I am visiting my parents in Naples, Florida. I am overwhelmed and uncomfortable with the wealth in this place. While it is quite beautiful, it also is a town of tremendous largess and excess. The homes here are so large that it is hard to imagine who would need such a house.
Since I was a very young boy there is something in me that has had an almost visceral reaction to places like Naples, where every flower is perfect and everyone walking the streets has money. These kinds of places make me terribly uncomfortable and have me feel less than. I want to run back to the ‘real’ world and get back to my life.
I think part of my discomfort if the complete lack of diversity in this community. That lack of diversity includes gay men like me. This is a place of wealthy married and wealthy straight singles, but very little LGBT.
From a very young age, I felt that I did not fit in places like Naples, Nantucket, or Aspen. They are idyllic communities that are often narrow, closed, and closeted. As a young gay man, I felt like a lonely outsider in these places.
The hotel bars I remember passing as a teenager in Nantucket only served to remind me that I was not part of the well dressed, chic, at ease in the world, crowd. I felt lonely, separate, and different because of my homosexuality.
I was also raised by my parents with an odd mixture of down to earth and anti-elitist philosophies mixed in with trips to Aspen and Nantucket. It was an odd smash-up that had me feel that I really didn’t fit in anywhere.
It has taken me a long time to understand my discomfort and to see it for what it is. At its core it the fact that I am a gay man. I feel quite comfortable in Washington, D.C., or New York City. I can walk down the street arm and arm with my boyfriend. But here in Naples, I would be more self-conscious of my display of gay on the street. Here in Naples, I feel like I am an unwanted outsider in a happy Logan’s Run kind of false utopia. This place feels fake and unreal to me and I want to escape almost as soon as I arrive.
This is not my world. It is not a gay man’s world. It is a world that wants to talk about nice things and happy things. Topics like HIV or LGBT discrimination are not part of dinner conversation here. While it is nice to visit my parents, I can only stand visiting for a few short days before I need to break free and get back to my own life.