Photos don’t lie.
I loved the idea of sharing a king-size bed and waking up each morning chatting about we’d do without the distractions of work, our regular social circle and “Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee”. (Okay, only one of us needed an update about little Cody and big Frank. (And I told you it was a long time ago.))
Travel also included risks. What if we got tired of being around each other 24/7? What if he insisted on checking out every outlet store? What if he got upset if I couldn’t eat at that highly recommended restaurant that lacks a vegetarian option?
The trips were never exotic. While we talked of India, Portugal, New Zealand and Botswana, we only got as far as San Francisco, Dallas and Whistler. None of the vacations prompted me to start scrapbooking our Romance on the Road. Each trip included heated arguments and nights spent sleeping at opposite edges of the roomy mattress. We always made up before heading home, but the excursions never lived up to all we anticipated. It was as if he were supposed to be sprinkled with fairy dust once reaching our (not so) foreign destination and, when Tinkerbell proved to be a no-show, well, we were doomed to disappointment.
One recurring source of friction involved the daily itineraries. Invariably, my partner wanted to find the gay ghetto and take in a Pride Parade, eat a mediocre hamburger at a gay restaurant or a jiggle a glass of ice at a gay nightclub.
Almost always, I resisted. Didn’t we have enough of the gay scene back home in Los Angeles or Vancouver? Why did we need to immerse ourselves in homo havens when we had each other? How much love did we have if we had to dress to impress other gays or sneak peaks at our “foreign” “community”?
I was defensive and insecure, it is true. But I also genuinely wanted to tour museums and galleries, drive off on day trips and try eateries that didn’t necessarily have campy or beefy waiters. I wanted a break for The Gay Life.
For the past nine years, I’ve had full power to set my own itineraries. My travel choices are only limited by those damn “Based on double occupancy” qualifiers and unexpected, budget-sucking car repairs that pop up just as I get the itch to wander far afield and see...Seattle.
Gays sites are not on the agenda. I can shop all the trendy stores I want, take my time pondering oh-so-modern scribble art in fine museums and curiously chew mock veal parmigiana at the token vegan dive restaurant.
When I spent a weekend in Portland a couple of summers ago, I booked a room at the Ace Hotel, a place I’d discovered online in a post about the Funkiest Hotels in the U.S. From the write-up and from its own website, I knew I would never convince a friend (or, should it ever happen again, a partner) to stay in a glorified dorm room so this felt like an opportunity. An advantage of traveling solo is there is no one to negotiate with. I could do it all My Way.
Nothing in what I read indicated that the hotel was directly across the street from a gay nightclub. It amused me at 3 p.m. to see clusters of gay men having cocktails on the outdoor patio. For a moment, I entertained the idea of popping by later that night. As a single man living in isolation from All Things Gay, I thought a look, a nod or even a brief conversation would be a welcome opportunity to renew my homo credentials before the expiration date.
But then as night came, I pictured myself sitting alone, sporting a strained smile, trying to sell the look of perfect contentment as nondescript house music pulsated (What do you mean you don’t have “Dancing Queen”?!) and others laughed around me.
Why bother? Why do that to myself? I had no answer. I passed.
Four years ago when I went to San Francisco, I attended a football game and a pumpkin festival. Not exactly an update on Tales of the City.
I am beginning to rethink things. The lack of any gay component of my life makes me feel stagnant. I am as full of life as a run-of-the-mill earthworm, asexual and all. The Homo Card lapsed. Seems I don’t even know where to get an application form for reinstatement.
Perhaps a gaycation is indeed in order. I am not thinking about the extreme scenario of being stuck on a cruise ship full of Fake ‘n’ Bake twinks and daddies who squeeze into sherbet-shaded Speedos and hoot loudly as some form of a desperate mating call. Notice me! No, I’d rather be on one of those Carnival sea adventures with no power and boxes of stale Saltines to ration as Kathie Lee Gifford sings “On the GoodShip Lollipop.”
Still, a weekend wandering The Castro or Chicago’s Boystown might be what I need to revive a dormant component of my identity that I had once fought so hard to understand and embrace. I can’t get my gay back from watching The Saga of Kurt and Blaine. And I daresay that it isn’t good enough to sit back and await Anderson Cooper’s next giggle fit.
Seems I am in need of a full gay immersion. Maybe a sweet man named Pablo will snap my photo as I don a dollar store necklace of rainbow beads and stand in front of Tulsa’s top gay club. I’ll smile broadly and download the pic, reminding myself that I was there. Yep, I’m gay.
Like I said, pictures don’t lie.