Identity in Separate Baubles

Art by Sachin Teng
Art by Sachin Teng

Being homosexual has consistently been present in my life, beginning when I was 9 years old when AIDS entered my consciousness, putting a dark stigma became attached to being homosexual.  The original facts I had about homosexuality came to me through knowledge about AIDS, gleamed from the deaths of Anthony Perkins and Robert Reed, effectively connecting homosexuality with death, separation, and sensationalism.  With limited exposure to healthy examples of homosexuality I stumbled into a stagnate malleable inauthentic identity, designed for avoidance.

As I grew up I struggled with the idea that there was something false and untrue about my place in the world.  In reaction, I created a false self that wasn’t defective or flawed.  I diluted or ignored parts of myself that I thought would alienate me from those around me.  When a false-self was created I ceased to be an authentic human being.  The psychologist, the late Alice Miller calls this “soul-murder” – shame that leads to believing that I was a failure. Self-contempt, isolation, and a strong sense that I was untrustworthy accompanied each other until I believed I was a failure. Shame became my core identity, shutting me down to human relationships, living in hopelessness, and locked in a set of very unhealthy beliefs. Continue reading “Identity in Separate Baubles”

Verve (February 2017)

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.

GWM ISO James Corden-Type

GWM ISO James Corden [2017.05]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 Dreams

Art by Joe Kelly
Art by Joe Kelly

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.

Undergrad Realization

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.

Three Icons Make 1

Art by George Petty
Art by George Petty

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.

Undergrad Dating

 

“In the Year 2001″ by an illustrator in 1895, via The Appendix
“In the Year 2001″ by an illustrator in 1895, via The Appendix

For my undergrad I attended SUNY @ Purchase, where perfect was the antithesis of high school, evolving to be the artistic and eccentric.  In college perfect was chased by girls and boys, and 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 sudden gust of attention, I set my sights on who was deemed the most desired boy on campus: Daniel.  He wasn’t actually a student, but was the friend of the students on the floor below me, and visited every weekend.  Luckily, the friends I had made on my floor knew the people down stairs through a mutual friend from Long Island; guess New York City isn’t that big of a city. Continue reading “Undergrad Dating”

Dating Templates

I learned early that existence was being in a state of constant heartbreak, longing to be within a cozy weekend bubble with another.  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?

I didn’t go to local gay youth groups to meet peers 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 gave them the bravery to ask to meet immediately.  To me they had already labeled themselves and claimed to have said as much to their parents.  Being exceedingly reluctant of labels, I was intimidated, fearing their permanence.  I wasn’t ready to be placed in any box, let alone the wrong one; and then go through the embarrassment of changing labels.  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.

There were homosexual adults whom I interacted with through the internet, and 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 entertained ideas of big city adventures like Sex & the City, and meeting Mr. Big, who’d take me to the theatre and art openings.  What I instead found was sneaking off to the backwoods of Upstate New York and trailer parks, where their own inauthenticity funhouse mirrored my own.

I was in college by that time and finally saw healthier homosexual relationships, through 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.  I wanted to emulate the relationships by running errands, sharing chores, and cooking together.  Our existence would be dictated by shared calendars and outings.  It would be teamwork and comradery.

I crafted doctored acceptable variations of myself, believing my exposed self would not be good enough.  The knowledge my authenticity was deferred to others in an effort to avoid insult and derision.  Receding behind partners’ goals I built up their hopes, while exploring how to play with the truth, creating chaos that would ultimately result in implosion.

Authentic Wants in a Mate

If “funny” or “sense of humor” is wanted, then what kind of sense of humor/funny? Sarcastic? Dry? Goofy? Everyone wants someone that’s intelligent – who wants to talk to a bag of rocks?  There are different intelligences; emotional, scientific, inter/intrapersonal, etc. Are you emotionally strong and don’t need someone to consistently ask “what’s wrong” because doing so would drive you insane? Every preference is valid and worthy, appealing to Each of those senses of humor appeal to personal preferences and a personalized way through life that would make them (and oneself) more appealing to go through life’s hardships together. A relationship is more likely to implode when personalities don’t click because one, or both, do not know what it is that makes them comfortable, happy, and synchronicity.

Knowing traits are specifically wanted in a mate, removing the broad fantasy of idealized traits, and knowing specifically what balances or engages oneself will help avoid dating or marrying someone else’s mate.  One way to do this in modernity is to think deeply and critically about the media and experiences that are engaged in.  What about that TV show or song brought the emotional response?  What memories are triggered?  Connecting pass-time enjoyments to memories enables authentic and vibrant emotional responses, that inform decisions leading to agency in life.  Critically learning the triggered responses from accumulated experiences and cultivated media-preferences, it is possible to lean on our authentic selves and not imposed idealized expectations to find fulfillment.

Verve (5/08-5/12)

NERDSI exist in a state of constant heartbreak, longing to be within a cozy weekend bubble with another.  In the past I sunk under the weight of pursing others like a puppy only to not be selected; my authenticity – the interests, experiences, and beliefs – has always existed on the peripheral of popular.

An element of fear of abandonment became engrained in middle school when everyone began experimenting with relationship dynamics.  Every student appeared to pair-off, leaving me feeling alone.  During this delicate time, I turned to the people around me as models of domesticity, which did not perfectly reflect what felt natural to me.  In culture role-models were Ellen DeGeneres when she came out while I was in high school, but unfortunately her breezy character became heavy, angry, and hurt  The relationship her character presented was full of drama and bickering.  Queer as Folk on Showtime presented more of the same, but this time heavy drug use was included.  I was in college by that time and finally saw healthier homosexual relationships, through 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.  I wanted to emulate the relationships by running errands, sharing chores, and cooking together.  Our existence would be dictated by shared calendars and outings.  It would be teamwork and comradery.  I crafted doctored acceptable variations of myself, believing my exposed self would not be good enough.  The knowledge my authenticity granted was deferred to others in an effort to avoid insult and derision.  Receding behind partners’ goals I built up their hopes, while exploring how to play with the truth, creating chaos that would ultimately result in the relationship imploding.