It is something I still feel bad about today, but I could hardly handle my own feelings let alone someone else's. The strangest thing was I knew from the first moment I spent in his arms that I would always belong with a man. I always enjoyed being with girls but it was always work, with Rob it all flowed with an ease I never felt before.
After college I moved back to my hometown and started working. I still had my college girlfriend. I knew it would not work, that I belonged with a man, but I did not have the courage to be honest with her or myself. Thank god she was still in college 150 miles away. One night while at a club with some friends, I met my first boyfriend in the bathroom. He asked me for a taste of my drink and when he was done he gave me a kiss. I was there with a girl but quickly told him my address and told him to come over when the club closed,
At my house we were both drunk. I will never forget him sitting on the couch, and asking me to play with him. The only thought going through my head was what am I supposed to do with this. I obviously must have a done a good job because even though he was leaving the next day for vacation with his boyfriend he called me the first night he came home.
I was now embarking on my first gay relationship. I am not sure how I found the courage to do this. I was not out. I was living in a city where many people knew my family and me and I was working in a business where being gay was considered the kiss of death. Even a city of millions can seem small. I was always checking behind me thinking someone would see. us.
I was determined this relationship was going to work. After years of therapy with my family and my own psychiatrist I was certain I must know the tricks to being in love. (Being Jewish my mother sent us to a Shrink quicker then she send us to our Pediatrician.). It did work for almost three years. I thought I was madly in love with him. Only later did I learn that I was only madly in love with having sex and our personalities were not a match. At the beginning I was ready to risk everything for him or really me. I wanted to let my family and friends know about him. I did not care what they thought I just wanted him and I would do anything that my new life required. The funny thing, I discovered was that he did not want to meet the people in my world. I realized that as scared as I was about the gay world he was just as afraid of the straight world. He would not leave his comfort zone.
I knew in my head things were ending when we were arguing about something and he told me he would never change. I made a big mental note of this in my head because it was so true. You can change your behaviour but you cannot make someone else change. Eventually I took my exit and moved 2000 miles away where I was determined to find who I wanted to be.
I decided to go to LA where I spent my summers growing up and I believe the only place I ever had been truly happy. I was 30 and still naive. I knew I was gay but it was not until I was probably 35 that I stopped seeing women. The primary reason I stopped was only because I thought it was wrong to lead them on if they did not who I was and I was still hiding.
How naive? When I joined a gym and they told me it all male, I thought fine. What they were trying to tell me was that it was gay. It took me a while to figure that one out. It was probably good I did not realize what they were saying or I would have run for my life. It was the first all gay environment I was ever in and as it turned out a good space to learn. Cell phones were just coming out at the time. I was sitting at the pool one day and commented to another member I was surprised at how many lawyers and doctors were at the pool midday. He proceeded to tell me they were not lawyers and doctors but drug dealers and escorts. For someone who had traveled the world, come from a sophisticated background and met all sorts of interesting people I was completely stupid when it came to navigating the gay world. In the 12 years I stayed a member at the gym I remained too chicken to go in the steam or sauna afraid of what might happen.
From the gym I met a few gay friends who were great to hang with once in a while. I still had two worlds. My straight world and my gay world and never did these two worlds collide. I am still amazed that there was a guy in the straight world who I was friends with and he was gay but still I did not let him in on my secret. If I was seeing a guy they knew the situation and had to abide by my rules. One time I was messing around with someone when my aunt came by to visit. I quickly shoved him in my closet while my aunt and I chatted in the bedroom for an hour and a half.
As it turned out LA was a good place to go. It was much more open than Chicago had been. I was also away from my past, my family and people who I had grown up with. LA slowly allowed me to become who I wanted to be at my own pace. I'll never forget the first time I came out to one of my oldest friends,
My friend Michael from Chicago was at his beach house in Santa Monica. At the time I was seeing Joey, who I loved very much,. (Unfortunately at the time he was not ready to settle down, but we have stayed in each other's lives for 30 years.). I told Mike I was seeing Joey and asked if I could bring him. He said of course. It was that easy. I don't know why I decided on that moment, it just felt right and I was crazy for someone and wanted to share that joy. About time, I was probably 40. It is incredible that it took me so long to realize our sexual identity is such a small part of who we are as people, that we are so much more than who we sleep with. I think it is much easier today to come out but I would never change one bit of my journey.
If anyone happens to be looking at this who has not come out yet remember do it at your own pace. It may be hard, painful or the most natural think in the world. Just remember you are doing it for you and always appreciate who you are.
Mike has finally come out as a gay man