Are you foaming at the mouth to know? Because it’s not really a big deal. Okay, here goes: I’m gay. Not a huge deal, right? I still haven’t been able to admit this to myself for the better part of my thirty-three years. I think my family AND most of the women in my life have known this way longer than I have.
I’ve enjoyed the things I’ve done with women but never been comfortable with the way it’s made me feel. As if I’m not allowed to enjoy being myself. As if I need to be a knight in shining armor. As if I’ve needed to be something I’m not. I should go ahead and tell you that I reject a lot of what people think it means to be a man. I stand up for those I value and I do my best to be an honorable and ethical person but… That’s not all that defines a man now is it?
When I met my first girlfriend I treasured and worshipped her. But I could never quite be what she needed. I almost walked down the aisle for her. I was committed but….still uncomfortable. Girls, excuse me … Women.. Always required a certain level of … I guess aggression from me that simply wasn’t there.
For years I made myself hopelessly miserable trying to conform to what I thought women wanted. I loved them deeply but could never be that alpha male they so burned for. I wanted so badly to be what they wanted that I incinerated all sense of myself in favor of what the situation required.
Despite occasional moments of ecstasy I was losing my mind. I was engaged, installing ACs for a living, driving a truck and seemingly living the dream. Only I wanted to die every day. Every day I took a long hard look at myself and threw it in the garbage because I loved her so desperately I wanted it to be true.
I ended up breaking up with her. I knew why but wasn’t ready to intellectualize it. When I told her I felt something light strike me in the chest. It was the engagement ring I gave her. I said ‘What’s this?’. She replied ‘What do you think?’ as I quietly wept.
I don’t hold it against her. She just wanted her man to be her man. I just decided to cut and run before I made an even bigger mess.
Long have I mutilated myself in the name of being what others expect of me. I finally gave up on my last heterosexual relationship as a matter of practicality. She was using me and I wasn’t even vaguely attracted to her anymore. Her being so spiteful made it easier than expected.
So after several years of wasted effort I found myself living with Mom again. Working a shitty food prep job and just generally hating life, really. This went on for nearly a year. Then, something happened that made me feel validated. I’ll expand on that in a moment.
I was engaged to be married not once but twice. But both times a nagging thought invaded my head. ‘What if this isn’t really what you want?!?’. It ate at me constantly and became the focal point of my thought.
I escaped the altar once to … Do it again?!? This is what I kept thinking to myself with a girl who was my best friend since high school. Both times I was told that I was fully accepted for what I was but… As long as you’re my man. This didn’t seem like too tall an order until….
I found myself thinking about my old boyfriend all the time. Knowing it didn’t work but wishing it had. Missing something I couldn’t put my finger on. Nights of the most weepy solitude wishing I knew what the hell my problem was. Nights of holding myself in my own arms and yearning for peace. Nights of getting to know myself fully.
So… I stayed alone. Lived at my mother’s home, went to work and pretty much cursed life 24/7. But then as I said before, something happened. Out of boredom I decided to go to my first theatrical audition. I had been in a few shows but never actually earned a part.
When I auditioned for ‘A Flea In Her Ear’ I ran into Shannon, who I knew from ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ in the previous year. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but my life was already changing.
I worked really hard on this show, as an actor and a Stage Manager. There was something building slowly between Shannon and I but again I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it. The show went on and we all worked really hard as the show required.
As we entered performances it seemed like business as usual. Little did I know what was in store. There’s a scene in act two of ‘Flea’ where my character (Rugby, horny British guest at the hotel d’amour beats up Shannon’s character Jacques)I got a little into it one night. Like broke the set with his body into it.
I went up to Shannon backstage and asked if he was alright. He said something to the effect of ‘I’ve been waiting for you to manhandle me like that for a year and a half!’.
My immediate reaction was one of a wide smirking ‘Yeah?!?’. We got through that night of the show but from there the interest was firmly established.
About halfway through the run, one of the actors had a party on Clearwater Beach that we all went to. I coyly asked Shannon if he had a ride as I was rocking Mom’s minivan at the time. He replied he didn’t and I began to put my plan into action.
I played it cool, as we both tried to. We both knew what was up. We began holding hands as we crossed the bridge to the beach as Depeche Mode oozed through the speakers. I think everyone at the party knew we had a thing going.
That show plus rehearsing another almost pushed me over the edge but… Something was happening to me. My gait was light and my belly was full of butterflies. I felt like a tipsy teenage girl and pretty much acted like one.
It only took a couple months of this to completely turn my world upside down. People at work would say to me ‘What the hell has gotten into YOU?’. I would say ‘I’m just in a good mood is all.’ But my huge smirk would betray me.
I was in love. Like hard. And I still am. This is why I never walked down the aisle with a woman. Because I couldn’t bring myself to murder the essence of my being. Because I didn’t want to get married, have kids, finally realize I’m queer for sure and be like ‘See ya!’. One because it wasn’t what I wanted and two because I couldn’t bring myself to do that to another human being.
I had been with men when I formed my relationships with women. But I had never loved another man. I knew if I tied the knot I was risking the prospect of never knowing. And I. Just. Couldn’t.
When my relationship with Shannon began to blossom I was nervous and terrified but oddly at peace because it was finally happening to me after all that madness and soul searching.
I am a homosexual. And that’s just fine with me. For the first time in my life i feel comfortable and at peace. This is what I want and I’m grateful beyond words for the freedom to express my being.
Thanks for reading, whoever you may be.