Monday, August 2, 2010

Coming Out: The Struggle

Before I came out, even to myself, I knew I had an attraction to other men.  I just did not know what it meant.  I know that I was naive back then, but I honestly did not know better.  I was struggling.  I was struggling with my faith in God.  I was struggling with the morals and beliefs I was reared to believe in.  I was struggling with my identity.
I was raised in a strictly moral household, one that was centered on the beliefs of my family and my church.  Being gay was never presented as an option.  Gay people were immoral, sinful, evil, promiscuous sissies, who were of the dregs of society and they were all going to die of AIDS.  This is what I was taught to believe.  I never once heard anything good about gay men or women.  I was taught instead hate, fear, and misunderstanding.
My parents had certain expectations of me.  I had bucked them a few times.  I refused to play football, but they forced me to play basketball and run track.  I was never athletic or coordinated, and I was generally an embarrassment to myself and my team.  However, my parents forced me onward.  I hated every minute of it.  Never once did I derive any joy from playing sports in high school. My parents also expected me to go to college, to marry the right girl, and produce grandchildren for them.
There was one problem with the last part.  I felt comfortable having girls as friends, but not as girlfriends.  I just had very little interest in the female sex.  Sexually, I found men very exciting, but I knew I could not act on it. I would become a pariah and even more of an embarrassment for my family.  I was already not manly enough for them.  I wasn’t, nor have I ever been a total queen (except maybe when I am very drunk, LOL), but I wasn’t the manly man they wanted as a son.  I preferred books to hunting.  I preferred books to sports.  I lost myself in my books.  I could live whatever life I wanted, as long as I had a good book to transport me to a different world.  I remember one summer in high school, I spent the whole summer reading every book Sidney Sheldon had written.
Because I thought it was expected, I tried to fall in love with a girl.  In a way, I was probably successful, but she was very much a tomboy.  It was a sex week romance over a summer in high school, when I went to a pre-college summer honors program at the big state university.  I knew I wanted to lose my virginity; I just always assumed that it would be with my slutty best female friend.  It wasn’t.  One night we were out on the quad, sitting and chatting, when I said, “I want to ask you something…”  To which she replied, “Let me guess, you want to have sex with me.”  It was most certainly not what I was going to ask, but she put the idea into my head.  So I agreed that this was what I wanted to ask her.  From that point on, I pursued the issue.  Finally, she gave in.  We went and bought condoms, to my horror (few times in my life have I ever been as embarrassed as that first time I bought a condom).  We drove to a nearby lake where no one was around and began to fool around.  We undressed partially, and I put on the condom.  As I began to enter her, the condom broke. (I did not know at the time about getting a size large enough to fit correctly.)  We decided it was an omen, that this was not meant to be.  So we left.  There were leaves all in my clothes when I got back.  A few days later she relented, and we tried again.  This time it was just as awkward.  We tried several positions, but I just could not seem to get inside her.  Finally, she climbed on top and lowered herself down on me.  It did not last very long, and then our virginities were gone.  All as Kiss From A Rose by Seal played continuously on the CD player in her dorm room.  I still have mixed emotions when I hear that song.
Then the summer was over.  She went back home and so did I, but we were two states apart.  This was before email was common (1995), and so we wrote back and forth in letters to each other. But the relationship finally fizzled out.  Recently, I found her on Facebook, but I haven’t had the nerve to “friend” her, especially, since she is now married.  I would hope she would remember me.  Don’t people always remember their first time?
When I returned home, my best friend was there waiting on me.  Of course, I told her that I lost my virginity, and in less than a week she wanted to have sex with me.  She had not wanted to be the one to take my virginity, but now that I was no longer a virgin, I was fair game in her book.  The first time, I refused, she got very angry, and kicked me out of her house.  We had been best friends for ten years, and I thought I had lost her. A few days later, I was at her house again, and she did not give me the option of saying no.  She took the lead.  Pushed me on the floor, undid my pants, and lowered herself on me.  I have always felt like I was raped, or at least manipulated into having sex with her.  I was seventeen, and everything at that age gave me an erection, so the only way of refusing was simply saying no.  I was not about to hurt her and get her off of me.  I was raised to be far to polite to refuse again.  I know this might sound odd, but this is how I have always felt.  We had sex that one time, and never again.  By the way, a few things about this girl: she was beautiful, very feminine, and had a boyfriend at the time.
I went home afterwards and took a long, long shower.  Even after the shower, I still felt dirty.  It is very hard for me to think about this, because it was a situation that I have struggled with for many years.  After that incident, I dated three other girls, none of those relationships went well. However, I have remained friends with one of those girls.  We did have a good time together. All the girls had a good time with me, but after the third, the struggle with my sexuality became a much tougher struggle, and I chose not to date women anymore after that.  I had basically decided that I would not date a woman and lead her on, knowing it would come to nothing.  It is at this point that I began to truly struggle with my sexuality.
During the next three phases of my coming out journey, I wrote three different poems.  They will be published in posts over the next few days.  I am not a great poet, so don’t expect anything great but the poems do trace my struggles with coming out, and I hope it will be relevant to someone.


crotchdiver said...

I was nineteen when I lost my virginity with a woman. Didn't enjoy it all that much - even when I was married. I've covered some of this in My Life, parts 1 and 2. Still working on part three.

Joe said...

Crotchdiver, I can't say that the first time with a woman was a great experience. It was a lot of fumbling, but most first times are. I never have much enjoyed sex with women. Besides the two mentioned above, I've only had sex with one other woman, and it was the same sort of guilt trip as my second time, except copious amounts of alcohol were involved that time.

I've really enjoyed your My Life series, and I look forward to part three.

Uncutplus said...

So prim and proper as my ex-wife and I were, that we both lost our virginity on our wedding night! I was 21 years old. The details of that fumbling are in my blog.

There were a few times when I enjoyed sex with my wife as when she would be on top and ride me, and the very few times she gave me a blowjob. None of these experiences though can begin to compare with my much later gay relationships.

So now I know a poet, Joe. Don't think I have ever known a poet before. I'm looking forward to those poems.

Joe said...

Thanks for sharing, Uncutplus, but I have to tell you, when you read my poetry, you may realize that you still don't know a poet, LOL.

When I wrote these poems, I had been studying how before the era of garage bands, many people used to write poetry to express themselves. So I thought I would give it a try. I'm not too sure about the results. They are not in any particular literary form, nor do they rhyme, LOL, but it was my way to express myself at the time.

I guess I was just going through my long-hair hippie/beat phase, though I didn't have long hair and I was never a hippie nor did I live during the beat generation.