Lurking Beneath

drowning

Last night, as I made love with my partner, thoughts of Christopher Wilson entered my mind. Christopher was my disastrous, short-lived, boyfriend during the second semester of my freshman year of college.

During my freshman year, I had a number of gay friendships and mini-relationships with men, culminating in my three-month relationship with Christopher. I was so damaged and angry by the time Christopher and I broke up that I changed colleges and went back into the closet. I have written more fully about Christopher in earlier blog posts, but suffice it to say that at the end of the relationship I learned that everything Christopher had ever said or told us had been a lie, down to the smallest detail.

My experience with Christopher, at the time, confirmed my worst thoughts about homosexuality. Christopher made the sick and distorted perspective of the movie, The Boys in the Band, appear to be a reality. Christopher confirmed all the ugly and twisted perspectives about gay life that I had read in the book, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex: But Were Afraid to Ask. A terrible, but popular, book first published in 1969. My father had a copy of the paperback version published in 1972, which I found on a high shelf in his library. When I read the book, at 14 years of age, the distorted and misguided chapter on homosexuality had a horrible effect on my life.

After Christopher, I felt sure that the gay world was one I did not want to enter. I changed colleges and my sexual relationships with men became almost non-existent, and when they did occur, took place mostly at the baths. And so, after a short visit out of the closet, I tried to close the door on the gay world for the next thirty-five years.

Having Christopher enter my thoughts as I made love to my partner almost shut me down. “This man is not Christopher,” I told myself. “He’s nothing like Christopher. This is a loving, sweet, sane man. This is a beautiful relationship. Don’t connect the two men!” And so Christopher left my thoughts at that moment.

So why, after all these years, did thoughts of Christopher come to me? I met Christopher Wilson when I was 18. I’m almost 58. Christopher was 40 years ago. But Christopher Wilson had a very large effect on me at the time, and the experiences with him still lives within me. As I begin to have bigger emotions and feelings for my partner, Christopher is like the hand that lurks beneath the water, ready to drag me under. He represents the closet and a false way of seeing homosexuality, which I clung onto for way too many years. He is internalized homophobia. He is the past.

When I think about what I have today with my partner, it surpasses my hopes for a relationship with a man. Is there a part of me that wants to shut it all down? Have myself to myself and shut the door on emotion and love? I do not know. I do know that I want my new life to succeed and I will defend myself from old messages, dug up from the past, meant to drag me back.

I’m on the lucky ones. I have lived long enough to be in a time when the United States is changing rapidly and beautifully about LGBT. Fuck Christopher Wilson and all that he represents.

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