After this past week, it’s a relief to write about something besides blogging and blogrolls. Bernie’s completed his series on black gay men at mid-life, but I haven’t completed my answers, and by now I find it interesting just to explore my own answers to the questions on the survey. So I’m catching up to Bernie, concerning friendship, love and intimacy.
The period of our youth is often typified by the desire to not only make friends but to satisfy our natural sexual curiosity. In that respect, men who love men are no different from their heterosexual brothers. But if one has grown up receiving confusing and negative messages about the correctness of their type of love, how easy are those things to attain? How possible is it to form real bonds when you perceive yourself as “different?” Is it possible to turn any relationship into something more meaningful? Is that even a goal or should we accept the popular notion that gay men only want sex?
And this leads up to the question:
Talk about the quantity and quality of both your platonic and sexual relationships years ago?
I’ve heard other gay men talk about the sexual explorations of their youth, playing show-me-yours-and-I’ll-show-you-mine with their male friends. That may have been going on somewhere around me when I was growing up, but I never participated in anything like that. Not because I didn’t want to,mind you. There just seemed to be a dearth of potential partners. Like I said,most other boys shied away from me when I was growing up.
The only opportunity that presented itself was the summer after I graduated from high school. A friend of mine, a straight boy I’d been madly in love with since we were freshmen (and he knew it) called one afternoon and invited me over, making it clear that there would be fooling around. I was halfway out the door when my mom stopped me and said couldn’t go because I hadn’t done some chore or another she asked me to do earlier. But she knew where I was going, and who I was going to see, and I think she knew (subconsciously, at least) what would probably be going on and put a stop to it before it got started. (Which, in retrospect, was probably for the best.)
It wasn’t until college that I had a sexual relationship; the first being with a guy I met at the gay & lesbian student group. I thought, being naive, that I’d found a boyfriend, but that turned out not to be the case. And for about three years after that I was celibate, partly out of choice, party because I was very out, and very politically active in a college town that was still pretty conservative. So, anyone who went out with me risked being outed by association. I was also a black gay man at a predominantly white university, in the south.
So, for years I had no sexual or romantic relationships. And, even after a long “dry spell,” just a few. My platonic relationships with friends, gay and straight, sustained me through those times, but I also learned that platonic relationships had their limitations, as friends moved to careers, marriage,family, etc.