Sunday, June 30, 2013

EXCUSES, EXCUSES

It was Pride weekend in New York, Toronto, San Francisco, Seattle and in many other metropolitan areas. But I did not have to book a flight to The Big Apple to walk around with a water bottle and plastic rainbow bead necklaces this weekend. They celebrated in my isolated region as well.

Friday night featured a lesbian film I’ve never heard of, screening at the local playhouse. On Saturday night there was a Stonewall Dance at a community hall in a former hippie enclave, now facing gentrification as retirees and Albertans wanting waterfront summer homes attempt a takeover.

I passed on the movie and the dance. That’s right, I bemoan my single status in post after post on this blog and then, when opportunity knocks, I hide under the bed. (My dog and I think it’s quite nice there.)

You have every right to give up on me and to go back to spending your online time reading Gwyneth’s goop or scanning Lady Gaga’s tweets.

Skipping the movie was a no-brainer. I didn’t have my car Friday night as I had to leave it at the ferry terminal on the other side. Besides, I knew I’d feel self-conscious being the only guy in the audience.

I still feel shame over the dance pass. Could’ve, should’ve, didn’t.

Since you’re still reading, I assume you are up to date on Gaga and goop. Allow me to share my So I Think I Can’t Dance excuses.

I ‘d left my dog alone all day while dashing into Vancouver to see a local production of Avenue Q. I’d gone with a couple of gay friends, there were other gays in the theatre,...surely, this country boy exceeded his gay quotient for the day (heck, the week,...even the month). My dog’s sad eyes demanded I stay in. Besides, I needed to recover from my first exposure to naked puppet sex. (Since when did puppets start getting luckier than me?!)

It was a hot evening. I’d been in that community hall on a hot night before. No air circulation. I hate meeting new people as sweat clings to my forehead and creates broad pit stains in what is supposed to be an eye-catching fashion-forward shirt. Damn you, summer heat. (But please stay.)

I’d gone before. Two years in a row, years ago.

The first time, I lasted twenty minutes. I was forty-one and a guy immediately started talking to me. It had been a perfectly normal, superficial first conversation until he said, “So, are you retired?” Just how old did I look? Crushed, I casually excused myself, fled to the car and zipped home to stare desperately in the mirror, contemplating Botox, plastic surgery and the miraculous effects of Oil of Olay.

The second year, I dragged a friend from the city to come along. Amongst the tiny cluster of gay men, he was the star attraction. I didn’t get my feelings hurt. Not that much anyway. They all started smoking pot and, being as I’ve always found all kinds of smoke extremely unappealing, I grabbed my friend and insisted on leaving. Still, I left feeling like I’d grown. Staying forty minutes, I’d doubled my time. For some reason, my friend has refused to come again for future dances.

 The LGBT events I have been to—there is the occasional potluck as well—are always heavy on the L, lite on the G. (No idea if the Bs and Ts have a presence at all, but it is imperative that we’re inclusive, even if in name only.) Past dances have had about a hundred people in attendance—85 women, 15 men. I knew the odds were stacked against me meeting someone special, even having a conversation beyond, “I’ll have a Diet Coke with lime, please.” Why should I have to launder another shirt? Why set myself up for a miserable drive home, fighting to keep the disappointment in check. Besides, there are enough risks with night driving here. I’d never forgive myself if I hit a deer.

The last Saturday of June is when I look my absolute worst all year. Schools in British Columbia remain in session until the last possible day of June. As a principal, things do not die down. The May and June calendars are loaded each year with more and more celebratory events that require loads of planning and result in regular crises that I must manage. (No, I didn’t realize the school carnival’s co-coordinator was sleeping with your husband. Can’t you two settle this in the dunk tank?) Add the work happenings to ten months of a five-hour daily commute and I look and feel ragged by the time Alice Cooper tells me it’s all over.

Why hadn’t Stonewall come at a more convenient time? How about mid-July when I’m rested and I’ve worked off the few pounds that always show up during the final months of the school year? (I tried to have donuts banned from the staff room, but that whole apple-for-the-teacher thing didn’t go over well.)

If I’d gone to the dance and actually met Mr. Right, the timing would be all off. In a week, I’m off to West Hollywood for the summer. I’ve done the “Let’s go for a date six weeks from now” thing before—twice, in fact. It doesn’t work—too much anticipation, a certain letdown.  

Excuses, excuses.

It all comes down to how painfully awkward I am when surrounded by strangers. The confidence gets harder to find as the years go by and I remain single. I realize that nothing can possibly happen when I don’t even show up. Still, I need some rejuvenation. Maybe the trip to West Hollywood will help. Maybe a guy will give me that look. That’s exactly what I need—a little affirmation, a sign that perhaps I can fall in love a fourth time. Maybe with the right guy even.

I am not proud of opting out of Pride weekend. Let’s hope I don’t have to wait until next June to put on a brave face and step out again!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

WHAT ARE THE RIGHT PLACES?

In my last post, I bemoaned my perennial single status and worried about the recent coffee date trend whereby I chat at length to another presumably single soul and yet never feel the slightest physical attraction. How can that be?! Am I too picky? Do I need a dating moratorium?  Do I need to invest in a pair of rose-colored glasses? And, if so, why can’t I find them on eBay?

On Twitter, one well-meaning fellow suggested, “You’re just looking in the wrong places.” Though unintended, the comment sounded like something my mother would say—if, that is, my mother dared even engage in the topic of my (non) dating life. (She still frets over the notion that Dating = Sex = AIDS = Death despite my father the doctor’s robotic response, rambling on about safe sex.)

Looking in the wrong places. The comment did cause me to YouTube this catchy song from my days living in Texas, but otherwise it comes off as wholly unhelpful. I wondered if the Tweep (Twerp?) noticed my blog name, which also happens to be my moniker on Twitter:  Rural Gay. Let me restate it:  RURAL Gay.

Where exactly are the right places?!

Admittedly, I may be stretching the notion of rural. There are houses on either side of me. There are houses across the street. I live on a cul-de-sac, something that probably does not exist in truly rural areas unless a farmer creates one as a convenient means of turning horse trailers around. (There are horses in the area, but they are a five-minute bike ride away.) To be more accurate, I live in a hamlet where there are no local services or shops other than a small elementary school. I suppose I could change the blog to Hamlet Gay, but the word always makes me think alternately of Shakespeare and that McDonald’s kid-marketing creation, the Hamburglar. (Am I the only one who ever wondered if Ronald McDonald and the Hamburglar were a couple? Why are there no women characters?)

Myself excepted, single gay men do not move to hamlets that are a forty-minute ferry ride away from civilization. I am certain I am the only such fool.

Technically, there is a civilization that does not require a boat ride and a good chunk of change. There are two towns on the eighty-kilometer stretch of coastline linked by one winding roadway and bookended by ferry routes on either end. Again, single gay men do not appear anywhere along the route. There are lesbians aplenty and a few gay couples. I am a category unto myself.

So that’s the predicament. Based on where I live, there are no right places.

Every place is the wrong place.

Online dating is the one avenue I have to try to connect. My profile indicates I live in Vancouver. It is my one deceptive statement. By the second message, I make it clear that I am Vancouver-adjacent, at least when one pulls far, far back on a Google map. The hope is that my photos and my charm will interest another desperately single individual enough to consider meeting me for coffee. I always make the trek into the city. On those rare occasions when things progress to a third or fourth date, some guys have been known to venture my way.

Sadly, my last third or fourth date happened eons ago.

If Plenty of Fish is the wrong place, my only other options seem to be other online sites. I’ve tried match.com which turned out to be an even smaller pool of unwanteds. I even tried gay.com but I don’t know how to choose a potential date based on photos of asses and penises in various stages of arousal. It seems POF is best amongst a series of apparently wrong places.

Perhaps I need to take a bigger leap of faith. Maybe I should consider a new website. Here I come, Travelocity! What is the cheapest airfare to New York City? I have a certain attraction to one particular gay man who is apparently single. If I can woo him before he secures a restraining order, my life might change for the better.

Fingers crossed.

Then someone else can have that elusive pair of rose-colored glasses. I’ll happily lie in the arms of my guy, listening to him giggle with abandon.

Until then, I’ll have to make the best of all the wrong places.
 
UPDATE: Oh, the despair! According to Wikipedia, my dear Coop has a partner by the name of Benjamin Maisani. Who am I to stalk--from a respectful distance--now?!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

LOSS OF ATTRACTION

During my sophomore year in college, my roommate liked to interrupt his Abnormal Psychology readings to pepper me with questions. (I’d like to think there was no link with the subject matter.) He was fascinated with my complete lack of a dating life. What in the world was I looking for?

I was seventeen and still hadn’t fully worked through my sexuality so every week I’d have to offer something new, something to appease him so he would go back to reading about psychopaths. The “I’m younger than everyone else” failed when he kept naming freshman girls within our social circle. The “too picky” stance never stuck as I clearly had no reason to be—not as long as I remained muscle-free, zit-faced and hopelessly big-haired. (Ginger ‘fros never caught on in Texas. Or, I’m guessing, anywhere.)

What finally stuck was “I’m voluntarily celibate.” Why not choose to be asexual for awhile? We could all have more empathy toward earthworms. And from then on, I became more fascinating to David than all the deviants they could cram into his textbook. Voluntarily celibate?! I held firm during all subsequent grillings.

Years passed, I came to terms with being gay and tossed the shtick. Well, actually, it evolved. For long periods of my adult life, I’ve been involuntarily celibate. Sigh. Is it a curse that goes back to deceiving a pesky roommate? Or am I just that easy to overlook, even after the acne and hair became tamed? Given the options, I think it is healthier for me to believe in curses.

I’ve been solidly single for nine years now and the longing for a partner has subsided. I remain open to the possibility, sometimes even hopeful, but life is not on hold until Mr. Right finally ends an unhealthy relationship and wanders my way.

My most recent date played out as all of them have over the past eighteen months. No spark, no match, just a prolonged ho hum. Thomas is 53, a new Vancouverite having moved from Los Angeles. He began messaging me before the move, surely hoping to connect with a potential friend or boyfriend to make the transition to a new city pain-free.

We exchanged reminiscences of L.A., me recalling my five-year stint in the ‘90s while he reflected on winding down his eight-year stay. It was common ground. Thomas and I also connected based on being obsessive over fitness. In fact, he surpasses me as an open-water ocean swimmer, a marathoner and a triathlete. Standing 6’4”, his pics revealed none of that middle-aged flab that causes us to avoid glimpsing in mirrors, pre and post shower. (Or am I just speaking for myself?!)

The conversation was pleasant, the evening perfect as we strolled Vancouver’s scenic seawall, with the sun finally popping out after snoozing all day. Two hours ended with an awkward, prolonged goodbye with the two of us standing beside my car on busy Denman Street as a steady stream of pedestrians detoured around us. Finally, a hug and I made by getaway.

Yes, I was relieved to be alone once again in my car as it had become evident that Thomas was interested in me and, despite efforts to convince myself this pairing might be worth pursuing, I did not feel the same.

Friend potential? Sure. Dating potential? A clear no. (And living a ferry ride away, the friendship thing won’t happen. Besides, my experience is that guys don’t go on dating sites hoping to find a friend.)

What went wrong? Nothing. If he’d done something repulsive, that would have been great. I wouldn’t be feeling shallow. I wouldn’t feel awkward over his “had a great time” text message that came an hour later as I waited to board the final ferry home.

I simply was not attracted to him. Objectively, he is fine. As we sat on a bench and chatted, I took many sneak peeks, trying to find a physical draw. Nothing. Like trying to jam a circle in a square in one of those preschool toys, the fit just wasn’t there.

And that brings cause for concern. Coffee after coffee, I leave feeling meh at best. At worst, I lapse into too picky critiques about manscaping issues and sorely mismatched clothing choices. These are first impressions, best foot forward, right? If this is “best”, then I don’t want to see the other foot.

I have no problem spotting attractive men in various media and even in passing once or twice a day, but they seem to be never available for a coffee date. I wonder what would happen if one of them did chat with me over venti decaf non-fat latt├ęs. Would I pick them apart too for donning the wrong color of Chuck Taylors and excessive arm hair? Maybe the sneakers would be just right, but the shoelaces would be too frayed, the aglets worn down. Maybe the earlobes would be woefully asymmetrical. It seems I’m drowning in a cesspool of maybes that ultimately lead to no. Ah, yes, maybe there really is a page devoted to me in that Ab Psych tome.

Have I lost all feeling of attraction when it actually matters? Yes, it is possible that I continue to meet guys who just aren’t right for me. I’d like to believe that. A glimmer of hope would remain. But maybe the lame excuses from thirty years ago have taken root. Maybe I am too picky and, as a result, (in)voluntarily celibate?

It only takes one man to break a curse. Yoo-hoo! I’m right here.

And I promise not to say “yoo-hoo”. That, of course, would be Instant attraction buzzkill.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

HEIGH-HO, WeHo!

Helsinki can wait. So can Dublin, Lisbon, Sydney, The Great Wall, Machu Picchu and the Serengeti. Even Minneapolis is on hold. (There’s a “Mary Tyler Moore Show” museum there, right?)

I recently wrote about the growing appeal of a gaycation due to my being so isolated where I live. Now I’ve gone and done what I thought I’d never do. I’ve booked a summer vacation in West Hollywood.

San Francisco would be nicer, but I have another reason for choosing a destination with “Hollywood” in its name. I have completed screenplays and television spec scripts that need to get in the hands of Steven Spielberg, Ryan Murphy and Chuck Lorre. I need agents to aggressively woo me. How wonderful to have Emma Thompson and Ben Affleck negotiating for me to collaborate with them on their next writing projects!

Dream big, right?

You see, I’m not just delusional about finding love, I’m dreaming like a sixteen-year-old of overnight success in the entertainment industry. (I just happen to be 3 sixteen-year-olds rolled into one. Sometimes you have to spin that silly age number.)

While awaiting that momentous day when I find the love of my life AND I’m signed to CAA, I can continue to write, work out and reconnect with a few L.A. friends I am still in touch with after moving nineteen years ago. I’m also attending the 3-day summer conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), an event I attended three years ago and found to be massively inspiring. (I also have several picture book, middle grade and young adult manuscripts at various stages of completion.)
Regardless of what happens (or doesn’t happen) during my month just off Melrose, the change of venue should provide creative renewal and a bigger picture point of reference for the coming year when I am back in my scenic, oh so quiet regular environment.

Just booking the trip has triggered a sense of renewal, a twinge of hope and something to look forward to beyond a way of living that has become a comfortable rut.

Perhaps I will have a more updated view of what it means to be gay and I may discover cultural references more current than “Will & Grace” and Andy Gibb. Or maybe I’ll just find a kindred spirit who spouts off favorite moments involving Jack & Karen (& Rosario). Maybe he’ll even just want to be my everything.

As my first true gaycation is still in the anticipation phase, anything can happen.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

THE MUSICAL ROAD TO GAY ACCEPTANCE (Part V)

I began this “Musical Road” thread on the blog because of the current song “Same Love” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert. I first heard the song on YouTube two months ago and tears rolled down my face sixty seconds in as Ben Haggerty aka Macklemore shared that he thought he was gay in third grade. Frank Ocean opened a door or two last year with a blog post about his first love being a man, but Macklemore’s put the quest for equality directly in a hip hop song.

Macklemore is not gay which may make his plea and his perspective more powerful in hip hop music, a genre where homophobia has been common. In the song, he references his gay uncles. He tells Entertainment Weekly in the May 31/June 7 issue: “As a straight male, how do I write a pro-gay song? I struggled with that for a while and then I got it: Just talk about my own perspective and experiences growing up.”

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis have the two biggest singles of 2013, with “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us”. This provides them a platform to ensure their message is heard by the largest possible audience. “Same Love” is yet to be released as a single, but radio stations have begun playing it at the request of listeners. Moreover, the video has more than 45,000,000 views. Even before the single’s release, the song is currently at Number 65 on the Billboard Hot 100 and, according to Wikipedia, has reached Number 1 in Australia and New Zealand. The impact of this song has the potential to be huge.

Watch the video, which celebrates a first kiss, a glorious leap of faith and the wedding of two men. The video also captures the lifetime of love between the men, lingering in the final moments with a close up of them holding hands at the end of one’s life, the wedding rings a prominent symbol of the love they shared.

This same video shows the struggles along the way, featuring an adolescent trying to find his place in a game of Spin the Bottle and at a dance. There is the gay slur two men face when walking hand in hand down a street and also the apparent rejection when one brings his partner home to a family dinner.

What makes the video more impressive is the fact it was conceived of and co-directed by Ryan Lewis (along with Jon Jon Augustavo), making the project a fully shared work between musician and producer.

The lyrics follow:

When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay,
'Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight.
I told my mom, tears rushing down my face
She's like "Ben you've loved girls since before pre-k, trippin' "
Yeah, I guess she had a point, didn't she?
Bunch of stereotypes all in my head.
I remember doing the math like, "Yeah, I'm good at little league"
A preconceived idea of what it all meant
For those that liked the same sex
Had the characteristics
The right wing conservatives think it's a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing God, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don't know
And God loves all his children, is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago.
I don't know.

And I can't change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can't change
Even if I try
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me.
Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
"Man, that's gay" gets dropped on the daily.
We become so numb to what we're saying
A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don't have acceptance for 'em.
Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it.
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It's the same hate that's caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It's human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself.
When I was at church, they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service, those words aren't anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned.
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that's not important
No freedom till we're equal; damn right, I support it.

(I don't know)


We press play, don't press pause.
Progress, march on
With the veil over our eyes
We turn our back on the cause
Till the day that my uncles can be united by law
When kids are walking 'round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper isn't gonna solve it all
But it's a damn good place to start.
No law is gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever God you believe in
We come from the same one.
Strip away the fear
Underneath it's all the same love
About time that we raised up.

And I can't change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can't change
Even if I try
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is patient
Love is kind
(I'm not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(I'm not crying on Sundays)

Love is patient
Love is kind

Thank you, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis!