I remember your last goodbye. The day you told me that we should cease to be. My mind wanted to be brave and accept your wish without question, but my heart didn’t understand and forced my lips to ask you why.
Forget the crap you see in Cosmo with its glossy pictures and advice about how to keep your man satisfied! We need real talk, and actor/playwright/comedian/dancer/musician/activist, Melissa DuPrey brings it to us like she’s one of our Girls and we’re dishing secrets at a slumber party, in her one-woman show, SEXomedy.
The third in the “Defining Moments: Search for Identity Series.” This one comes to us from artist and writer, Xeno Martinez. Read more of his personal blog, SQ Chronicles and follow him on Facebook and Twitter, @XenoMartinez
Recently, I engaged in a conversation via the I Love It Supersized Facebook fanpage about when was it that I first realized that I was gay, and confessed that I had always known since I was a little boy. In all honesty, I was one of those children that sexually experimented at a very young age.
It is commonly known that children experiment as a means of understanding their own sexuality, and that those experiences are ones that, regardless of how young the child maybe, they never forget it. Although it is semi-embarrassing and shameful to admit this, I vividly remember being under the age of 5 years old and hiding behind my grandmother’s bed, in her one bedroom apartment, and performing oral sex on my cousin, who was only a year older than me. How we both knew what to do is beyond me, but as I always say, “it is what it is” and there is nothing that I can do about it.
As a child, I will admit that I did not feel shame towards my premature experience until I was about eight or nine years old, and I had comprehended the prejudice Catechism had against homosexuality. I mean I had always known that talking about liking another boy was something that wasn’t socially accepted, but didn’t understand why until the subject of eternal damnation came up.
As with most Puerto Rican households, religion was a major part of my familial experience. My grandmother was very much into religion and inspired my love for God and Catechism. As I grew older though, and the feelings of butterflies in my stomach, every time one of my friends would take off their t-shirt on the basketball court became stronger, I found myself fighting an internal battle of self-hatred.
I began to associate my sexual thoughts of caressing my hands along their nipples and pressing my soft lips against theirs, with shame. I started to question what I had done to God to deserve such a destiny. Why subject me to an eternity of damnation when I have done nothing wrong? If we are all created in your image Lord, then why am I gay and made to feel ashamed of it? For so many years I questioned god and felt so lonely. I truthfully thought that I was the only gay Puerto Rican boy in the world, and that only white men could be gay.
I remember talking to God and asking why he didn’t make me into a girl instead, so that I could be with a boy and not feel bad about it. I distinctively visualized myself as a girl in my preteen fantasies sometimes, and grew suicidal thoughts, as women became less attractive and men more appealing. I could no longer deal with the shame and thoughts of eventual damnation. I thought to myself,well…if I am destined for eventual hell then why don’t I just get it over with? I will admit though that my only saving grace was the realization that my death would make my family sad and could result in my grandmother, who was already facing severe health conditions, more ill.
So, I dealt with the depression, and with my uncle coming out the closet when I was 14 years old, I came to terms with my own sexuality. At the age of 16, I came out to my family and embraced my identification as a gay man with pride, because I realized that I was not alone anymore. I no longer was the only gay boy in the world, but rather one in a million. To some that might not matter, but to me, it means more than you’ll ever know.
I was at my Mom’s early last week, and while she went in the kitchen, I stayed in the hallway and tried to take the photo of me off her hallway wall. It would be too obvious, so I decided to take a picture of it instead. I needed tangible proof of the item that haunts my thoughts. The item that appears in my mind, along with my Mother’s voice, telling me I’ll never be enough because an almost 20 year-old photo in which my bright eyes look lifeless, no smile to be seen, is the only photo of me that my Mom finds worthy of display. My mother is my constant mirror, and this photo is my reflection in her eyes.
So as I’ve been finding the courage within myself to publish these very personal stories, I’ve also thought back to question why I didn’t demand more from men. Staring at that photo that I despise with my entire being, I concluded that if that was the only one moment in my entire adult life when my own Mother found me to look worthy of being displayed on her wall, why would I ever believe that I was worthy of a man’s love? I hated, but subconsciously accepted, that being someone’s dirty little secret might just be the best that I could do.
And how could I not, all at once, become the nicest person in the world and the biggest bitch that ever lived? Ever resentful and hateful for feeling that I had to make everyone happy in order to feel even an ounce of love.
Just last week, a friend read The First Time and pointed out that some ladies, who might be feeling guilty because they’d also been the other woman, would think, “Whoa, he had a girlfriend?” He’s right. I’m sure that there are women, even men, out there who will judge my indiscretion, and they couldn’t judge me anymore harshly than I have judged myself for years. I often justify it by saying that I fell for him long before I knew about her, but even I don’t believe that I shouldn’t have crossed that line, that I couldn’t have been stronger. But I was there and the question in front of me was real and I was not emotionally prepared…
We’re all guilty of thinking in absolutes. At one point in our lives we’ve been asked or asked ourselves to ponder the rhetorical, “What would you do?” and responded with absolute confidence in our choice. “If presented with situation X,I would do Y.”
It’s all about good intentions. We really do imagine that when faced with choosing between right or wrong, we’d choose correctly. But life isn’t about clear cut yes or no, black or white. Reality is messy and emotional, and emotions cloud all of that clarity and conviction, making the ‘right choice’ much more difficult to make than we ever imagined.
Such was the case for more years to come than she’d like to admit…
There shouldn’t have been a First Time, but there was, and though the mistake had already been made, the choice to end it at that point was still available for the taking. He wasn’t hers, he belonged to another. She had met the‘other, liked her even. But none of that was visible through the cloud of emotions she was surrounded by.
She worried that there would be a next time because without temptation, this could stop here. She worried more that there wouldn’t be. Their every encounter is stored in her memory banks, every detail except the order they happened in she’s not clear on which encounter happened next, she only knows it happened. But what to the reader may sound like an illicit affair, really amounted to less than 10 intimate moments due to long months of bitter fighting in between.
She dated many others, slept with some of them. She used them to hurt him. If they were on speaking terms, she’d remind him that he was her friend and would recount the details of her dating life to him. He listened attentively to each story. It was a sick game. At one point, she met a guy whom she really liked, saw a future with and didn’t want to sully it so she didn’t share it with him, but he found out and called her as soon as he could.
“So, I heard you have yourself a young one now.”
“Lord, who told?”
“No one. You know I have someone watching you everywhere.”
“You’re an idiot. Don’t fuck this up for me. I like him.”
He laughed, “Yeah, sure. You’ll probably want to tell him that I said it was okay to lease you for a while, but I own you and will take you back as soon as I’m ready.”
It would be months before they were together again. This time he called her and asked if he could use her shower because his was broken. When he walked in her apartment she prepared herself for the usual games. Some idle chit chat, then play fighting, which would eventually turn into a hard smack on the ass and pulling of the hair, and then into more. But he came in, they chatted for a minute, and he headed to the shower. She was perplexed. He didn’t even seem to want her in the shower. She sat on the sofa and waited for him. He came and sat next to her and they talked for what seemed a few hours. It felt like their old friendship. But of course, this was them and there’s always the inevitable lust lurking in the shadows, but even that was different. They weren’t play fighting. They were two grown ups with obvious intentions, and instead of the usual mad dash on the floor or sofa, he walked her to her bed, lay her down and moved so slowly and softly she didn’t know how to react.
She knew she should just lose herself in it, but her mind was reeling, what is going on here?? Eventually, she shut it off and just let him guide her to wherever he wanted to go. She didn’t want to break the spell. Afterwards, he lay behind her holding her, kissing her neck. She couldn’t breathe, didn’t want to move, afraid that he’d realize what he’d done, where he was, and who he was with. They fell asleep.
The next morning, as they went on their way, she couldn’t help but smile. He text her that evening, talked about picket fences, marriage, children…not theirs, just in general. And then he confessed, he had broken up with his girlfriend. He was now officially single and while that should’ve been good news, she was actually afraid. The conversation about the picket fence, the marriage, the children…they were things he didn’t want. He in fact didn’t know what he wanted and their beautiful night together had not helped to make it any clearer.
They would never recover from this turning point. Their entire relationship after this point would be grounded on his confusion and inability to love her, and on her need to be loved. It was tempestuous on its good days, indescribable on its worst. They couldn’t be together, but they couldn’t stay apart and she would unhappily remain his little secret until this very day.
A young lady in her 20s recently told me about a situation she encountered with a young man who was trying to ‘talk’ to her. He had offered to take her out and as part of that offer he included a night in a hotel room. She was perplexed; a hotel room on a first date? “It’s not that kind of party,” she told him.
I wished that I had some words of wisdom for her, but the truth was that, quite a few years her senior and with a lot more dating experience, my recent dating stories were not very different from hers. In fact, most of my single friends had very similar stories, and frustrated, have all but given up on dating.
I began to wonder how this new concept of dating— where sex is often assumed to be part of the plan— came to be? Did our search for equality come at the price of good old-fashioned courting? The answer might be YES!
We may have literally screwed ourselves when it comes to dating. In trying to free ourselves of the sexual norms society (religion?) placed upon us—good girl vs. bad girl/Madonna vs. Whore— we decided to throw caution to the wind and fulfill our sexual needs without regard to emotional consequence.
In only thinking about our physical needs, we forgot that men were a part of the equation and never considered their reaction to all of this new found freedom. But as Isaac Newton said (not in regards to sex, but it’s fitting) “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
Men followed suit and relished in our sexual freedom right along with us. Who could blame them? They like sex, they want sex; we like sex, we want sex. Let’s get down to business.
But women are wired differently, and as much as we may want to deny it, very few of us can separate the sexual act from our emotions. We want the freedom of choice: The ability to choose whether or not to have sex without being categorized as good or bad—the same freedom men have always seemingly enjoyed. But we also want to be courted so that eventually we can, not only enjoy the act of sex, but also the intimacy that comes when it is with someone with whom we share an emotional connection.
Oh, if only we could have a do-over where the sexual revolution is concerned. We might approach it differently so that both men and women could communicate what it means to them. But as we can’t, what is the answer? Is dating a dying art form? Can men and women reach a happy medium where sex and dating are concerned, or are we forever destined to be Mars vs. Venus?
*Originally published at Being Latino Online Magazine
When I originally wrote the three-part story that is now published here as The Last time and The First time, I had also written The Middle. But as I read what I wrote, I realized that it didn’t do justice to the real dysfunction that went on. It reads more like sex gone wrong, than the emotional mind-fuck that it truly was. So I’m taking some time to figure out how I want to tell it. This is an addendum, and maybe a good display of where those 10 years left me, about two years after The Last time and about three years before On love and the impulsive girl.
She had been back in the city for about two weeks when her phone rang. It was him. They hadn’t spoken in months. As far as she knew, he was officially a married man, his wedding having taken place just the month before. She probably shouldn’t have answered, but she was curious as to what he might have to say. He wanted to see her. Could she meet him somewhere in an hour. A glutton for punishment, she gave in after a few half-hearted denials. Truth be told, she wanted a chance to confront him face to face. To ask the questions that might help her understand what had happened.
An hour later they sat at a bar. He had a ring on his finger and seeing it shocked and hurt her like a sucker punch. Her mind went back to her one regret and she felt, once again, like one of ‘those’ women, the ones who allow themselves to be ‘the other.’ But they were in a public place, they were just talking, and she’d leave after she got her answers. Within minutes it was clear he had different ideas. He was leaning in, whispering, trying to kiss her. She said something mean. Used her words to shove him away from her. She’d forgotten that he wasn’t easily dissuaded. Before she could get another word out, he began his “this is why I asked you here” speech. As he spoke, she looked at him incredulously, mouth agape. He couldn’t possibly be saying the words she was hearing. He was propositioning her, and the conviction in his tone told her that he sincerely believed that she would not only accept, but that she would think herself the luckiest girl in the world.
Ten months earlier she had believed that she would marry this man. That he would someday be the father of her children. He had said it, it wasn’t simply her hope. On the night he had professed his feelings for her, he told her that she was the woman he would marry and she would be the mother of his children. Now, only 10 months later, he was indeed a married man, married to another woman, and he was proposing that she become what would basically amount to a mistress. His wife did not live in the state. She visited once a month. He would be hers the remainder of the month.
She was speechless; didn’t have the words to convey all that was going through her mind at that moment, and so she only said goodbye and left. She drove home in tears.
In the beginning, she had believed him to be different. Had allowed herself to fall in love with him, only to now be delivered a second blow in only 10 short months. The first had taken place 8 months before.
She was in her childhood home, in the bedroom where. before the age of eight, she had spent many a night staring out the window when she couldn’t sleep. The walls were lavender now, an appropriate color for a six year old girl.This was where she was staying, the bedroom her six year old niece slept in when she visited her father. For those reason, her own childhood memories—the knowledge that the brother it took over 30 years to connect with and meet was just across the hall, and that she was in the paradise of Puerto Rico—she should’ve been happy. But at that moment , over 2000 miles away from the place she called home, all she felt was alone…
She was lying on her stomach, unable to move. It was almost as if the signals her brain was sending to her body were being ignored, and while she could feel all of her limbs, they felt heavy, unmovable. Her cell phone was ringing. It had been ringing for almost an hour with intermittent notifications of text messages that all basically read the same, “ANSWER THE PHONE. I need to talk to you.” But what could he say to make her feel better? What could he say that wouldn’t make her feel worse? The question she had text him over an hour before required only a yes or no answer: “Are you back with your ex girlfriend?”
“She flew in to surprise me for my birthday.”
“That’s not an answer.”
“I’ll call you in a little while.”
“Don’t call me. Just answer the question. Yes or no. It’s really that simple.”
That’s when her body gave out on her. She laid on her stomach unsure of which the many emotions that were surfacing to feel first. Maybe that was it. It was the wave of emotions that had drowned her, and that’s why she couldn’t move, could barely think.
She had been on Facebook when on her news feed appeared a photo that he was tagged in. It was a photo posted by his ex girlfriend just two days before. She clicked on the photo, looked for others. They had broken up months back. Could it be an old photo? That’s when she text him the question.
She never did answer the phone, and he never gave her a yes or a no. She stayed in bed that day and the next. Her family, people who with only a little over a month of interaction between them, were still basically strangers. They didn’t know how to help her, so they let her just be. But within a few days she was up, and instead of crying, she chose to lose herself in travel adventures with a new friend, map in hand.
But after tonight’s blow, she couldn’t do the same. She was back home now, broke and unable to lose herself in anything more than a job hunt. Two days passed. She didn’t plan on contacting him, but as she gathered her thoughts she realized that she had looked past her hurt, her experience and had given him a chance because he was different, and in the end he had proven only to be worse.
She had to tell him how much he hurt her, even if only to release the words that were essentially choking her. She had, with the exception of a few times, only been offered cookie crumbs from the men in her life, and for that she had been resentful. But they, unlike him, had never lead her to think that that should be enough, that she should be happy, and that she deserved it all.
He didn’t understand her anger and eventually she stopped trying to explain it. She was partly responsible. She had been a willing party in the crushing of her own spirit and self-worth for almost 10 years. Ten months or ten years, what was the difference when she always ended up in the same place?
She felt like she was living in a nightmare where she was riding a merry-go-round. Each time she saw herself around the turn, she was riding a different horse, but each time she was crying because the ride wouldn’t stop, and all she could do was scream for help.
Continues at The Middle