Certain things seem constant from generation to generation. When I was a kid I remember “flip books” – those little ones where by fanning the pages the cartoon would come to life and I have seen my own children with variants. Of course the concept is that looking at each page alone you see a static image. But fan those pages and, voila, a silent movie.
(I can hear people saying: this is a stretch even for Nate – where the hell are we going today?)
So we go back to last Saturday night, my closest friend, a friend of 38 years is over for dinner. His wife is away so it gives us some time to talk, talk quietly, and talk intensely. He has gone two months without a drink – a laudable feat after a twenty year run. He remains confused as to my circumstances: I have a strong will; I love my wife and family: why not step back from the precipice.
As we talk I realize that he has known me for 38 years but until one night this summer he did not have an inkling to my bi/gay side. From his perspective this is a newly discovered side of Nate, maybe there latently but invisible to all, even to me. So I rewind. I realize that much of what he has never seen has been written about in these pages. I realize that these scenes have come and gone in my consciousness over the ten months of this journal. So I rewind and I share with my friend.
The vignettes pour out. An eleven year old in a circle jerk and then in bed in a sixty-nine position: I know the game is to fake giving a blowjob in order to get one. I know if I wrap my lips I will be ridiculed. I am responsible even back then. I play the game, but I know what I really wanted.
I am in College and my roommate and I swap massages. It is the early seventies, the time of the West Coast “offense” if you would, and touchy feely does not warrant a notice. But every time I rub his lower back, I want to keep going, I want to roll him over. Who knows, maybe he was thinking it too, but I am responsible and I am afraid.
I am still in College – 1974, an apartment one block off Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village – ground zero for gays. I go to the supermarket one afternoon and find myself talking with an old guy – thirties – an Allen Ginsberg beard, a real hippie. I have a pony tail by then, but do not feel myself to be authentic like him. He invites me to visit him - gives me his address. On some level I realize the nature of his interest and I am good to go. But back at the apartment I mention it and my roommate is happy to assist, to warn me and save me: “the man is gay and wants to hit on you.” So I do not go: yet again “saved”.
College ends and I am in my apartment, in my mid twenties. I recently wrote of this afternoon: I may not have a guy, but I have a toy and so starts a lifetime of physical desire fulfilled.
It was those days that I discovered Buddy Booths: I remember that first time. I did not understand when a hand came through the gap – well maybe I did understand and spooked, I bolted. That night I fully understood and regretted, regretted an opportunity lost. It is strange how with all the pornography I have seen in my life I can still to this very day describe the movie: A view through a telescope and two naked men on a beach.
Carrie comes along and so do the toys – my partner in crime. Doesn’t every newlywed want to feel a strap-on in the honeymoon suite, be the bitch for one’s wife? The years of the Whispers, the trip to Washington and finally this past year: A dizzying experience.
I talk, a half hour, maybe an hour, time stands still. It all pours out with a quiet intensity. My friend is stunned but he also now understands. And finally, so do I. For the past year I have looked at each of those pages, each of those static images and thought about them. But every time, it is only one image, an aberration of a straight guy, okay a bi guy. But when you fan them all together, when you watch the movie in full speed, it is clear. I am gay.
In a week of change Carrie and I had already reached this conclusion: we had already started planning our new course, but seeing the movie... It is time for self acceptance, the hardest acceptance of all.