When I was eighteen – old enough to be damn sure I was a dyed-in-the-wool faggot, and young enough to still be terrified, and also to have some really idiotic views on things – I used to idolize straight guys. By “idolise,” I suppose what I really mean is “want to fuck”. Did I mention I had self esteem issues?
This weird, self-defeating desire began, in all likelihood, with my teenaged crush on one of the very straight, very football-playing ‘king dick’ guys from my high school. If you asked me then – or even now – what it was I actually found attractive about this young fellow, I’d be hard pressed to tell you. He wasn’t overly funny, intelligent, or charming. He wasn’t even particularly handsome – sure, he had a good body, a tan, and an occasional six pack, but he was a bit of a pizza face. He probably grew out of it, though. Maybe. Anyway, for whatever fucked up reason, my brain decided that he was it: he was the one for me. Forget that we basically barely spoke to each other, and that some of his best mates’d delight in making my young gay life hell, it was him. He was it. We shared a few classes together and so I’d sneak glances at him out of the corner of my eye – only occasionally though, lest I ruin it him by looking at him for too long. Sometimes in Summer he’d lean back in his chair and his school shirt would ride up, and those were the happiest moments of my fat and insecure little teenaged-self’s life. I think, as much as anything, I fell so hard for him because, aside from ticking the obvious and boring white-bread hallmarks of attractive, he was also lithe and muscular and thin, something I wanted so badly to be.
A year or two out of high school I fell hard for another heterosexual male – a bit older, in a theatre group I attended, and, as the boy from high school, desperately straight. This mattered not for my brain: I suppose, in a sense, having them be so incredibly unattainable made them safe. The only possible outcome was rejection: hope was imprudent, and I’d only have myself to blame when things didn’t go my way. (I should here say that they gave me no signs to anything beyond being as nice to me as you are to someone you don’t outright hate.)
Truth told, now, I couldn’t think of anything worse. I went through darker times in my childhood, as I’m sure every little gay boy did – the times I’d pray to God and wish to wake up in the morning as a straight. I even convinced myself, once, that I’d developed a crush on a girl: Svetlana, or Sveta, from scouts. One day I decided that everyone else had crushes, so it was only fair that I had one. Sveta was attractive, and halfway nice to me – though we weren’t ever particularly close – and the other options didn’t look so great, from where I stood. So, it was official: I was crushing on Sveta.
I stared at her like a weirdo with no social skills across the four hour of a Scouts meeting one day. She probably thought I was plotting to kill her. I focused on the nebulous image of her and me together in my brain, holding hands and sharing a milkshake with two straws, or something else equally clichéd and vomitus. I focused on that image so hard, like casting a spell. I focused so that it became concrete and unmoving, and then I rode home, standing on the pedals of my bike whirling through late Summer air and whooping to myself, laughing: “I’VE GOT A CRUSH ON SVETA! I’VE GOT A CRUSH ON SVETA!” I couldn’t wait to tell my friends.
This ‘crush’ lasted all of a week, tops. I probably then discovered someone else attractive – someone better suited to my tastes, like, someone with a penis. Through the motions of stalking an old friend, I accidentally stumbled upon her profile the other day. She’s married with a kid, now. Her husband is hot. Good for her.
The thing about heterosexuality is that it makes me angry.
It makes me angry that we’re conditioned for it from birth, that anything not-hetero is therefore made Other, weird and disgusting. It makes me angry that in the shitty jobs I’ve had, straight people talk about going out with their girlfriends and boyfriends and all the cute dates they attend, but if they ask you what you did, and you reply: “Oh, I had a picnic with my boyfriend,” you can see their eyes and minds glazing over. It makes me angry that I’ve then been asked: “why do you talk about being gay so much?” after I’ve said the above, like that’s a question that holds any legitimacy or needs answering. And it makes me angry that we’re not afforded the same rights as other individuals, and that said individuals get the privilege of being bored by our fight, forgetting it.
Last night – this is being written on Sunday the 6th of November, though I won’t post it for another week or so – I attended a trivia night with my partner, Jeremy and some of his friends, and his friends’ friends.
ABOUT LAST NIGHT – A SHORT PLAY.
the lights rise. a slightly overweight, balding older gentleman with an ‘ocker’ accent stands centre stage. he is the HOST of the trivia night.
HOST: Heeeeeeey ladies and gents! BONUS ROUND. Tonight we’re gonna have a bit of a ‘dance off’ with difference – can we get the two OLDEST couple at each table to stand up and dance together?
the couples do – predominantly man and woman, but one or two same-sex friend couples.
HOST: HEY NOW, I see godda few SAME SEX COUPLES HERE. I forgot to mention, a secondary prize tonight, laydeez and gents, is an ALL EXPENSES PAID TRIP TO MARDI GRAS, HAHAHA.
the guests laugh appreciatively at this outrageously intelligent and humorous display of wit.
HOST: GODDA GET EM SOME BEADS, LAYDEEZ AND GENTS. WHOA NOW, IT’S A HOMOSEX DANCE PARTY!! HAHAHAHAHA!
I’d finish this but it’s making me too angry rn. Sometimes – more generally now, not specifically last night – I think that maybe heterosexuality shouldn’t get me angry, but then I think: fuck that.
I think: you have all the power, and you wield it. The dominant power. The power to drown out any voice aside from your dominant and shitty narratives with your own significance. And that old Louis C.K. comment, tattoo it on my face: YOU DON’T GET TO DECIDE WHEN YOU’VE HURT SOMEONE.
This was meant to be about how I used to want to fuck straight guys and I don’t any more, partly because I love myself and partly because I doubt they’d be any good in the sack because it’s not just a matter of slamming it in – like life, it’s more much more nuanced.
This is becoming something else. I don’t fully know what it’s becoming. It’s a complex realm and I don’t know how I feel, really. I flash between caring and not caring from moment to moment; if only I had the chance to not care: to wield that power, to have some modicum of chill.
To wield the power to walk down a street late at night and not be afraid. The power to say words and not have to worry about how they sound in your mouth, lest an erstwhile lisp give you away. The power to have nothing to hide.
Instead, I’ve got a lot to hide. And I hate it. I hate that my parents and extended family see a couple of my 3 year old relatives together and say: “WHOA. LITTLE LADYKILLER HE IS. WHAT A CHARMER. BOYFRIEND AND GIRLFRIEND ALREADY, HEY.”
I hate that at the shitty call-centre I still occasionally work at I’m afraid to be out, to ‘come out of the work closet’ lest they make comments. I hate that I’ve already heard them make disparaging comments about fellow faggots, and I also hate that I’m pretty certain the timbre of my voice has given me away.
And I hate that the only way I could write about the homophobia I experienced last night without slathering it in my own emotion and subjectivity was as a jokey stage-play – and even then that I failed at it. I hate that everyone in that room will see me as a histrionic faggot.
I hate that after this continual, several hour beating, a drunk middle-aged woman at my table just said: “WHY DON’T YOU JUST GET OVER IT, YOU’RE LETTING HIM RUIN YOUR NIGHT AND YOU’RE BEING RIDICULOUS.”
ME: Thanks, but until you’ve lived the life of a homosexual and dealt with all of that, I’m unlikely to take your advice on receiving abuse.
HER: NOW look what you’re doing! YOU’RE JUST AS BAD AS HIM. I’ve got several homosexuals in my family, SEVERAL, and I know what I’m talking about, mate.
Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. Okay.
I tried so hard to be straight once in high school that I didn’t speak for nearly a week. Speaking gave me away: I used to gesture effeminately as I spoke, and my voice didn’t drop as far as the other boys. Probably it was just psychological, but I felt more recognition that week: everything about me curled up and repressed deep down inside me, hidden within, and all that was left was what was recognizable to my heterosexual classmates. Like Olga Baclanova at the end of Freaks: “one of us! One of us! Gooble gobble, one of us!”
I’m pretty staunchly anti-marriage. I campaign for equal marriage, but it’s not something I’ve got any interest in. I just know a bunch of lovely people who’d make good husbands and wives, I think, and who deserve to find that out for themselves. And also, can’t deny it, having the equality of equal marriage is way overdue. When I expressed these views to my mother a few years ago, after much of her pushing – expressed my view that marriage was just kind of an overrated ritual I wasn’t interested in perpetuating, she replied: is this because you can’t get married? I bit my lip. I didn’t know how to respond.
I don’t know what, exactly, but I feel like those two anecdotes together say something. I’m sick of biting my lip, though. I taste blood. The blood that pours through my veins and throbs in my forehead, dull and insistent and pointless, keeping me both angry and afraid. The blood of all the histrionic faggots past, and all the histrionic faggots yet to come.
And now, of course, a week later and Trump’s in power, and it’s all going down the shitter – what seemed like a bad dream, an ‘alternate timeline’, has become this timeline. And on one hand, all of this seems irrelevant, now: there’s bigger (ugly orange) fish to fry. Of course, this is so easy for me to say, as a white gay man of no specific denomination but a specific kind of privilege.
Trump runs a country on the other side of the world, but his presidency sets a disturbing precedent, and let’s face it: we’re already a backwards, garbage, racist and phobic country. I feel like Trump would be proud of our shitty Australian record. The world keeps spinning, and we keep finding new ways to fuck everything up. The blood is metaphorical: the blood of every wound that gets opened and reopened, time and again.