Thursday, August 2, 2012

Terra incognita; too much information

Poets probably do it best. For the rest of us, giving substance to feeling and emotion is like naming a sunbeam streaming through clouds: hard to pin down. Only poetry comes anywhere close to describing and defining human passion.

Before I can call it my own, I need to figure out what it is. Did I know it before? Or am I only realizing it now in a new and different frame of reference? It is different: Now love and passion carry no social preconceptions and assumptions, no constructs, stereotypes, restrictions, proscriptions or expectations. My friend suggests I am “experiencing passion of a type hitherto unknown…unfettered by any external restraints for perhaps the first time in [my] life. It is something new and exciting, and yet it comes…late in life.”

I wondered if this would happen. Do gay men seek frequent anonymous encounters to perhaps someday find love? Well, as far as I can tell, not entirely. They do it because it feels good. Some probably want that special love, others not so much, and many want both.

So I wondered if there was a special guy out there, and what would happen if we met. There is, and what happened rocked my world. I’m too damn old to be mooning like a school girl…and yet moon I do. I’ve given myself over to it: love fueled by significant passion.

It’s no wonder I get the two confused. Does love require sexual passion? Certainly sexual passion does not require love. Yet sexual passion is vastly different, more intense and meaningful when motivated by love. So they’re the same yet different? They’re complimentary. Is it a chicken and an egg thing? Is it all semantics?

I do wonder how the hell it happened. I believe my lover and I are sexually compatible on a fundamental personality level. I previously never could conceptualize or articulate that although masculine, I am sexually submissive to sexual domination. My man is very sexually dominant, which suits me just fine. That deeply personal relationship is the first fundamental of my passion. And that passion is ironically the foundation for what is turning into…love. Oh, dear…

“Did I lie about what would happen to you?” asked my lover.

Not at all,” I answered. “How did you know me so well so early?”

“I knew you would cave in to any real man who strongly seduced you and could back it up with powerful sex.”

That’s too much information, right? Outside the box from the get-go, gay men are forthright about sex.

Yeah, but “love?” Isn’t that a leap? Apparently not. Although I recognize the symptoms, I am blind-sided, gobsmacked. I am no longer practiced at the logistics and mechanics of love. It’s been a long time since I felt myself “in love,” a situation in which I thought never to find myself again. It’s been longer still since I tried to write about it. Yet I love and I am in love. Jeez…

So love and passion are inextricably interwoven. They appear in different ratios. Casual sexual encounters are high in passion but low on actual love. Love enhances passion, which can occur in varying degrees and probably changes over time. In my case, passion came first and drew me in like coming home, like something I’d wanted my whole life but didn’t know how to articulate.

It’s different this time around because it is real. It has nothing to do with whatever expectations I experienced with women. This time I can tell my feeling arises from deep in who I am. I am homosexual and for the first time in my life, I am in love with a man. Passion and love.

And none of this is apparently affected by age or the wisdom commonly attributed to it. Love and passion are as exciting and imponderable as they have been my whole life. I guess that’s why poets are the only ones good at talking about it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Smoke signals

Two years in a slam-bam-thankyou- m’am world is a long absence…water under the bridge and all that. Yet every drop of that water hosts a significant flavor of time passing and life lived.

I began this journal in 2009 when I learned I was “in” the closet and damned well should be “out.” Previously, I didn’t know I was “in” and so felt no need to be out. When my hetero marriage ended with, “I’m a Sunday School teacher and can’t be married to a gay man…” Damn, she was right! My own epiphany flashed on me, and I came heels-over-head, tumbling out of the closet.

I stopped chronicling my progress with several justifications. At some level, my ongoing voyage of discovery became too personal, self-indulgent, and often simply too much information of a sexual nature. There exists a thin line between chronicle and flat-out porn.

I also rationalized that “out” is an ongoing and daily process…mundane and banal. It’s just life, after all, and nothing special to anyone perhaps, but me. I figured now that I’m out I don’t need to keep processing. I would just enjoy life, live in the moment and explore a world that weighs less on my shoulders than the old one.

Enjoy I did…and am and will, and it only gets better. The last two un-blogged years have enriched my life, which is by no means to say all questions are resolved and all choices simple. It’s an ongoing deal, and the substance of living. It is not only a gay man that questions and examines life; it is every man…or it should be.  

I had not visited Out in thin air for over two years. When I reached the site and tried to sign in, it was registered to an email I haven’t used in over a year. I had forgotten my password and it took several hours of mind-numbing online finagling to be able to post a new entry. Then, of course, I had to go write that new entry to see if it all worked. That is the crux move.

Now I pace back and forth and ponder why I thought to resuscitate the blog. What the hell will I say? What is my motivation for attempting again to write about me and gay, myself as homosexual? I can only assume that porn is so much easier.

I think my motivation lies in an accumulation of experience, and having met several remarkable, inspiring and thoroughly desirable men. That is how I accumulate experience. I continue to discover a multitude of wonderful experiences on the path to discovering those which are most memorable.

Distilling that experience into something worth writing is the goal. Success and sustainability will be in the doing, observation the watchword. Maybe the thin air is getting to me. Maybe I’m just blowing smoke.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mr. Right

In my small town, there are perhaps a half-dozen out gay men. Gay is here, but it is low profile, way under the radar. Splashy as it might have been at the time, I’m not sure if my own disclosure caused much ripple in the fabric of community gay awareness. I’m too close to it to know, and probably not.

Ours is a limited field and shallow pool, and as such, Mr. Right probably doesn’t live here. That is probably a good thing since small town relationships—homo or hetero—can be…uh, challenging. I make that case only from my own experience.

This begs the question, then: Where the hell does Mr. Right live? I know he is out there because he is all over the internet like a ghost in the machine. There must be foundation in fact. Some men believe in this guy more fervently than others; I’m withholding judgment.

In Raymond M. Berger’s Gay and Gray, one respondent explains, “Everyone has a set of rules or mental images that determines who will be considered a potential sexual partner. We carry a sort of mental map in our heads, complete with an inventory of physical and personal characteristics. When we encounter others, we compare them to our map. If the fit is close enough, they are judged acceptable.”

If Mr. Right exists, so as well must his opposite, generously labeled “not my type.” This is a nice way of expressing absence of sexual attraction. It is okay to not be sexually attracted to someone, but be gentle. Reciprocally, I realize not everyone can be attracted to me.

“Since there are so few of us,” I asked my friend, “how come none of us gets together for sex? I mean, you and I are pretty good friends, yet we never once entertained the idea of enjoying sex together.” Some call it flirting.

He laughed, “It gets complicated in a small town,” he said. “Everyone is on his own path...and it’s just that you are not my type.” That was pretty gentle. I’d heard the same thing before from another man interested exclusively in young guys. Older, I’m not his type either.

I considered all this just so much bullshit until I found the “type” thing in my own predilections. I was surprised because I used to think I was attracted to a different type than I am now. Inexperienced, I am beginning to understand: certain types of men appeal to me more than other types of men.

Modern homosexual social expression comes in myriad stereo-“types.” One prevalent among straight folks is that of young and meticulously groomed, ripped and buffed, hard-body gym rats. That ain’t me; never has been, never will be. Nor do I seek those attributes in other men.

Although my type is not so Apollonian, I am by no means exclusionary. It is important to be tolerant and flexible. As Berger’s respondent says, “Our mental maps may change; our standards may be modified because of recent events, the way we feel at a particular moment, or a particular quality of the other person.”

In general, like seeks like and type seeks type. But up here at the head of the draw, too much discernment substantially narrows an already limited field. We all seek friendship and compatibility; more is better, I know what I like, bring it on.

Friday, March 26, 2010


It’s kind of like gaydar for dummies. Telltales are for those gay men who don’t send or receive gay radar or telepathy. A telltale or “tell” is a sign, signal or symbol indicating something secret or hidden. From the closet, a telltale is secret advertising. But used purposely, a tell signals, for example, that I am gay as hell and if you are too, let’s talk.

Gay telltales are myriad. I remember back in the day, gay men wore various colored handkerchiefs in various pockets to signal orientation, proclivities and preferences of their wearers. Earrings pierced various ears to convey gayness, top, bottom or whatever. It all seemed a little over the top; I don’t use handkerchiefs and I don’t have pierced ears.

Tattoos have a distinctive place in gay iconography. There are as many representations and symbols as there are gay men to suck up the ink. I got a tattoo thirty-five years ago, but it didn’t have anything to do with sexual orientation or preference for any particular act, scene or fetish. In fact, I chose the tattoo specifically because it was and still is innocuous. It symbolizes nothing and is telltale only that for some reason I felt compelled to get a tattoo. I still like my tattoo—thankfully—even though it has lost its color and the outline isn’t as clear as it once was.

Behavior and demeanor are tells, but now free of the damned closet, my mannerisms are the same as they’ve always been. I don’t walk with mincing step or drop my wrist. I still dress just as casually—albeit meticulously—because I am no clothes horse or slave to fashion. Fashion sense and prissy mannerisms are tells.

Nor do I festoon my truck with rainbow bumper stickers, mostly because I’m afraid vandals would vent their homophobic angst on my vehicle. While I doubt I could decorate my condo exterior with rainbow flags and windsocks, I might get away with rainbow-colored Tibetan prayer flags. That is more a reflection of the place I live than a comment on community attitudes about homosexuality.

My gay telltales involve accessories. Back there in the closet, I didn’t wear as much bling. For some reason I figured it was simpler and in good taste not to. Like my same-sex attraction, it was somehow easier out of mind.

Now, however, I accessorize in my own particular and personal way. Having realized early my penchant for turquoise and silver, I have always worn jewelry. But now I am comfortable wearing more jewelry than I used to. I figure that’s okay because I like it and I am gay so I have an excuse. Jewelry is personal…for me.

I also wear a rainbow-colored friendship bracelet, purposely, as a telltale. And glory be: it actually works. Tells are obvious to anyone in the know who cares enough to look, and the wide-eyed, jaw-dropping double-take from the handsome bank teller is worth the price of admission. That recognition tells the whole story.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


No question: I want gaydar. If it were a gadget or device, I would run right out and buy one. I’m an early adopter.

Cell phone applications can tell me if another gay man is within hailing distance and social networking helps us find each other and meet if online chemistry catalyzes face-to-face. But I’m after something more instantaneous, impulsive, and intuitive, a mechanism that generates a little brain-ping when activated. I want side-looking, front-scanning, heat-seeking gaydar…especially the heat-seeking part.

I knew right away I wanted to develop this second sense, the intuitive insight that is gaydar. I want to be able to tell instantly if a man shares my orientation. Gaydar is a learned skill—at least for me—and I have to recalibrate and fine-tune my perception to make it work.

I know gaydar exists because I have on one or two occasions, experienced it. The few times my gaydar pinged were surprises, but I knew immediately what it was. I marveled that it really works. Perhaps that is part of the learning curve: open to it, exercise a little faith and let it happen.

The first blooming of my nascent ability took place while sitting in a restaurant with a couple of friends. I was struck speechless when a man—regular guy—walked in and I knew he was gay. We held eye contact a split second longer and passed mutual acknowledgment between us. He knew I was gay and he knew I knew he was gay. It was subtle; my friends didn’t notice anything, but all during dinner my mind was on what had happened. It was exhilarating. So gay.

According to, gaydar is “an intuitive sense that enables someone to identify whether another person is gay.” defines gaydar as “the ability to tell when someone near you is homosexual, even if they have given no obvious indications of being so. This is an ability usually possessed by homosexuals [which] allows you to ‘feel’ when there is gayness nearby.”

A New York Magazine article ( reports more scholarly attempts: Northwestern University psychologist J. Michael Bailey posits that sexual orientation is not something we acquire through social experience, but instead is something we’re born with. As a function of sexual orientation, gaydar is innate and genetic and will leave a trail of telltale biological indicators revealed by gender mapping.

Gender Mapping?! And then they tattoo the results into your barcode. Suddenly it’s political. If gender mapping identifies gay biological indicators, could they not be used to more sinister purpose? Furthermore, what happened to all that spontaneity? Better to keep gaydar at a low-key and personal level, and stay away from black helicopters.

So lacking a gaydar device, I will hone my emerging skills and rely on simple intuition. I will remain vigilant, always on the watch, tuned to that wayward glance and momentary eye contact, a certain way of catching his eye. Perhaps it is a skill as simple as really looking at a person instead of giving only a passing glance. That’s a valuable social skill in its own right.

Although the odds are admittedly slim, I know damned well there are like-minded souls out there. Turn up the volume.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Is you is or is you ain’t?

I understand why gay men often dismiss bisexual as either transitional, or gay without knowing or admitting it. But I remember at puberty learning the word “bisexual,” and knowing right away that it applied to me. It had the cachet of broadening the field, and undoubtedly rationalized my attraction to men by equal attraction to women. Whatever: it was mine.

Now, all these years later, it occurs to me that when I first discovered and immediately accepted my same sex attraction as bisexual, I could as easily have seen it as I see it now: homosexual. I must have wondered if my enjoyment with other boys made me homosexual, yet I was attracted to girls too. I couldn’t be homosexual, could I?

In the awakening of puberty, it was easy to exercise my attraction to both sexes. I was attracted to women; all boys lusted after chicks. Nor, after my bisexual epiphany, did I ever feel terribly shameful having sex with other boys. I remember feeling an occasional and displaced sense of guilt, but no long-lived shame. I did, however, generally keep my same-sex experiences discreet (denial?), which was easy because I was chasing after girls. I could never have been gay because unless I was fooling myself—who knows?—I enjoyed honest desire for women. Bisexuality served me well.

But forty years ago it was easier to be bisexual than homosexual. Back then I wouldn’t have been “gay,” but would have been branded queer or fairy. Dirty. The 1960s was not a good time for homosexual men, but in the “free love” atmosphere of social revolution, bisexual was as acceptable as long hair. At least that’s the way I perceived it.

Bisexual was a way for me to keep it all inside the box, but now there is no need for the box we nowadays call a closet. That this realization only surfaced now that I am out of the closet and after the better part of a lifetime of failed heterosexual relationships is best evidence of its veracity. Now I can look back and say: no wonder I was unable to sustain marriage or intimate relationships with women: I’m gay.

With the acumen of retrospect, I can re-affirm that my sexuality and orientation evolved and changed more than once. I do wonder whether my self-identified bisexuality was simply transitional or somehow prefatory to coming out gay, but I don’t think so.

By the same token, it is not surprising that I now gravitate toward and feel desire exclusively for my own gender. I’m old enough and confident that I won’t again be seeking another heterosexual relationship. I am secure and comfortable in my homosexuality. Things change over time, and time has surely changed things over.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


“Wow, you really keep the place neat,” commented my friend while visiting my condo. “And you have a way of arranging everything so it fits and looks nice.”

“Well, you know us gay guys,” I joked. “We’re hell on wheels when it comes to interior decorating.”

My friend lives on the edge of homophobia, and consistently jokes about queer guys. He exploits stereotypes about gay people, typical fodder for homophobes, and it throws him for a loop when a friend comes out and explodes the stereotype. I came out to him because we’re good enough friends I figured he could take the truth.

He asked why I hadn’t told him before, and I explained I thought he was too homophobic to understand. “Aw, I just kid about that,” he responded. I tried to explain how jokes about gay guys can be injurious to those stuck in the closet and afraid to come out. Making jokes using stereotypes is discrimination.

No question: some gay men exhibit stereotypical gay behavior; there is ample exposition. Wikipedia explains that the “heterocentric” mainstream stereotypes gay men as effeminate, speaking “with a lisp and/or a female-like tone and lilt.”

Alan Taylor provides more scholarly data in Homosexuality and Social Sex Roles (Haworth Press, Inc., 1983). He reports 72% of sample respondents stereotype homosexuals as sexually abnormal, 52% consider us perverted, 42% find us mentally ill and 29% consider us effeminate. Smaller percentages feel that we are lonely, insecure, immoral, repulsive, frustrated, weak-minded, lacking self-control, over-sexed, dangerous and sinful. And that pretty well wraps up male homosexual stereotypes.

A stereotype is an oversimplified, standardized and generalized perception or image of a person or group. Stereotypes ignore individual differences and are often simply not true. They tend to lump people into pigeonholes and categories that are not appropriate. Stereotypes reinforce prejudice.

Many gay men don’t fit stereotypes and sometimes wish the more flamboyant among us didn’t reinforce gay stereotypes in the heterocentric mainstream. Gay performer Adam Lambert, for example, earned the ire of one friend of mine who “absolutely hates” Lambert because he is so gay-in-your-face. Conversely, others feel Lambert serves the gay community by habituating the public to visible gay men in their midst.

For my part, I don’t feel like I fit gay stereotypes. That is probably the result of having been in the bisexual closet for so many years. When I came out of the closet I didn’t suddenly start lisping, acting swishy or hitting on my straight friends.

I must admit though, that after hanging out with a bunch of gay men for a couple of days, I noticed a change in my behavior. In the company of gay men, I became more openly gay, allowing myself to respond more candidly to other men. I flirted and enjoyed touching and caressing. I let myself feel more homosexual and loved it.

The wake-up call came when I transited back into mainstream society. I spontaneously hugged a friend I met on the street—he was gobsmacked—and flirted with a couple of boys in the grocery store checkout line. Katie, bar the door!