[NSFW, but not in the way my NSFW posts are usually NSFW. And there’s definitely a TMI paragraph towards the end.]
Compassionate straight people say things like “a gay guy is the same as a straight guy except instead of liking girls, he likes lads.”
That definition has never really worked for me. First of all, “lad” is not a word I use. It has a sporty heterosexual feel to it, like “bloke” or “mate”. Secondly, I know it’s important that straight people need to see how we’re similar to them so that they don’t jail us or put us to death or whatever, but that definition doesn’t describe me.
Even as a child and young teenager, I was aware that all books and movies and TV shows and life around me tended towards the same conclusion. The main aim of all humans was to end up getting the girl or getting the guy. And I knew that wasn’t for me. I knew it.
I was speaking to another gay recently and he said that he knew he wasn’t into having a girlfriend long before he started having feelings about other guys. I get that. I felt the same. The choices presented to me as a child didn’t seem realistic for me.
I’ve written before about the culture I used to identify with as a young teenager. I would repeatedly read the passage in Little Women where Jo rejects Laurie and I would make myself cry as he rowed off in a rage. I loved her decision that she didn’t need a man, that she would be alone and she would care for her sisters and she would write books. I found that very appealing. I similarly loved the character of Mrs Anna in The King and I. She was a widow and had no intention of finding a man. I would sing Hello Young Lovers to myself, pretending I was Mrs Anna and all my loves were in the past and it seemed so fitting. The first time I remember crying at the TV was when Selina left Home and Away in the mid-90s. She left a message on Jesse’s answering machine, explaining why she couldn’t be with him.
Do I know why I identified with these women going it alone? No. But I know my identity wasn’t shaped by falling in love with men. That happened too. But it was mainly a matter of knowing that I was apart. I was separate. The life of the majority wasn’t my life.
My mother’s concept of a good life is one where you have children and you love them and you raise them well. And she’s not alone – all culture and society suggested the same to me. She doesn’t know of another way of living a good life. Not being married with children is a wasted life for her. Being queer means having to find a new way to live a good life.
Being gay isn’t simply a matter of being the same as everyone else except preferring penises to vaginas. It’s about being completely lost in your culture and in your family and in your country and in your sense of what it means to be a person and to be a good person. That’s why I think I prefer to be queer than to be gay. Because this identity thing that I’ve somehow found myself with isn’t just a variant of mainstream sexuality. It’s its own thing.
I’ve got better at “being gay” since I came to London. I’ve met up with so many men and I’ve been with more guys in the last year than I was in the entire 35 years before that. I’m getting better at it. I’m no longer unsure of how to kiss. Although I don’t think I’m very good at it. No man has told me that I am anyway, and as a millennial I need constant affirmation and likes to know I’m doing the right thing. But anyway, I no longer feel like breaking off every kiss midway through to ask if I’m doing it right. I’ve got better at the whole being with men thing over the last year since I moved here.
Do I like it? Yes. Mostly. Kind of. I was telling a friend of mine about the creepy guy who I met up with because he wanted me to squash him. My friend asked if I’d wanted to meet him and I said no, but that I had a blogpost to write. He was a little shocked I think. I do want to try new things. And there’s definitely doubt. A lot of it.
What do I like? I like men seeing me. As a fat man, I don’t feel like people look at me. They tend to avert their gaze because my body is so unpleasant to look at. So I love when a man really looks at me and appreciates what he sees.
I like to be naked with men and to hug and squeeze. I feel euphoric after I get with guys. Even gross guys. I have two theories to explain this euphoria. One is that I’m starved of affection and touch, that I have “skin hunger” and that these encounters with men allow me to drink up all the affection and body contact that my body has been craving for so long. My other explanation for the euphoria is that I spent twenty years believing I was just too fat to be loved and now that it’s happening I can’t quite believe it.
Do I enjoy the actual sex? It’s ok. I don’t think I like it as much as you’re meant to. There are certainly plenty of times when I just wish he’d hurry up and come so we can cuddle and chat. I find it singularly unpleasant when a man touches my penis and I discourage it, which I know sets me apart from the average man. There are times when I’m lying there and wondering if I’m asexual, or if I’d enjoy it more if I had a vagina and the whole affair was a bit more comfortable. And then there are the men who expect me to come too. Which is awkward but which I can manage if I close my eyes and imagine someone else instead of me being there. As I’ve written before, I was never a character in my own sexual fantasies when growing up. I was just too fat and sexless to be a character in my own fantasies so even now I have to imagine I’m not there in order to come. I know I’m not the only one. My most significant partner since arriving in London, Train Platform Boy, told me about his long-term ex, an obese man who could only ever come when they were together if he was watching porn on his phone at the same time.
So I’m at this intersection of fat and queer and I have all this Catholic guilt to deal with and I’m not even sure I want the non-sex parts. I mean, I do like the idea of softening up and allowing a man into my life. But I romanticise my lonely life too and I pine to be alone when I’ve spent too long with other people. I’ve lived alone for most of the last fifteen years and I would find that very hard to give up. I don’t want someone knowing what time I get up or how often I go to the loo or what I eat for breakfast and I don’t want someone else squeezing my toothpaste in the wrong part of the tube or moving the milk in the fridge.
I do like some of the things couples do though. A lesbian couple I used to work with told me about how they were reading The Hunger Games aloud to each other, taking a chapter each in turn. This sounded like the cosiest, most loving proposition I’d ever heard. And I’m also jealous of a gay colleague of mine, who watches RuPaul’s Drag Race with his boyfriend and the idea of having someone to shriek at drag queens on telly with sounds really lovely to me.
But if I’m honest, I’ve got no idea what I want. I’m confused, which you’re not meant to be at 37, but I am. And I think that’s why I love the life I’m living. I’m open to trying things and being confused and seeing where I’ll end up instead of being closed in fear as I was for so long. I’m having some unpleasant experiences along the way but at least I’m having them. Living is an awful lot better than not living, and I intend to keep it up.