Tag Archives: gay lifestyles

From Relationship Woes To Intimate Foes: Tales Of Growing Up Gay

gay artsy

Originally I was going to share a much sweeter, softer tale of growing up gay. But I feel with the way things have been going in the lives of people that I care deeply about that it’s more pertinent to share about the hardships of relationships. See, the truth is that there is no point you reach where you’ve completely grown so much that there’s no need for lessons. From the moment we first discover our sexuality we are constantly growing from our experiences. Our entire lives are a part of the process in understanding what gay means to us.

In my previous tales when I talked about completely coming out of the closet it may have appeared as though everything afterward turned out like a fairy tale (pun intended). Life for me at that point however was anything but a happily ever after. In fact for a time my life was a complete nightmare. It was because I honestly did not know what being gay meant for me. No matter how much I observed other gay men and their relationships prior to coming out I quickly learned that I couldn’t apply everything I saw or heard to my own life.

So sadly I did not run off into the sunset with the man I had been in love with for nearly six years. Even with the sweet memories I have of our courtship throughout my undergrad years we soon discovered that our lives were moving in two separate directions and more importantly we were just not right for each other. This relationship served as my first example of relationships not always being as fun and rose colored as I thought (and hoped) they’d be. The time was really more about transitions than living. Coming out to my friends and other loved ones that didn’t already know went smoother than I expected echoing the rhetoric that they always knew deep down and didn’t care.

Even with all the overwhelming support and unwavering love I still staggered with defining what gay meant to me. Wondering how much being gay defined me. I did not know how to be gay. This was immensely true when interacting with other gay men. In the beginning you ask yourself ask yourself so many questions about your first relationship as an openly gay man. What are the rules? What’s done differently than straight relationships? Can they last? The lessons we learn

But the biggest lessons about relationships came soon after that relationship ended. After my brush with death and time had passed I was at the most vulnerable time in my life thus far. Being in graduate school had its pressures and trials but those were expected. As was every other area of my life. But emotionally I felt extremely vulnerable. Some of my personal relationships with friends were changing for the worse. Maybe it was because I felt so removed from everyone else and trying to figure out the more detailed nuances of sex and courtship and romance. Or maybe I had a life altering experience and didn’t want to admit how much the experience changed me. So as a result I learned the hard way what relationships meant to me.

During this early stage I met a man that was a couple of years younger but had been out much longer than me. Charismatic and engaging were the first things that attracted me to him. Outspoken and blunt were also assumed great attributes to his character. He also had an amazingly firm body with these dazzling greyish green eyes that caught you off guard every time his gaze rested upon you. I was so smitten with him that he moved in with me only a couple of months after we began dating. How much I wish now that we’d taken more time to really know each other because it never would’ve happened.

Soon after we were living in the same space I discovered his debilitating habits that were much more than leaving the cap off the toothpaste. This man was very heavy into the booming gay scene of our college town and the surrounding areas. At the time that scene was mainly comprised of finding open spaces or private homes where men could gather and do copious amounts of drugs and engage in sexual adventures so novel that even my curious nature was taken back.

Part of me understood this behavior because most of these men, like me, had been suppressing or hiding their sexuality for most of their lives and had finally conquered that challenge so they had a lot of catching up to do. They just wanted to have fun. Even knowing by my own experience the feeling of relief it was to be an openly gay man with an urge to celebrate at any given moment the whole time I felt overwhelmed by what I was witnessing. Even more so because the man I was living with was so into this environment and I chose to believe him when he said that this is just what gay men do.

It came to a point that I rationalized his escalating behavior as being a part of a gay man back then. That we don’t live by the rules that everyone else does so I should just go with it. But inside I was miserable. Scared. Sad.Because looking back the life of hard partying was not where I wanted to be at that point in my life. But it was more than just wanting what I saw in the emerging pro-gay ads or whatever new aged approached my boyfriend thought about at the time to feed his habits. My life was conflicting two separate ideals at the same time because I couldn’t decide who was right in what being in a relationship as a gay man meant. But the answers finally came and when they did they knocked the air out of me.

The habits of my boyfriend began spilling over into our day to day lives. His drug use was no longer recreational but necessary in order for him to (dys)function. He felt that stealing my debit card to buy more drugs was acceptable and I was being too rigid. Never mind the fact that this habit also brought out moments of uncontrolled anger and disturbing public tantrums. Never did he direct it towards me because I was tall and big enough but he did to others.

That was followed by him asking for me to hold him so that it would reinforce the idea that I was his knight in shining armor to protect and love him all the while our house laid in ruins from his destructive behavior. This cycle affected me so much that it further strained friendships that were going through hard times. I felt emotionally robbed because I was losing my identity because I was always cleaning up after him and mending the bridges he was hellbent on burning down. Didn’t matter that I was being burned in the process.

Throughout our relationship I felt that because of my training that I should’ve known everything there was to do in dealing with his ways and an inability to handle them was a fault on my part. So it made it acceptable for me to stand by while his problems became more severe along with his stifling infidelities. Naively, or rather foolishly I believed that this was what gay relationships were like. Constantly filled with spontaneity and comprising our own rules as we go. That gay men define our relationships differently so they don’t look like everyone else’s. But deep down I knew this was not right. It was me not wanting to deal with the truth. I did not want to face that this wasn’t some new aged approach to relationships. I was settling for someone who had issues that desperately needed to be addressed.

See before this realization I let his addictions become my problem along with how he viewed relationships. We had become so much a part of each other’s life that I began to let my self-esteem erode away and become dependent on his vacillating emotional state. I’m not saying that you should walk away from someone that has issues and are struggling with their own demons. But there comes a point in every relationship that you have to begin weighing how much is benefited by you staying and asking yourself what you really want. What makes it all different is if the person is willing to actually invest. That’s when it finally clicked to me that I was listening to what everyone else’s ideals of what relationships between two men look like instead of asking myself what that meant for me. Thankfully before it irrevocably ruined my life I found the courage to say that this relationship was not healthy for either of us and that he needed help.

I had enough of studying at my kitchen table and silently cry my eyes out because deep down I knew this wasn’t right. This is not what gay men do as I’d let him convince me. Him having unprotected sex with other men wasn’t just what every gay man does. Him stealing from me and our home was not just what other gay men do. Him treating me like utter garbage and me just accepting that it was part of two men in a relationship was sure as hell not just what other gay men do. It made me hate him and myself for not listening to what I wanted in that relationship.

All the questions I had asked myself numerous times about what’s the difference between gay relationships and straight relationships was ridiculous in the end. Despite what other researchers or relationship experts or even very experienced gay men may think or say the only difference is simple anatomy. Any good relationship is built on communication and trust. Talking about and understanding what you need from that relationship at that time in your life and being honest with yourself if there comes a time that you want something else. For this reason I cannot blame him completely for our disastrous relationship because I didn’t speak up and say this is not what I wanted. I’m to blame for standing by and accepting it.

If you want monogamy then discuss it. If you want an open relationship then discuss it. If you just want to hook up whenever it’s convenient and have no other interactions with each other then discuss it. Don’t let yourself believe that any of these relationships don’t work but be cognizant enough to know which of these aren’t right for you. In the near decade that I’ve been out I can say that I have wanted each of these types of relationships because of the different places I’ve been at in my life.

There is no perfectly clear guidebook on how relationships work, regardless of your orientation. But you can always have an idea of what it should look like by being honest with yourself and really listening to what you want. Self discovery is made so much easier when we admit to ourselves what we are looking for instead of simply going along with what we see or what someone tells us.

From Summer Flings To Fond Memories Of People Places & Things; New Tales Of Growing Up Gay

gay fireworks

So it’s really late and today has been a really crappy no good soul crushing day from start to finish. As I was processing all that occurred I received a really sweet message about my first tale of growing up gay and it brought the first genuine smile to my face all day. It’s amazing how serendipitous life can be. And as a personal thank you to all that have shared your own stories with me because I have shared mine, I’ve decided to open my journals yet again and share more of my tales of growing up gay. Thanks for reading and enjoy!

The time of adolescence is always marred with confusion, doubt, and an immeasurable amount of angst. But during those times of our lives we are awakened to the innate desires that make us who we are. And at sixteen, I was the epitome of all those geeky, awkward moments indelibly etched in memories that at the time we hope we never remember but as we grow older we are so thankful for being a part of. Doesn’t hurt that there was a hot guy that was a part of it.

This was not a time of new discoveries, or at least that’s what I believed before all this happened.  For I had already began to discover who I was and having a good idea what I had always been, I still was not willing to accept that I was gay. Especially as the very introverted teenager I had become. Building toy models, holding down a job as cultivating and farming tropical fish from my aquariums in my bedroom. Always reading about different worlds and people but I somehow unwilling to interact with the people in the real world. And always writing in my journals trying to decipher why the world was the way it was and why people do the things they do that contradict their actions. But I learned it was a time of sweetness, and summertime flings.

I had not yet reached the level of confidence that I now have as a man that contrasts the meek adolescent I was back then. It wasn’t that I had a hard time being social, far from it. I’ve never had a problem of being able to talk and engage in meaningful conversations with people. It’s just that back then, I really had no desire to interact with my peers or forge new relationships. I know now that it was because of fear. Fear of someone noticing even more how different I was from all the other guys.

I knew that I had an attraction to other guys. My body had a bad habit of showing me how much I liked my own gender through involuntary dreams and involuntarily body movements. I knew it meant I was gay but was still deep in denial and wondering why God had made me this way. So I was experiencing the basic rules of attraction and the stages of coming out all the time. Thinking about it all the time because while at school I was constantly being reminded of it with no control over when these strong emotions happened.

That’s why I was so glad that summer break arrived to finally give me a reprieve. So I wasn’t constantly around guys that made me think about being gay or around girls that reminded how I was not attracted to them. So I spent the time reading and writing and selling the tropical fish I had farmed to support my hobbies of buying comics and building toy models or designing wood sculptures. And I loved taking long strolls through the country woods as the sun set and by the creek. Who knew that this daily walk would soon bring all the things I was running away from directly in front of me once again?

My childhood home was deep in the woods, the sparse neighborhood was surrounded by tall stoic trees were delicately woven in waves of green hills and farmland. The air was always fresh and a lingering sweet perfume that invigorated, even on the muggy, humid days in Tennessee. On a particular day in early June I took the daily route through the trees and down the path to the creek during sunset. Honeysuckles pilfered the air as the sky turned gold and rouge with splashes of fuchsia and magenta. As I was lost in the clouds I heard a branch crack and my eyes darted towards the source that had broken my daydreaming sequence. And there was this guy around my age staring back at me.

At first I tensed up because in the south you’re taught to always be ready for two things: a fight and for love because they both can happen at a moment’s notice. He was tall and lanky with olive tanned skin and stark black hair. Intense blue-green eyes and a chiseled smile that could crack rocks. I was in awe. Staring at him trying to take in what I was seeing while telling my brain to stop racing the thousand thoughts zooming at top speed making me unable to speak. He said hello and I kept staring, Repeated himself and I kept staring. He tilted his perfect head of curly hair and he turned to walk away when I began cursing at myself out loud because I hadn’t said anything. He turned back around and said it was cool. And I melted.

After the embarrassment wore off we introduced ourselves. “Sam” as I’ll refer to him here was athletic and charming. A year older than I and a running back for his old high school team. He had just moved into our widely spaced out neighborhood and hated how country everything was. We talked about TV, movies, videogames and just about everything else for three hours. We met up every day after that and did more of the same. I felt like I had a new friend but every time we were around each other those same racing thoughts and feelings came rushing back to me.

A few days before the 4th of July another neighbor who was my age showed up with her friends by the creek, no doubt seeing us cut up there every afternoon for several weeks. The ladies were all inquisitive to the magazines we were reading to spark conversation and I, as naively can be sometimes, and ignored all the signals that they were flirting with us. So I forgot to feign interest to mimic the way Sam was interacting with them. He flirted back and showed how strong he was while I rolled my eyes and continued reading. I was feeling jealous because I wanted him to flirt that way with me. Then I made snide passive aggressive comments, which is a clear departure of my subtle and docile nature.

When Sam asked what was wrong with me I panicked so I stormed off and he trailed for a few paces before placing his hand on my shoulder to turn me around to see I was on the brink of tears. Concerned, he asked what was wrong and my emotions were running wild so before I could process what generic answer to give I blurted out “why don’t you talk to me the way you talk to them” and I was mortified by what I had just said aloud. I hadn’t even accepted that I was gay so how the hell had I just exposed myself to someone relatively new? Sam was puzzled at first and then had the look of “Oh, he’s one of them” and I was even more upset because he knew, and obviously didn’t feel the same way. So I ran home and cried myself to sleep, worried he would tell someone else.

Days past but Sam didn’t show up at our usual meet up place. I was hoping that he’d just forgotten the prior events but that was most likely what kept him away. The next day Sam showed up at my house wanting to hang out like nothing happened and I was more than happy to oblige. we talked about our plans for the 4th that I worried were scrapped but Sam still wanted to continue on. Then while we were talking about bottle rockets Sam brought up how his uncle who was gay taught him how to light them and stared rather awkwardly back at me. I became angry and he said he didn’t mean anything by it (he did) so we tensely went back to going over the inventory of fireworks we collected. Sam then stopped and said “I’ve thought about it too” and ran out the door at what seemed like an actual rocket. Couldn’t process what it meant. Did it mean he was feeling the same way or was he just talking hypothetical. But I didn’t want to lose our friendship so the next night when we met up to pop fireworks I pretended he never said it. And so did he…

So we went on with normal conversations until interrupted by thunder. A storm was coming in and we had to hurry if we were going to do. We reached to the top of the hill we picked out and set up everything to get the fireworks going. We started setting off more than originally planned and as Sam lit up another round one went off unexpectedly and went past his head grazing him near his eye.

He fell down and I took a knife to cut off a part of my shirt to cover the wound. it spooked us both more than anything. But I just wanted him to be safe and okay so I was doing my best to tend to it and gingerly cleaning it. Then he looked at me I guess seeing the concern. Sam smiled at me in a way he never had before and I returned the expression. It all happened so fast but it began to rain with lightning flaring up the night sky. But instead of collecting the fireworks we both instinctively lit more up to match the sky. We were out in the middle of an open field lighting off firecrackers in the middle of a heavy thunderstorm which retrospectively was stupid but in that moment made us feel alive. Immortal.

So we lit the last one, a cannonball together and stepped back and it shot up so high it looked like it hit the lightning and we jumped and slid backwards with us falling over each other staring each other in the face. His eyes danced as he said what to do next. Time froze like it had when I was younger but this time the sensation and emotion I felt was not friendly as it was in third grade. It was romance. It was perfect. He touched my hand and the next thing I knew I instinctively wrapped my hand around his jaw and kissed him.

For a split second I panicked at what I had so impulsively done and was about to withdraw until I saw him close his eyes and kiss me back. I couldn’t believe this was happening but didn’t stop myself but at the same time I did not want to admit how right it felt. I didn’t want to think so I continued until the rain let up like a sign it was time for it to end. We walked back without saying a word and didn’t talk to each other for a month. The next time I did see Sam. he was holding the hand of the neighbor that had visited us before with her friends. They were a couple, and I retreated back into my world of toy models and exotic aquarium fish only this time a bit more confused and more grown up than I had left it.

Months later Sam randomly walked up to me when no one else was around asking if we were cool and I said we were. Then said what happened was just being curious and I quickly agreed to silence the tension building. He smiled and patted me on the shoulder like he had the first time and kept it there for a moment. Then he smiled and rejoined his girlfriend who was waiting for him.

We have kept in touch over the years and are still friends and when we talk about this story we refer to it as a nice moment between friends. He and his wife have been happy for over a decade and when the three of us do talk about that time openly we don’t spend hours on end debating if Sam may be gay or bisexual but rather that two people can share a moment like this and it is all it was. People experiment so I don’t want readers to think that there was more to it on his part.

The point of sharing this particular tale is to remind us of even when it doesn’t work out the way we planned that we can appreciate those moments that meant something special to us. Even when it ends abruptly for no reason. Even if the person you shared it with turned out to be someone completely different than you expected. Even if you find out that they don’t feel the same way that you felt. We can always appreciate how it made us feel and how for a little while we felt a dream coming to life. And if we can remember that lesson, we know that taking control and making those dreams is possible so long as we are open to them when the opportunity comes to you. To remember there is always something new when we least expect it.

After all, it was summer

 

What Not To Say In Interracial Gay Dating Situations

Gay-Kiss

Dating can be rough, regardless of sexual orientation but sometimes we can make it a lot harder than it has to be. There’s also a lot of things to consider when romantically pursuing someone you’re interested in, regardless of whether it’s for something long term or just a one night stand. There are things we know we have to be aware of and keep in mind the entire time we’re interacting with these other guys.  With that said you’d think there are certain things you should already know when interacting with someone you’re trying to get to know better.

For instance if a person is extremely short you aren’t going to make a comment about how it must be easy for them to reach smaller cupboards are you? No you aren’t. Well at least you shouldn’t bring attention to it. Why? Because it’s rude and whether or not they’ve had with it. Or it could make them self-conscious about something they never had a problem with? And that goes for other physical attributes like birthmarks, speech impediments, physical or mental differentiation in ability. And race, which is what I’ll be focusing on today.

Earlier this week after picking up some healthy nutrition (more like 3 family sized bags of Peanut M&M’s) I noticed a guy was watching my every move. It wasn’t a stare so much as it was one of those looks that someone gives that wants you to notice them. So I turned around and did my default response of whenever someone seems interesting which is an eyebrow raised and I lite tilt of the head. He smiled and returned the gesture.

His eyes appraised me from top to bottom (no pun intended) It appeared that I had passed whatever requirements he had in deciding if someone was attractive/interesting. I have this thing where my eyebrow goes up when I’m smiling and he placed his hand on my shoulder and he commented on how strong he presumed I could be. Then that proceeded into me saying a few sexual innuendos that I won’t bore you with as they were a bit off the cuff and a bit dirty.

All really fun and playful banter. He had an amazing smile and a sweet airy laugh. He loved shifting his weight on either foot to begin and end his thought process. It was all endearing within those first few moments. I was really enjoying the conversation and was ready to forget everything else I had planned for the day go hang out with him right at that moment. But then as he was laughing at our small talk, his expression changed slightly to what only I assume to mean he had something serious to say. He lightly touched my arm and said,

“You’re so cute. Funny. I’d like to get to know you. Seem like one of the good blacks that speak well.” 

Seem like one of the good blacks that speak well

THE GOOD BLACKS

All the smiles and playfulness on my face was immediately replaced with revulsion and intense anger. I replied saying why the hell he would say something so racist, forgetting temporarily in that moment that when people say things like that they truly believe they’re paying you a compliment when in fact it’s a huge insult. Needless to as that it completely desiccated any amorous feelings I had for this effervescent man. So instead of enlisting into what I’m sure would’ve been a very heated debate on manners, I collected my belongings and left him standing there in the parking lot.

I wish I could say that this was the first and only time someone has said something like this. Or that I’ve only heard it a dozen times or so. But in reality I have heard this phrase too many times to count from some well-meaning guy something so crass. So many decisions are based on the potential length of the relationship with the first few minutes. You have to convey so much within the first few seconds that you all attributes you want to be known (single/married, looking for sex/looking for love, top/bottom/vers). But when you say something completely asinine like the gentleman in this story you eviscerate any ground you made.

All the things you were silently trying to micromanage onside your head becomes only focused on what you believe he’s focused on. Since he brought up my race, then how am I supposed to focus on anything else? Sure there is a lot of pressure from your inner monologue tell you to decide within this small frame of time what to say and what you should not say. These situations seem to be magnified when there

You see what the problem is with comparing someone to the rest of their race, or other tall or short people, guys with birthmarks, stutters or any other thing that you see as unique, different or outside the box, is that it is a problem for you because that is all you seem to focus on. Too often talking about race in the gay community is dismissed and made taboo because it is just assumed that you can’t be racist if you’re gay. But just because you come from one oppressed group does not mean you know everything there is to know about every other oppressed group.

As I was discussing this with colleagues and close friends they wanted me to elaborate on a few points about intersectionality and how race does affect dating in this community. So I wanted to write about some of the things I feel are the biggest issues and point out some things that I feel arise in these situations that if we remember in these situations you won’t offend a person and actually see them as a person. But more specifically these are some of the issues that arise the most.

You don’t have to tell us that this is the first time you’ve ever went out with an African American or anyone outside your race because more than likely we are the first. Even though we are becoming more diverse by the day, most of the dating pool is in the gay community is comprised of Caucasian males. I know you aren’t going to know each and every phrase. No you don’t need some special manual to interact with me. Just be authentic and treat me as I do you’ as a person.

That doesn’t give you an excuse when you’ve said something we feel is insensitive. You can express how you didn’t see it as offensive but try to understand why we are upset. Just like with being gay, there are a lot of intricate levels of insensitivity to institutionalization of racism. In any case when you’ve offended someone you care about, apologize first then talk about it.

No you are not responsible for knowing every sensitive, intricate detail of what it means to be an African American in this country for the man you’re dating. You don’t have to know the reasoning of every time we are offended by something that is insensitive to the color of our skin. But understand there are so many varying levels you may not see. So when your guy points it out, both of you should be willing to listen to both sides.

Remember how it is when someone straight dismisses you for something you feel is homophobic/insensitive to LGBT? The same rule applies here. Because you may not notice the same things that we do. And we see it from a lifetime of patterns that let us know that the intent of statements like “you’re so articulate” can sometimes mean “I don’t think African Americans are smart, intelligent human beings”

So don’t ever dismiss the way we feel. Ever. Even if you don’t agree and are unable to see what we see. Just because you don’t see what the issue may be known that it may not always affect you even though we are together that it will always affect me.

Yes you can engage in conversations about race and race relations. It affects you just as much as it affects me, just not in the same way. You sitting there listening to me giving a speech about what you did wrong or what I found offensive by what someone has said or done will do nothing but make both of us resentful. Open dialogue is what changes perspectives and fosters understanding.

Don’t tell us why you think we are the exception to our race like the story I shared earlier. It makes us feel like we are some type of anomaly of an otherwise undesirable race of people we belong to and are a part of. Telling us we are a contradiction to a stereotype given to our race implies to us that you believe those stereotypes to be true and that even though you show no evidence to the contrary that we are still capable of those behaviors. So on some level you only see the person as a stereotype or a contradiction of a stereotype, and not the person. Stereotypes imply that we are susceptible, regardless of action and behavior.

You see color. Unless you have some kind of differentiation that does not allow you to see color or are visually blind you see color. When someone says “I don’t see color” that means that you are going to ignore when (sadly not if, but when) something comes up about race. Whether that be an inappropriate comment from you or someone else. See the current politically correct thing to say is phrases like I don’t see color to show that it doesn’t factor in who you’ll choose to date. You can’t say that you enjoy learning about different cultures and perspectives and say you don’t see color. Because you do see color.

But again it’s a generalization, and no one ever wants to be considered the “other”. We all notice differences in culture, race, and ethnicity. All of us need to learn that when it comes to race, sexuality, pretty much anything that is innately different to us, does not equal better or worse. Just different. We are still a society that is obsessed with hierarchy and order instead of incorporating even playing fields for everyone.

I am not just my race so when you focus on that it is all I believe you will ever see when you look at me. If all I believe you can see is what’s on the surface then why would I want to go deeper with you? Spoil you? To put all the effort necessary into building a strong stable relationship or one of the hottest, most passionate hookups ever? Because you are only seeing the surface. And I am better than that. Even certain myths and stereotypes (no matter how true they may be) that on the surface shows a group in a positive light are based in discrimination and hate.

Be open and ask. Be open to the fact that perspectives are going to be different. Patience and understanding  is rewarded to those that are willing to hear both sides of an argument/view/opinion. When we listen even when we don’t agree because it allows us to see why we feel the way we do.You should never be afraid to ask someone you’re with why something is the way it is. Just don’t treat it like a science project that you’re collecting data for. Don’t understand something? Ask. We are not silently blaming you for the actions of ancestors long gone, but we cannot ignore that their actions still affect us. So talk. As often as necessary.

Not everything will be about race, Far from it. But don’t pretend that these issues won’t arise because they will, just like every relationship. This isn’t to detour you from pursuing someone you’re interested in. These situations only become a big issue is because as a community we actively choose to ignore it and not talk about it. And just like any relationship when communication is down, everything falls apart.

But let me make this clear that this is no more work than if you were dating someone of the same race. I’m pointing this out because it is obvious and something you can see thus making it easier to address. This is to remind those that have always wondered but been unaware of how to approach it. We can’t change it if we ignore it. So scenarios like the story I told earlier still being a reality today fade into history where they belong.

From Gaybies To Love Me Maybes; Tales Of Being Openly Gay

Okay I’m back here again. After I said that I had written the last tale of growing up gay I realized that the story didn’t end there for me. Nor does it end for the rest of us when we come out. Why? Because we continue to grow and change. Evolve. Most notably this all happens within the first couple of years. You discover so much about what being gay means to you. All the existential introspective listening to music while pondering your life occurs in this time period.

So I wanted to again write about the experiences I’ve had and to the best of my ability generalize it as I feel many gay men may have at some point experienced these stages. Because we reconcile those experiences and learn from our past when we talk about them. This isn’t so much a tale as it is just an exercise in random, yet meaningful, assortments of different stages/aspects we go through.

Gaybies

This is the term given to gay men the first year that they are officially out of the closet. It’s generalized that way because in a sense you’ve been born again. The world is new, and this is the time when you can actually celebrate who you are openly.  Everything in the world seems so big. More real. You could definitely compare it to the first time Mary Tyler Moore walked the streets of New York City. You feel so revitalized and aware of pleasures, both simplistic and deep.

There are so many firsts that occur when you step out into the world as a gay man. No more trying to hide the fact that you love men and want to have sex with them. You openly talk about sex. Some of us during this stage just want sex. Lots and lots of sex. One of the many advantages of being a member of this community is that you’ll find out is that sex isn’t hard to find.  And I certainly will not begrudge anyone that partakes in this behavior (safely).

It’s all exciting and you want to soak up every catch phrase and whatever the in thing to do is at that time. Go to every gay bar that you can get into. The rush of excitement every time you write down the words “I’m gay”. You take a deep breath every time you say it to someone who doesn’t know the truth yet and are either greeted with a displeasing reaction so you can give a quick rebuttal that you’ve rehearsed a thousand times mentally. Or take a huge sigh of relief when they are welcoming and loving.

But this stage isn’t all fun. Just with everything else in life this time period teaches you that there is a darker side to just about every community. More notably, this is when you find out about rejection. Scathing, brutally honest rejection. I’m not talking about when a crush says no thank you after you have finally worked up the courage to ask them out. It’s when you walk up to a prospective guy to show interest in you will flat out tell you whether they like you or not.

They will unabashedly tell you everything that’s right or wrong with you. Wrong hair, terrible shoes, lame accessories, ill-fitting clothes, dieting tips and workout routines they think would help you look better. That’s just in the first minute of talking to him. We also quickly learn about the social hierarchy of sex and how many will immediately size you up within 3 seconds and label you a top, bottom, verse, dom top. power bottom, vers top, vers bottom or anything in between. You will also be categorized based on size and body hair as if you are a new produce that needs to be bagged tagged and shelved until ready for use,

It could range from gym rat, otter, bear, leather daddy, twink, cub, “straight acting” gaypster (gay hipster) gaymer (gay gamer) bromo (gay dude bro) manther (gay cougar), a bunch of other lame inane adjectives or the ever so dreaded “average”. In my first year of being out, I’d say the labels is what I struggled with most because I outright abhor them. As many gay people of color will tell you, we’ve already had enough with being categorized just by your natural appearance.  I’m in no way knocking it if you feel like they embody your personality. But my free loving nature resists any attempts to categorization or labels. .

Anger/Rejection of Perceived Gay Norms

After your gayby year, you feel like you’ve got the hang of it. Because this is most likely the most self-indulgent superficial year of your life. At least it was for me. I took full advantage of all the gay world had to offer and more. But I came down hard to reality after that year. Because we learn about how we are truly affected by society and what is really going on with us. Our problems as a community. This can result in a lot of anger.

The reality of the world may lead to this stage of anger because as both an outsider and eventually an insider you see vanity and self-absorbed tendencies to the max. After that much self-indulgence you become frustrated because that has been your world for such a long time. Failing to realize the true complexity the gay community could appear to have a total disregard for feelings or a total lack of acceptance to any differences. There’s more than likely frustration that accompanies this because you felt that it was different. Then you learn that it is all about the places you go and the people you associate.

This time is also marked by, depending on your perspective, harsh realization that people don’t always equate sex with love. Or maybe you’re angry because you are just fed up with the archaic labels and shallow pace the gay community seems to be set in. You may see the majority of gay men as superficial egotistical airbags.

This is the time where you may become outspoken and angry at society. Angered how religion and God’s Word is twisted to fit man’s image when it’s fueled by greed and power. You begin to reciprocate the anger that is directed at you because you remember all the times you were afraid of being who you were before coming out.  You are angry because you feel like you always have to be on guard to protect yourself from those incensed with hate and bigotry.

Introspection of Gay Lifestyles

This is when we look inside for answers because we want to make sense of this community. All the things that you have learned and all the feelings of anger and frustration build to a point where you quietly back away from all things gay. It’s not so much that you don’t want to be gay it’s your way of searching for answers. You ask yourself how you can find contentment in so much chaos. You speculate and theorize about how you can coexist with this pace. Then you begin to question your outlook.

This is the time that you learn the true nature of your sexuality. You learn the mechanics of having sex with another man. And now that you’re listening and asking real questions about life, you learn and hear the real personal impact of HIV/AIDS from the people you meet. You realize they are not the virus, that they are people.

This is also when you question everything that you had to push back out of your mind because being gay was the only thing that mattered. But now you’re learning that it’s only one aspect of who you are. You question the very notion of faith and what you believe to be truth or creature comforts.

You’ve learned about activism and how to get involved in fundraisers for hospice care and youth centers. You donate to the cause and let your actions speak for you rather than heated emotions taking over. You reconcile so much of the anger you had both with yourself and with society. Sometimes, after years of being in this community, the sad, detached, distrustful, and overall apprehensive feelings of expecting anyone of real value coming into your life has merely been the result of your outlook.

Gay Acceptance

All this time you’ve spent thinking, wondering who you are and what gay means, you come to a serene, clear moment that places all of these emotions that you’ve had about the gay community and about yourself. Again you learn to not look at any person or situation by the few superficial aspects that commonly define them.

This is when you’ve finally and completely accepted yourself and your sexuality. No longer do you feel like you have to declare how masculine you are to prove your worth as a man  No longer are you concerned with how gay you look because you know that you can only live your life. Instead of being angry and having resentment towards those that do have it all together or all the advantages of society. this is the time where you just take action accordingly.

Getting involved to help when and where you can. By this time in your life you realize that maybe you shouldn’t look at movies or base finding love off of sitcoms. That true genuine people are around that will share your interests and concerned for your well-being. At this point when you write the words “I’m gay” you see it as just a part of who you are, like hair color or height. This is the time marked by when you’re looking for someone to spend your life with, you aren’t too concerned with him being a top or bottom as chemistry will work that all out, You’ll care more about if he’s genuine, engaging, and considerate to who you are and building your lives together.

These are when you have friends in your life that instead of picking you a part because of their own neuroses will always pick you up when you fall. You are finally able to see a plethora of loving, caring men that truly want to help you gain your identity that’s separate from all the inane sometimes uninspired labels. All visible from the beginning that maybe you overlooked. You will learn that you’ve learned that you are not just a letter to the acronym of LGBT and neither are the rest of the men of this community. You recognize that gay is not the subgroup in this community. This the moment that you truly are a complete, actualized being.

Again this is a very rough assortment of some of what we experience. Some of us go through all these aspects and stages one at a time, all at the same time or none at all. This was basically to show that we are in fact always growing no matter what stage.

 

Brushes With Death To Taking First Breaths: My Final Tale Of Growing Up Gay

gay love

It’s 2:05 in the morning and I can’t sleep. It’s been a long day like any other Monday but I’ve been feeling off. Completely tense, short tempered and just all around moody. So I wanted to catch up on current events and decided to read some of the latest LGBT news to see if there was anything I missed. Then I came across the story of Bailey O’Neill, the 12 year old boy that died this weekend after being beaten into a coma by some schoolyard bullies and the story of Marco McMillian, the openly gay mayoral candidate beaten to death in Mississippi.

My heart sank for them and their families and it made all the feelings of this day feel even worse because of the emotional quicksand I felt I’d been in the entire day. And then I remembered that it’s the first Monday in March, and all these memories came flooding back on why this particular Monday is so important to me. In 2005 on the first Monday in March was the day I almost died  and the day I finally came completely out of the closet. So I decided to finally follow up with the first two in this series by adding the last part of the growing up gay stories with the one that was the most defining moment in my life.

This all took place it was my first year off campus and it was a rough emotional one for me. It wasn’t the course load or tensions with the professors. It was because I had been deeply affected by the events of last year on campus. I was full of brooding and angst because I wasn’t out yet and so many times I had come close. Even though the most important people in my life, my parents, knew that I was gay I still felt the entire time that I was not living authentically. And with as much as a Resident Adviser and a friend that I always advocated for others to live in this example, I felt like a hypocrite because I was not doing the same.

My friendships with some became strained and I was steadily distancing myself from everyone. Maybe I did that on some conscious level to prepare myself for any potential fallout from anyone, though I felt like many silently knew.  The year progressed and I became somewhat stabilized until Valentine’s Day, when I lost an old friend of mine. Her death devastated me and I was completely heartbroken and an emotional wreck because I felt that I should’ve been able to prevent it somehow. I went through the remainder of my last year on campus in a fog of disbelief instead of savoring the last few months until “real” adulthood.

I carried some of the numbness and pain of that year onto my first year off campus but with all of that my not formally being out was the biggest thing on my mind. It had all but consumed me to the point that I welcomed any distractions that did not pertain to my dilemma. I was angry and sad all the time because I keep stalling this all out. It didn’t help matters because I felt that things had not been resolved with the man I had been seeing off and on since my freshman year of college. He had moved away and I missed him terribly but we still were in touch. But that only seemed to make the pain of us not being together even greater, And when he came to visit I was speechless that he had already came out since his graduation.

He questioned me on why I hadn’t done so, and as the nature of our relationship I still wouldn’t confirm it. So all his questions were met with a longing stare as a few tears strewn down my face. Again I tried to reconcile why I couldn’t do it. Maybe it was because I felt I had to embrace my race because of the covert, institutionalized racism that exists in the south. I feared that being of both two minority groups (African American and gay) would result in me being bombarded with acts of hate and judgment. That no matter who much I tried to show how I was so many other things than my race and my sexuality, it wouldn’t be enough.

Instead of not giving a damn what everyone else thought I felt that I had to sacrifice and suppress one aspect of myself in order to be seen as a real person beyond stereotypes and labels. The dichotomy would be something I would treasure later for the unique perspective it gives me but back then I still felt it wasn’t enough. At least that was the excuse I was using. So I thought if I waited until I was in a more diverse place after school would be better. But I wasn’t lying about it anymore by pretending to be attracted to women and become a pro at playing the pronoun game. So I was taking my time and doing it my way, as usual. But I didn’t have much time left as my health started to decline. I’d only eat a portion of what I used to and I kept losing weight.

And then I got the flu or what I thought was the flu. I couldn’t keep anything down. I lay in bed for nearly two weeks thinking I had the same bug going around. But eventually it started to hurt, a lot. the pain was dull at first, then cramping, then sharp agonizing pain. So my roommate took me to the hospital and after a two hour wait they gave me some Milk of Magnesia and sent us on our way. I cried for most of the night because this was by far one of the most painful things I had ever felt. I think I somehow drifted off to sleep from the sheer exhaustion of this ordeal. It was early that morning that I woke up and the pain was prolific. I could barely breathe and my stomach was protruding so far it looked as if I were in my third trimester of pregnancy. I ran to roommate’s room and as soon as he saw my stomach he grabbed his keys not needing anymore explanation.

We arrived at the hospital and they went to examine me. My blood pressure was dropping so they rushed me to another examination room that had an x-ray so that they could see what was going on. I remember looking at the clock as it said 915. They took me back to the previous room and I kept hearing doctors being paged. They brought in more fluids and a bag of blood because apparently I was too low. More nurses rushed in and I noticed there was a group of doctors all talking to my doctor. Then he came in and told me I had to have surgery immediately. I asked why and he said my organs were shutting down and handed me a phone to call my parents. I asked why again and he said “just in case” and darted out to prep for surgery.

I couldn’t focus and was too afraid to dial the phone so my roommate did. He tried to explain but my mom insisted that she talk to me. I tried masking my voice so she wouldn’t think I was scared, but mothers always know better. She told me to stay strong and that she loved me and it took everything I had not to lose it. Seconds later they said it was time to go and the machines were making more noises but when the nurse said that I couldn’t hear anything else. it was 922. This was serious. As they were wheeling me down for this surgery I stared up at the fluorescent lights and thought about how much I loathed them. time slowed and all of these never-ending questions about being gay popped into my head.

Why was this haippening. Why didn’t I pay attention to all this. What if I don’t make it. What if I die right here. What if I never see him again to tell him I love him and always will. What about my mom. What if..this is punishment…if it is then why did God make me this way. Why didn’t I live my life the way I wanted to. What if people never knew the real me. Why didn’t I tell everyone who didn’t already know I was gay. Why did I wait so long..Why

Then the next thing I knew I was waking up. I looked around and wondered if the surgery had taken place and then I wondered if I was having some out of body experience and then I let myself wonder if I was dead. and I freaked out. I started pulling at the sheets and screaming out of being so scared and disoriented. The machines were violently screaming as loud as I was and the nurses appeared from nowhere with several needles and within seconds I was out; I woke up looking at florescent lights as I was being wheeled down the hall. I started thinking I was dreaming again and everything that just happened was some drug hallucination and I was crying again and calling out for my mom and we turned the corner and she was there with my dad and my roommate.

I have never cried so hard in my life seeing her blue green eyes look at me, telling me that it was okay and to calm down. All it did was make me cry harder.  They wheeled me to my room and hooked up more machines and gave me more drugs to calm me down because I was aching all over. The doctor came in to tell that my appendix had ruptured and because it become septic my organs began to fail but I didn’t care about what he was saying. The fact that I was alive and with the people that loved me most was all that mattered. I didn’t care how close I came to death because I was alive.

After some time had passed I grabbed my mom’s hands and told her that I was going to be open to everyone else about being gay and she was of course fine with it. I told myself that if I pulled through this I was going to completely be who I was. And if. When people asked I would tell them. I asked my roommate to give me my phone and while he and my parents went to go get coffee I checked my voicemail out of habit and found out about another friend that had killed himself because he was gay. we were the same age and both of us had to face the darkest parts of humanity. But he was gone.

For a moment I felt so guilty because moments ago I was so elated about being alive in that moment. I sat there and let a few tears fall before collecting myself and scrolled down to the man that I had been unable to confess the truth to several months ago. Since death had been trying to say something to me twice in one day I finally decided to listen. It gave me the courage to be open publicly about who I have always been. Gay. And I have never felt so free in my life. I called the man I had loved all of my adult life at 1137pm on that first Monday in March and told him that I had almost died that day, that I was gay, and that I loved him.

Even with how hard it is to write all this down and share my most personal story it’s even harder for me to think of people suffering and feeling that they don’t belong in this world because of who they are. That maybe if I share my story, all of my story, it will encourage others to do the same so that people that are gay will avoid the missteps that I took and never have to endure what I went through. That they read stories like this and it makes them think of the kids that have it even worse than I did. That it may speak to those that felt like they have no support and are relentlessly bullied. So maybe those that feel insecure about who they are don’t feel the need to torture other kids for something they hate about themselves that they shouldn’t hate.

So maybe give that one kid perspective that even when you literally have no reason to believe that it will get better that if you hold on, that it does get better. You see today could have also been a very sad day for my parents. Instead of them talking to me on the phone they could’ve been laying some anniversary flowers at a gravesite and that makes me think of all the parents like those of Bailey, Tyler Clementi, Matthew Sheppard, and so many others that do or will now have these sad heartbreaking anniversaries. I don’t want us to lose another human being this way.

I do not want another soul to feel fear that they cannot embrace and love who they are. And if sharing our lives can get one person that is going through this to think then they will have served their purpose. The only way we can change the world is when we are willing to look at our own lives and question what we could be doing differently. And I am grateful that I was able to have the opportunity to tell others to ask themselves to realize that we do not have forever to be who we are today. And how much strength and love is waiting for you when you are ready to embrace who you are.

From Sweet First Kisses To Saying No To Having A Misses; Tales Of Growing Up Gay

Gay-Kiss

As you can tell lately I have been doing more opinion articles as of late and the reason is because it makes me truly feel connected and able to foster thought and conversation. Since it’s Monday and rainy I thought I’d share something a little light hearted; a tale of when I knew I was different and how moments like this shape our lives in a profound way. When I began to realize that I was not like everyone else and began to realize that I’m gay. And how even though some events in our life weren’t as poetic and a replica of what society tells us I still hope it reminds you of a time of self discovery that you treasure rather than a time you only associate with pain and frustration.

As most of us growing up, I knew I was different from the beginning. I may not have had many overtly “feminine” behaviors (even though I have always been fascinated with hair) I was a very sensitive kid. Often described as moody I always felt as a child that I was at the mercy of everyone else’s emotions. I could cry at the drop of a hat whenever I saw someone else in pain, both in real life and in fiction. I often cared more about everyone else’s feelings rather than myself. A lot of times very quiet and only wild or rambunctious when given permission to do so.

Gay was not a solid construct in my mind because there weren’t too many out gay men at the time in the south though there were a few lesbian couples in our neighborhood. And honestly I was a bit naive because I really didn’t know what gay meant until I was almost in middle school. I only thought at the time when I saw two men as a couple that they were like every other normal couple and did recognize a difference or similarity. I just believed all adults loved each other the same way. More importantly I didn’t know that gay was seen by some as a bad thing. Oh how I miss that naivety.

So I was not all too concerned with love thinking it only happened with adults. I didn’t have pretend girlfriends or teased fellow classmates with age old songs about kissing while sitting in trees. I was more likely to defend someone who was being teased because of it. And then everything changed when I was in third grade. I had a great group of friends during that time that I loved having as many adventures as I possibly could; staying out longer in recess than necessary, sneaking the latest and most popular toys, making fart noises and sticking gum under the desk during our boring  history lesson.

All the normal things guys our age did. But there was a classmate of mine that I hung out with more than anyone else. Seth. A fiery redhead that was just as effervescent and spontaneous as I was. Like me, he was always looking for the next bit of excitement to be had in a wild adventure. We always were in a competition with each other. From grades to kickball, we always tried to one up the other all the while having some of the best laughs growing up. Our competitive side only made our friendship that much stronger. And it remained that way throughout the year.

Then one day our teacher had us make these makeshift binoculars that would allow us to look at the sun during the upcoming eclipse. It doesn’t sound exciting but if you know me, you’d know that I was obsessed with astronomy and astrology at the time (I still am). My first coherent memory is of a full moon when I was two. So Seth and I, as always, were in competition to see who would complete it first and he won that time.

After grimacing and slowly congratulating him, we were then assembled to the exit of the school playground so that we could test out our new creations and because of the excitement, Seth and I got separated. We began to call out to each other, each of us apparently just missing each other at a previous location.

Then, we heard each other’s voice in the same proximity and ran to each other. As we navigated the last few yards between us we both turned the corner at the same time and  ran directly into each other, full impact. Because we were the exact same height our faces met at the exact same time and our lips touched. We kissed. My first kiss. Neither of us moved in that moment and I know on my end, I was too shocked to pull away. The entire time I felt as if I were frozen and unable to do anything except stand there as my best friend and I were kissing each other. It all happened by accident of course and I feel like we both knew that.

Nothing about this was planned since we were only nine years old. But in that instant of when our lips met, my world changed. It was almost as if time stood still. My feet were numb and I was so lightheaded I could barely stand up straight. We slowly pulled away from each other, both of us blushing from looking at each other since it happened. It wasn’t followed by what guys our age would normally say by saying it was gross.

We didn’t try to prove our budding manliness by fighting. There was no blame because we had done nothing wrong. We simply shared a moment that so many of our other classmates had shared with each other every day. I went to apologize because I did not want it to be awkward and Seth held his hand out to say no, it’s okay, we have nothing to be sorry for. Then we just stood there. It was perfect. And I was never the same.

After that moment I began to think about love and what love meant. And even though the myopic interpretation I had about what love was at that age didn’t change, my place in the world of love did. No longer did I just think of it happening to adults because of fairytales. I began to see my grown up self as one of the characters, looking for the man I was supposed to rescue. My mind had begun to awaken to what was really possible for two people to feel for each other some day.

I began to think about what I wanted someday when I was an adult. From that moment on, I knew that I would never walk down to greet a woman wearing a spectacular white gown that I pledge my affection to for the rest of our lives. I wasn’t ready to accept it but still at that moment I knew. All that from an accidental bumping into each other; and it had changed my life forever.

The remainder of that year was great and the friendship between Seth and I didn’t miss a beat. We never discussed it afterwards and went on competing each with other. But on the next to last day of that school year, Seth told me he was moving away and I was heartbroken. A common fault of mine when I’m overwhelmed with emotion is to shut down but not this time. I cried my eyes out in front of everyone and to hell with what everyone else thought.

But to calm me down, Seth took me to our hangout spot away from the swings and held my hand and promised we’d always be friends no matter what and that we’d met again one day during an eclipse. And I calmed down. And we laid there in that spot looking up and holding hands until it was time to go home for the day.

This incident in my life is probably why I romanticize love and what I want in a man; kind, rugged, noble, and always challenging me to be better than I ever perceived myself. And it took me a while to realize that during the awkward stages I had of dating women. As great as they were, the women never encapsulated the feeling I felt back on that clear spring day in third grade.

That and I grew to have a very soft spot for rugged ginger haired men with beards. I know how rare perfect moments like these are to have at any time in life and even more so at such a young age. But who wouldn’t at something like this? Because as I grew up to become a man, I still think of when I felt love and what I want love to be like for me.

The point of me sharing this story today is because we go through so much as gay men. Though the process of coming out is a long continuous set of obstacles, there are some great empowering moments that come from it. Strength can come even from our awkward and vulnerable points in life. Moments for us to reflect upon and to treasure and grow and to draw strength from.

How the most profound things are discovered about ourselves in the most unexpected ways and that the dark clouds of our past do have some silver linings. And I am still waiting for the adult Seth so that we can use the makeshift binoculars we made in our youth to watch the eclipse and hold hands.

 

So, Are You Up For A Menage A Trois Or Dinner For Two?

Which one sounds better? A nice, quiet stroll down a beach on a clear moonlit night, then have a nice candlelight dinner with a smooth vintage wine. Gazing into each others eyes and when you hold hands it feels like fireworks are going off. Amazing chemistry and this feeling of euphoria consumes your entire being. Passion erupts into this beautiful declaration of endless love, an oath to share eternity together and you physically unite to demonstrate this affection.

Or how about meeting up with two other men in the industrial district. Upon your arrival where you all convene at, you know the building designed to withstand heavy weight in harnesses and chains. Masks and gags are applied to heighten the experience. There’s a passionate exchange and you never see them until ready for the next encounter. Two vivid, yet very different scenarios of real relationships. Neither is better or worse than the other, just different. And until adulthood, we only refer to the quiet dinner.

One of the fastest things we learn about when we enter the gay community is how different/same relationships are between partners. If we’re honest with ourselves, it does not resemble the trademark couples of Mr and Mrs Beaver or any other sitcom on nuclear families. The perennial image of two people meeting as a result of destiny or a higher power that are meant for each other for the rest of their lives isn’t always the standard.  But to be fair, this is not the case of straight couples either, no matter how often or loudly those religious zealots claim. And yet we are still hardwired to seek out these types of relationships where two people settle down and make a life for each other.

Even with all this knowledge of how relationships work (or don’t work) it is the one thing as gay men we seem to struggle with the most. Maybe it’s because we want the fairytale, And who wouldn’t? Despite the research that claims as men we are sexual nomads that have to quench this neurological thirst to sow our seed. Some of us want to be the Prince Charming sweeping that special guy off his feet and show him a w whole new world. Dance so his feet never touch the ground. To be completely swept up in a moment that time stands still and how our love will become a tale as old as time. It’s okay to want that.

But sooner or later, we learn that this isn’t always the case. We begin to see that some have more than one boyfriend and that is a perfectly acceptable rule in the relationship. Or that each partner can have sex with as many other men as they want as long as there is no emotional investment involved in these encounters. That more men in our community are open to having relationships that don’t require more than having a traveling toothbrush and a package of condoms. Because sometimes sex is just sex. Most of our relationships don’t even begin the same way as we were taught. Sometimes relationships d start off in the smoky, dimly light club or raunchy house party. Sometimes the greatest relationships we have start off online with not a clue as to whether or not they are real.

We learn that everyone else in the world has a different definition of what relationships and love means. Most times this lesson is hard but we grow from it. Most of the time. And the longer we live, the more we discover because of our experiences that we change what we want from relationships. The idea of what it means differs from each point in our lives.  But what makes it different when it’s between two men?

So many questions come from thinking about this, whether single or in a relationship.  Because our definition of what a relationship changes. We change everyday. Whether it’s small, incremental notes or huge leaps there is still change. We mistake sex for a meaningful relationship when sometimes, it’s just sex. It makes me wonder sometimes if we just settle for the ideal and pursuit of monogamy because that’s the only thing we know.  Because that’s what fairytale and books and our parents taught us as children. The concept of true love only seems to happen in made up stories when you see everyone getting a divorce or hear of one or both of them have had infidelities.

We change so why not our perceptions on relationships? I know mine have in the long-term relationships I’ve had with men. In fact, the first relationship I had with a man was an open relationship. Even though the circumstances to it being open was because we weren’t out yet we still had all of those components that we defined. But our relationship didn’t end because I couldn’t handle it, we simply grew apart. My rules are of course were different then they are now because I want that closed type of relationship.

It all boils down to semantics. Because we need to be clear, no matter what your position on it, to understand where you stand on relationships and make that clear with the person(s) that you have this relationship. Communication is always the savoir or the downfall to every relationship so talk about what it means for you.