This one’s for the ladies via Queerty:
Next: Kill Bill Shakespeare?
This one’s for the ladies via Queerty:
Next: Kill Bill Shakespeare?
“One, two, three, one, two, three. Turn, turn and promenade,” the choreographer ordered as the soloist belted out:
I have found her, she's an angel
With the dust of the stars in her eyes.
We are dancing, We are flying,
And she's bringing me back to the skies.
“Turn, turn, and spin… lift!”
With that, I grabbed my hoop-skirted partner by the waste and moved her from one side to the other—only a mere two inches off the ground.
“Okay everybody, back to your places. We’re going to try this again full speed after I give everybody their notes.”
I turned to Hailey and blushed, “At least we were on tempo this time.”
As always, she made no big deal out of my inexperience. “We’ll get it. Last time, I was a half bar behind.”
Meaghan, the choreographer approached with a smile on her face—the types suggesting she knew I’d take whatever she had to say very seriously. “GMB, do I really need to show you how to hold a girl again?” she teased.
“Get in position…. Good. Now grasp those hips.”
I took moved my hands, took hold, and flexed preparing to lift.
“Hold it there. GMB, lower and firmer. Hailey, bounce a little right before that lift, the inertia will help him and look more graceful.”
The unstructured, freeing experience of the previous night of clubbing inevitably came to mind. Practically speaking, holding and dancing with another man simply felt natural.
After rehearsal, I rushed up to my secluded corner of the library for some cram time—but only after doing a pair of quick searches online. With a name like Mickey, being gay, and living in Utah, the mysterious boy across the dance floor was not difficult to encounter online. So, to ease my curiosity, I sent a quick message his way before delving into the world of imperialism in music history.
In due time, Mickey responded positively and we found ourselves on a date at IKEA (aka Homo Depot), thus ending my dating moratorium. As it turns out, it was eye-opening in all sorts of ways I hadn’t intended.
After a couple of hours of playing house and talking house wares, it was really evident that Mickey was really satisfied with life, so I asked him outright: “Where do you see yourself in a few years. For a guy growing up gay and Mormon, you’re really more put together than most, and believe me I’ve dated enough to be able to make that call.”
He chortled. “You know that’s not exactly true. My grandparents weren’t exactly happy to find out and even though I haven’t really done anything a mission doesn’t feel right (even though admitting I’m gay is the only possible barrier there) and neither does school. Following the gospel feels right and there’s no questioning that, right?”
“I like to think everyone’s commission in life is finding their own peace, so that works,” I said as we made our way to the exit purchaseless. “Want a cinnamon roll? I’ve been meaning to try them”
“Sure, but this is my treat. Two cinnamon rolls and two lemonades, please,” he said turning to the uniformed likely-grandmother across the counter.”
“So… What about you?” he turned to me stirring the ice in his lemonade with straw moments later at a table in the corner.
“Me?” I said, sighing a little. “You noticed I tend to avoid that topic?”
“I noticed you tend to avoid that topic,” he echoed with a smirk across his face.
“The short answer is I don’t know. It is reassuring to meet guys like you who are satisfied and very happy in the Church. I just feel like it’s a lot to ask for us to be alone and celibate our entire lives. I don’t see myself happy when I’ve met a special guy and then my life has to hit a brick wall. That’s where I get stuck. Am I weird?”
“Not at all,” he said rubbing his chin introspectively. “You just let yourself think farther and get farther than I do.”
“I guess that’s what I do,” I said proudly. “I think.”
Returning to the club the next weekend, I revisited that moment we’d spotted each other. What was that draw? Coincidence? Attraction? Mutual curiosity? If anything, we were kindred spirits and not soul mates as a romantic might want to exaggerate the situation.
Midway through another night of dancing with friends, someone tapped me on the shoulder. “Huh?” I said in reflex as I turned around. Looking down, my eyes unexpectedly came upon a Latina.
“Hi there,” she said with the slightest accent. “My friend’s been staring at you the whole night. Do you mind if I introduce the two of you?”
I blushed and looked towards Lila and Ezra for their reactions. “Why not?”
Slightly awkwardly, she grabbed my hand and pulled me across the dance floor. Dragged in her wake, I clumsily stepped on feet and bumped into couple after couple, superficially caught up in each others contours. Finally, we came to a lone man in the crowd. His expression read nothing but what spewed from his mouth a second later “I can’t believe you’re doing this, Carla.”
“Man up. Helaman, this is the guy, right?”
“Right,” he said curtly.
“I’m GMB,” I said chuckling. “Would you like to dance.”
What followed was an echo of my experience with Mickey: an incredible time dancing, rushed goodbyes, and a follow up date a matter of days later.
We sat there resting from the action aftermath of Star Trek. As the credits zoomed by and the rest of the audience trickled out we sat in wonder of the fate that had brought us together. “Carla’s the fearless Latina every boy needs,” he told me as the last patrons trickled out.
“Does she do that often?” I teased.
“Well, her motherly instincts have kicked in lately,” he said pulling up the armrest and grabbing his jacket.
“Yeah,” he said as he put his arm around me and revealed a grin. We sat motionless looking into each other’s eyes for a split second.
Then, with a motion of his arm, he pulled my lips to his for a single kiss.
As we left the theater and the lights went out, he explained, “Carla’s been looking out for me since the breakup. Adam just got bored one day and he was done. He needed somebody else, but he didn’t have the common courtesy to let me know.”
“I bet that must have been though,” I said not offering much to the conversation.
“Well, that left me reconsidering a lot of things. I mean, I hadn’t thought about the Church for a long time, but after leaving a decade ago when it felt so right, I began to wonder again if I’d gone down a path I’d regret.”
“Regret’s a strong word. I felt bad but the difference between before and after leaving the Church, before being myself was the difference between breathing air and breathing water. I really am satisfied with life.”
In a way, that revelation was not what I was prepared for. If Helaman could be as happy as Mickey having followed a completely different path, what did that mean for me. Maybe it was time to rethink what would make me happy.
End, Part 3.
Okay, I’ve recently come to know a certain Sarah Parody from the Far East and had to share:
Courtesy of The Daily Dish. Also check out their iPhone 4 parody.
With Andre, I’d figured out my unintentional and unnoticed pattern. It was a three-week rut from falling for a guy to things not working out three weeks later in a manifold of ways—disillusionment or disinterest, instability or insensitivity, or simply by kismet.
It was time for life to take a different course, if only temporarily—time to focus more on my schoolwork and meditate on the last year of my life. Having made it through auditions, rehearsals and homework dominated my life. I wasn’t about to abandon boys entirely, however. On weekends, I generally found time for my friends—the occasional party with high school friends, an intensely fun study session or two, and almost every week I set aside some time for my gay friends. Friday nights became an outlet for me as I put things on hold to not feel alone in my sexuality.
Rehearsals took emotional their toll as I was surrounded by teens making homophobic jokes and men who had likely repressed their own sexuality in one way or another to “keep the commandments” or fit in in some other way. Almost ceremoniously I’d arrive at The Wood House and carpool to the club in Salt Lake with Ezra and Alberto. There, I wasn’t alone. There, I could get away from the acting—of the theatrical as well as the real-life varieties.
Though the club is for many a hedonistic experience, for many it is a communion with the self. Eighteen, nineteen and even twenty-four year olds find themselves able to share their most guarded secret with an entire community. For me, the elements of fear and enigma were temporarily pulled away as I stood in solidarity knowing that many of those guys were in the same place: out only to our friends and doing our best to follow the standards of the LDS church. For us, it wasn’t all about sex; it was about not feeling alone (as many as many of us did at church every Sunday).
It was revitalizing to get out like that. Life seemed to be full and balanced. My final semester of college was pushing me intellectually as I went through the arduous process of revising my thesis. Socially, I managed to share my time with friends of all kinds. Emotionally, though, I found myself healing—not through my continued, faithful church attendance, but by the music that filled every me. It was as if music were the mortar holding together the bricks of my life.
It managed to keep the excitement in and the anxiety out of my life for a few weeks. Studying with some Philip Glass in the background pushed me through the most difficult work. Contemplating and understanding the words coming through my mouth at rehearsals—even in the case of characters I didn’t particularly identify with such as Lloyd-Webber’s Close Every Door. The hymns at church were its saving grace. Rhyme and rhythm provided a framework for the meter and melody I puzzled over and relished even with minimal understanding of the confluence of chords.
Even the music of the club—the thump of Lady Gaga remixes, the pulse of techno beats, the phonetically kinky lyrics of Britney Spears—provided a comfort in their own way. For years, it wasn’t cool to like the things that might possibly insinuate homosexuality. That was no longer a concern once I allowed myself to indulge in what made me happy instead of conforming to prescribed desires alongside Ezra and Alberto and others at the club.
Three weeks into this ritual of clubbing the world slowed for a moment. One of the most vivid moments of that time in my life, I remember looking across the dance floor into the eyes of another man as the lyrics surfaced through the techno beat:
I feel the adrenaline moving through my veins
Spotlight on me and ready to break.
I’m like a performer, the dancefloor is my stage.
Better be ready. Hope that you feel the same.
We moved towards each other fixed on the other’s expression, our silhouettes suspended by strobe lights as we negotiated a path towards one another.
After what had seemed like ten minutes, we met in the middle of the dancefloor. Silenced by the blare of the music, we communicated only through dance and waited for silence to peel away the layers between us. It was extraordinary knowing the gap between his teeth, the way we fit in each others’ arms, and his heartbeat before sharing a word between us.
We only had time to utter our names before our friends pulled us apart:
“Mickey, Tim’s parents say he has to be home now,” one of his friends called as Alberto demanded, “We’re supposed to meet Kait for breakfast in five minutes.”
We hugged and passed frequent glances until we were out of each others sight when I suddenly realized it was too late. We didn’t exchange numbers.
End, Part 2.
It was an exhilaration for which I wasn’t entirely prepared, but when I’d convinced myself it was time, I put one foot forward, opened my mouth and let it all out:
Somebody, crowd me with love,
Somebody, force me to care,
Somebody, make me come through,
I'll always be there,
As frightened as you,
To help us survive
“Very good. Next?” a voice called before I could test how long I could hold that last note.
You did it, I told myself. Auditions and sharing my voice had terrified me for as long as I could remember. The seating deliberations for band hacked away at my nerves from middle school on as well as the fear of saying something so outlandish or obvious in class that I’d draw everyone’s attention and ridicule.
Recently, however, I was finding strength. My sexuality that I didn’t think existed was slowly demystifying itself. I was finding greater success than ever at work and in school as a result of vocal encouragement from professors and peers. My identity was taking shape and the idea of being someone “special” (cliché as it might sound) and talented seemed like something that was finally possible, though not necessarily a reality.
I needed to test these discoveries and try something completely new. I also needed a break from dating following the breakup with Andre. (A breakup so bad, I often half-joked with Cole, he had to move a few states away—half-joked because it was completely true. Utah just didn’t agree with him). For that reason, I went out on the proverbial limb and decided to audition for a Broadway review. Months earlier, my parents had given me the very original gift of voice lessons.
It was one of the best surprise gifts I could have received. In an instant, I took my parents up on their offer and started up lessons with a family friend, and over the course of a couple of months, this Mormon housewife inadvertently provided me with the form of therapy I needed.
“Let’s do that again,” she said one day in a lesson. “It doesn’t take much for you to sing the words and get them on pitch, but going to the next level is what sounds the simplest. Paying attention to the words is actually the hardest part. It’s the greatest act of empathy to put yourself in the shoes of another person, and the characters singing these songs really are thinking and feeling people.”
I stared, listening with an expression of awe.
“You know literature better than me, so you can get to the soul of these words better than me or a lot of my students, so the only thing we’ll have to work on is pushing those feelings you share with the characters out onto your canvas.”
“And I’m sure, Beverly, I’ll learn a lot about feeling along the way,” I added.
“I think you’re ready for some Sondheim. Wait a sec while I find my Company book” she said as I flashed a delighted grin. My thoughts trailed off to characters and the idea of feeling: Characters should be easy—I wish I understood what was going on in real-life guys’ minds. Are we all broken in different ways?
A couple of weeks later, we found ourselves in the same studio. She at the piano I standing next to her waiting for the room to cool into silence following a long, sustained high G#. Those seconds of silence and the feeling of empty, burning lungs ready for a gasp of air seemed to say, You did it.
“GMB, I’m so proud of you. You’ve been practicing,” she said as her auburn hair whipped around to reveal her trademark horn-rimmed glasses.
“I did slack a bit this week,” I admitted, not explaining that the breakup with Andre pulled me away for a few days.
“Either way, your understanding of the character really came through in every way imaginable. It was as if you were him for a few brief moments. You seem to understand the ambiguities here—a desire and a terror of being in love, the sadness of not wanting to feel and the joy of feeling even if it’s not what we want to feel.”
It was as if she understood what was going on with me without mentioning a word about my dating life or the overall process of coming out to myself. That said, she would often turn to the story of a gay friend of hers from her days at BYU and say how happy she was for him despite their lives going in two distinct directions. I tend to think that, even in those earliest lessons, she was trying to show me the type of unconditional love we’re all taught about at some point in our lives.
“I want you to keep working on this piece. I think it’ll be good for you, and you can use it for an audition piece for the show,” she coaxed.
I knew that there was an undercurrent in her words “it’ll be good for you.” She wanted me to ponder those words like she pondered scripture. I heeded her words, preparing myself for that fateful audition and some time pondering those words as I put my dating life on hold, taking a boy-fast of sorts.
End, Part 1.
I’ve discussed the topic of suicide before, but unfortunately, it rears its ugly semblance with frequency here in Utah.
I’m not going to sensationalize another suicide of a gay Mormon who I never knew, but rather invite you to a vigil in his honor. It will take place today from 9-10 pm at the Utah State Capitol (FB event link).
Todd Ransom took his own life this morning after much conflict and non-acceptance, leaving the world with the following Facebook status: “Sunrise - accept this offering – Sunrise.”
Unfortunately, one of the simplest lessons of Christianity remains forgotten. The only way to avert more losses is to offer one another our love unconditional.
I saw this on The Daily Dish a few days ago. Since I already admitted that I like Star Wars (certainly better than Star Trek), I just had to post it:
A response to some of yesterday’s thoughts from Cole:
This really speaks to the diversity I continuously emphasize.
This video came up on my reader via Queerty and left me with some interesting questions as somebody who didn’t realize he was gay until his mid-20s.
A few reactions:
How did I react to more flamboyant gays?
Wow, he looks and sounds like Mark (my first bf—getting home from his mission next month) only half as cute.
Do I do anything to make guys who might not have realized they’re gay more aware of the diversity among homosexuals?
Do I laugh inside about “overly macho” straight people?
I suppose the same could be said of a lot of characters, but particular strengths just tend to stick out. As an ensemble of lovely older women, each of the Golden Girls embodies a particular strength and form a balance worthy of study.
Dorothy, for instance, is headstrong. She knows what she’s after, she’s educated and eloquent, and she is the voice of reason that guides everyone else through their problems. She can seem overbearing at times because of her strength.
Dorothy’s mother, Sofia, is matriarch of matriarchs. Her strength lays in her tongue (and no that’s not some sort of make out testimonial). Due in part to a stroke, she says things other characters would never say. She’s quick-witted and full of comebacks. She also has sage advice on the tip of her tongue in the form of stories from Sicily.
Rose also tells stories with the best of intentions; however, her tales of St. Olaf aren’t all that effective for getting her point across. It's telling, in this, that she has strength of heart. She would do anything for her friends with a sweet, though sometimes vacant, look on her face.
I don’t say this to be crude, but Blanche is sex strong. She’s been called everything from slut puppy to outright whore and everything in between. That said, she’s confident in her sexuality, priding herself on her appearance and her charisma.
Without a doubt, one of the main reasons this show remained popular for so long was because we identified with the characters. “I’m totally a Dorothy.” “Rose reminds me so much of my mom.” “We’ve all been out with at least one Blanche.”
They’re all things I hear often in the gay community. Many of us take note in the strengths of women—everyone from pop stars to politicians—but I think this speaks a great deal to our own world view.
Those are strengths that we want to see in ourselves, so I think it only wise we get in touch with those parts of ourselves first understanding, then finding balance, then finding unity in these strengths much like one would the System of Chakras. Within this system, there are a set of “energy centers” in our body (the chakras)—the focal points for reception and transmission of energies associated with communication, digestion, reproduction and other functions of the body.
This model also serves to understand the role of the four main characters in The Golden Girls: Dorothy’s head-strength signifies reason and drive, Sophia’s tongue-strength provides the group with wisdom and wit, Rose’s heart-strength results in compassion and tenderness, and Blanche’s sex-strength symbolizes confidence in sexual identity.
In all things, one must find balance. Each of these values has consequences associated with excess and deficiency. The vapid guy whose only contributions to conversation are sarcastic remarks could probably use more compassion , and the guy who just sleeps around willy-nilly could definitely would probably benefit from reason more than a carton of condoms.
Ultimately, the goal is balance and unity. As we go through this period in our lives searching out ourselves, it’s important we come to understand our own strengths and weaknesses and surround ourselves with people who even us out, people who we’ll be able to say twenty years from now, “Thank you for bein’ a friend.” I’m lucky to have found many people just like that.
In light of Argentina’s decision to endorse marriage equality with public support over 70%, I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of South America.
Although I earned a minor in Latin American Studies, I haven’t kept up much on the politics. That said, I came across a video that got me thinking about my mission. I had never thought about it in terms of sexuality, but Brazil is truly the most beautifully diverse place I’ve ever known.
If there’s one thing you need to know about Brazil is that it has a tri-racial culture. In overly simple terms, it is the embodiment of three continents in one—the European settlers, the African slaves (easily outnumbering the slaves imported to what became the US), and the Native Americans.
Although racism does exist, the ideal of coexistence and coalescence of these three cultures over the course of 500 years has arguably been an ideal much longer than the melting pot idea in the US. Having lived in Brazil and Chile, I found that a major difference between the two cultures is the role of race.
Chilean natives Americans are almost treated as a subculture while Brazilians tend to recognize the natives cultures as a significant (and living) part of the past. I think this type of awareness makes the idea of homosexuality much more understandable as there is an innate sense of diversity and acceptance thereof built into the culture. I would argue that to a limited extent this is what drove the Argentine debate culminating in equality.
Seeing this video (which brought tears to my eyes having served an LDS mission in Brazil) and reading that the level of support in Brazil is at a similar level to that of Argentina on Queerty, lead me to believe that equality in my second homeland may be much closer than I’d thought.
In honor of the thousands of fabulous gay and lesbian weddings about to come to pass, a pair of videos as seen on JoeMyGod.
I guess these views are what keep us from entering the gay marriage pantheon….
Even today, some shows remain pretty removed from the political side of things. We stand in awe of some shows like Glee or Futurama take on topics like homophobia and gay marriage—topics addressed by Dorothy, Sophia, Rose, and Blanche two decades earlier. This post will highlight just how ahead of its time The Golden Girls managed to be in the 80s and 90s.
In 1991, Blanche’s brother Clayton visited the girls in Miami to announce his commitment ceremony:
It speaks to the timelessness of this show that this scene still resonates and to the times that this message is still needed. That said, there are plenty of issues brought up on the show that seem rather dating based on the topics.
Here’s a list of topics and episodes both timeless and dated:
I really wish conversations like this in Utah happened like this in Utah.
From JoeMyGod, another (totally undexpected) take on Sassy Gay Friend:
This post has been on the calendar for some time, but expedited as a result of recent events.
First, Betty White (Rose) hosted the best SNL episode of the season (yes, I place it above Tina Fey and James Franco).
And the second wasn’t such a happy note. Rue McClanahan (Blanche) passed away early last month. This one’s for you, girl. Thank you for being a friend.
The thought has been on my mind for a while, but I’ve finally processed it. Why do gay men like a television show about four women?
NBC’s Golden Girls was a pioneer of television in many ways, and one sheer sign of success is imitation. The show presented a trend which was imitated at least three times. Rose, Blanche, Dorothy, and Sofia came together as four female friends seeing each other through the happiest and hardest times of their lives.
Each of the women stood out, exemplifying some aspect of womanhood (a topic I’ll discuss later in this series); however, together the ensemble aspect of the show proved a force to reckon with in the world of television.
The following year, another network, CBS, presented it’s own take on the female ensemble comedy. Designing Women premiered in 1986—one year after Golden Girls.
Well-received, but shuffled around in time slots the show was nearly cancelled before the network found a strong pairing with another show featuring another opinionated women Murphy Brown. The show echoed the political and feminist issues of Golden Girls featuring a younger cast.
Following a strong seven-year run, Golden Girls evanesced into television history in 1992. Though the show left a short-lived spinoff in its wake (The Golden Palace—not about a retirement home). The following year another show featuring four women premiered with its own spin on the “fourmula.”
Living Single brought together four independent, single, Brooklyn-based African American women. Honestly, this is a show that deserves revisiting on my part. Growing up in Utah, this show on Fox didn’t really hold much appeal because I didn’t know that many single ladies at the age of 10 let alone African American single ladies.
In watching a few clips, I’ve come to appreciate early Queen Latifah (one of my heroes) as well as an older Kim Fields (Tootie from The Facts of Life). They manage to make being single, successful, and different fashionable for the 90s generation in the wake of an endearing 80s sitcom.
One cannot wrap out this part of the series without a nod to perhaps the most successful show featuring a female foursome.
Interestingly, Sex and the City first appeared on HBO only months after Living Single wrapped up in 1998 and is still fresh in our minds with the latest film installment, adding more sex, fashion (of the shoulderpad-less variety), and (of course) Manhattan to the picture.
Clearly, Golden Girls (at least in the form of its subsequent incarnations) has had an impact on television. In a world largely dominated by men and male-ensemble casts, a place was reserved for a new type of television show thanks to four women in night coats bonding over late-night cheesecake.
I needed something like this today:
Take that, Hawaii!
It’s not often something grasps my attention so suddenly and so completely (or Cole’s for that matter), but a certain film has done just that this week, and it’s not because it stars a GMB Man Harem inductee, one Lee Pace:
Pace stars as an injured and depressed stuntman telling a little girl with a broken arm an epic story about five heroes on a mission to defeat an evil governor. His story, the little girl’s and that of the heroes intertwine in an amazing movie filmed over four years in eighteen different countries. The visuals, acting, costumes, and story are all magnificent in this movie I found for $3 at a going out of business sale.
The movie? The Fall:
An amazing tale of storytelling and responsibility.
The title of this series was in part inspired by a novel by J.M. Coetzee (The Life and Times of Michael K).
The stanzas of the following poem served as the epigraphs for my latest series. The poem developed as I wrote the series. I still think Stanza one needs some serious work; its ideas might be better served in the poem’s title.
In braided Reality.
Across the crevasse
Bridging the divide,
Plank by plank.
Pulling each other taught with
Of fiber against fiber
Of purpose and
Of pieces pulled
In Divine construct
Then give way. Cord
From either side
The bridgeless gap.
From either side
The bridgeless gap.
Morning came after a restless, contemplative night. My mind raced with thoughts ranging from self-pity to revenge. I just wanted to fix the mistake I’d apparently made. In my mind, I should never have rushed into a relationship, opened myself up to him, allowed myself to get so attached to anyone.
Before I could do anything I’d end up regretting, Cole and Lila had talked me down. As soon as I made my way home from the party and realized my eyelids wouldn’t draw themselves closed as I stared at my ceiling, I texted the two people I could go to with this problem.
Cole was supportive as usual, unsure of what could have provoked such a break down.
Though he wouldn’t go so far as to say, “end it,” he alluded to that conclusion: “It’s possible this is something too difficult to get through” and reassured “You haven’t done anything to regret, so stop worrying.”
Lila was more direct: “Andre’s been an ass and you know it. Do you really think this type of drama is worth it?”
Through my window, I saw the stars flicker out and dusk warming the air over the mountains as I spent a few moments sitting up in bed contemplating a few scattered notes I’d made in the margins of a handout for class. My attempt to distract myself with schoolwork only resulted in an outline of possibilities I faced in the imminent conversation. Rhetorically, I was prepared, but filled with dread in every other sense.
I felt robbed. The time, the emotion, and the care that I’d spent not just with Andre, but with every guy before him dried up into insignificance and numbness. Standing at the bus stop, I plunged into a state of static—enveloped by the noisy wind pushing past in steady, rhythemless flow and drawing a curtain of powdery white. It was one of the coldest days I’d ever experienced, but I didn’t notice.
I don’t want to have to do this, I thought sitting alone in back row of the bus. Can’t it just be over with. I stared at my phone, the directory pulled to Andre—a tiny smiling picture reminding me of the past few weeks—only to close it a moment later. In the next half hour—at the food court, in the library, etc.—I must have done this a half dozen times. Finally, I pulled myself aside, sitting on the floor of an empty darkened classroom alone and took myself through step by step finally forcing myself to press “SEND.”
“Hello?” I heard on the other end. “Hello?”
Finally, I choked out a response, “Good morning, Andre.”
“Hey,” he said. “I hope you’re okay after last night.” His voice quivered with sincerity. It was clear he wasn’t searching for a way to explain himself but rather wondering where the conversation would be driven.
“I’m glad you’re safe. I was worried.”
“Just so you know, I’m at work. I’ll give you all the time you need, though,” he told me. “I’m really sorry you had to worry like that.”
“I thought you might die,” I said.
“I know, I know,” his voice cracked. “I’m an idiot. That’s why I don’t drink around you. I just don’t know what’s wrong with me,” he said as his voice cracked again. “You laughed and wouldn’t explain why. It was like you’re laughing at me. I know you weren’t but that’s what it was like. I just remember worrying over and over again in my head, Does he really care? Could he really love me?”
“I’m just not a very vocal person. It takes a lot of thinking for the words to come out just the right way,” I explained.
“I told you I had a rough time with my dad, right? He really messed me up,” he said, sniffing through the tears I could not see. “Every time I get close my mind goes back to hearing his voice from the neighbors backyard as he shouted at my mother or getting thrown against a door or him throwing my sketchbook in the trash and telling me I’d never amount to anything as an artist.”
Everything made so much more sense from his insecurities over my slightest expression to his status as a college dropout.
I responded in instinct: “You know I’m here if you need to talk.” At once, a boundary was set and I said everything I needed to break through the static numbness coursing through my mind. He knew I cared, but talking would be the limit; I knew that I was free from the burden of worry.
We paused for a few moments as I felt my composure return and his vanish.
“I think it’s best I never put you through this again,” he said coughing and sniffling intermittently.
“Yeah,” I said as I sighed in relief for not having to bring up the inevitable dissolution.
The conversation ended on a positive note and reassuring platitudes of friendship, but several doubts.
I sat alone in the dark, silent room observing the light streaming through the blinds and forming the shape of stairs against the wall. That’s what a kid would see, I thought, and a smile came to my face as the world became a set of details again rather than an aggravating, amalgamous blur.
I made my way to class a few minutes late when my phone buzzed. I stopped in my tracks.
“Andre?” I answered.
“I take it back. Please take me back. I don’t want to break up. You’re the best thing to come along since I came to Utah,” he blurted through his tears.
I took a deep breath and turned back to the conclusion he’d made earlier: “I need stability. We both do and this won’t be good for us. I think—”
“Fine. I’ve got to get back to work if you don’t want to work this out,” he barked.
With that, I patted myself on the back and turned off my phone for the rest of the day. Slipping into class, I briefly made eye contact with Savannah passing a glimpse of my satisfaction and confidence.
“Apparently, someone had a good weekend,” she whispered as I shuffled past the row and into my usual spot.
“Well, it’s over,” I whispered with a half grin. With that I realized I’d made my way unscathed through the emotional minefield. In the aftermath, Cole, Lila, and Savannah provided the kind words I appreciated if I didn’t need. Months earlier, I might have blamed myself for the sudden turn, for Andre’s cold shoulder to my offers of help, and for his sudden relocation back to Nebraska weeks later, but now I knew that my rationality and distance were some of the greatest assets.
End of Series.
I saw this and I just had to share because I, too, have an unhealthy, voyeuristic preoccupation with celebrities. (Esp. the ones that are a total mess).
She kind of reminds me of Andre in retrospect.
Then give way. Cord
“So you’re telling you finally had to put a pillow between you two?” Lila asked as I recounted the weekend with Andre.
“Yeah. I don’t know what happened, but it was me who couldn’t control himself. I would wake up and find myself… well,” I paused, “… rubbing against him.”
She burst out laughing. “You can’t be serious. You had it figured out.”
“Well, I thought I did, and I don’t suppose it’s a bad thing that I did think that.” It was apparent I was still processing the whole situation. Sexuality was in some ways as scary as always, and in others practically benign.
“You horny, horny boy” she continued to tease me throughout the night as we lay there on the couch, oddly making the idea of sex more appealing. I was horrified, astonished, and fascinated by this new element of identity I had yet to grasp. It was something as integral as any other part of me, yet somehow removed. Still, it’s naturalness was as difficult to acknowledge as the possibility of being happy for myself had been.
My natural reaction was to be guarded and not yield to any change without seriously considering its effects upon the rest of my life. As the confusion of another raucous party at The Wood House sauntered on around us, I processed what all of this might mean for attending and participating in church.
Lila’s teasing and questions such as “How did it make you feel?” and “Do you think you would have enjoyed going farther than that?” only prodded me further in that direction. Any miniscule preconception that there was a possibility that being gay was some sort of fabrication I’d constructed for myself (so as to focus on the professional aspect of my life and never grow up into marriage and family life with a woman) vanished in that moment.
The topic psychologically and emotionally exhausted in that moment, we allowed ourselves to enjoy the party a bit more. We turned our observations towards the crowd at the party. It was the usual crowd of gays and alternative-types seen in the house on a weekly basis.
“Karl’s wearing his ‘pedo’ hat again.”
“Carli went to school with my little brother.”
“Amos and Scott broke up again this week.”
It was the usual barrage of witty observations no one would be offended by. As the lone sober people at these parties, we’d formed an insular relationship in our own little corner.
“Who’s he?” I confided to Lila, casually motioning to a boy in hotrod red skinny jeans in the corner.
“I’m not sure. He’s new here,” she said.
I continued observing him and thinking how unafraid and happy he was with his body to strut around in clothes that demanded so much attention. Noticing the attention coming from us, he made his way to the couch and plopped down in between us.
“Hey, have we met?” he asked Lila and I.
“I don’t think so,” I said slightly out of breath. My phone buzzed and I felt a tinge of guilt over ogling the “Twink of the Hour.”
“Excuse me while I take this. It’s Andre,” I explained to them as I grabbed my jacket and made my way to the deck for some privacy,
“Andre! How was work?”
“Work was fine. I just called to check up on my boy,” he said.
“Oh good. I’m at a party with Lila. We’re sitting on the couch talking the night away. Any plans for tonight?”
“I’m with some friends now, too,” he said as it became apparent he’d had a few to drink.
“You have fun with you’re friends and don’t let the night get too crazy.”
“Alright. You, too.”
Without much thought, I returned to my spot at the couch with Lila, who had quickly made a new friend in skinny jeans-clad Jerrick. “We missed you,” she said as we immediately returned to our observations.
Moments later, my phone buzzed again. “Hey, Andre,” I answered.
“I forgot to tell you I love you,” he said.
I was floored. It was something I wasn’t used to hearing from family or friends, so I melted a bit.
“Andre, that’s so sweet. It makes me really happy to hear that,” I said struggling for words. I didn’t feel like I could reciprocate in that moment in that way. If and when I said the three little words and admitted to feeling that way towards another man, it wouldn’t be over the phone with boozy gays in the background.
Even before he could respond, I sensed something was wrong. “Oh,” he said. “You have fun with Lila and your friends then. I’m going home for the night.”
“Okay. Be safe,” I said unsure if he’d heard me before hanging up.
“There’s some drama going down,” Jerrick pointed out.
“Yeah, I’d rather not think about it,” I said. “He’ll be better in the morning.”
“Are you alright? I asked answering the phone five minutes later. Before I could make my way to the freezing patio again, he asked me to pass the phone to Lila. “Why?”
“Just trust me, I need to talk to her.”
I handed off the phone to her as we shared a puzzled look. She listened, intermittently offering him a yeah and covering the mouthpiece to offer occasional observations from the standpoint of a psychology student: “He wants to hear you love him.” “He’s drunk.” “You’ve got a codependent one here.”
After a ten-minute talk down session, she returned my phone and I left for the patio.
“Have a good talk with Lila?” I asked.
“It was fine,” he guardedly responded.
“What are you up to now?” I asked.
“Driving home. I need to be alone,” he said grimly.
“Just wait around a bit longer. Are you sure you’re okay to drive?”
“I’m sure,” he said.
I paused for a moment not sure of what I could do. How far is he from home? Should I call the police? I don’t even know where he’s driving. My heart and mind raced as they flooded with questions.
“GMB, do you love me?” he asked.
I paused. I didn’t want to be disingenuous. I knew I didn’t feel anything eternal or abiding at that point, but I had no idea what to say to him.
“Love is a really important word for me, Andre. It has a lot of meanings—” He isn’t looking for a lecture, I told myself. Tell him what he needs to hear to be safe, dammit!
I sunk down in tears from the stress, sitting in the snow bank on the patio and said, “I care for you a lot. I love you and just want you safe,” I said compromising myself only slightly. The tears and the frustration let up slightly as a breeze pounded past.
“Are you almost home?” I asked showing the care and the type of love I’d spoken of.
“Ten minutes,” he said.
I sat there hovelled up in a corner, barricading myself from the wind and offering words of comfort and recounting happy memories until I knew he was home safe.
“You get some rest and we’ll talk in the morning,” I said.
“Okay. I’m really sorry, GMB. I should never have put you through that.”
“We’ll talk about it in the morning,” I reiterated as I stood up to pull myself together and join the party.
I was so upset I could go home and fall asleep on a tear-drenched pillow, so angry I half-wished he’d gotten in an accident and learned his lesson, and so numb I wanted to forget all of my feelings in that moment and give them all to Jerrick in that moment to get even with Andre for what he’d put me through.
End, Part 5.
Of fiber against fiber
Of purpose and
Of pieces pulled
In Divine construct
“So how was your weekend, GMB?” my friend Savannah chimed as I took my usual seat next to her in US-Latin American Relations.
“Great,” I responded with glowing face and uncontrolled smile.
“You had a good date, didn’t you?”
“Yeah. Finally got around to seeing Slumdog Millionaire. It was amazing.”
“That is my favorite movie of all time! A gameshow, a fairytale, and Bollywood—the perfect combination!” she declared.
With that enthusiasm, I saw an opportunity to fill up the rest of the few minutes before class with a discussion of the movie rather than my sexuality. Savannah wasn’t one of my closest friends. We’d had several classes together and even exchanged numbers so that we knew when to take more intensive notes on those days which the other wasn’t going to show up. Her husband was also a friend of mine, and because I knew both of them relatively well, I had no fear of getting close to her with possible repercussions of jealousy. Genuinely friendly, Mormon and in love with each other.
“So who did you take to the movie?” she asked, breaking through my first closeted defense just as the professor called for the classes attention. “If you’ll take a seat, I’ll pass back your last quiz.”
To close the matter, I quickly blurted, “Well, I’m dating a manager of Radio Shack in Salt Lake…”
It was a weak, unprepared response. Not quite good enough. I had to cover with something more without lying.
“…Andre,” I said following an imperceptible pause and just enough of an uncertain intonation to sound like “Andrea” were someone expecting that answer.
I was safe. The matter seemed closed along with the closet door, when suddenly a buzz came from the phone I’d forgotten to turn off. Although I normally didn’t check my phone in such instances, I glanced and noticed the message was from Savannah.
“I just thought you should know that I am your friend no matter what.”
I looked over to the most casual and sincere of smiles. And as a single salty tear trickled down my cheek, I replied, “You are a true friend.”
Over the course of that week, we became a lot closer. After class, I confided in her and she assured me, “Some people in the Church don’t judge you for being you,” and our conversations turned to how she had people in her life who’d undergone similar experiences to my own and how I’d felt comfortable enough to make out with Andre during the movie in a small Utah theater.
“Are you excited for tomorrow,” she asked. “Introducing the boyfriend to the best friend is a pretty important step. I could tell you stories.”
“Well, they have been talking for a little while now. I’m not too worried. It’ll be Cole’s first time in the club and I’m just as interested in that aspect of the night.”
The weekend became an extensive experiment of sorts. Not only would Andre meet Cole. He’d also meet Lila (my best fruit fly) and Ianto (the one who got away” but remained friends nonetheless). I also decided I felt comfortable staying the weekend at his place.
It all began at the Babylon, one of many SLC gay club nights to come and go. Although I wouldn’t consider myself a veteran of the club scene, I’d become an active participant on the dance floor and stopped being an observer, except in the case of Cole who was visibly out of place in our dancing circle.
“Let me show you how it’s done,” Ianto said, gyrating to the beat then placing his right arm around Lila’s waist moments later.
Cole was exasperated, but quickly learning the finer points of club dancing. The art of not caring, and looking confident would only come with time, though. As Lila and I smirked over this exasperation, I felt a warmth embrace me from behind.
“How have you been, babe?” Andre asked before pecking me on the cheek.
“Fabulously. I don’t have a worry in the world tonight.”
I turned around, gave him a hug, and introduced him to everyone. Although he was more accustomed to the clubbing scene and the Salt Lake crowd, he seemed oddly out of place.
“Nice to meet you,” he said softly (in terms of club volume). His demeanor was cautious. He wasn’t sure what to make of meeting my friends. Conversation pretty much stifled at that point for Andre, although I tried to engage with everyone.
After a few minutes of awkwardness, I decided it would be best to relieve some of Andre’s stress by putting some distance between us and my other friends. “I need to go to the bathroom. Why don’t you go ahead and grab something to drink and we’ll dance some more when I get out.”
Visibly calmer, I commented, “Feeling better, eh? Did you get something to settle your nerves?”
“No, I just don’t think I’d be comfortable drinking around you,” he said. It was flattering that he was so worried about the impression he would make that night, but it still concerned me that he was under so much stress.
I looked him in the face and smiled.
“What?” he asked nervously.
“Nothing. I’m just happy.”
The rest of the night was spent intermittently dancing together and chatting on a couch somewhat removed from the noise of the dance floor. Hours later, we found ourselves completely removed from the rest of the world, cuddling and chatting on his bed.
“So, any regrets about tonight?” Andre asked in a more serious tone than I’d anticipated from him.
I’d thought long and hard about the boundaries I’d set for myself. Nothing I could regret could or would happen that night, so I sighed and responded with a grin, “Absolutely no regrets here.”
An expression of doubt filled his face as I grinned. “Do you think you’re happy?” he asked.
I signed and grinned again, “Of course. I’ve been over this with Cole several times. "I’m just not the best about being totally vocal with my emotions, okay?”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m doing better lately. You’re helping me become a better person,” I assured him as I looked him sternly and sincerely in the eyes. We kissed and turned out the lights.
This is perfect, I thought to myself as I held his back to my chest and took in the static smell of his black hair.
End, Part 4.
Pulling each other taught with
Cole had not seen me this way in a while—persistently talking about Andre, consistently positive, and undistracted by other guys—and took it as a sign that it was time to start “The Cole Test.”
“Do you think he’s ready?” I asked.
“I’ve been thinking you’re both ready for a few days now.”
“The Cole Test” was an interview/interrogation of sorts initiated by the two of us out of my commitment issues and Cole’s concern. He’d rather I not fall prey to the relationship pitfalls he’d faced in the form of a controlling fiancé or any repeat of the disappointments I’d faced in the form of immaturity (Mark), eagerness (Anderson), and lust (Derek).
A certain rush of feeling came over me. In all of my efforts to be deliberate and not rush into a relationship for fear of such disappointments, I understood in that moment that this was an exception. Andre was genuine.
In passing, I mentioned the test to Andre over the phone one night. He quipped, “It’s like I’m interviewing to be your husband and Cole’s.”
“Well, Andre, for better or worse, we’re kind of a package deal,” I half-teased.
“You know what I’m going to do then? I’m finding him right now on Facebook and we’re going to get this over with. You should know just how serious I am about all of this.”
I covered the phone and let out a sigh privately. I’d waited a long time to someone express affection beyond a casual flirtatious remark.
Later Cole shared with me excerpts of the conversation, boldly initiated by Andre:
Andre: Ask me what you want anytime I care about your best friend so much
Cole: Oh, I doubt that I'll ask you anything of importance for a while. I'm surprised GMB would've mentioned me so soon.
I was just teasing him about "interrogating" you because we worry about our friends and don’t want to lose them to complete dunces. I'm not kind to the less intellectually fortunate, nor am I sensitive toward those who can't keep up with me (kindness is not one of my strong points; however, honesty is). But, according to GMB, you're smart and a quick wit. I'm pleasantly awaiting the evening he introduces us to each other.
One question for tonight, though: Which would you most prefer: a classy dinner, wine and the opera? or a night of hotdogs and nachos, beer and lots of big men chasing balls?
Andre: Maybe option 2?
Cole: How very sporting of you to answer my question. Option Two is a totally valid selection! You don't have to back out of that one ("...btw"), especially if--as I'm suspecting—GMB told you I would select the operatic evenings. I wouldn't have offered a sporting event up as an enjoyable activity if it weren't a viable (and happily visual) pastime.
Opera or men and their balls--either way, GMB’s opinion is the one you're really trying to win over; mine really shouldn't mean all that much: I'm only a high class snob! Lucky for you, GMB enjoys a wide array of activities.
Also, as you've invited me to "ask [you] what [I] want anytime," I suppose I should return the favor. Anything you'd like to know about GMB's friend(s) before he carefully throws you into our little menagerie?
Andre: Lol I was not in anyway trying to back out of my answer I do love everything but it depends but I haven't been to a sporting event in a long time and never been to the opera but I do enjoy a glass of wine sometimes. I have one question at the moment. You do have excellent grammar are you in school currently and what are you going for? As for other things or friends I will be happy no matter what you guys are like as long as I make him half as happy as he makes me.
Cole: Thanks for your compliments. I grew up in a rural--supremely beautiful, but deplorably rural--little town where poor grammar roots itself deeply in each upcoming generation. Don't get me wrong, I honor my farm-boy heritage and the work-ethic of farming people, but the seeming lack of education poor grammar implies can put people off, you know? (I guess a wording too proper can also be offensive...) Anyhow, I've worked for years refining my use of language. So, many, many thanks!
(By the way, this "educated and elitest" persona really only shows up in my writing voice--I'm much less highbrow and long-winded in person.)
To answer your query in regard as to my course of study: I'm currently enrolled in the undergraduate music program at Weber State University in Ogden, UT, majoring in piano performance. Music can be a bitchy, jealous lover, but when it's good--man, is it good!
I haven't seen GMB so happy in many months, Andre, and I'm really, honestly pleased for both of you. I'm glad you find he makes you happy, as well. Be good to him.
Sharing highlights of the conversation, Cole concluded on the drive home from a symphony one night, “You know you’ve got a winner this time, don’t you?” as I eagerly contemplated my date with Andre the next day.
“I know. It’s refreshing. I haven’t felt this way in a long time. Being around him gives me glimpses into what I haven’t been sure I could have.”
“That didn’t make sense. What do you mean?” Cole asked.
After a few minutes of stuttering and talking around it, I finally said. I think I’m beginning to understand what it means to be satisfied with life.”
“Happy, you mean?”
“Yeah,” I said with that jarring epiphany, “but that sounds so cliché.
“Happiness is never a cliché, GMB” Cole pointed out. “The idea may be puffed up, but the journey—the important part—is different for everyone. That’s the significant part.”
And suddenly, it was okay to feel emotions, epic and iconic.
Once alone, I shot Andre a quick text: “I hope your day went well. Give me a call if you’re still up.” It was my typical understatement, but he knew I had something important to say.
In unimpassioned form, we told each other about our day, knowing that the discussion was about to warm into something more meaningful. Upon discussing our plans for the next day and the results of the Cole Test, I unveiled the unstated portion of our conversation:
“You know how I’ve told you I don’t like rushing into things. Well, that’s especially the case in the romantic sense. I remember going from door to door as a missionary dreading the door slams, the angry shouts, and more ambivalent rejections. The past year has been a lot of the same except with dating. I feel like… I feel like I’ve barely met you, really.”
“I understand,” he stated in the pause I offered.
“But I can’t ignore how different the past couple of weeks have been.”
I paused again, hearing only a warm silence on the other end. And responded with my own silence perforated by the sound of teeth and gums separating as I lit up with a smile of understanding.
“So, I take it you’re ready” he asked, “Ready to be official?”
End, Part 3.