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March 28th, 2013
Better…Like A Fever Broken…
by Bruce |
As I have said many times here, this is a life blog. Nothing more or less. And sometimes life gets a little heavy. Not to scare anyone…I’m fine now…really…but this first quarter was about the worst I have ever had. Every winter it seems the period between Valentine’s Day and April just gets worse and worse. But I think that’s over now. As they say, what has been seen cannot be unseen.
I was in that chilly gray sky of the mind state all morning long yesterday. I’d been that way for weeks and it just kept getting worse and worse. Things went badly at work. Things I should have been able to shrug off that I took to heart. My co-workers were noticing, which only made it worse. It fed on itself. And it wasn’t about nothing either. I’m 59 years old and never had a boyfriend. You can’t walk that far in a life without time spent in the arms of an intimate other and not be damaged by it. We were not made to be solitaries. And I have been betrayed by people I trusted deeply. Or maybe it was my congenital naivety. People who look like that…
So it was deep in that feedback loop that I randomly chanced across that Hemingway quote in my Facebook stream and naturally the first thing that came to mind was a kind of despair that, no this isn’t why I feel the way I do because I have no courage. I do not take risks, I run away from them. Just ask Tico. I am not a good man wounded, I was damaged goods to begin with. Unworthy. The child who was never meant to be. And right then it was as if something tapped me on the shoulder and showed me something about myself that I’d never really looked at before, that through it all I have lived an honest life, because I never thought doing that was something to pat yourself on the back for.
A feeling for beauty…the courage to take risks… Yeah…actually I’ve taken a few haven’t I? And so it goes. I felt right then as though a terrible fever was breaking. Seriously, it was like a smothering curtain had been pulled off me and I felt alive again. Life was good again. The road forward clearer, and…enticing. Then I remembered what had happened to Hemingway. You try to be rational about things, but for a moment I felt like I’d been given a lift up, from a hand that would have known the need.
March 27th, 2013
Courage And Self Esteem
by Bruce |
The Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad?
Alice Kingsley: I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers.
But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.
You get into these depressive ruts and you start being critical of your every fault, real or perceived. Nothing within you is good enough. Everything is rotten. Yesterday I was tearing myself up inside for not having the nerve to just go ahead and go down to Washington and with my cameras bear witness to history being made. So just for good measure I took stock of every failure of nerve I ever had in my life, starting with the biggest one of all, that of not being able to tell a certain someone back in 1971 that he had made my heart skip a beat. By the end of the day I knew exactly what a sniveling coward I had been my entire life.
This came across my Facebook feed this morning…
…and I could see in it everything about me, except the courage part. Hemingway wasn’t talking about me. I have the feeling for beauty…it drives me mad sometimes. The truth telling part, yes. Just ask anyone who knows me. The capacity for sacrifice, yes. I can do that. I have done that. I have all of that within me. And I know how vulnerable it makes me. There are times it still surprises me how vulnerable. That is me. I have all of that. But not the courage. I have no courage.
And then it was like I swear a little voice inside said wait just a minute… You’ve been living as an out gay man nearly all your life. You came out to yourself when you were 17 years old, accepted yourself for what you are, two years before the shrinks decided homosexuals weren’t mentally ill after all. You kept it low key for most of the 70s but you never dodged a direct question and never lied to anyone about it, back in a time when you could be, and were, multiple times, fired for being a homosexual. Remember that day when you were still a teenage boy and you stood in front of the bathroom mirror and said to your reflection “I Am A Homosexual” after you read some crackpot who said admitting it was the worst thing a man could do? That day forty-seven states still had sodomy laws on their books. You have spent the past few days…no, weeks…digging up every failure of nerve you ever had. Now remember all those times when you were blind-sided by a question and you had to make a sudden snap decision about being closeted or not. Remember how afraid you were? And you never held back. What the hell is that if it isn’t courage?
Fear. Maybe that’s what’s always at the heart of a depression. Fear of being alone all my life. Fear of dying alone. Fear of walking through my one life never knowing a lover’s embrace. Friends With Benefits is the cheap shelf booze. Once you’ve tasted the real thing you never settle for faking it. The best or nothing, as Gottlieb Daimler once said. Courage. I’m depressed because I am afraid. That doesn’t make me a coward. Anyone with that discipline to tell the truth, and capacity for sacrifice, and feeling for beauty, cannot also be a coward. It just doesn’t compute. I forgot lately, all those times when I did what I had to do even though I was scared shitless. I forgot something I began telling myself in later years when I began looking back on those moments. T.E. Lawrence once said, “The trick is not minding that it hurts.” For me the trick was always not minding that I’m afraid.
And…a bit bonkers…in the way the best people generally are.
March 26th, 2013
Second Thoughts That Tend To Come A Bit Too Late
by Bruce |
Today is going to be murder to get through, but it’s my own doing. I let my depressed state screw me over. I should have planned to go down to the Supreme Court marriage Proposition 8 protests/counter protests regardless. I actually took the days off well in advance. But then I cancelled because I have been down ever since Valentine’s Day and I just didn’t want to deal with that part of me. Ironically, that not wanting to deal with the emotional creative part of me is what got me into computers, and making the very nice living I am making now. But there was a big drawback to all of that. This path I chose, has led me to a cliff. Now that the day is here I really want to be down there with my cameras photographing it but management wants not. Ever have one of those conversations with your boss, where the boss looks at you, smiles and says “It’s your call” and you know goddamn well what the call is supposed to be? It was one of those.
Maybe that would have been the reality anyway. So many things are happening at work now. Launch is in 2018 and while that seems like a long way off, there is a lot of up front work that needs to be done. A lot. Probably, it’s no fooling, I really have to be here and stay on top of my work. Maybe making it up on the weekend really just doesn’t cut it. Maybe it wasn’t a question of my boss telling me I could not have divided loyalties in his workspace. Put that artsy fartsy stuff away, you’re an adult now, live in the real world… But this is really stabbing me in the heart now.
Sometimes I wish I could just surgically remove that emotional creative part of me that keeps wanting to make imagery. I hear this thing inside of us drives other artists insane too and it’s been this way all my life, particularly as it’s become lonelier and lonelier and because of that, sometimes I really don’t want to look at what comes out of me. And while it’s had its rewards it cuts me to ribbons too. It is right now. I could have done without it. Life as an emotionless cog in the machinery wouldn’t be so bad.
So now, at fifty-nine, I think I know why the stereotype of the starving artist exists. It isn’t because they can’t find decent work, it’s because they know what will happen when they do, so they stay in their little slumtown lofts and hovels because any work that pulls them away from the creative urge makes their inner lives a complete mess. Well…more mess then what would be normal for them anyway. In the end the choice isn’t live a very low budget life but get to do your work whenever you want to, verses get a good job and appease the creative urge in your spare time…it’s follow your heart or slowly go mad, pick one.
Wish I’d been brave enough to take the poor scrappy starving artist path. Who knows, maybe the boyfriend would have been somewhere along that way. But nerve was always something I had trouble with having enough of. Just ask Tico.
Anyway…to those confronting the haters today and tomorrow…be proud. You are writing new lines in the history books. Wish I could be there with my cameras to get some shots of it happening.
March 21st, 2013
Seeing Your Gay Neighbor Through Prejudiced Colored Glasses
by Bruce |
The struggle for gay civil rights is merely homosexuals seeking approval of their lifestyle…
“The primary challenge that our side faces right now is the intense social pressure,” said Joseph Backholm, 34, the executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington. “To the extent that the other side is able to frame this as a vote for gay people to be happy, it will be challenging for us.”
The more things change the more they stay the same. As far back as Anita Bryant’s rampage on Dade County’s anti-discrimination law, the rhetoric has been that all the fuss about gay rights is merely the homosexuals demanding societal approval of their lifestyle. No matter how you phrase that, (a vote for gay people to be happy) it is ignorant. All you’re telling us there Joseph, is you can’t see the people for the homosexuals.
Anyone who thinks this struggle is only about approval or some frivolous desire for “happiness” has ether never loved or does not think gay people are capable of love. Happiness is in your lover’s smile, and the touch of their hand in yours. All the approval you could ever need is in their eyes when they look into yours. You would know this if you ever loved Joseph. You would know why we fight for the honor and the dignity of it if you could see the people for the homosexuals. We are not asking for approval from the likes of you Joseph, let alone happiness. What we need from you is to take the damn knife out of our backs.
March 19th, 2013
A Splendid Little War…
by Bruce |
Andrew Sullivan has been relentlessly digging up and reposting his horrible Iraq war posts as a kind of public confession and mea culpa. So very Catholic, and I mean that in a respectful way. For all the hostility I threw at him back then I must say now that he has my respect, being one of the few Bush cheerleaders I’ve seen to change their minds about both the man and his war, and while you can argue that this is just a matter of plainly seeing the facts for what they are and you don’t pat someone on the back for doing what they ought to have been doing in the first place, that’s ignoring some hard truths about human nature and what can happen to any of us who get caught up in a mob. Sullivan deserves a great deal of respect in my opinion for so publicly eating crow and more to the point, for setting an example. If more of us owned our mistakes in life instead of passing the buck this would be a much better world.
The rest of us who were right all along need to look squarely at the fact of our utter uselessness. We tried, we failed, and way too often it seems to me, we settled for the sanctimony of being right over making a difference.
Flashback…Washington D.C…March 18, 2003
Tuesday afternoon. I am attending a conference on open source software in government being held at George Washington University. I am here because my project manager is investigating the possibility of moving the system I’ve been working on for the past several years to open source software. Work on the Hubble Space Telescope will go into maintenance mode shortly, and the thinking is that the Institute doesn’t want to spend a lot of money it won’t have on software upgrades, simply because a certain vendor has a business cycle that requires you to do that. At least with open source we would have the option of making any small fixes we absolutely needed to have before the end of the mission ourselves, without breaking our systems that depend on it. The alternative is to stick to the vendor’s upgrade cycle, and pray the new versions don’t break anything in our software, or introduce new bugs and security holes.
Between conference sessions, I wander around the Foggy Bottom area, and back and forth to my hotel, which I paid for out of my own pocket, rather then hassle with Washington traffic, which is a nightmare. The hotel has a nice little kitchenette, which allows me to eat reasonably well without further damaging my budget for the month. Around noon I begin the walk back to my hotel for lunch, stopping to examine a decrepit building right next to the conference hall, that I assume is one of the student dorms. It is, and I see by the bronze plaque by the door that this one is named Lafayette Hall. I read the inscription, which briefly describes the history of Marquis de Lafayette, who fought beside George Washington, taking a bullet in the process, for the freedom of a nation that was not his own, and who later attended the first commencement ceremonies of the university that bore his friend’s name, shaking the hand of each of those first graduates. While I am reading, a snarky voice in the back of my mind is saying Freedom Fries…Freedom Toast… An old friend of mine I’d had breakfast with that morning, told me a joke he’d heard about a man who, while visiting France recently, asked a random Frenchman, “Sir, can you speak German?” When the Frenchman replied that he couldn’t, the American said, “You’re welcome.” I told my friend the Frenchman could just as easily have asked the American, “Sir, what is your king’s name?”
My hotel is somewhat oldish. My room is on the sixth floor and the elevators are small and slow. I press the button and when one finally appears, I see that there are already two businessmen inside. It’s a tight fit for three. As we go up I feel the hair on the back of my neck rise. There are some who you would never know from the look of them to be of the right wing thuggish persuasion, and there are others who hit you with it in waves, in the cut of the clothes, the bullying posture that is as second nature as breathing, and the coldness of the face, particularly when smiling at nothing in particular. I tune them both out, pulling out from a space within me I’d almost forgotten about, a “Yes I’m a longhair, yes I know you hate my guts, and no mister establishment person sir, I really don’t give a flying fuck” attitude, close my eyes, and listen to the elevator floor counter click off the floors to mine. I toy briefly about writing a book, “Everything I know about living under Bush II, I learned from Nixon”. The old elevator rises slowly. I hear one of my companions say, “I hope they don’t cancel our flight out Thursday.” The other chuckles and says, “The war will be over by then.”
March 7th, 2013
Out Of It.
by Bruce |
I’d planned on going to the NOM rally and counter rallies at the Supreme Court later this month to document it all with my cameras. I’ve got so much now in my photography archives relating to the gay civil rights struggle that I’ve witnessed over the years. But my heart isn’t in anything lately and the more I contemplated doing it the more I just didn’t want to. I don’t want to touch my cameras or my drawing tools at the moment. And I was never really that good at any of it. So I’m not going. History can go on its merry way without needing me to photograph it.
February 28th, 2013
Reminder: This Is A Life Blog…
by Bruce |
…not a political blog or some other sort of blog. It’s what blogs were before blogs became a thing. I’m just documenting my life here, such as it is, and maybe throwing a reference or two out to other things I do besides vent, like my photography or cartoons. If what I’m putting up here has any value to anyone it’s because it’s about Life, not so much about Me specifically. If it gets heavy sometimes that’s because life will do that. If I don’t name names in something I post here that’s not because I’m being coy, it’s because the specific people don’t matter. It’s not about them, it’s about life.
February 27th, 2013
Adios Valentine’s Day…
by Bruce |
I try to be rational about things, but sometimes I wonder about why my life had to be so lonely and when I can’t find a logical answer my thoughts stray elsewhere, down darker paths. Lately I find myself thinking that maybe the reason I have always been so alone is mom was supposed to marry that other guy. Had war not driven him mad perhaps he and mom would have likely married, and they’d have had a few lovely children (mom said often that she had wanted more then one but alas her one and only marriage did not work out). And as time passed their children would have each found someone to love and settled down with them. As the saying goes, “every pot has a lid.” I never found mine probably, because that person does not exist. Because I was the child who was never meant to be.
Sometimes I wonder what it must be like, looking at me from the outside in. It’s only people who have known me the longest I wonder this about though. The people in my life who remember me from grade school, or as a young adult. How does it feel to see Bruce has walked from adolescence to the threshold of old age, and you’ve never seen him dating anyone, never known him to have a boyfriend, any significant other, even a fling or two. What are they thinking? That this is a normal thing? Expected, completely unremarkable, untroubling? Yes…Bruce has always lived by himself. Of course. We knew he would. That was always to be expected.
Is that what the thinking is? And if so…why? What is it about me that made you, not so much certain that I would always be alone, but that it was just completely unremarkable to see that happening to me. Part of the normal everyday background. The sky is blue, traffic on the beltway is horrible, the republicans are screwing America, TV sucks, Bruce is alone. C’est la vie. My friends.
This image came across my Facebook feed on Valentine’s Day…
Well, I haven’t read the Twilight books so I can’t say I agree with that or not. But I did watch Up, bought a DVD copy the next day, and not to give anything away, that first eight minutes, and the little bit about the scrapbook at the end, moves me so deeply I find myself bawling and I can’t stop. And I am crying for everything that might have been, that I lost, forever, for all eternity, because I never got that chance to love, and be loved. What adventure? There was no adventure.
You only get one life and now at the threshold of old age, the life I see is one I’d have rather not have lived. The predators who run the ex-gay ministries would nod their heads and point and say, See…we told you so. But read their tales about the self destructive gay lifestyle and you see a lot of things that if anything are more about the self hatred relentlessly preached at us, and to our peers. I am not a drug addict, drugs did not deliver me into a bitter, broken place. That it might have been sex addiction that kept me from finding true love all these years is a belly laugh. At age fifty-nine I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve ever had sex. My libido was never the explosive vent of hot magma I keep hearing male libidos are supposed to be. But it wasn’t non-existent either.
I desired. Oh very much so. But with that desire, always, was a need of companionship that was intimate in both body and soul. The one time I let myself get picked up it was with a guy who sat on some steps beside me as we watched the Pride Day block party on the street below. He was handsome and I was, in my late twenties, already very lonely, and when he suggested we go back to his place I accepted. But with his clothes off came his street persona, and what I saw under it was a personality so vacant I could not maintain an interest and nothing happened. I left hoping I hadn’t hurt his feelings and resolved never to do that again. What I needed was a lover, not a fuck buddy for a night or two. But instead of the lover I got a lot of near misses and a near total indifference from the people around me to the fact that I was getting older and older and still had no companionship. And now I’m fifty-nine.
A lot of that has to do with being gay, and being born when I was, into the culture I was. Had I been born a generation earlier I might simply never had borne a hope that I could have someone else to love and be loved by. I might have resigned myself to life similar to the alcoholic’s of endless struggle against urges I would never defeat but only suppress one day at a time. Or I might have just tactfully killed myself, as so many have, and continue to do. Perhaps one day I’ll take that traditional cure for homosexuality myself. I have come so very close to it. So very very close to it.
Had I been born just a couple generations later than I was, I doubt I’d be so bitter and so despondent every year around Valentine’s Day. I’m not saying it wouldn’t necessarily have still been a struggle. Just that it seems with each new generation our struggle to find that special someone begins to look more and more like everyone else’s too. And more critically, it becomes a struggle others in your family and community are willing to help with. Gay kids can take their dates to the prom. They can talk their problems and anxieties out with family, seek advice from caring adults, read stories about that universal struggle for love that speak directly to them.
That’s wasn’t the case for me. I reached adolescence at a moment in time when gay people could begin asserting a right to companionship, but well before homophobia stopped seeming like a perfectly reasonable thing, and the first tentative suspicion began taking root in the social consciousness that perhaps snuffing a budding same-sex romance out before it could even get started might be wrong. Of course, the best way to keep a homosexual from ever knowing love’s happiness is to plant the seeds of self loathing firmly into them at a young age, and while some of us of my generation were willing to challenge the prevailing beliefs regarding homosexuals and homosexuality, a lot of us were completely cowed by the hatred we all faced, terrified of the stigma, and chose the closet instead. And even those of us who didn’t, bore the scars of that hatred with us all the same. A big part of why dating is such a struggle for gay folks of my generation, even today I am convinced, is because of this. We treat each other like shit because that’s how we were taught gay people should be treated. Consciously we may reject it, but deep down the scars, and the pain, remain, silently doing their work on us.
When I was in college some friends decided to help out a couple mutual friends who had been eying each other, but could not work up the nerve to actually speak to each other. That’s how it usually works, at least among heterosexuals. Boy catches the eye of girl, girl catches the eye of boy…they talk it over with their friends…and if the process seems getting a little stuck then friends of boy and friends of girl get together and talk it over and if both parties are interested then a plot is hatched to get the two of them somewhere they can break the ice and say ‘hello’. That day we all decided we would gather at a local ice cream joint (this all sounds very Disney-esq I suppose) and girl would ride with her girlfriends and boy would drive his friends, each not knowing the other would be there, and we’d all just happen to be at the same place at the same time and hang out and eventually one would leave because they had to be somewhere else…and then eventually another would have to go somewhere…and then another…and another…until finally boy and girl were there at the table by themselves. As I recall it worked out very nicely for all parties involved.
Over the years I helped in that process several times and always took a deep satisfaction out of it, even though back in the 1970s I could have hardly expected my straight friends to do the same for me, if only because they didn’t travel in gay circles and most of us gay guys my age were still dealing with the closet. My straight friends might suspect that so-and-so was gay, and maybe even a good match for Bruce…but you could hardly walk up and ask if he was gay and back then not many of us who lived in the suburbs were willing to be out with it. I even lent my bedroom to some straight friends while mom was away visiting family. I was willing to help love out in any way I could, because I knew what it was like to be in love myself. What I didn’t know from first hand experience, was what it was like to have a lover. I still don’t.
So in the 1970s I was on my own, but I figured that would change when I finally was able to connect more with others like myself. But it wasn’t until the late 1980s and the first computer bulletin boards that I was able to find a community of other gay guys I could easily socialize in. I was in my thirties by then…an age where by most reckonings you’ve passed over the hill and now you’re ready for the remaindered shelf. But I made some friends, including that of the sysop of the BBS and his lover, and got a handful of dates out of it, but nothing steady, and in painful to look at retrospect, zero dating support from…anyone. I had found a gay community I could socialize in and make a few friends, show off my artwork, display my inner self as best I could in my online postings and discussions…Here I Am…and I was still completely on my own. And…alone.
As I got closer to forty despair grew deeper within me. I recall one time hashing it out with the sysop…a guy I had tried dating who had rejected me, was suddenly dating this other guy who had rejected me the year before, and I was miserable. I figured since grade school I wasn’t supermodel material, but never felt that I was actually ugly until then. I poured my heart out and the sysop gave me the advice that would become his constant song for the next couple decades whenever I complained that my love life was going nowhere…that I just had to get out more and meet people…as if I wasn’t already trying to do that on his BBS system. I still remember this one moment as a kind of shock: he had looked kindly at me and said that of course if I just kept at it I would eventually find someone who would appreciate (pause)how I looked. I thought to myself then, well he didn’t mean it That way…
There are people like me who want the soulmate and nothing else will do. There are people who are perfectly willing to sleep around until they hit on the one lover, or spouse, or something good that they’ll stick with, but until then they’re fine about having some fun in the meantime. Some people don’t want a lifelong thing, but want more then a one night stand all the same. They’ll drop in and out of the singles scene all their lives and they’re fine with that. And some people just want to sleep around and really aren’t interested in, don’t need and have utterly no use for the lover, or soulmate or anything with the slightest string attached to it. Here’s the thing about growing old and single; most of the people you find yourself socializing with in the singles scene at a later age are in those latter categories because most of the rest have found what they were looking for and have settled down and they’re keeping the singles scene far far away from the life they have now. You’re still there because you kept trying and kept failing and you have no where else to go but off a bridge maybe, but they’re there because that’s home and they just don’t get you. If anything, they think there is something tragically wrong with you and no, the tragedy isn’t that you didn’t find your soulmate, the tragedy is that you haven’t realized yet that the only thing in life worth worrying about is getting laid. They will keep offering you the same helpful Just Go Get Laid And You’ll Be Fine advice and they will never get why that isn’t helping. It works for them, it should work for you too. And if it doesn’t well that’s obviously because you’ve got hangups you need to get over.
Time passes, the universe expands, and those of us who shared a brief community on that gay BBS system moved on to the Internet. The sysop had a new and very much devoted lover…his previous lover, dearly missed by all of us, had passed away due to a chronic illness that wasn’t AIDS (we did die of other things back then). He and his boyfriend began a regular happy hour gathering of some of us in the BBS community who still lived in the area. Others drifted in and out of the new circle. One of these was a guy who was, like me, middle aged and still looking for that other half. We were not exactly each other’s type, but still recognized that similarity between us. Still hopeful, still looking, not really all that much about the singles scene, but here we are.
One evening we all decided on a different bar as our starting point, and when we walked in my jaw just about hit the floor when I caught sight of the bartender there. And as always when that would happen to me, I got all shy and befuddled about it. And…in retrospect…as always, the others just watched as I gawked with my jaw hanging open. All of them but the new guy, who walked up next to me at the bar and ordered a drink and when the beautiful bartender served it, casually asked for a name, and when it was given, he looked sideways at me with a little smile.
There you go…
In two decades of socializing with the others there, and on the BBS before it, nobody had ever done anything like that for me. And this new guy, about my own age, comes into our circle and just does it as if it were the most natural thing in the world. But it wouldn’t be for another year before I really noticed it, and found myself wondering Where did you come from and why couldn’t I have lived there among the rest of you…???
Well of course nothing came of it…trying to date the cute bartender is about as hopeless as you can manage, though some do succeed with it. But all I needed was that name and it broke the ice and I gave it a shot. I was grateful for the help. Eventually the new guy found what he was looking for elsewhere, and he stopped coming to our happy hours.
The sysop had a very fulfilling love life and other boyfriends over the course of time, and lots of stories about them he would tell us every now and then. One day one of these was slated to get some special recognition at an annual drag ball award ceremony and I, the photographer and camera nut of the group, was asked to play paparazzi for him and document his moment in the spotlight. I was happy to oblige; I’d never seen a good drag show live before and having the opportunity to photograph the whole thing up close was something I was interested in.
I did my best for the boyfriend, and really got into photographing the performers. Some of them seemed amateurish, but others really had it going on. The sysop’s old boyfriend had bought what must have been thousands of dollars worth of costuming for his big day and he knew how to work it. And there was another, younger, cuter one there too, who I found myself unable to look away from. Oh…I got tons of photos of him. Those who know me say I have a thing for androgynous males, but I don’t see it that way. I think of it as more of a happy middle ground between über masculine and über feminine. Someone who does drag will need to work harder at it if they’ve got that über masculine face, but I’ve seen it done. This guy at that show, was simply beautiful in a way that I love to see on males and he worked his costume very well. At the end of the show I figured I’d seen the last of him but at least I got some good photos.
That weekend I was to bring my computer with the digital images I took to the sysop’s house and the boyfriend of times-gone-by would come and review them and I’d make a CD copy of whatever he wanted. After I got set up we waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. Five hour later we finally got a phone call that he was on his way. He’d decided to go on a boat excursion up the Potomac river with His boyfriend and they’d just missed one boat so they decided to take the next one instead. Fine. Whatever. He finally arrives and we go over my photography and I’m happy he’s pleased with everything and I make him his CD. He suggests I put some photos up in a directory somewhere that the others can see them because I might get some business that way. I’m not really all that interested in making money on them, I have a good job and I’m fine with the income it brings me. But further opportunity to document the drag performers tweaks my interest. Then he leaves. And then the sysop and his lover drop a bombshell on me.
Boyfriend from times-gone-by had called after the show, and told them that I’d attracted the attention of several guests at the awards, and was I available? Well, says the sysop, knowing my tastes in guys, most of them there probably don’t do it for Bruce, but there was one guy…who went by the stage name…
Oh, says boyfriend from times-gone-by, you mean Robbie! Yes…he’s actually single now and he’s looking. He works in computers, as a project manager of some sort…has a house…and he’s into older guys. Everyone says he’s a sweetheart…
And apparently boyfriend from times-gone-by had agreed to bring Robbie over to meet me. The sysop and his lover said when they opened the door they wondered where Robbie was, but didn’t ask because it was supposed to be a surprise for me.
I was…to put it mildly…overjoyed. Sure, it didn’t happen…but that they thought to do something like that for me just about made my heart burst with joy. Oh thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
And the sysop agreed to try again sometime to arrange a meeting, or at least see if one was possible. And I trusted them. So a week later I asked about it. Am I going to get a chance to meet Robbie? And the answer I got was, well…you need to get some photos of the other performers ready to show them and then I’ll have an excuse to talk to boyfriend from times-gone-by again and I’ll see if I can set something up.
Oh. As if two decades of your friend Bruce being lonely wasn’t excuse enough. But I tried to think of a way of getting some more photography of the show up on a web site the others could look at. Problem was, boyfriend from times-gone-by had assured me so well that I would get ripped off or taken to the cleaners with requests for prints if I wasn’t careful that I kept trying to think of a way to put stuff up without there being a problem and I couldn’t. I didn’t want to watermark everything as I thought that would be tacky. So I hemmed and hawed about it, and asked again…am I going to have a chance to meet Robbie? And the answer I got was the same…I need an excuse…we don’t socialize with boyfriend from times-gone-by’s crowd much anymore.
Another week went by. Then a month. Am I going to have a chance to meet Robbie? Welllll…we don’t socialize with boyfriend from times-gone-by’s crowd anymore, but I’ll look into it. Another month. Am I going to have a chance to meet Robbie? Well…I’ll look into it…but we really don’t socialize with boyfriend from times-gone-by’s crowd anymore. Another month. Same answer. Another. By now you’re probably wondering why I didn’t just take matters into my own hands. But I had no contact information. None. Not even for boyfriend from times-gone-by. I was utterly dependent on the sysop and his lover for help here. And I trusted them. They were old friends from the BBS days. They were my friends.
Had they told me there was something wrong here…something that maybe they were not free to discuss but that I should just trust them and forget about Robbie…I would have without regret. I trusted them. Had they told me that boyfriend from times-gone-by had said I wasn’t Robbie’s type after all, or that Robbie had flatly turned down an offer to meet up with me, I would have accepted it as par for the course. Same-old, same-old. There were a thousand things and more that could have gotten in the way of anything happening. We might have met up and nothing at all came of it but a friendly handshake. The point is it didn’t have to happen. But I trusted they cared enough about me, after knowing me for as long as they had, and seeing with their own two eyes how lonely I was, how hard the dating and mating thing always was for me that they, being my friends, would at least give it another try. Or at least give me enough information that I could try myself.
Another month went by. Am I going to have a chance to meet Robbie? I’ll see…but we don’t socialize with boyfriend from times-gone-by’s crowd anymore. Finally I got fed up and late one evening at the end of yet another happy hour Friday I asked sysop’s lover what the hell was going on? You said this guy might be a good match. You tried that one time. Why the stonewall now? What the fuck gives? And sysop’s lover shrugged and said he’d ask…
…and then he looks me right in the face and says, “Bruce, we’ve seen the people you look at. People who look like that, want people who look like that.”
In vino veritas… I felt like I’d just been shot. But the real hurt didn’t come until much later. When sysop sent me an email about how he’d talked to boyfriend from times-gone-by and Robbie was seeing someone now, and anyway Robbie had stood up boyfriend from times-gone-by and that’s why he hadn’t shown up at the house with him that day and so Robbie was probably just another “flaky drag queen” and I just needed to get out more and meet people. Well I’ve met some flaky project managers in IT but you can’t be too terribly flaky about it and still be successful enough to own your own house. And I guess I was supposed to forget about that ad hoc Potomac River boat cruse that had made boyfriend from times-gone-by almost six hours late. I suspect if anyone got stood up that day it was Robbie. But I’ll never know for sure now. And I should just forget about it.
And…about the new guy in our happy hour circle who got me a name one day, like it was the most natural thing in the world, while sysop and the others just watched me flailing around and gawking.
Because everyone knows people who look like that, want people who look like that.
They say sometimes you don’t really feel the impact of a really bad injury until much later. I stopped seeing sysop and the others for a time, angry at them for their indifference. Then I sort of came back into the happy hour circle. Then I came home one day after a vacation in Florida, where I had briefly visited my first crush from so long ago, back in a time when I could still believe that there was someone out there for me, that I could have someone to love and be loved by…and I took my suitcases inside and looked around my empty house, which I have bought with the money I have earned from working the best job in the world…and I just wanted to find some nice high place somewhere I could throw myself off from. So I’m not hanging out with the happy hour crowd anymore. Going out for drinks and dinner with people who think your face does not qualify you for a love life just isn’t the fun it used to be.
You can’t live an entire adult life without love and not know there is something profoundly wrong with you. Maybe I really am that ugly after all. Or just that unlucky. Or I was the child that was never meant to be. When even the people around you who know you best don’t give your loneliness a second thought, if in other words, your friends don’t care, then how can you possibly expect someone to actually fall in love with you? Whatever it was I thought I had to offer it can’t have been all that much if the ones who know me best don’t think it’s odd that I’m alone. I can’t not see that anymore. And seeing it, finally, something inside of me has died. Hope I suppose. Maybe at long last that’s all that needs to die. I don’t have to kill myself, I was never really there to begin with. When the actual fact of death finally happens it will be like tying up a loose end that got forgotten somehow. Oh…right…you’re still here aren’t you…?
This time of year is the worst now. The short days and long nights. The coldness of it. Valentine’s Day. I’m really getting tired of trying to sleep walk through Valentine’s Day week without wanting to drink a cyanide margarita. I don’t see an ugly face in the mirror, I never have. But I see an old one now. Too old. The skin on my arms has age spots now, my face is growing jowls, the ink on my sell-by date is growing fungus. The child who was never meant to be is all grown up now, still looking in the mirror with that vaguely bewildered expression.
Why me? Why did I have to be born. I was the kid from the other side of the tracks who wound up with the best job in the world and a nice little house nobody least of all me would have ever expected. I should be amazed and grateful at the wonderful good fortune I have had, and I am. Really. Also, I wish I never was. There’s a scene in Robert Heinlein’s Job: A Comedy of Justice, where the main character Alexander Hergensheimer, angry with God after discovering that he got taken to heaven when the rapture occurred but wife Marga had not (because she was a pagan) complains bitterly to Peter that he was “…willing to wash dishes forever if only I could see her smile, hear her voice, touch her hand”, and concludes by saying that if Marga was in Hell then that was where he wanted to be sent too…and he promptly was. I would be willing to do both of those things to have my other half, to see him smile and touch his hand…walk away from this wonderful life I have now and wash dishes forever, stand by his side in Hell even if that was what I had to do. But that is fantasy, and fate does not offer even those choices for the one who was never meant to be.
If the heart is a house, he thought,
it is rented to strangers
who leave it empty
-From The Man On The Bed by Debora Greger
Religion As The Mirror In Which You See God
by Bruce |
The author Mary Renault once said (and I’m paraphrasing now because I don’t have that exact quote) that all politics, like sex, was merely a reflection of the person within, and that if you are mean and selfish and cruel it came out in your sex life and in your politics when what really mattered is you aren’t the sort of person who behaves like that. To that I would only add religion. If you are mean and selfish and cruel it will come out in your religion too, when what really matters is you aren’t the sort of person who behaves like that…
A provocative new study is challenging assumptions about the deterrent effect of religion on criminal behaviour.
The U.S. study found that through “purposeful distortion or genuine ignorance,” hardcore criminals often co-opt religious doctrine to justify or further their crimes.
Among the interviewees…
A 25-year-old criminal nicknamed “Cool” said he always does a “quick little prayer” before committing a crime in order to “stay cool with Jesus.” As long as you ask for forgiveness, Jesus has to give it to you, he said.
He also suggested that if a crime is committed against another “bad person,” such as a dope dealer or child molester, “then it don’t count against me because it’s like I’m giving punishment to them for Jesus.”
The interviews show that criminals will often employ “elaborate and creative rationalizations” to reconcile their belief in God and their serial offending, the researchers concluded.
As you read this article it isn’t hard to hear in the voices of these criminals every justification the religious right uses to prey on other people. Here is the voice of predatory christianism as if spoken on a minimalist stage. Strip the frippery away and you have a prison gang. How is it that murderers, robbers and thugs don’t see themselves that way? Well, don’t blame religion for it either. Humans have an amazing capacity to see only what we want to see…to lie to ourselves even when it is killing us, rather than admit an uncomfortable truth. Yes, actually…I’m a dick… The religious right uses Christianity the way a thief uses a crowbar. Here in that study, are the professionals.
February 25th, 2013
Notes On The Gay Lifestyle…(continued): Message From Another World…
by Bruce |
I came out to myself one December evening in 1971, and for the next couple years had no clue whatsoever as to how to find others like me, and maybe get a date, and maybe even find someone who was special enough to settle down with, and build us a life together. Until that moment everything I knew about homosexuals and homosexuality I had learned from heterosexuals, and the opinions there ranged from tactful pity to venomous hostility.
In 1971 every state but one had sodomy laws on the books. In 1971 you could be fired, you could loose your professional license, you could loose your home, you could loose your freedom, just for being discovered. Forget about a career anywhere you might need a background check or a security clearance. And the message you got from every direction was you were human filth, a danger to children, a threat to your community, a pathetic faggot at best…
Mad #145, Sept ‘71, from “Greeting Cards For The
Sexual Revolution” – “To A Gay Liberationist”
…a dangerous sexual psychopath at worst…
“The thought of turning…of turning involuntarily into one of them frightened me…and made me sick with anger.”
You were a symptom of social decay. You were what caused the fall of Rome. You were an abomination in the eyes of God. Certainly you were a thing best left unspoken of in decent company.
This was the world I came out into. The only place I knew of where other people like me could be found was a seedy bar downtown that everyone in school joked about. When I searched for books about gay people, fiction that spoke to me about life as a gay man, all I found were trashy sex novels where the gay protagonist was there only to remind everyone what a sad, pathetic life we were all condemned to. To be sure, 60s sexual liberation, at least in theory, extended even to gay people. In the Broadway musical Hair they sang “Sodomy Fellatio Cunnilingus Pederasty. Father, why do these words sound so nasty? Masturbation can be fun. Join the holy orgy Kama Sutra Everyone!” But this was, as always, gay lib as purely sexual in nature…a side show to heterosexual liberation at best. More often, sexual freedom did not include treating gays as anything other than pathetic faggots. Even in the sexually no-holds-barred underground comix world, gay people were stereotypical faggots…
Jake shows the kids how to deal with a limp wrist faggot in Larry Weltz’ “Gearjammer”, Bakersfield Kountry Komics, 1973
If not symptoms of capitalist decadence and oppression…
Guy Colwell reminds us in Inner City Romances #3 (1977),
that homosexuality in prison is but a mirror image of capitalist oppression
of the strong over the weak…
I had nothing that spoke to me…nothing that spoke to that wonderful, magical experience of first love, and what it taught me was truth; that the love between same-sex couples could be every bit as vital and life affirming as that experienced by opposite-sex couples. Then late in 1972, I stumbled across Mary Renault’s novel, The Persian Boy, and in her works finally, Finally, found what I was looking for…
“Hephaistion had known for many ages that if a god should offer him one gift
in all his lifetime, he would choose this. Joy hit him like a lightning-bolt.”
―Mary Renault, Fire from Heaven
But my community seemed still so far out of reach. I knew it was out there…somewhere…but I could find no access to it.
By the winter of 1972 I was working at a camera store that catered to the professional clientele. I did stock boy duties and one day, while unpacking a shipment of cameras from a distributor in San Francisco, I found a complete issue of The Advocate, placed neatly on top of all the balled up newspaper that was packing the contents of the box. By then I had heard of The Advocate, knew it was a newspaper produced by and for gay people, but I’d had no idea where to find a copy. And now suddenly, there in front of me, was a complete copy, placed there like a message in a bottle by someone in the shipping department at the other end.
To whom it may concern…you are not alone…
I glanced quickly around…my stock room manager was elsewhere, I was alone. I took the newspaper and placed it inside my backpack and closed the zipper. When I finally got it home I devoured it like a starving man.
I still have it…a carefully saved bit of personal history…
Eventually I found my way to a seedy “adult” bookstore where I could find copies of The Advocate, as well as the local gay paper, The Washington Blade, and several glossy gay magazines that weren’t entirely pornographic, such as Mandate, In Touch and Christopher Street (a gay version of the New Yorker that had hilarious New Yorker style cartoons). That lasted until I discovered the Lambda Rising bookstore downtown at which point it seemed like, finally, the world had opened up to me. But that first copy of Advocate felt at the time like a lifeline, tossed to me by some friendly stranger on the other side of the country. I wish I could thank them.
Notes On The Gay Lifestyle…(continued): That Little Rainbow Sticker That Says “Fire Me”
by Bruce |
The pink triangle was sewn on the prison clothes of gay Germans during the thousand year Reich. It was meant to be a stigma, a sign that here was a prisoner who was the lowest of the low. Lambda was the first symbol we embraced for ourselves, as a statement of identity and pride. It was chosen in 1970 by the Gay Activists Alliance of New York, and in 1974 was declared the official international symbol for gay and lesbian rights by the International Gay Rights Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland. It signifies unity under oppression.
I came out to myself on December 15th, 1971 (yes, I remember the exact moment), and as per my nerd genes, instantly began reading everything I could on the subject…which wasn’t much that made any sense since it was nearly all written by heterosexuals. A classmate I was massively crushing on had put an arm around me as we walked together out of school, sending me into a happy rush of delight, tinged with the feel of physical closeness to him. It sent me right into the stratosphere. I spent the rest of that day rushing over and over on the memory of his smile, and the feeling of his embrace. Nothing in my life had ever been so wonderful. That was when I finally had to admit it. Yeah Bruce…you’re gay… And in that moment I knew that everything I had been taught up to then about homosexuals and homosexuality was wrong. So when I read that it was a sickness, I simply discarded it as ignorant. In the Civil Rights/Johnson-Nixon/Vietnam years it wasn’t difficult for a teenager to know that the grownups could be astoundingly stupid.
But that was only a few years after Stonewall, and that first gay pride march in New York City, and even in such an urban place as the Washington D.C. suburbs, a gay teenager was still very isolated from his kind. It was a couple years later before I saw my first issue of The Advocate, which had been carefully added to the packing of a shipment of cameras the store I was working for received from a distributor in San Francisco. I stuffed it into my backpack, squirreled it home and devoured it (I still have it carefully saved away as a bit of personal history). There was a world out there where others like me lived. But finding it closer to home was difficult.
When I discovered, finally the Lambda Rising Bookstore downtown, a world of information and literature opened up before me. And…knickknacks! I bought a little Lambda necklace and wore it constantly. I painted lambdas on my backpacks, so expertly I had people question where I’d managed to buy one with a lambda on it. And I had a little Lambda bumper sticker for my car. Partly it was the joy of being able to identify in a way that the hostile world around me wouldn’t recognize…most of the time. But mostly it was this: a lot of us back then who didn’t live in New York, LA or San Francisco were lost and alone in a world that hated us. I wore the lambda mostly as a little wave of the hand, to anyone who might see it, so to say, Hi…you’re not alone…
Time passes…the universe expands…and one day a newer, better symbol for our struggle emerged. There is a quote…I can’t find it now but I recall it as something like a flag that truly represents its people isn’t decided on by a committee but torn out of them from their lives and their experience. In 1978 Gilbert Baker designed the rainbow flag for that year’s Gay Freedom Celebration in San Francisco. By the time I was a successful contract software developer, it had pretty much completely superseded the Lambda. So where my first car had worn a little Lambda sticker on the back, my first new car since emerging from poverty, the Geo Prism, wore a little rainbow. In the 1990s I was still saying ‘Hi…‘, though it was becoming less and less of a need.
In those days one of my contracts was at a company located in the deep Baltimore suburbs…almost in the sticks. I was doing well as a software developer, not only because I had a mind for it, but also it fit very well to be in a trade where I could go to work in blue jeans and sneakers, and wear my hair long and not get any static from management. The computer geeks of the PC revolution, so unlike the suit and tie IBM mainframe guys, were a notoriously non-conformist bunch. It was even okay to be gay…some of the big names in our field were, and the rest knew perfectly well how to evaluate a statement as true or false. The demonizing crap homophobes spread about us just did not find very good soil amongst the computer nerds. That’s not to say it didn’t occasionally take root here and there all the same.
I had been at the job site about a week, when one day I saw the manager stop abruptly as he passed my car in the company parking lot. I saw him stare at the little rainbow bumper sticker on the back like someone had parked a turd in one of the parking spaces. I went inside and shrugged it off. I wasn’t one of their employees, I was a contractor and we contractors didn’t matter. We did our work and when it was done we went on to the next job somewhere else. That was my life, and in those days I was fine with that. It allowed me to keep office politics and personality conflicts at arm’s length. And as he was managing the company IT division, I assumed he knew from experience that us computer geeks came in a lot of odd varieties. I didn’t think I would get any static about it.
But in less than an hour I was called into his office, along with my contract agency’s lead (there were several of us working that contract there), and told that I was being fired. For…ah…low productivity. I looked him right in the eyes as he said it and I’m sure my expression telegraphed exactly what I was thinking of him then. But I got up, expressed a perfunctory regret that I was not satisfactory and hoped he wouldn’t see that as a reflection on my agency, and my agency rep and I left his office.
As I gathered my things to leave the building, my rep wore a bewildered, somewhat disturbed look. “I don’t get this…” he says, “You’ve only been here a couple weeks and you’ve been doing fine. Nobody expects a new guy to be one-hundred percent in just a couple weeks…but you’ve been doing great…” Then he looks me right in the eyes…I could see his conscience was getting to him…and says, “It really makes you wonder…” All I could say was, “Yeah…I know…”
Getting a little first hand look at discrimination in the workplace are we…?
It was the height of the dot-com boom and I left there confidant I would have work elsewhere, if not the next day then within a week. My agency got me another contract almost immediately and I put it aside. There are some forms of rejection that really get to me and I can’t help it, but those are about my artwork. I have never felt the sting of it when it concerned business, and never, thankfully, when it was over my sexual orientation. I came out to myself one December evening in 1971, and in that wonderful rush of first love I saw the truth, and ever since hate has just rolled off me like water off a duck’s back. I think of my first love, and discard hate as simply ignorant. That was the last job I ever lost when an employer found out I am gay, but it was hardly the only one. And gay people are still very much at risk. But I can think of at least one straight guy out there somewhere, who when he hears that gay Americans don’t need protection from job discrimination, would know from first hand experience exactly why we do. In retrospect that teaching moment was worth getting fired for.
February 24th, 2013
Notes On The Gay Lifestyle…
by Bruce |
A militant homosexual is a homosexual who doesn’t think there is anything wrong with being a homosexual. A militant homosexual activist is a homosexual who acts like there isn’t anything wrong with being a homosexual.
I had some conservative friends…once. Not social conservatives…so they claimed. No, no…they were all about smoking pot and live and let live…so they said. Oh, they kept voting for crackpot right wing politicians who had no compunction about waging war on deviants Welfare Cadillac Mothers and the Dirty Fucking Hippies. But they frowned on making a big deal out of it. So long as they were left alone to do whatever they damn well pleased. Heinlein kind of conservatives. If you’ve ever read any Heinlein, you know the type.
One day the sister of the family mentioned off-handedly to me that I’d somehow become homosexual because I’d decided that all women were bitches. I tried to tell her as politely as I could that my sexual orientation wasn’t a matter of rejection of one sex, as my attraction to my own. Desire I said, wasn’t disdain by a different name. I was drawn to males, not repulsed by females. I Liked women. Just not that way. I don’t think she ever got that. Point of fact, I said, when I figured myself out in my teen years, I was able to relate more comfortably to women. The pressure to date against my nature was very disturbing. It made me angry and frustrated. I hated the whole thing. Then I finally came to a place where I could acknowledge that I was a homosexual, that I liked guys and that was okay, and the pressure was off and I could relax. It took a very great weight off my shoulders. But that didn’t seem to compute with her. Or any of them.
One day while pontificating about gay activists…I forget now what the specific issue of the day was…she averred that I was better than them because I was a “discrete” homosexual. I laughed, and told her I wasn’t discrete, I was Single. It’s easy to be discrete about your love life I said, when you don’t have one. I don’t think she ever got that either.
Time passes…the universe expands…and a bunch of people who only knew me casually found out what a militant homosexual I apparently was when my web site, and Facebook, made it possible for them to see my writings about my concerns social and political. And what I saw was it came as a shock to some that I really didn’t think there was anything wrong with me. That I would actually vote and act and behave like Those Other People, that I really believed I deserved the same chances for love and happiness and contentment as everyone else. It felt as though I were being called a traitor somehow. Oh…you were one of Those people all along…
Yes. I was. I am a human being. I have the same needs as any of you. Couldn’t you see that?
Adventures In Online Dating…(continued)
by Bruce |
I wear my hair long. I’ve done this since I was a teenager. I like the look of it on me, and I have a thing for longhaired males. Admittedly it’s high maintenance compared to wearing it short, but it’s worth it to me. So much so in fact, that I’ve declined jobs rather than accede to an employer’s demand that I cut it. Of course, a lot of those were probably more about a suspicion of homosexuality than the length of my hair. Saying I was being fired for a dress code offense after I’d already been employed with long locks suggested there was something else going on.
As I said, I have a thing for longhaired males. And back in my twenties I was delighted to find that even as the clone look was becoming fashionable among gay guys, lots of gay guys still liked the look of a guy with long hair. One day, one of these pinged me on a gay BBS I did volunteer work for, and asked me into one of the private online chat rooms.
He said he’d seen my profile (the sysop had created a message board just for the posting of profiles). This was back in a time when everything you did online you did in a text only terminal. I think the sysop still hadn’t decided what to do about attaching photos to the profiles. Storage space was pretty expensive back then, and download times on a dial-up modem connection were not wonderful. So the profiles had no photos. Mine was correct as far as the specs went…my age, my height and weight…I’ve never seen the point of lying about any of that. But all he knew about me was that, and that I wore my hair long. And right away as I enter private chat mode, he’s telling me how hot he got reading my profile.
I’ve never thought of myself as ugly, but I’ve been called that more than a few times (“people who look like that, want people who look like that…”). But I’ve also had complements too, and when I look in the mirror, I generally like what I see. Yes…I would hit that. But by my mid thirties, still hopelessly single, I pretty much knew my face and my skinny as a rail body were not supermodel material. Okay…fine. I don’t need the world to think I’m good looking…just one special someone if I can just find them.
So I start telling this guy to calm down a bit, because he hasn’t actually seen me. It was really like that because everything he was typing at me in private chat mode is about how hot it is making him just talking there online to a longhaired gay guy. Take a chill pill man…I might be your type or I might not be. The sysop was throwing a BBS party the following week, how about we meet then?
And I figure he just about has an orgasm then….YES! YES! YES! WE HAVE TO GET TOGETHER THEN!!!! And before he signs off he’s bubbling over about how hot long haired gay guys are.
So (you can see this coming…right?) I go to the party, chat with everyone there that I already know, and this guy whoever he was does not come up to greet me. Later I learn that he was there, took one look, and kept his distance. Hahahahahaha…
Later that summer, the sysop organized a picnic for all of us at a nice city park and I was introduced to Mr. Longhairs Are So Fucking Hot. I’d hitched a ride with one of the other users, who asked me ahead of time if I could find a ride home since he had to go to work right after the picnic. I figured I could and wouldn’t you know, Mr. Longhairs Are So Fucking Hot offered me one. Several other users offered me rides after that and I declined saying Mr. Longhairs Are So Fucking Hot was taking me home. As the picnic wound down and my other offers were already gone, Mr. Longhairs Are So Fucking Hot comes back and says he has a date for that night, could I get a ride from someone else. I think I eventually walked to the closest Metro station, which was a couple miles away.
Adventures In Online Dating…(continued)
by Bruce |
It wasn’t often some guy I thought was drop dead good looking and sexy asked me out on a date, but that happened one day when a fellow user of a gay BBS I did volunteer work for sent me an email complementing me on some posts I’d made and calling me “intense”. I was happily taken by surprise. At the end of that email, he asked if we could meet up.
I figured it wasn’t going to go well when the first thing he told me when we met at the Dupont Circle Metro, was how much he hated my sunglasses…
Adventures In Online Dating
by Bruce |
Back in the BBS days, the 1990s, before the Internet was opened up to commercial use, I joined a small gay community BBS system and eventually became one of its volunteer support staff. It grew from a single line, single connection at a time system to a multi-line multi-user system, and with that, came the first chat channels I’d ever been exposed to. Gay chat channels.
But this was not a meat market sort of gay BBS…its sysop swore if it ever became that he’d pull the plug on it. He wanted it to be an information resource for the local gay community and to its final hours when the Internet finally killed the BBSs, that was what it was. Even so, you had to expect there would be lots of gay singles there, lonely hearts, mostly computer geeks, looking for something better than the bar scene. Or at least quicker.
I hated the bar scene…just never fit into it…and I joined that BBS specifically to meet people in what I hoped was a nicer environment, and hopefully find a boyfriend. So with the new “chat rooms” came new opportunities for private conversations with whoever else was logged in, and one day, I think I was reading my mail, I got a ping from another user on a different line to have a private chat. Sure, says I, and I entered chat mode.
He asks me if I live in the city. No says I, I live in the suburbs. He asks a few other things, I forget what now, and then he asks me, “What are you into?” So I reply that I like cartooning and photography, and writing software and I tell him about the work I did for that BBS, and the local newspapers I did photography for. I tell him about my work building architectural models and how it tweaked my skills as a draftsman and painter…after a while I noticed he wasn’t responding. Then I saw he’d logged off.
I sat there puzzling it over for a while, wondering if maybe he’d just been disconnected somehow. That happened a lot back in the dial-up modem days. But eventually I figured it out.
Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com