What makes love, love? Why does the rallying cry, love is love, that began with the Proposition 8 fight, ring true to so many people? What has changed in the culture that the once unthinkable, love between two men or two women, is now blessed by the Supreme Court of the United States as fully equivalent to the love between a man and a woman?
For a long time, beginning in the early 1970s, it looked like gay men seemed to be about hedonistic sexual freedom, that is until AIDS upended the party. But these were times of LGBT oppression. So many of us were not, or could not live out proud and integrated lives. This was a time that the culture did not believe that deep, intimate, tender, lasting love between two men or two women was really possible. Men, more than women, were seen as driven by primal urges more than any interest in something deep, meaningful, and lasting.
I attend a twice-monthly peer support group for gay, bisexual, and questioning men who have been married to or otherwise involved in relationships with women. The group tends to be older, with most men in their fifties, but ranging from early 40’s up to 80 years old. At a few meetings, I have heard men complain that they are challenged to find anything resembling love with another man or even find a boyfriend. Within the same breath, the men can blame themselves and critique their own shortcomings for their difficulty in finding an intimate and loving relationship with another man.
So many of us are victims of the culture we live in. The subtle ways we are oppressed in the culture can be hard to see and it is often easier to see our own personal shortcomings than the external forces that affect us. I have written extensively how the things I read about homosexuality, beginning in 1971 when I was fourteen years old, had a traumatic and long-lasting bad effect on me.
For many men over a certain age, the idea of finding love and intimacy with another man can be a challenging concept. It is difficult to get rid of all the years of emotional trauma and repression that fights within us against finding love with another man.
In the first post of this blog, on March 4, 2012, I wrote:
NSA encounters hold no attraction for me at this point. Porn likewise I find boring. I want true love. I guess I am a romantic at heart, but I want to find that one guy who I can be a soul mate with. At 54 it sounds like a foolish and possibly unattainable goal, but it is what I want. I want to find that one guy that I can be honest and real with and have a deep connection with. Is it possible?
Coming out at 55 years old was not about having a lot of sex with men. I did not feel a pent up demand for sex. I had matured to the point where I wanted love, intimacy, partnership, deep friendship, and physical attraction with another man that I could care deeply about. I feel I have begun to find so much of what I was looking for with the man I have been dating for the past ten months, and it is lovely.
But before I could get to this kind of relationship with another man I had to do battle with my own internalized homophobia. I had to fight the old messages from my teenage years that were so hatefully anti-gay and repressive and that can still live on, to some degree, in my brain. The biggest tool in my arsenal for fighting internalized homophobia was and continues to be, coming out. Coming out in the biggest way you can find, and pushing through all your fears to do so, is like taking a machete to your internalized homophobia. It works wonders.
I remember Lena Horn, in her Broadway show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, saying before she sang Stormy Weather for the second time in the show: “I’m still finding things to think about when I sing this song. It has taken me a lot of years to grow into it.” Like Lena, I think it may take me a few years to grow into, love is love. I am still learning the truth and power of, love is love. But the world has changed so much in the last few years in ways that I once could not imagine. So, love is love. How wonderful.