I have been thinking about leaving New York. Not because I dislike it here. Quite the opposite: I really love this town. But I am not looking to be settled anywhere now and would like to move around a bit. I always get fairly wanderlusty in the fall anyway, but I have been in the city for a few years and don't care to go through another northern winter this year.
thinking of travelling has sent me rummaging through old email from times and places past. Since I have been on a big gay streak the last couple of weeks (not usually what I blog about), I thought I would insert this one into the public archives. This was a letter I sent to K- the summer after I graduated from college. After living in Charleston openly and comfortably for years, I was back home in AL spending the summer selling peaches off the back of a truck with my brother. After a supremely akward graduation dinner friends had cooked for me and my visiting family, I decided to break with tradition and bluntly come out my parents rather than just let them figure it out on their own. I generally prefer the more circuitous route and letting things fall where they naturally fall, but it wasn't working and it put my friends in the awkward position of not knowing what they could say around my family and having to act weird and not being able to introduce my boyfriend as such without turning the event into a fiasco.
So this is on into the summer, me missing my friends and Charleston and the small town life slowly sucking the life out of me. I'm having trouble psyching myself up for following through with coming out, but looking back these years later and how my relationship with my parents has gotten better and how much easier it is to stay in touch with my family and how much more 3-dimesional my life is with my kin, I don't doubt for a second that it was the right thing to do. If I hadn't, I probably wouldn't talk to my family very often right now and certainly not with the depth that we do.
anyway, this isn't a public service announcement for coming out, more just a record of a time and a place and a warning reminder of where my path could have taken me.
You aren't in rural AL living with your parents.
Just remind yourself of that when charleston feels small and annoying. I get to spend all day everyday smiling and wheeling and dealing with rednecks. It is terrifying how deeply you have to sink into good manners to keep from going crazy in this place. You just smile real big and say ma'am and sir and remind yourself that you are taking their money and smile just a little bigger still. I do that and go to class. A genetics class taught through the poultry science dept. at Mississippi's ag school. I am in class with people majoring in poultry science who had to take summer classes! Anyway, enough complaining, just reminding you that of all the places you could be, Charleston doesn't measure up too poorly.
I guess I shouldn't complain too much, I am kind of enjoying things here, but boy am I fucking bored too. I really don't mind selling peaches and it is nice to have money, but what in the hell can I do with it? The coffee house/bar that C- and I have always gone to has become really fucking lame and only really annoying unattractive people go there anymore. For however much you may think charleston has some ugly folks, you forget that far and away, ugly people way dominate the rest of the populace elsewhere.
I do have to say that I am remembering why it is important to have other gay people around you. Of course I miss all my gay buddies in Chucktown individually, but just what bad things it does to a person to be so inside themselves. Not really that I have to be that much more inside myself than I always am, but when no one gay really exists, it becomes so surreal. I can't find that gay bar that the internet said existed in Columbus and so the only way gay people have to meet that I know of around here is just by supersensitive gaydar and cruising.
It is weird for me because all of this is what I was around as I had to come to terms with being gay, but after being in Charleston and having the benifit of gay not really being something that you had to hide of worry about or that was strange or weird or subverted, I am just kind of repulsed at the whole thing. I am not trying to be on any moral high horse about people here or anything, but if you can't acknowledge being gay as part of you, the only outlet allowed to people is sex and because it isn't something that is really allowed to be dealt with openly, the sex that can be found has to be trashy, and I am just a little over all that stuff.
I am saying all this because it is strange to be in the position of being where there isn't anywhere that I can go to meet gay people just to talk, but because everyone gay is so repressed, I can walk down the street or through a store and just sight one person after the other who I could have sex with. No chance in hell that they would ever have a discussion about being gay or anything like that, but I could drive into Columbus and without really trying find someone to have sex with in less that an hour. At the bookstore, Walmart, the mall, the grocery store; you can just see and feel the people who are looking for it and half the time they have wedding rings on. Don't get me wrong; Columbus isn't exactly brimming over with gay men, but just imagine all the folks in Charleston if they were milling around and only had hopes of meeting someone else gay through eye contact and coded conversation. It is just really weird and it bothers me that it all seems really normal. Perhaps this is why I never really had much trouble dealing with Randolf: he is everywhere here. This is the battlefield that I was trained on, but I had kind of hoped that it had changed a little in my absence. I really just want to meet people to hang out with, not to have quick sex with in their truck or some bathroom. The closet does breed monsters, and there is nothing more tragic than the monster that you can't hate because you know how it grew. This is exactly what my course would have been set for if I hadn't gotten out. This part of why Randolf bothers me so much: he got out of all this but tried to bring it with him. I guess I should be more sympathetic to him anyway.
But back to what is going on here, coming out of the closet really doesn't mean a whole lot because you have nothing to do once you come out. You can't really just make good gay friends and get to know people. You can't just let it be a part of you and not really a big deal. You just have nothing to do with it except have sex and why bother coming out if sex is the only thing it can mean in your life? That's the part that isn't anybody's business anyway, gay or straight. I know that I still need to come out for me, but that is because I am moving on to bigger and better things and out of this hole and random sex with strangers isnt' all that being gay means to me, but it is just really bothering me that this is really all that is left to someone who lives here. I am sure that it isn't really totally as grim as I am painting it, and maybe there is some kind of gay culture hidden somewhere, but if it is so hidden that no one can find it, then it doesn't really make any difference anyway.
I am just a little bit irritated at the moment. I have come home and am planning on telling my family that I am gay, and I really am enjoying living with them this summer, but why tell them? All my reasons to tell them are past or future, nothing in the present. It will let me talk more clearly about life direction and plans and who I have dated and cared about, but what does being gay mean here? Nothing but having sex with a trucker/hairdresser/business man/cashier/(fill in any occupation) whose real name you don't know and who probably has a wife or girlfriend. Sorry to be so melodramatic and all, but I am just a little annoyed at the moment. Just to get to a point in my life where I am ready to stand up and be a whole person and take care of the things that I need to thinking that I am at this point because I have grown and matured and learned so much and that the reason that I hadn't come out before was because I wasn't really mature and confident enough; and then to come home and realize that I really did have reasons for thinking that coming out was ridiculous here and not understanding it and that nothing around here is really any better and that it isn't going to be any time soon. There is no good reason for a gay person to come out here unless they are moving away. It bothers me. It really bothers me that things are like this.
I guess I need to shut up and realize that change is affected slowly and that it is coming along, but I am spitfire mad at the moment. Cause I know it isn't just here. It isn't just Columbus, or P- Co, or AL, or MS, or even the fucking South. This is what it is like most places in the world and this is the way it has been for most of history. Sure there is progress, and sure there are welcoming places, but so long as most places aren't, it doesn't matter how moral or nice or good a gay person wants to be, most are relegated to just trying to hold it all inside and do nothing with it except for potentially some random sex sometime, and those who don't at least find that can look forward to all the mental problems that repression and self denial bring and are in good standing to turn into a schitzophrenic or a pedophile or an abusive husband. I know that I am being too intense about all this stuff. It just irritates me. I want to hate a man who tries to make eye contact with me and pick me up at mall with a wedding ring on his finger, but I can't because even as much as I am the big believer in ultimate choice and responsibility, I know how he got to this point, I know what options he has, I know what being a responsible gay person would require and how far away he would have to go and what he would have to leave to have that and why he is married and has kids. It bugs me so much because I had begun to get to the point that I felt strongly protective of young kids trying to make it as a fag in middle and high school and remembered and knew how real all of that struggle was, but I had gotten to a point where I felt that things weren't so bad for someone as an adult. That any adult should be able to find a place as a homosexual and that it wasn't incompatible with living a full open life. That the problems people percieved were more their own and not so much society. That people were ready for gay people to exist and be visible and that it really isn't that big a deal. It pisses me off that I can't really say that anymore. I know that even though you can make it as a gay person and you can survive all right, stepping out of the closet also means that you often have to step out of your community. That if you are in small town america, there isn't a place for you to be open because if you are open, you are suddenly put under a microscope and made to feel even more alone than before. If you are in the closet, at least you have the other closeted people in there with you. YOu may not really get to talk to them much except for maybe a small circle of friends, but you know they are there and they know you are there and all that. But you come out and suddenly you are a thing apart. You are out of the closet and stuck there with big dumb world of straight people and a few sitcom characters. This doesn't mean that you can suddenly have a boyfriend or a date; no one else is out and it is harder to pull off now because everyone knows and any guy with you is outing himself. Why bother? Why fucking bother ever coming out? Just so the people around you can know what you like and to give you an excuse for not having a girlfriend? Who gives a damn? So you can be better friends with the only people who are out, which are the super queeny hair dresser types who couldn't really hide it anyway? just what I have always wanted. So that those attempting to be supportive can play every dumb straight person's favorite gay game: "I know this guy who is perfect for you; he is gay," and try to set you up with some fat divorced accountant who is only out because his son found his porno stash and blew the cover? So sure it isn't really all that bad, but it bothers me that some of it is. It isn't supposed to be anymore and it still really really is. I am not much one to sit around and whine about the way things should be and think people should just stand up and do the best they can with what they have and where they are, but I guess I am just too aware of what people are left with. I hate being bothered with sympathy and all that crap. I don't have the time, energy, or personality for it; but I'm not blind or dense and I can see what goes on around me. Anyway, that is enough of my bitching and whining. Sorry, I kind of just let it fly in email.
anyway, things really are pretty good around here and I am enjoying hanging out with my family. I love having my brothers around. But I have a test tomorrow and I have to get up in about 3 hours, so I gotta run. Be nice to everyone, and tell them I said hi.
I miss you.
PS I have to send you a picture of me in the paper selling peaches. Full color front page picture in the Sunday paper. Says something about the town doesn't it?