We are currently in the process of moving, a dreaded task at the best of times, though this time not just moving but downsizing as well. Part of the downsizing process has been to go through crates of papers and magazines that have been dragged from home to home over the years and remain untouched. Not only has it been a real trip down memory lane with long-forgotten cuttings, cards, newsletters, historic booklets and a plethora of other bric-a-brac but a treasure trove as well, with the unearthing of the first two pieces of writing I had ever done in all their type-writer glory. In fact, I can date them to the turn of the 80s by them being done on a typewriter. Yeah, they are a little bit too adjectival, a bit melodramatic, really badly punctuated but in essence very good pieces of writing – said in all modesty…not!
So, I present here for your perusal and enjoyment both pieces of writing. I have resisted a strong temptation to edit them so you are getting both pieces in their original text. To put them in context, they were written within two years of my coming out, in all the naivety of a young gay man who thinks you should meet the man of your dreams five minutes after falling out of the closet, and who upon meeting supposed man finds that love is not as perfect as we would like it to be. They were evidently very serious issues to me back then, and written in an instant of melancholy, though now they just make me smile. I hope you both enjoy and empathise with a 26-year-old me.
Gay Blues (Where is the Love?)
It’s now night. God, sometimes I hate the night. In the silence and darkness of night, melancholia creeps up on, and overtakes one, with a speed that leaves one stunned with its depression. It is at the peak of this creeping melancholia that I find myself detesting being gay. No, it’s not the actual fact of being gay. That’s the way I am, and that fact was sorted out and accepted many years ago. Tonight it’s the gay lifestyle I detest. Being lonely and unloved, to express these feelings to another, would seem self pitying. Yet they are so much a part of our lifestyle that we tend to accept them without questioning why.
I lie in bed and reflect on all my years since “coming out” – in itself a detestable expression – and reflect on all the faces that have been – however temporary – part of my life, all the bodies that have been caressed and loved by my hands, the number of lips that have been kissed, the eyes that have been gazed into intimately or otherwise, all the sex that has been given and taken. So very many faces. So very many nameless faces. Sex in my bed, their bed, bar pick-ups, party embraces, brief encounters in bathrooms (and any other room), on beaches, front and back seats of cars, gropings on dance floors, sauna cubicles, suggestive movement when body briefly touches body. Sex wherever and whenever it could be obtained. Brief, fervent, hot, sweaty, passionate, cold, painful, given, taken, loved, hated sex. Love …the seemingly taboo word. Spoken in the night and forgotten in the morning. Spoken in haste and forgotten. Promised but not given. Wanted but not received. We all seem to be running from that one, ultimate, total commitment. We run for to admit that we can love, that we are totally capable of loving, is to deny ourselves another face, another body, another brief encounter with sex. This fear is not something I share alone. God, how desperately we want it. How we want to be loved, just once, for a day, a week, a month, a year or a lifetime. How we long for it to be spoken in the intimacy of darkest night. How we long to be held and embraced for more than just the orgasm. Bodies truly loving bodies for more than just quick sex, to be covered and smothered by that one simple human need and emotion. Maybe I live a silly gay fantasy. Perhaps we have all been conned by romantic novels, movies, and friends who say they have found love with another. Perhaps it is all just one big gay fantasy. People have told me it is so! But just for tonight, just for this one single moment in time, I would willingly give all I have to hear someone say those taboo words, even to have it whispered – I love you!
And the reasons. Are there reasons? Does the answer lie in deliberately alienating ourselves from love? Have we reached such a stage of self-deceit that we actually confuse sex for love? Are we so scared of the passing years , the balding head, the greying hair, the ravages of time on face and body, that we require the constant parade of bodies so that we can reassure ourselves that time is really not passing us by? Can we be so like the squirrel who puts away his requirements for the coming winter? Do we consider ourselves so vastly remote from the heterosexual world that we deny ourselves this one basic emotion to prove how different we really are? Have we allowed ourselves to be forced into a position in society where to be gay means not to love? Are we so full of self-love that we have forgotten how to give ourselves to another? Or do we just deny its existence because we are so scared of it! For love means a constant commitment, a constant giving, constant attention, and a constant flow of emotion to another person. Are these answers? Heaven help us, can ANYBODY give me an answer. To me, a future without love is too much to bear even thinking about. Yes!! At this moment I detest being gay. At this moment I feel the ache, the knowledge that something that should be there is missing. I reach out and touch nothing. Does being gay mean being a person who cannot love, who cannot feel, who does not care? Another pound of flesh leaning on the bar waiting for the nights pick-up?
And the bars and saunas. What a love/hate relationship we have. We don’t want to go, but where else can we go! And you lean against the bar with your drink and cigarette, and allow your eyes to wander around. And you see a hundred replicas of yourself. Everybody hunting, looking for that brief encounter for the night. Thinking – maybe this time – just as they have thought it a thousand times before. And those that bother to look only see the facade! They don’t want to see the loneliness, the longing, the wanting. And you see the empty, hopeful eyes of the hunted, seeing less than they should, and wanting to see more than they can. For are not the hunters lonely too? Are they not thinking – maybe tonight? Are the hunters not also hunted? Hunters and hunted are both trapped in the inescapable fear of being left without love. God help me, there are so many lonely people! So very many lonely people! We are all lonely people searching! Searching! Constantly searching! Searching for what? If we are lucky, and we manage to find it, then we know what the search was. But for most of us, we really don’t know, and chances are it has passed us by anyway. Having let it go, will we recognise it when it comes around again? Or will it come around again!
The room is lightening now. The morning will dissipate the fears. And as for me? As for you? Tomorrow night will find us back in the bars. Once again we will search the eyes of the hunters and think – maybe tonight. Yes, we still have tomorrow night. Perhaps then we will find love. And if we don’t find it tomorrow night? How about the night after, or the night after that, or….
Bob Phillips (Timothy James Alderman)
SECOND STORY TO FOLLOW.