When I dream of ex-boyfriends, I omnisciently observe what I imagine is a typical day: wake up, go to work (nurse, hair stylist, sales), then home to their husbands. In my dreams, I give them the happy relationship that wasn’t possible with me. They were good boyfriends, just not good for me; they were someone else’s happy relationship.
All male friendship I’ve attempted has been with unattainable straight men, which quickly fizzled. It didn’t need to be the most attractive guy, but the man most girls circled. I relied on being an exaggerated clown, flirting in hopes to win over the guy to have validation-sex. Do straight women flirt to begin male friendships? Regardless, the speed of the friendship’s lifespan was dictated by the quality time spent together. Homosexual or queer friendships have been very rare. The homosexuals I met for friendship, found through my standby outlet – the internet. The bonds that were attempted consistently had an expectation of friend with benefit situation. Friendship or old-fashioned dating was off the table. I found those that took that route to be overbearing, as shallow as I pretended to be, or what I used for a mask was their true personality.
I learned early that existence was being in a state of constant heartbreak. The gay domesticity templates of Jodie Dallas, Ellen, and other early homosexual representation demonstrated that life would never consist of a cozy weekend bubble with another, only the longing for one. While Jodie Dallas was perpetually single, Ellen DeGeneres’ presentation of homosexual relationship was full of drama and bickering. These examples of playing-house were a lacking perfect reflection of what I wanted, which was the bittersweet rom-com of When Harry Met Sally, or How to Marry a Millionaire; and later 13 Going on 30, What’s Your Number, Sex & the City.
In the past, I sunk under the weight of pursing others like a puppy only to not be selected. The superficiality of idolized physicality in homosexuality was not me. Perfect was the Abercrombie & Fitch model or Justin Timberlake; the pop-idol and the porn star got all the attention. Not me, the queerly geek whose authenticity – the interests, experiences, and beliefs – existed on the peripheral of popular. How could they not see how cool I was? Continue reading “GWM ISO James Corden-Type”→
Manhattan was the setting where I could pursue being queerly perfect. Manhattan was the place I wanted to have my original introduction to homosexual subculture. New York City’s celebration of subculture and minorities was to be the place where I’d be amongst others who actively kept their queerness secret from family and friends because society won’t accept it.
With a false identity in place, I adventured beyond campus-boys to older gay males. I quickly accepted invitations, hoping that I’d be a step closer to NYC-escape. Behind my more sophisticated and cool mask older men seemed more worldly and attractive. The Jodie Dallas specter faded from the peripheral of my concept of homosexuality, Sex & the City experiences that I had dreamed of seemed a greater possibility. Instead of the Manhattan fantasy – theatre, dinners, and art galleries – I repeated my suburban youth in reverse. This version though didn’t synchronize with the ticky-tacky boxes. Now I saw behind the neighbors’ curtains, and I didn’t like it. Calling them dates is using the term at its loosest. The men that I went home with would close their curtains, citing their need for privacy. As my perceptions grew I came to see “privacy” as a bent mirror to my rejection of the homosexual label.
There was freedom to undergrad life away from home near New York City, of a world that I had dreamed deeply about escaping to. Manhattan was the setting where I could pursue being queerly perfect. I have always had dreams of living in Manhattan, beginning with the rollicking technicolor adventure of Disney’s Oliver & Company that created the landscape that fueled my queer escape fantasies. Oliver & Company painted the picture of New York City, and Sex & the City populated the city with the experiences and people I wanted. Sex & the City’s high playful fashion, wit, and comradery showed a New York City was the world that was tailored to me.
Knowing that NYU or other colleges within Manhattan or New York City itself were beyond my reach, I became an alum of SUNY @ Purchase. In the shadow of the city I wanted to call home, I freely made my homosexuality explicit and explore relationship dynamics. In college, I found that perfect hand transmogrified into the antithesis of high school, evolving to be the artistic and eccentric. Outside of high school, perfect was chased by girls and boys, but perfect boys were more likely to chase boys back. Perfect was still not the quietly humorous one who liked school and read in his dorm – he was cool though, which afforded me the opportunity to be entertained by a peer as a possible date.
Refreshed by a gust of attention, I maintained a crush on Marc, the friend of the students on the floor below me, and visited every weekend. My dormmates knew Marc’s friends on the floor below through a mutual friend from Long Island; guess New York City isn’t that big of a city. I bought weed for the first time to impress them, in an effort to appear more appealing to Marc. My crush was an obvious fact that quickly dissipated by his rejection (I wasn’t his type, and he preferred guys more seasoned than I was). His friends felt sympathy for me, revealing that Marc gets crushed on a lot. I thought how if I wasn’t special or a first to Marc I’d move on and I was over him. We hung out after and it was clear we had nothing in common other than our mutual friends. During that friendship, I saw that beneath bravado, was a desperate want for stability with a boyfriend, just as I did.
The identity I forced was rooted in femme fatales of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Garbo, Dietrich, and Bacall fascinated me. Each of them exemplified a chilly aloof, embodying characters who lived as if any compliment was no surprise. Their no non-sense control was what I needed to conceal the embarrassed boy.
In the three actresses, I found icons I could take who I was and reshape myself. Growing up excluded from school parties and youth groups, I learned a preference for being alone or with the few close friends I had. Like MGM did with Garbo, I molded an air of mystery around myself, utilizing silence and deflecting questions to gloss over my lack of life experience. I became the master of the eye roll. I learned to manipulate people’s gaze through the way I dressed and colored my hair, fetishizing myself, just as Dietrich had. Combining the two I designed a Bacall inspired display of command over movement and gesture, never crawling to be noticed.
I consulted them frequently for advice on how to play it cool. The best masks sit directly upon the face – smoothing over to present a picturesque self. A generalized individuality to be seen and easily blend into a crowd.
News reached me that my cousin, my mother’s sister’s son, came out as gay at the age of 44 years old. He’s met a man that he is moving to the Carolinas for. I wonder how his journey went – what lead him to realizing he was gay; why couldn’t he say sooner; why didn’t he at least tell me? “Your cousin finally came out,” my mother had said, informing me. Was I oblivious, wrapped in egocentrism? Ex-boyfriends had told me that he was gay when they first met him, but I brushed their observations off with an aloof, “Okay.” I never felt obligated to care or take notice to welcome him into the tribe – or it appears him towards me.
Over the years, as I have embraced my uniqueness – shown self without a mask – I have found the term queer to better suit my identity. I never felt as if homosexual was my tribe. The punks and outsiders always felt like my people – the ones who believed normal was an insult. A sexual identity has never felt important to my survival – rather not being alone, having a sense of community, of empathy, is what I have been after. Continue reading “Queer Identity: Against Homonormatives”→
Growing up I longed for a surprise party that was like what was seen on movies, where a home would be filled of people that wished to be there. That dream has never come true, even in grade-school when it was mandatory to report to a classmate’s birthday. 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. 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. Later, this became 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.
Wonder Woman, Diana Prince, with her powerful abilities, centuries of training and experienced at handling threats that range from petty crime to threats that are of a magical or supernatural nature, Diana is capable of competing with nearly any hero or villain. She’s concurrently the fiercest and most nurturing member of the Justice League, capable of making the hard decisions. Wonder Woman’s hard-decision making is derived from her backstory and characterization. In comic books and the DC Universe Wonder Woman’s nickname, The Amazon Princess, makes obvious the dichotomy inherent in the premiere super-heroine. As an Amazonian she is a trained warrior, powerful, strong-willed, and does not back-down from a battle. The princess aspect of the character places her in the political and diplomatic spheres, pursing peace without escalating conflicts. In both worlds Wonder Woman is a leader, who, unlike Superman and Batman, understands the ramifications globally and locally of her actions.
In the DC Trinity Superman is the admiral inspiring heroes to be their best; Batman is the general making the plans other heroes follow; Wonder Woman is the soldier shoulder to shoulder with the other heroes in the battle. Soldiers are the decisive faction in an army, and in an army of superheroes Wonder Woman is the hard-decision maker. Where Superman and Batman hold tightly to the superhero code, do not kill, Wonder Woman comes at solutions with more ambiguity. She is the decision maker who makes the difficult decisions, where killing is never completely off the table, such as when she kills Ares God of War by cleaving an axe through his skull (vol3, #33). There is also the infamous neck snap of telepathic villain Maxwell Lord to save Superman and by extension the planet. Maxwell Lord had taken control of Superman and used him to nearly kill Batman. A brutal battle ensues, Wonder Woman defends herself by slicing Superman’s throat with her tiara, and uses the Lasso of Truth on Lord to demand to know how to end his mental control over Superman, which he revealed was to kill him; if put in jail he’d just escape, regain mental dominance of Superman, and begin again. Seeing no other way to end the carnage an amoral Superman would cause, Wonder Woman snapped Maxwell Lord’s neck. While Wonder Woman’s actions are defendable, saving her friends and the planet, her decisiveness put her at odds with other heroes who ardently stand-by the superhero code.
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At SUNY @ Purchase, I freely made my homosexuality explicit and explore relationship dynamics. I was no virgin before or during college, but a relationship continued to elude me. I wasn’t laser focused on acquiring a boyfriend because the class load made it quickly clear that was not going to happen. I was a child compared to my classmates who all seemed much worldlier than I. Their world seemed so much bigger than the one I came from, filled with parties and adventures that I had only see in movies and television. I desperately wanted to be like them, sophisticated, well-read, and so comfortable in their uniqueness that they could sell themselves. This was something I couldn’t be, but I could pull forth a façade.
Hours were spent in the college’s library developing my cool gay cabinet, identity, and vocabulary; I read cultural writers to know what to think, and studied the writers and artists to know what to get away with. I formed a cabinet of (famous or not; perfect or not; real or fictional) people of characteristics to emulate, to develop a crisper identity and world-view. The cabinet that was selected had no root in the people and interests of my own, but in the interests of the people I wanted to impress; Kafka, architecture, Feminism, playwriting, and psychology. I could converse deeply about their interests, and engrain myself into their graces. They revealed themselves, exposing their interests and desires, while I continued behind a mask that reflected them back. Everyone enjoys seeing themselves in others because it knocks down walls of isolationism, in favor attachment.
I was 9 years old when AIDS entered my consciousness, putting a dark stigma became attached to being homosexual. The facts that I knew of AIDS came from what was gleamed from the deaths of Anthony Perkins and Robert Reed, effectively connecting homosexuality with death, separation, and sensationalism. This opposed the previous generation of the 1960s and 70s, who found a footing after Stonewall pushed back underground and took on a seedy 8mm feel. In the pre-internet era, there was limited ability to connect to others in the homosexual subculture, which could counter my first impressions. These circumstances led to low queer acculturation particularly if someone lived away from gay neighborhoods in urban areas. Growing up independent of a greater knowledge of homosexuality, I never became interested in homosexual culture, liberation/movement, camp, or fashion. With limited exposure to homosexuality my development stagnated with a malleable inauthentic identity, designed for avoidance.