I never believed that your sexuality was something that needed to be worn as an identification badge. But on the other hand, humans are sexual beings inexplicably wired to little impulses and drives to connect with each other.
How all of this manifests itself to our consciousness is way beyond my level of comprehension, but I clearly feel its affects.
As I am sure you do too.
Human society seems to be hell bent on categorizing us by our sexual partners… and by who we are wired to fall in love with.
A sexual act does not define our sexuality. It is merely a single vessel that it used by each one of us to satisfy physical and sometimes emotional needs.
What makes the difference is the force inside you that allows acceptance of whether that desire will be filled by a man, woman or assorted combination.
For me, it has never about choice when it comes to my sexuality; every since I can remember, my sexual preference was hard wired into my consciousness. I never struggled with knowing what I was attracted to.
But coming completely out is still a work in progress for me. There are still people in my life to include my very own father that I have not had “the conversation” with.
It’s not about avoidance, shame or fear; it all boils down to relevance. Who I sleep with has nothing to do with defining me as a man. It is not a badge of honor, it is not a condemnation.
Responsibility, loyalty, trustworthiness, dependability and compassion for others are just a few adjectives that come to mind when thinking of my defining description of being a man.
“Who I lay with” is not one.
Having the freedom to live without restriction regarding the things that make me the man that I am has become an integrated part of me. As I torpedo into the second half of my life, I feel fortunate that I have been able to reach a mental peace that some never will.
But sadly for some, their internal struggle with sexuality may follow them to life’s end.
A time ago, I was on a smart phone app called Grindr. Call it what you will, it’s nothing more than a location based hook up site for men. Just like any number of dating or hook-up venues, it pays to use it with caution.
In my experience, a disturbing number of guys tend to exaggerate or just flat out lie about who they are when using these ways of meeting others. I would do my best to screen out those who are misrepresenting themselves, but you can only do so much when someone is intent on deceiving you.
There are an exorbitant number of men that are married or in committed relationships that are not upfront about their status or are hiding a wife or boyfriend from you. Now I’m not here to touch on the morality of those actions (a discussion for later me thinks!) but being a single man at the time, it was an obstacle that brought unwanted complications I chose to avoid.
I came to that decision from personal experience.
So after I had been chatting with Tony for some time (real first name, never knew his last), I had believed that I had screened out that issue. I had learned from our communications that he was in his late forties, fun loving and interested in meeting someone that would be more than just a random “f***” to use his exact vernacular.
He seemed to be sincere, down to earth and humorous throughout our text talks. He came off as intelligent, classy and focused on what it was that he was looking for. I felt that he was different and I was compelled to meet this man behind the words.
The biggest contradiction to all this that I chose to set aside was that at various times during our chats, he had sent multiple pictures of himself in various stages of dress (read nudies). Now to me, this is not something a person seeking quality involvement with you would share; much less posses for distribution so readily.
But I did not care because aside from being very visually appealing to me, I really liked the person that he projected…seriously…regardless that I had seen his “bits.”
So the decision was made to meet on a Friday evening. We exchanged numbers and I told him to give me a call as he headed out. I would give him my address then but more importantly, hear his actual voice.
If I got a weird vibe from him, I could back out and he would never know anything other than my number and profile on the site…not where I lived.
Of course, he sent a text as he left out. A damn text. Is it so hard in this day and age to actually speak with someone? This was not in my plan. I replied and simply said call me, which he promptly replied “ok”…about twenty minutes later.
So when he did call, I was already agitated. His voice was what I expected…smooth self assured with a calm energy that sat well with me. He said that he was excited to meet finally and through our short first conversation, my agitation faded away.
That is until his arrival an hour and a half later. He was supposed to be at my place in fifteen minutes.
Things only got worse. When he arrived, I was displaced by his appearance. The pictures that he sent were clearly at least ten years old …and what a difference the ten years made in his case.
Though still visually appealing, he was a caricature of his photos. What I had standing before me required a bit of realigning from the visual persona I had formed from the pictures he previously sent.
All of this realigning and readjusting took place in my head as we exchanged pleasantries and I invited him in. Hey, I didn’t say he was a dog… just different.
I was curious about the overstuffed back pack he was carrying and it did not take long for me to find out what it contained.
As he walked in and took off his back pack, he asked me if I liked porn. Porn? We had barely spoken more than a short paragraph to each other and he asks me this! He then reaches into his back pack and pulls out probably the largest laptop I had ever seen and asks me if I had a place to plug it in.
The man I had been communicating with online had turned out to be something built of my imaginative hopes. The real man there with me had proven to be irresponsibly late, looks like he could be the older brother of the guy in the photos he sent, and now, possibly some kind of a sexual deviant.
But the back breaking straw was placed when he told me that his wife had left that gargantuan laptop unplugged after using it, so the charge was almost depleted.
I had asked him if he was married, in a relationship, or anything inbetween. I had been without a doubt lied to. What else could he be lying about?
That was it…I had enough. This Tony was bad news and he had to go. I let loose on him about everything from being late to deliberately concealing his marital status.
I felt like a fool for my part in the situation. I should have told him to get bent when he arrived almost two hours later than he was supposed to. But at that point, none of it mattered. I wanted him gone.
As I stood there, going off he was conspicuously quiet, he did not say a word and just looked at me like a child that had done wrong.
After I finished my oral assault, he said simply that he was sorry. Sorry? I didn’t want an apology; I just wanted him to take his dead laptop and go.
But then as if the whole situation could not get any more charged, or bizarre, Tony began to pour out his life story as he placed the laptop back into his back pack.
He told me that he had been married for twenty-four years and that he was not happy. He did not know what to do because he felt trapped. His feelings of being attracted to men had been growing for the last ten years and so he felt compelled to discover what it was going on inside him.
He had been hooking-up with other men first by using Craigslist personals and then he discovered the Grindr smart phone app. He had met a lot of guys, but they either only wanted sex or did not want anything to do with him once they learned he was married.
The exposure Tony had to anything approaching a meaningful connection with another man came from hook-up sites. It was no wonder he was a mess. His behaviors developed from what he thought was normal out of meeting men in this way.
My feelings of anger towards him slowly subsided. I felt compassion for what he was going through as he shared more about his life. But I also told him that how he was going about supposedly finding himself was wrong and not healthy.
We spent the next hour or so talking, with me mostly listening. As we talked, the confusion, hurt and loneliness he was harboring became even more apparent.
It was sad to know that not only was this man going through this, but his wife, though unknowingly, was too. I told him that maybe he should seek professional help in some capacity to help cope with the years of suppressed feelings he had.
Tony got emotional a couple times during our talk. I wanted to do more for him, but in the end I believed I served him best by just allowing him to talk and listen compassionately.
It was getting late and Tony told me that he needed to get home. He told me that he has never shared the things he told me with anyone else. We reached out to shake hands and spontaneously he leaned in to hug me. He then stepped back, looked me in the eye, and thanked me. I told him that if ever he needed to talk, call me.
Other than seeing him online from time to time after that, I would never have any contact with him again.
In the end, my meeting with Tony left me feeling sad and yet thankful to this day about those in his situation. Sad for those struggling with their sexual identity and trapped within themselves leading false lives; thankful that being gay is not a mental illness or life threatening condition that needs to be fixed or ashamed of.
Your sexuality though a part of you, should not define you.
Suppressing what it is inside of you leads to acting out in ways that can be hurtful or even dangerous to yourself and possibly the ones you love. It can also be very lonely.
We live on a planet inhabited by billions of people. No one has to be alone.