At fourteen years old I discovered my attraction to men. My friend Josh and I had taken the train down to Philadelphia on a Saturday afternoon planning to wander around the city. There was a section back then on Sampson Street that was being touted as the next Greenwich Village and that is where we headed to.Continue reading
I want to make an attempt to make sense of the recent discussions we have had about religion and the effect it had on our lives in many of the recent support group meetings for men who are gay or bi and have been married on involved with women. Continue reading
When we think about my own coming out to family and friends, it filled with anxiety, fear and indecision. What will they think of me? Will they still be in my life or will they turn away from me when they know who I am? What kind of hurt and pain will I be causing?Continue reading
I remember as if it were yesterday the sex I had that first year of college.
It has been over three years since I left my marriage of twenty years and moved out of my house to begin a new life as an out gay man at 55 years of age. It has been a fantastic and life-changing few years. I have loved every minute of my new life and have approached starting over with a sense of fun and energy and drive that I did not know I was capable of. Continue reading
Walking around Nantucket yesterday brought up emotions in me that date back to my childhood. My reaction to seeing a certain type of well to do men and women, dressed in elite preppy styles, full of self-confidence and sureness, implying a closed exclusive world, is not good. It makes me cringe inside and feel uncomfortable. It also encourages my contempt. Continue reading
Based on my earliest memories, I knew I was different from other boys. It was not simply learned behavior, but from the very beginning, it was something at the core of who I was. Continue reading
After a few days of putting it off, I finally reread the chapter on Male Homosexuality from physician David Reuben’s 1969 book, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask), that I last read fully in 1971.
Today the writing seems comical, dated, and completely inaccurate. But the tragic part is that this is the book that so many of us read in the 1970s to learn what it meant to be gay.
With a tone of contempt combined with titillation, Ruben writes as if he is the expert. In the question and answer format of the book, he answers his own questions in a breezy and erudite manner that implies he knows all. Sadly, even for the late 1960s, he describes a gay world and a male homosexual that never existed.
Throughout the chapter he repeats a theme that he is taken with: all homosexual men really want to be women. This goes so far at the end of the chapter for him to suggest that the ultimate desire of every homosexual man is to become a woman, ultimately for some, to the point of having a sex change operation.
A section that frightened me the most at fourteen years old was this Q&A leading to a discussion of where homosexual men are driven to meet each other:
“Most homosexuals do it another way. They have a compulsion to flaunt their sex in public. A public washroom is frequently their stage. Bus stations, parks, bowling alleys, are haunted by gay guys. Random and reckless selection of partners is the trademark. The fact that the stranger is likely to be a policeman, an “S and M,” or a syphilitic never seems to occur to them. This is the core of homosexuality.”
More excerpts from this chapter can be found on this web page, and reading these quotes quickly demonstrates how sick and hurtful this book was for so many men.
The thought that for my sexual life, I would be driven to find men for sex in “Bus stations, parks, bowling alleys” felt like a sick and seamy life that I wanted no part of. I cannot fully describe how completely this book and the chapter on homosexuality affected me when I was fourteen years old. It drove me to look for a way to change from homosexuality, something Ruben says is ‘easy’ with the right therapist, for many years to come.
Ruben’s purpose, so clear on rereading, was to titillate Middle America. “Madge, you won’t believe what those homosexuals do to each other sexually.” Ruben succeeded and the book made him wealthy. But hundreds of thousands of LGBT people were harmed, made to feel like sick damaged goods, with little hope for loving happy lives.
I feel sad for that fourteen old that I once was, desperate for information to understand who and what I was, but had to learn about himself in a snide, contemptuous, nasty, hurtful and inaccurate form.
Note: the title of this posting comes from a phrase from Ruben’s book, which struck me as too funny. Here is the full sentence: “A certain number of men who appear muscular, athletic, and manly in every respect are actually enthusiastic homosexuals.”
I came across a fascinating article I POZ magazine that got me to thinking about my early life as a gay man. The article is, Trauma and HIV: A Call for Intersectional Approaches by Charles Stephens and Naina Khanna. Continue reading
I’m reading a wonderfully written book, She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders, by Jennifer Finney Boylan. The story is about a man, James Boylan who became Jennifer Boylan and her journey. Continue reading