Dating Entertainment

Life taught me early that existence was being in a state of constant heartbreak.  Abandonment became engrained in middle school when everyone began pairing-off to experimenting with relationship dynamics, leaving me feeling alone.  The domesticity templates of Jodie Dallas and Ellen demonstrated life would never consist of a cozy bubble with another; only longing.  Jodie Dallas was perpetually single, and Ellen’s relationship was full of bickering.  Will Graham, Will & Grace, was single through the majority of the show’s run, having serious relationships after the show found success.  The domesticity on Will & Grace was not perfection, but the characters created a bubble of playing house.  These were not perfect reflections of what I wanted, which was the rom-com-styles of How to Marry a Millionaire, 13 Going on 30, What’s Your Number?, and Sex & the City.  I wanted to emulate the relationships by running errands, sharing chores, and cooking together.  Shared calendars and outings would dictate our existence.  It would be teamwork and comradery.

Throughout high school and undergrad, I exchanged emails and messages more with middle-aged adults but felt that their eagerness to meet only reinforced my Jodie Dallas induced greatest fears.  Still, though, I quickly accepted an adult’s invitation to meet.  Older men had seemed like the best possibility of exciting juvenile antics like in Queer as Folk or big Sex & the City glamor of theatre and art openings.  What I found instead was sneaking off to funhouse mirror of the backwoods and trailer parks.  I was an adolescent playing adult, attempting to stay out past bedtime by hanging with those without a bedtime.

Freshmen year of college, relationships were fleeting but sex was not.  Sexual encounters were often furious and fleeting, held in others’ dorm rooms while their roommates were away, or secluded areas within lecture halls late/early mornings.  The relationship that I had dreamt of, had hoped for during the college experience, eluded me.  I was good enough for a lay, but not to spend time with.  I looked away from the campus to familiar older gay males, hoping they’d be more worldly and attractive than when I lived at home.  Jodie Dallas’ specter faded from the peripheral of my concept of homosexuality.  Rather than the big city experiences that I had expected, from Sex & the City and Queer as Folk, I reversed course and escaped the dorms for ticky-tacky Connecticut suburbs.  The men that I hung movie and TV inspired fantasies on, whom I went home with, would close their curtains, citing a need for privacy.  Behind closed curtains I gained experiences where I came to see “privacy” as a bent mirror to my rejection of the homosexual label. They were adults trapped in adolescence, attempting to stay past their prime by hanging with the freshly prime.

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Unlearning Groups

When I left undergrad to “romantically” be with my first boyfriend, I did it because it was a dramatic and interesting move.  To me it made me as worldly and spontaneous as my college friends.  After that and the rest of my twenties, I un-learned the group mentality.  I wondered what about who I was that was unacceptable.  I separated myself into different baubles, guised with adjective-derived masks to fit in, which denied myself a confidante.  Because I was scared that if I shared my real fears, secrets, and thoughts, with anyone they’d not like me – and that there is no possibility for repair. I imitated others’ expectations, hoping to be included, itself predicated upon adopting various skins that brought me affection and attention.  My not being seen combined created a spiral of neglect bound with being loved.  I had observed my peers and saw what I wasn’t. Growing up, I was bombarded with the norms you’re transgressing, or will come to transgress. Passing and normalizing have great benefits in day-to-day ease of life—what they meant for my spirit was an entirely different issue, of course.  Compliance allowed me to go unseen

I felt punishment was warranted. Over time I learned to express feelings and practice self-compassion, by putting a strong spotlight on the dried and cracking leather hid of my baggage.  I embraced my uniqueness – shown self without a mask.

 

Identity in Separate Baubles [2018.02]

My high school façade was designed for survival

In high school, I didn’t go to parties because I wasn’t invited.  If kids were doing drugs and drinking it wasn’t with me because no one asked.  Popular was the jocks or musicians because they got all the attention; and paid attention to all the girls, and not to.

My high school façade was designed for survival, leaning heavily on the cartoonish geek persona from middle school.  The comic books that had sheltered me in middle school became the defining trait in high school.  The differences I had from other boys was easily masked by the label “geek.”  I welcomed being considered a geek because it allowed me to avoid being ostracized as a “sissy.”  While this got me socially accepted, it limited the depth of my character.  I allowed peers to dictate my identity and silence my own interests. I strived to fit-in but gained attention because the adjectives that allowed me to nonchalantly shift cliques fixed a spotlight on me, and the impending question about my outsider status.

I knew acceptance wasn’t me being made into a token, but I sabotaged acceptance by defensively rejecting labels.  Instead my rejection came from refusing my own skin, which was rooted in the denial that was needed in high school to survive.

In high school I met Luna, an openly butch lesbian.  We ended up meeting over Erykah Badu, Live, in Freshman English.  I do not know what Luna’s true feelings were towards me, but our friendship was one sided.

Luna seemed embarrassed by me and our friendship.  She aligned herself with me while in school, but when it came to life outside of high school she dissuaded me from participating in the same, and only, local gay youth group.  The handful of times that I asked Luna what happened at the meetings, she told me they talked about what was going on and their problems.  When I followed-up with inquiries to go, Luna told me that I would hate them and that they weren’t filled with my people.  Luna was confident in her identity, her labels – similarly to those in the youth group who had already presented to their parents – gave them the bravery to confront the world that I lacked.

After asking Luna those handful of times to participate, I got the hint that I was not welcomed into that part of her world.  I could not discern what it about myself that kept me from being acceptable for a youth group targeted at my group.  I had made my friendship wholly unconditional and fully.  It was when I discovered the usage of the internet and Gay.com as linkage to fellow young gays, was I able to comprehend why.

The homosexual teenagers I conversed with through the internet, just as the youths in the gay youth group, had an acceptable idea gay youth: Bruce la Bruce models.  Repeatedly from the other teens, who lied that they were 18 as well for access, I was not an acceptable because of comic books.  The geek façade that protected me in the halls of school isolated me from the homosexual community because I didn’t appear to fawn over pop-idols as porn stars.

In middle school, ‘gay’ was a pejorative

Playgrounds, as evolutionary survival, teach the necessary fact that it is important to be like everyone else, to find acceptance into the group dynamic.  From pre-historic to ancient-times, and beyond, avoiding being ostracized meant avoiding death.  This evolutionary hold-over pushed stagnation in the formation of an authentic identity from others, keeping interests, past-times, and loves from friends and families.  Unsurprisingly, children are acutely aware of the differences amongst each other, particularly when there’s one who doesn’t participate in the same activities and games.

Feeling distant from classmates and peers, particularly the boys, began in elementary school when I wasn’t naturally inclined to want to participate in the same games and activities.  While I could rough house and play with the best of them, my over-exuberance must’ve rung inauthentic to those around me.  The thing I had that other boys did not have was my father’s Playboy magazines, which he kept openly in the living room on the end table near where he sat.  The other boys would accept invitations to play or have sleep-overs in the living room, allowing free perusal of the Playboys.  They were in awe that the nudity was on display so openly.  I explained that my parents thought it was better to see healthy relationships than to see violence as natural solutions; when I turned thirteen I still hadn’t seen Terminator 2: Judgement Day, but had seen 9 & ½ Weeks.

Middle school was a complicated time – while other boys discovered girls, I had no interest in them.  What I found more appealing were the boys, who became the subject of fantasy and infatuation.  In middle school. there were no boys to roleplay intimacy or boundaries; everyone’s burgeoning masculinity was too fragile.  Other students’ sexual exploration didn’t have many venturing far from home, but my search had me travelling far into the realm of gay-other, which at that time was predominately found in the character Jodie Dallas, from Soap reruns on Comedy Central.  Jodie Dallas was ridiculed and dismissed every time he came out.  He was a sad sack that never was taken seriously by his family, and was unable to find happiness with another person that was similar, whom to divulge his thoughts and feelings to.  Jodie was constantly alone, single, and friendless because homosexuality separated him from his family.  This was a typical portrayal of homosexuality in the early & mid-1990s, and Soap was from the late 1970s.

In middle school, ‘gay’ was a pejorative for ‘stupid,’ ‘sissy,’ ‘girly,’ or ‘less than.’  With group acceptance as the primary goal being labeled the outsider was unacceptable, so I steered far from the homosexual labels.  I was intimidated.  I wasn’t ready to be placed in any box, let alone the wrong one.  kept any suspicious ‘gay’ buried through comic books.  A lack of interest in sports was chalked up to geek, safely hiding within the group.  I ignored the adventure of exploring a gay identity, and embraced the descriptions that avoided me being ostracized into the group with the more flamboyant homosexual boys – the ones labeled “sissy.”  So, when a girl asked me to be their boyfriend I said yes, lacking the vocabulary and experiences to know that it would be an ill-fit.  I withdrew and couldn’t muster the interest to mimic boyfriends I saw modeled on TV, and waited for the inevitable implosion.  When she did call to break-up I didn’t feel relieved, or even numb – I simply went about my afternoon watching cartoons.

Since I was 9…

Beginning when I was 9 years old homosexuality entered my peripheral through knowledge of AIDS, gleamed from the deaths of Anthony Perkins and Robert Reed, attaching a dark stigma of death, separation, and sensationalism to homosexuality.

Self-contempt, isolation, and a strong sense that I was untrustworthy accompanied one another until shame became my core identity, and locked in a set of very unhealthy beliefs. I was incapable of trusting my own emotions as a compass for living; I felt shame for being abnormal or wrong, that my failures would bring unnecessary drama.  There was no developed skill to ground myself in the present, and being in the moment and staying observant without judgment of my own emotions.  The parts, believed, that would force support networks away are believed to be shadows of our true place in the world.  I diluted or ignored parts of myself that I thought would alienate me, believing I was a failure.

I made masks for acceptance based on the expectation others had of who I was in relation to them.  I created an untrue place in the world, a false self that wasn’t defective or flawed, amplifying the most acceptable of myself.  I sanded off the more off kilter interests, such as poetry and Southern literature, and less culturally mainstream – comic books, cartoons, and fantasy.  I buried what I did on weekends with

I didn’t want to give a reason to have the spotlight on me.  I lived in fear that my masks would not be viewed survival, but would be duplicitous, bring about rejection from others.  I became paralyzed by the intense feeling that I would be ignored or thrown away.  What didn’t lead to being ignored was compliance to others’ needs. It was easier to serve another than to assert myself.  The very nature of my game necessitated duplicity as I navigated the numerous worlds that I had begun inhabiting, as I tried on various masks and identities.

I tap danced to be seen.

Unfortunately, the dance is all that is seen.

 

Birthday Post 2018

Chronic shame developed from the best of intentions of my parents when raising two children.  They were good at it, striving to create balance for two radically different kids – providing food, shelter, and safety, but I still felt neglected because my parents did not bond emotionally with me.  I have few memories of being held, comforted, played with, or asked how I was doing; plenty questions about the events of a school-day, but not their impact.  When they didn’t live up to expectations they privately, and I’m sure to this day, scolded themselves; they failed less times than they believe they did.  My parents instilled in me the three F’s – family, food, and fun.  If there were two then the third would be automatically follow suit; should food be part of the family gathering then we’d have some fun; if there was food and fun, then one must be amongst family.

Growing up, I overcompensated to be the “good child,” or just being generally more agreeable; in comparison to the spectacle that was my sister; I didn’t want to be the reason for everything or have the spotlight on me.  The chaos she created taught me that disruptions to a plan lead to eruptions of anger and violence.  My sister’s behavior drew my parents’ attention, exhausting them, resulting in an often-chaotic home life.  I was not going to add more concerns to their already full plate.  I vowed to not be the straw that broke any one’s back, becoming respite for my parents from my sister.  I felt shame for being abnormal or wrong, that my failures would bring unnecessary drama. The feelings of my parents, whether expressly communicated or sensed became internalized and automatic. The state of being alone and powerless became pervasive.

I never enjoyed the idea of celebrating my birthday; I do enjoy getting older though.  What I feared was not getting older, but that no one would ever come to a birthday party for me.  Ever since grade-school, I have always wanted a surprise birthday party, where a home would be filled of people that wished to be there.  That dream has never come true, even when it was mandatory to report to a classmate’s birthday.

My sister was unable to make time to celebrate my birthday, and since family waited for each other to acknowledge milestones, birthdays adhered to my sister’s schedule; my sixteenth birthday was two months late because my sister couldn’t be bothered to take time off from work.  Eventually, I stopped sending invitations out at all, choosing to ignore the celebration and take enjoyment only from cards – and then settle for Facebook birthday posts.

My birthday was where I learned to exist within the cracks, as typically during the school year it fell in the middle of Winter Recess; becoming the excuse for why no one needed to hold a celebration for me.  I wanted to avoid any fuss that would draw attention from friends because if they were paying attention to me, I believed they’d peak beneath my mask and judge me inappropriate – or worse, inadequate.  Around friends, I remained shy as if they were strangers because facades kept everyone at an arm’s length.  It was simpler to cover my self-consciousness and inferiority beneath masks, that were fashioned for inclusion by adopting specific friend-interests, and sub-cultures, and abandoning my own.

Authenticity’s exposure is informed by expectations, the measurement ruler that experiences are held against.   Expectations color our how we present our authenticity, often diluting, covering up, or ignoring parts of myself that I would alienate me from those around me – the unique parts of an individual.  These interactions become cornerstones of authentic identity, informed by cooperative experiences.

The Narcassist Boy [01.2018]

Liar!  That’s the very definition of manipulation.  It dawned on me in that conversation that James thought I was going to keep my life on hold while he kept putting his together.  Just fuck off!

Now you’re being spiteful.

That would require giving a fuck, and I’m fresh out of fucks. He had made his affection ebb and flow until I was no longer able to care that he was completely gone.

He said, That doesn’t make any sense.  I’m not moving in!

I was relieved because if James moved in and if I didn’t thoroughly cater to him it would trigger an explosion of his anger towards life.

James made all his internal struggles my fault – just as Ben had.

James took advantage of my hard work to have a life of luxury – just as Frank had.

James made me bend and compromise into exhaustion – just as Joey had.

Every moment with James had dripped with desperation.  In the time between Joey and James, I had convinced myself that I only had one relationship before throwing the towel in (had one relationship left in me) and retiring to perennial bachelor.  James turned out to be that relationship.  I didn’t want to be alone, to be forgotten, and I had many fantasy-futures.  I had made a promise to give-up, and I really didn’t want to – I am a rom-com fan, like “What’s Your Number?”  I was hell-bent on not being a male-spinster.  I’m sure my desperation didn’t make me easy to live with, but – there is no but.

I would’ve been living for him, continuously biting my tongue, and living in the name of fear of abandonment; pretending to be stunted, but all that brought was being walked over, and misconstrued; I couldn’t keep surviving like that.  I was better off because it took too long to stop the tape of disparages telling me I am cruel, uncaring, and cold from playing in my mind.  I convinced myself that I loved him, but it was only a relationship.  James was every poor choice in one person, and by dating him I managed to begin truly exorcising ghosts of the past.

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Narcissist Boy [2018.01]

Bent Dating Mirrors

In high school, while I explored life through the internet, adults were just as eager to meet as peers.  I exchanged emails and messages more with adults, but their eagerness to meet only reinforced my Jodie Dallas induced greatest fears.  Still, though, I quickly accepted an adult’s invitation to meet.  In adult companionship, I saw a greater possibility of the exciting homosexual adventures, like those in Queer as Folk.  I had wanted big city Sex & the City adventures with Mr. Big, who’d take me to theatre and art openings.  And older men had seemed like the best way to experience that.  What I found instead was sneaking off to the backwoods of Upstate New York and trailer parks, where their own inauthenticity funhouse mirrored my own.  They were adults trapped in adolescence, attempting to stay past their prime by hanging with the freshly prime.  I was an adolescent playing adult, attempting to stay out past bedtime by hanging with those without a bedtime.

In college, I turned, again, to the internet to acquire homosexual dynamics.  I focused my attention away from the campus to familiar older gay males, hoping they’d be more worldly and attractive than when I lived at home. I quickly accepted invitations to meet.  Jodie Dallas’ specter faded from the peripheral of my concept of homosexuality.  The big city experiences that I had expected, from Sex & the City and Tales of the City, seemed like a greater possibility.  Instead of a NYC Queer as Folk, I repeated my youth in reverse, by escaping dorms into Yonkers, White Plains, and white suburbs along the New York and Connecticut border.  These ticky-tacky suburbs reflected like funhouse mirrors my suburban attempts at escape because now I was seeing behind the neighbors’ curtains, and I didn’t like it.  The men that I hung movie and TV inspired fantasies on, whom I went home with, would close their curtains, citing their need for privacy.

As experiences grew my perceptions, I came to see “privacy” as a bent mirror to my rejection of the homosexual label.

Back on the college campus, relationships were fleeting but sex was not. Sexual encounters were often furious and fleeting, held in others’ dorm rooms while their roommates were away, or secluded areas within lecture halls late/early mornings.  Despite my sexual escapades during this time I continued to rebel from any identity label, that I had no history with.  I was unable to break the cycle that had resulted from middle and high school’s habit of isolating in my room.  The relationship that I had dreamt of, had hoped for during the college experience, eluded me.  I was good enough for a lay, but not to spend time with.

In post-undergrad and grad-school, I doctored acceptable variations of myself, believing my exposed self would not be good enough.  My authenticity was deferred to others to avoid insult and derision.  Receding behind partners’ goals I built up their hopes, while exploring how to play with the truth, creating narcissistic chaos that ultimately resulted in implosion.

Entering Two Worlds

Adult homosexuals from the internet were just as eager to meet as peers I interacted more with adults, but their eagerness to meet only reinforced my Jodie Dallas induced greatest fears of being queer.  Still, though, I more quickly accepted an adult’s invitation to meet than a peers’.  In adult companionship, I saw a greater possibility of the exciting homosexual adventures, like those in Queer as Folk; their adventures seemed like the safe juvenile antics I should be participating in.  I had wanted big city Sex & the City adventures with Mr. Big, who’d take me to theatre and art openings.  What I found instead was sneaking off to the backwoods of Upstate New York and trailer parks, where their own inauthenticity funhouse mirrored my own.  They were adults trapped in adolescence, attempting to stay past their prime by hanging with the freshly prime.  I was an adolescent playing adult, attempting to stay out past bedtime by hanging with those without a bedtime.  The very nature of my game necessitated duplicity as I navigated the two worlds that I had begun inhabiting, as I tried on various masks and identities.

Superficiality

In homosexuality the superficiality of idolized physicality was not me – the queer geek who’s the interests, experiences, and beliefs existed on the peripheral of popular.  I liked dressing in big sweatshirts and sweaters with oversized jeans; everything I wore was about disappearing my differences.  The popular straight boys, who got all the attention, were pop-idols and porn stars who looked like Justin Timberlake in Abercrombie & Fitch.  Not me.

Abandonment became engrained in middle school when everyone began pairing-off to experimenting with relationship dynamics, leaving me feeling alone.  I couldn’t go to local gay youth groups because I wasn’t ready for an identity label, which was rooted in the denial that was needed in high school to survive.  The homosexual teenagers I conversed with through the internet seemed so much braver than myself because they had found and proclaimed their inner authenticity.  Their assured identity, confidence in their labels – which had already been presented to their parents – gave them the bravery to ask to meet immediately.  I was incapable of reading other homosexual teenagers’ eagerness to meet as a shared isolation, and so made excuses as to why that couldn’t happen.