Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Going "Home"

There was a time when my fingers regularly danced across the keyboard, when I would drive and draft in my brain and when the words would find their way to my Blog. There was much thought about the content, but very little over the act. Over time that changed, the joy of the writing replaced by fears, fear of who was reading it (I remain married to the mother of my children, I have a boyfriend, I am not one for secrets); a fear of the name of the blog – Am I bi or gay, is “MWM” still true.

Of course there was also this issue of who I was writing for – me, others - both? Time is always a factor – the days fly by and I am no longer alone in the basement at night. I still stick with the choice of doing over writing and doing does keep me busy.

But I confess – I miss the writing. I miss being forced to form my thoughts coherently. I will miss not having a diary to go back and read – that picture of where I was a year or two earlier. And as shallow as it may sound, I miss the comments, both those that kept my honest and those that fed my ego.

Carrie pointed out recently that I should write if for no other reason to share with those who have followed this journey, particularly for those a step or two in my wake. And a journey it still is: one with costs and one with rewards.

The next question for fixation: which Blog – “Tales” or “Second”. The answer comes more easily than I would have thought. Nate’s Second was always a misnomer: it creates a before and after dividing line in a life which has had many befores. So while Tales of a BiMWM may in many aspects be inaccurate, it is where I came into this blog world and where I will stay. Anyway, there are still all the links and maybe someone is still reading.

So I will try my hand at this again – never with the frequency at my peak, I have neither the time nor the angst. And maybe it will quickly fade. Only time will tell. But one thing I have learned: as often or infrequently as I post, it will be the perfect interval.

If you are reading this on Nate’s Second, see you back at
home base.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Mother of All Denials

Over the course of the last few months – my non-blogging period, I have started many posts in my head. They come and go, all seemingly important at the time but none quite so earth shattering in hindsight. But there are themes that keep recurring and last week I found myself again in a state of wonder. I once wrote a post called Flip Books, a story of how all the little pre-gay moments once strung together made some sense, to my friend listening and to me speaking.

Last week I was transported back to a moment when I was maybe twenty-five. The scene was simple enough – sharing a bed with someone a few years my junior, an out-of state guest. He likes to tickle and I passively enjoy his fingers dancing all around my body. It is summer, it is night and at best I have on a pair of boxers. After what felt like forever – my arms, my legs, my chest, almost all of me touched, I am hard. Lying there on my back there is no hiding it, nor any desire to, and he touches me, fingers dancing up and down. It doesn’t take long – I cum, cum very hard. Even now as I type the memory makes me hard. Once over, it is sleep. Nothing said: a brief encounter.

I share the story with my friend, a twinge of embarrassment in the telling. But that feeling dissipates quickly when my friend has the “punch line” while I am still setting the stage. (Yes, I talk like I write – a bit wordy). We laugh at my hesitancy but there is more.

It is one thing to look back and remember once having been unwittingly and comfortably in a gay bar or to recall thoughts of a circle jerk at age ten. But here is a moment: I was twenty-five or so, an adult out on my own. Clearly this was not a nuanced moment. Another man’s fingers dancing up and down one’s penis, the feeling of excitement, of cumming: this was very gay indeed.

Here I am a single man living in as gay friendly a spot as exists. The Stonewall is already history (not that I would have known). I have my own apartment, can come and go as I please. I do have a girlfriend but still I was not married, no children, nothing to stop me. It was not as if I made a policy decision: “Can’t be gay, too difficult.” Just total denial.

While sub-conscious, it had to be the fear, the fear of disappointing family and friends, fear of the unknown. It was, in fairness to me, a very different time for being gay, danger in all forms. But if I looked back and could remember a policy decision, an “I am gay but choose not to follow it” moment, it would make some sense.

My friend will read this and wonder as to the point and maybe there is none. It is just that I cannot escape the damage in my wake, the failed marriages, the broken homes and not wonder how much could have been avoided with a small dose of self awareness. I suppose this is all a good turn, having gone from wondering if I am gay to wondering how I missed it for so long. I suppose it comes down to my current feeling of comfort, but that is for another post.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Heritage, So To Speak

I always thought that this weekend was the New York City Gay Pride parade, the one I saw on TV, or at least the most G-rated video they could find every year. I have never been to one. I mean as a straight guy who does not particularly like parades, there was never much draw. Of course I now wear the gay mantle so in spite of my lack of affinity for parades and mostly in solidarity with my friends, I made the pilgrimage.

The first thing to strike me, well before I even arrived: the traffic reports spoke of the “Heritage of Pride Parade.” Where did the “Gay” go? By no means major, but it seemed a harbinger of things to come. It is a long parade and I parked near where it went through midtown and took a train to the West Village where the parade would end (and one might say where it once began). It was a day of thunderstorms and I was invited to meet my friends at an apartment party seventeen floors above the fray. I gladly accepted.

So the first question is whether I even went to the parade. I suppose I did, I was on the streets shoulder to shoulder, I was there. But no, I did not stand there and watch and cheer. But I did watch from above and saw the Macy’s float and the Google banners – just a part of corporate America which seems happy to stand with me and my checkbook. I guess they don’t know I am more parent than DINK (double income, no kids).

Of course my perch was really the place to be – an open house by someone who is my age but has been out for his lifetime. It was a pretty gay crowd – a few outfits of sorts, a dress here or there. These were the people who remembered the old parade, “their parade”. There were a few moments that did strike me. Standing with a nice man in a headdress and nice underwear (yes that was the extent) watching the thunderstorm approach, discussing the joys of watching weather in all its glory. I had this image of someone in the distance watching us talk and imagining something so much sexier.

And then a little later, another moment: these two twenty something lesbians, tres Goth, walk by and my friend whispers that the lead one was a boy. I steal another glance and no doubt about it: a he. And it strikes me that at this strange party the strangest looking couple of the day is the only straight pair in sight. Oh where are you James Dobson when I need you?

After a time we left the party, the rains and parade were over but the street festival was in full force. We shuffled with the crowds, feeling more refugee than proud gay. We had a mission: one of my friends has been coming for near thirty years now and he always ends up on the small side street by the Dugout, a real bear bar. He and many there are closer to my age than the throngs we shuffled with and it was there that a different understanding came to me.

For my friend, and his friends, this was much more than a parade. This was a thirty year tradition with roots going back to a time when one could pay a heavy price for being gay, a time when corporate America was not supplying floats, where there was real danger. And this was a group which saw their small to start fraternity ravaged by AIDs, these were the survivors in a sense.

A few of us left – 8 PM, family to see, home to return to, but my one friend stayed. This was his night and he wanted another a few hours. Eventually he caught a 2:15 train home having visited all of his haunts. It may not be what it once was for him, but it is still, and I suspect will always be his day.

I suppose the message, if there really is one, is to appreciate how fortunate I am to be coming out into the world of today, to look beyond the “trudging refugees” and to appreciate the thousands of kids, so many of color, who can be who they choose to. And as I write this I realize there is probably some jealousy on my part that when I was their age I had so little clue as to who I was and the possibilities that existed.

So next year I will probably again join my friends – this is my world now – but if I miss it, that will be okay. I think this day is for others – the ones my age who remember the beginning and maybe more importantly all those kids who hopefully will not carry such memories and will just be free.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pop Quiz

In my mind there is real confusion as to who “knows” and who does not at work. There is one woman who spends much of her time in another office but is still part of my “hood”. She is divorced and over the years she has turned to me for perspective – I have seen both sides of matters of divorce and children, issues which impact her. I always planned to come out to her, but by now she may very well know.

It is a Friday afternoon, the tail end of a long tax season. Carole sticks her head in to say good night; it being the end of my day also, I volunteer to walk out with her. I point out that I have to be at the railroad at 6:04 to pick up my friend. Her head cocks towards me, a smile brightens her face and she asks: “A friend – normally I don’t ask but…” And it is fair – our relationship warrants the question, and it is clear – she does not know. There is not much time to think, an answer, any answer is required.

I look at her and say “I guess you are out of the loop. I am gay, I’m meeting my boyfriend.” I briefly note that I don’t talk about it in general but some have figured it out without my assistance. She does not really register a reaction – no approval, no approbation. It is a quick walk to our cars. We wish each other a nice weekend. We drive off.

I feel bad in a sense – it is a lot to just drop out of the blue, it was such a fair and innocent question. But what other answer was there – I know of her dating, her boyfriend. The only other answer that comes to mind would be to lie and I just don’t do lies. Maybe there is something to be said for overtly coming out, letting people know (at least the ones that matter) where I stand. Then they can ask and I can answer or they can choose to maintain their silence and therefore allow for mine. Fifteen years later we know – or at least I believe – that don’t ask, don’t tell failed the military and I suspect it will over time also fail me.

This episode has solidified one thing – next week as long planned, I will cross paths with the senior partner. I will come out to him because as I keep learning, people will figure it out or put me in a position of telling them, neither of which is pro-active. And as James Baldwin said, “they don’t tell me, I tell them.”

There is an epilogue of sorts. The next day I sent Carole an e-mail, an apology for the way the conversation went, for dropping a bomb: no apologies for the content. And she responded that she too felt bad for having put me on the spot. She wishes me well, as good a result as could be hoped for. But still everything I have said still stands.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

When I posted about my unexpected being out at work, I was struck by a comment form Bear Me Out alluding to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and as the days have become weeks, it has resonated even more. It is my understanding that my gayness is widely known and presumably accepted at work. However acceptance does not necessarily translate into acknowledgement: And there is a difference. There are a few where there is acknowledgement and that seems to be an invisible border that once crossed leads to a new land. With that limited group there is humor and there is honesty.

A moment pops to mind when talking about two partners of mine – we have in the past rather crudely referred to one as being the other’s “butt boy.” Well recently when discussing them with the office manager, the woman of initial acknowledgement, I said: “Say what you want about me – they’re the real butt boys.” I thought she was going to choke on her coffee she was laughing so hard, laughing as was I. With the group who knows, who openly know, there have been other moments, both of humor and of honesty.

But there are so many others where I assume they know – it is a small eco-system, not much remains pristine – but I do not really know for sure. And even if my assumption is correct, I am unsure where their sensibilities lie, how much humor or empathy is really there. So I tiptoe my way, always being honest but also never being completely blunt. And maybe this is as it should be: I really do not know nor overly care much about their personal lives. But while I may not know who got laid last night, I do know who is married, their “domestic partners” names, a bit of their trials and tribulations.

So I will continue to display a picture of my boyfriend and me in my office – not overly large, not facing the door: facing my desk for me to look at. When I go to Fire Island this summer if someone is dense enough to ask: Where? I will answer: The Pines. (To anyone in New York that is as good as having a rainbow tattooed on my forehead.) And I suspect over time it will become more acknowledged, one person at a time. And that is just fine with me for the bedrock now is that I do not care if they know and while I do not rub their noses in it, I also do not self censor or in any other way hide the reality of my new life.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


It was July 2006 that a daughter got married. My wife and I tried to make believe that all was well – I mean we were still sharing a bed, still imagining some miracle land where I would not be gay, where someone would click the ruby slippers. Of course that was silly and I suppose I have ended up wearing those slippers. Looming on the horizon was the next wedding – October 2006 and approaching fast. Well that was postponed and it was not until April 2008 that another knot was tied. Of course any illusion for me and the Mom was long shattered, but still it was a day of being together and being apart.

While the balancing was successful, moments together, but primarily a parallel existence of visiting friends and family, that was not the main event for me. You see the bride is technically my step-daughter, one who I raised from age eight, one who has absorbed my sensibilities, humor, and general view of the world. Her biological father, long remarried, is still in the picture and she has always tried to do right by him. But after twenty years, most under the same roof, she is much more mine than his.

I have reflected on this of late: a conversation with someone in similar circumstances telling me that they just cannot feel the same towards their step-son as their biological daughter. And on the other end, a friendship with a man whose children were adopted at birth – a fact I only learned in passing, a fact one would never know watching the interactions. For me it is easy – my daughter of twenty years is my daughter, same as my flesh and blood.

Of course weddings of blended families have issues unique to the circumstances and I am anything but stupid. My daughter has been planning the walk down the aisle for months – permutations worthy of a mathematician, compromises reminiscent of a diplomat. I have taken a back seat, an unusually passive role for I realize the difficulties inherent in it all. When she was first engaged I even told her of my agreeability, my desire not to create more issues than there already were. So when I learned I was going to walk her halfway down – never sure of which half – I was pleased.

Twenty four hours to go and her mother takes me aside: the biological father is not thrilled but worse the step-mom is freaking. It seems that this woman equates her step mom role of maybe a weekly dinner visit (with bad cooking to boot, or so I am told) with my step dad role of providing a roof and all that goes with it for decades on end. My daughter is devastated, her mom incensed but there is a choice here, a family war or my taking a back seat and walking down the aisle with the step mom on my arm.

The choice was obvious – no choice one might say. And I realize how far I have come for I think that four or five years ago, I would have been very hurt by how it all played out. But I am not hurt in the least for I realize that I was given an opportunity to be the true parent, the one who would forego for themselves for the sake of their children. And while this has nothing to do with the gayness, I cannot help but suspect that my accepting of myself has again helped me accept so much more.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Free To Be Me

I have thought much about coming out at work, plotted, schemed – planned it like a surgical strike. But it seems that my planning was for naught. No, not a slip-up, not caught holding hands in an eatery. But as usual, I am ahead of the story.

My office manager is a sweet person and a friend; someone I would have been happy to share my new life with. The only reason I have not come out to her is that I no longer invite people into my closet and the doors are not scheduled for demolition for another three weeks. But we still talk and this week I make another reference to my separation. My office manager nods her head and reminds me that as long as I am happy, as long as I am comfortable with myself – well then it’s really okay with everyone.

I know this conversation, I know those comments. They are the comments I receive when I come out to someone. It is inescapable – she must know. A little later in the day our paths cross again, another quiet moment: I take the plunge. “It seems you have a theory of my separation.” She laughs and says “I figured it out a while ago.” It seems that a few people have, as I like to say, connected the dots.

Now to be honest, I have left quite the trail of bread crumbs. It is not that I wanted to be caught as much as I live my life openly. How many separated men still occasionally brown bag lunches made by the ex. And a room in her new house – office manager tells me that was the real lynchpin for her. And I do spend nights with a friend in the City – I never mention gender, but…….. And of late there is a picture across from my desk – two friends on vacation, bathing suits and baseball caps. Seems innocent enough…

But there is a piece of the equation that should have been obvious. I spend my days working with highly intelligent professionals trained to connect dots, to separate wheat from chaff, to not be fooled. And fooled they were not.

So it remains a quiet topic but it is clear: my co-workers know that I am gay. It has been seamless: I could not tell you when they figured it out, and I suspect in a sense neither could they. Our interactions are unchanged, it is a non-event.

And in this, my gratitude knows no bounds. I never wanted to come out – I just wanted to be out. It may seem like a fine distinction, but to me it is as different as night and day. Coming out has an element of being a “statement” and is frankly a personal matter. But being out is the ability to be myself without worry or self consciousness.

I am sure there will be bumps – this is real life and there is much prejudice still out there. But still every morning I walk into my office feeling neither shame nor pride. Just being me; and really that is more than enough.