Subject: RE: Manhood
Date: Sat, 10 Dec 94 04:57:46 -0600
> I wonder if this sense of having one's masculinity called into
> is something I share with other gay men who don't occupy the
> "straight-acting" end of the behavioral spectrum and whether it's a
> component in the hostile reaction that is often elicited from
> them by self-described "straight-acting" gays.
Reading your post made me think back a few years in my own life to a story you
might find interesting. Today I am 42 years old. It was 20 years ago last
October that I decided to move from my hometown to the metropolitan area of
Minneapolis. I moved not because I was Gay in a small town, but because my
reputation had plummetted because I had had what was then called a nervous
breakdown and people around me were waiting for me to "go off" again. For
those of you who may have experienced something similar regarding mental
illness, you know that it is no picnic to swallow 900 milligrams Thorozine.
Some talk "OF" the devil. Some of us have talked "TO" the devil. During this
illness, I decided that, if the day comes that I ever got out of the hospital;
if I ever got well, I was going to quit living the lie that I was living;
dating women to please mom and dad, when, at heart, I wanted to be held by a
man. So, basically, in today's terminology, to sum up a nearly 10 year period,
I moved to Minneapolis to become a faggot/cock sucker/queer. I went to a Gay
counselor for one visit in Minneapolis after recovering and stabilizing my
mental illness. I only asked one question; that was, "Where do they hang out?"
All I wanted to know was what addresses to go to to be with men who liked men.
I got a couple of addresses and, I do admit, my first two Gay experiences are
something I don't even like to admit to me as much as tell to others, but on my
third trick, I met a man who I ended up fighting and screaming with, along with
having fun together, with a beautiful man who loved me for the next seven
years. During this time, I had back lashes with my mental illness which
required hospitalizations and medications.
Well, as life goes for some of us, my love life of the previous seven years had
fallen apart; at a time my job of the same amount of time was in jeopardy, I
decided to make a career move and went to work for a Newspaper rather than a
college, and before I could earn my sick leave benefits, on a Gay Pride Day one
year, it just so happens that three small children, approximately the ages of 7
to 10, jumped me, pushing me to the ground, and kicked me in the face
repeatedly breaking my jaw, dropping my back teeth into my throat. Obviously,
to the readers here, I survived this attack.
I had no alternative at that time but to go back to my hometown of 25,000
people to recover; and I headed there with the reputation of being "one of
those guys who sleeps with guys". For the most part, people like to whisper in
my hometown; nobody is direct. Well, this recovery of a broken jaw required a
mouth full of metal, and having faced the recent trauma, to keep from going
totally nuts, I went for long walks. Having been away from town for nearly 10
years, I had no friends; and certainly no Gay friends.
One day, early in my return to my hometown, on one of my walks, as I was
struttin' down the street, a car full of high school aged boys traveled by me
with the windows rolled down, and someone yelled out, "FAGGOT!!!!" Well, as
with the Gay lifestyle, as one matures, ya' tend to fluff off those kinds of
comments. It's not even worth a "fuck you" in return. Can you relate? But,
as I continued my walk, within the next 5 minutes, another car full of high
school aged boys; a different car than the first one, only this time, some of
them were leaning out the windows yelling, "QU-E-E-ERRRRR!!!!!!"
I continued my walk, flustered inside. I thought to myself how grotesque it
seemed to be in a basically heterosexual society again after having spent the
previous 10 years in a Gay atmosphere. I found it ugly to see men and women
dancing together in great numbers; and, being ill, I sipped my beer through my
wired mouth, observing rather than participating. Many thoughts pondered
through my head; How was I going to be able to survive? But, basically, on my
walk, the main question, having just been called blatant names by passerbys
that don't even know who I am, I kept wondering, "Do I 'LOOK' Gay?" So I just
continued to walk, but this question kept surfacing. As I continued my walk, I
came across a familiar business district, and one of the building store fronts
had a reflective mirror window, and I contiously looked at myself as I walked
by, to answer this question to myself. As I walked by, looking at my
mannerisms, stride, appearance, etc. I asked myself this question again; "Do I
'LOOK' Gay?" Well? Looking it over?? To me?? Yes. I do look Gay. Which
to me, means; yes, I look beautiful. This was a realization and acceptance in
my own life that was as memorable as the day I came out of the closet to me.
To sum this up, (if you want more, read my book; hahahah) after a three year
recovery and rest working for our family business to bide my time, I then, at
age 35, moved back to Minneapolis to start over again. I started off sleeping
under bridges, standing in food lines, and praying a lot as the winter came on.
I slept in the City Shelter when it was too cold to stand outside, and
eventually with the help of Welfare and Church Groups, I found low income
housing; so I could begin collecting life again. I needed a place to hang my
hat before I could think of the next step; which was to get a job. Today, I'm
riding high again. I have a good job, a beautiful partner for the last seven
years, and a beautiful apartment overlooking the skyway of Minneapolis; not
one, but two balconies. In contrast, rather than walking the streets looking
for two more cents so that I could afford to buy a stamp to send my mother a
letter, now I'm contemplating updating my computer, with an ongoing debate of
MAC vs. IBM. I'm very thankful for what I have today. But, most of all, I'm happy that God let me find my way to discover myself.
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