Now some forty years after coming out with my first partner, it challenges me at times to witness the degree of gay-hate that still exists in our country. Long ago I came to the conclusion that being gay or lesbian is as natural to the gay or lesbian as being straight is natural to the straight person. Then, of course, there are the bisexuals who most often are vilified by both sides for not choosing which side they want to be on. Hey! Bisexuals get to taste all the candy in the store. God bless ‘em!
Coming out in the late 1960s with my first partner meant seeking out our own kind. Laws were still on the books that allowed police to arrest gay men in bars if we sat too close, were caught touching one another or displayed any sign of intimacy or affection. I recall when the laws were relaxed sometime around 1970, allowing gay men to dance. Wow! That was a major threshold.
The very ideas of marriage, civil unions and adoption were not even on our lips at that time. We kept close quarters, allowing only those we fully trusted into our secret society. We walked within two worlds, substituting “she” for “he”, referring to our partners as family (cousins, adopted brother, whatever) to keep our secret life safe. In the private business sector where I have spent the last four decades of my life (shortly after a four-year Military stint where I received three written commendations), I was extremely careful because I was building a career. The field I chose to make my life’s work was and still is in many ways homophobic and heterosexist.
Certain Christian groups continue to raise homosexuality as the “ultimate sin”, while foregoing all the other “ultimate sins” scripted throughout the Holy Bible. Last night I watched the HBO program “Real Time with Bill Maher”, my regular Friday night treat. Kirk Douglas, now 95 (God bless him!) was Maher’s guest. At one point during the dialog, Douglas commented on how destructive religion is. As an ordained Priest, I sadly must agree. Jews, Christians and Islamists have committed horrible sins against one another, often because of one’s sexual orientation.
What is it that makes people so angry about gay sex? Seriously, I do not know. In the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 19 while speaking to His disciples, Jesus says “not all men are called to marry.” He also comments about those “who shall be born from their mothers’ wombs as eunuchs.” When those words were spoken, the only acceptable sex with a woman was through marriage (in Hebrew culture; the Romans were out doing their own thing, so to speak.) Jesus did not then stipulate that unmarried men must remain chaste or celibate. As for Jesus’ reference to eunuchs, eunuchs are not born. They are a creation of man. A powerful pamphlet was written 35 years ago by Reverend Bauman, Senior Rector of Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, DC. Bauman, a heterosexual, wrote “Reflections on the Gay Life”, positing that Jesus’ reference to eunuchs from the womb reflected Jesus’ awareness of homosexuality.
While there continues to be great, positive understanding about gays and lesbians in some of the Christian denominations (I am Episcopalian, “open and affirming”), Southern Baptists and similar fundamentalist sects use Holy Scripture to further their intolerance, ignorance and hatred of gays and lesbians.
I commented to the Priest who ordained me, “If I loved women as much as I love men, I’d have spawned children across the globe!” He laughed hysterically. Yet, it took a long time for me to accept myself as gay even when with my first partner, Chuck. (We were together for eight years; remaining close and good friends until his untimely death in 1996.) I had had sex with a couple women in college, but it seemed all too mechanical. When Chuck and I had sex, it was explosive, powerful, “bells and lights going on everywhere”. I had come into my natural sexual state.
As I survey our contemporary world, now 40+ years later, I am saddened by the persistent negative energy directed at gays and lesbians. True, in some states gays and lesbians can marry and adopt. In some states, one cannot be fired for being gay. (I was driven out of a number three position years ago when the president / owner of that company discovered through the grapevine I am gay.) Some young gays express to me the same fears and anxieties I felt forty years ago! This is progress?
I will never deny the sheer thrill that runs though my body when I see the well developed body of a handsome man. I started liking to look at “man butts” at age four! (Yes, four!) Years later I would learn what those sensations were all about. Of course a man’s endowment is equally tantalizing, but a fine male ass is beauty to behold. And despite what some may claim, the ass and its inner valley are highly erogenous areas of the male body. That’s why gay men, bisexual men and even some straight men enjoy giving over that part of their body to total sexual pleasure.
I would have hoped that by now all the negativity lobbed toward gays and lesbians would have subsided fully. It has not. The President’s repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was a huge step forward. (I was not out while serving our nation.) What so amused me about that topic is how some of the fiercest warriors in history were homosexual or bisexual. And, many Biblical scholars claim the Hebrew Bible story about David and Jonathan is indeed a love story.
So, why all this fuss? Is it really about morality; or some deeply rooted nature in the gay haters that prevents them from evolving? If being gay is so unnatural, why is gayness found in every culture, religion, nationality, ethnicity and family? Of course, I realize my argument will fall silent upon the ears of those who simply believe being gay or lesbian is wrong.
I recall a woman asking me at a dinner party, “How can you be ‘a Man of God’ and also be gay? How do you know you are not defying God?” I replied, “Because I find no wrongness in my gayness. And how do YOU know you are not defying God by being straight, perhaps only to satisfy those around you?” No answer.
Sexual orientation is a very complex set of psycho-physical emotional neurons that travel through our bodies non-stop. How we are “wired” determines how we will enjoy sex. I have four basic rules on sex, which appear to be the most common set of rules: 1) no rape; 2) no incest; 3) no children; and, 4) no animals. As each of us celebrates our own sexuality, whatever that may be and with however many there may be; we should do it with the fullest expression of our sexual self. Guilt and anxiety should be absent. You, I along with the rest of gay culture have absolutely nothing to apologize for; or to feel shame about. Who knows, gays very easily may be “God’s other Angels”, for we bring a very different sexual landscape to the world of sex. Sex is powerful and provocative, the most sensational of our human experiences.
My sexual journey and evolving into my sexual identity has been a pleasant and joyful one. Like most gay men, old or young, the journey is not an easy one. We are faced with the constant struggle of identifying who we are, how to “protect” ourselves from the hostility of the world around us. The deeper struggle comes from knowing who we are and “what” we are sexually, and accepting our homosexual identity.
As I mentioned earlier, my awareness of the male body and the way it excited me started around age four or five. That aspect of who I am was profound. I felt no guilt. I did not understand it entirely when I was not sexually mature. Yet, the sight of a well-built man with muscular, defined buttocks sent chills through me and offered unexplained excitement.
I recall an event that took place when I was in first grade. I had to use the restroom, and one of the other boys in my class had to go at the same time. We went to the “little boys’ bathroom” together. I recall how I found him to be very cute, a young blonde lad like myself. While in the bathroom I asked him if he would show me his “hiney”, his behind. He smiled, dropped his pants and showed me his ass. I likely commented that he had a very nice “hiney” and thanked him.
I was so pleased with this moment that I shared it with my mother. We were sitting in the family car together, while my dad went into a store. While he was in the store, I told my mother about this rather exciting experience. Even today I can see my mother’s body become somewhat stiff, uneasy. When my dad returned to the car she mentioned to him what I had just shared. I cannot remember at this point in my life his exact reaction, but there was no anger or scolding. He did not react in any specific way, but I do recall his taking a deep breath; then a sigh. There was no further discussion about my “adventure”.
As a young boy I looked very much the “Leave it to Beaver” part. Friends have commented on that when I have shown them my picture at age 12, logically several years after that first grade moment. I was in many respects a gentle boy with lots of energy and very talkative. (The talkative trait continues!) Most often I was attracted to other boys my own age, and they usually had nice bodies. Grade school was uneventful in most respects. I recall sometime around fourth grade that one of my classmates and I would watch each other as we pretended to stick pencils in our butts. Those moments seemed innocent enough. But, we enjoyed sharing them without anyone else even seeming to notice. The boys my age with butts that appeared to be very well formed in their clothing always caught my attention. That felt very normal.
Once into junior high school (now called middle school), we started having gym classes as a part of our regular schedule. At the end of each gym class, we were required to shower. Junior high school was when most young lads began to see other boys their age naked. Shyness was absent. Checking each other out was natural. It was casual and discreet. We were young and innocent.
I was particularly smitten by a young man my age named Boris. He was Ukrainian, repatriated with his mother from the Soviet Bloc. I recall Boris having a very nice body, easy on the eyes. But there was another aspect of Boris that I liked. Like me, he was uncircumcised (uncut). There were few of us who were uncircumcised, and I somehow felt affirmed that at least one of the boys was “like me”. Years later I would learn that some boys thought those who were uncut did not have a cock head. So much for naiveté and ignorance about the male body! After all, males are born uncircumcised. That is the most natural state of the male penis.