Since my last post (putting the “bark” back in barking shaman) was pretty personal, heavy and deep(ish), I thought I’d post an essay I wrote a while back to lighten the mood a bit. It is quite long, and while it contains a lot of background stuff, there is nothing in it terribly current or urgent the way the last post was. It is a bit of fun though. I remembered it as being more lighthearted than it is, but oh well. It beats writing about any of the current world events I was going to write about tonight that I could be bringing everyone down by discussing.
A New Set of “Friends”
So I should start off by making something clear. As far as I am concerned, I largely consider myself to be a gay man. I came out to my folks at thirteen and to the rest of the world soon after. Yes, that’s right, I was one of those young gay teens who comes so far out of the closet even other gay people don’t want to been seen around them. Unfortunately, in addition to swishing when I walked, keeping my wrist bent and saying “girl” a lot, I was also a three hundred(at times up to 325) pound myopic teen who at inconvenient times barked like a dog and yelled swears like, well like someone with Tourette Syndrome. It should also be noted that when you are an insecure fat barking kid, anytime is an inconvenient time. Needless to say, I didn’t date much. Ok, let’s be fair, I didn’t date at all.
The one thing socially I was quite good at was making friends with members of the opposite sex. This was in large part because interactions with my own gender were overshadowed by my libido and the fact that the average teenage male is not comfortable around a big flaming queen, especially one who uncontrollably yells out shit about “Flying Penis Man.” On the other hand, in my teenage years I was able to brake in many young women who I am confident went on to be excellent hags to some very grateful fags.
Soon after arriving at Hampshire College in western MA I met a young woman by the name of Nicole. When I say soon I should clarify that to be, within the first three hours of arriving at Hampshire. Although we were rather put off by each other at first meeting, we came to bond over the course of the next five days as we both came to the realization that going on a whitewater kayaking trip for our college orientation was a really bad idea. In the interest of being truthful I need to point out that our reasons were totally different. For Nicole the problem was that she was highly rated in the use of a whitewater canoe and kayaking is different enough from canoeing to make staying upright very awkward. I on the other hand was rather uncoordinated at this time and still rather large. The only boat big enough to accommodate my, by then diminishing but still considerable bulk was designed for experienced kayakers interested in doing tricks (primarily it was designed for going over waterfalls) and was hence not well suited to just going in a straight line with the rider upright. To this day I have never been in a kayak again and cringe at the very sight of them.
Somehow, having bonded over our mutual hatred of kayaks and a shared fascination with the way that you can make light come out your nose if you put a good powerful flashlight in your mouth, Nicole and I became friends. Over the course of the next several months we developed a good, if somewhat antagonistic friendship. And somewhere along the line, we started having sex.
I should note that all along we were both very clear that my preference is for my own kind so to speak. Fortunately for us both, so is hers, so that gave us something in common. She he had been known to bat for the women’s team to when the mood struck, but as a rule, like me, she preferred men in the bedroom. Ours was an informal arrangement. We were friends. We fucked. It was pretty simple.
Eventually however, the Boss Lady decided that we should to try (and had better fucking succeed in) being together in a more serious sense. There was just that minor problem, that although I enjoyed sex with her because I cared about her deeply, and I had discovered that hetero sex can feel pretty good too, my compass still very clearly pointed dick-ward. What we decided we really wanted was a three person relationship with another man who was closer to being a true bisexual. Although I should state more clearly that over the course of the next several years I became progressively more and more bisexual myself. Today I am more like 60/40 in favor of guys. Again, I suspect that the Lady had a lot to do with that, but I am happy so who cares?
Over the next three years we ran through a large number of possibilities in our quest for a “third” which failed to pan out for one reason or another. As I have noted before, I am a rather diverse person, as is Fireheart, the name she had taken by this point (as I had taken Wintersong). Finding someone who was comfortable with all our different aspects was not an easy task. While this was years before I would begin the awful transition to being a shaman, the Lady, Var, and the goals of Clan Tashlin were all major parts of our life by this point. This did not make this process easier.
When we first met Evan, I was pretty sure that he was the kind of person we were looking for. That said, after having become friendly with him, and I were pretty sure that Evan was someone who could make a good friend, but pretty clearly was not worth the trouble of pursuing romantically.
For starters, while Evan considered himself to be “bisexual” but had never been “with” a member of the same sex. One thing which college taught me very quickly and painfully is that to quote a former classmate “Just because a guy says that he is bi does not give you the right to hit on him.” The individual who had said this went on to explain that although he was “bisexual” he would never have sex or go out with a guy because that would be both “weird” and a bit “disgusting.” More than once I heard this argument. There were addition factors with Evan, but the bi thing seemed the most immediate.
Over time however, we began to see some evidence that perhaps our feelings of attraction for him were somewhat reciprocated. He commented to us early on in our friendship that he had always really liked the idea of being a part of a multi-person relationship. Also several of our friends noticed that when a group of us would go to the local goth club to dance, he would spend a great deal of time watching Fire or I, although if one of us tried to catch his eye he would look quickly away. As someone who had been unable to date throughout high school because of the above mentioned issues, I found this somewhat juvenile courting strangely compelling and fulfilling. Having been home schooled for almost his entire life and living well over two thirds of his life in foreign countries, Evan’s social skills when it came to dating were only slightly better than mine.
Eventually things did get going between the three of us, and although it has been difficult at times we are generally happy with our offbeat relationship. Not that this has always been the case. The Lady’s timely, and possibly unfortunate interventions have kept Evan (now Summerwind) in the relationship even when he has seriously thought about or tried to leave it.
This does however bring us around to the subject of Friends. Not friends as in people you go out dinners with at odd hours of the night. Rather I am referring to Friends, the prime time television show which is (thank all that is good in the universe) no longer on the air.
Evan commented to me about a year ago that I, with Fire’s help, ruined Friends for him for all time. You see, while in fact Summer seems about 80% of the time to be an actual bisexual person, interested in both innies and outies, prior to college he had never had any exposure whatsoever to gay culture (or cock sucking for that matter). For the first year or so of our relationship as he worked to becoming accustomed to being in a relationship with a man as well as with a woman, he had periods of real discomfort around “gay culture.” When I subscribed to the Advocate, he expressed total indifference bordering on discomfort. Now we have to argue over who gets first crack at the bi-weekly magazine. At least we did before we both agreed a few weeks ago to let our subscription lapse because it had turned into a piece of shit, but that is another posting altogether.
Personally I found this discomfort and his parents’ shock at his coming out rather strange. This was after all a handsome, soft-spoken young man who knows more show tunes than I do. When Fire and I would joke with friends that we had gotten a toaster because of Summer; (for those of you who don’t know, that is a reference to Ellen DeGeneris’ coming out episode) people would often assume that it was for Fire that he was going outside his comfort zone not for me. All that said, it did not change the facts about the gaps in his queer education. Gaps that Fire and I initially delighted in filling in.
And somewhere in the process of indoctrinating him into the “homosexual (or bisexual I suppose) lifestyle, so to speak, he lost the ability to find the show Friends funny. He explains this by saying that the humor of “Friends” is very straight. I can not confirm or deny this. Neither Fire nor I ever found the show to be funny, but we were both awfully queer from a young age. It was Fire’s mother for instance who suggested to her thirteen year old daughter that if she wanted to start dating she might start with girls because “it’s easier.” I am not saying that a parent’s suggestion or orientation can make someone gay. But you can see that with that perspective one can have queer sensibility regardless of orientation. For the record, Fire’s mother is in a long term heterosexual relationship and while Fire herself is attracted to both men and women, she totally disagrees with her mother’s assessment and finds women to be rather hard to understand. Because, she would want me to point out “women are fucking crazy.”
The question I have been asking myself of late is this, is Summer correct? Did we, by action or association ruin his ability to enjoy this show, and one would assume other “straight” humor? There is no question in anyone’s mind that our relationship among the three of us has changed us all in considerable ways. I like to think that whenever we could we did not consciously choose to change each other. I would rather believe this process to be a natural extension of maturing and developing in ourselves and as part of our unique family. Ok, let’s be honest and admit that that is a nice way of saying that the Lady has turned our heads inside out at her discretion. That said, the thought keeps me up at night sometimes. Ok, the shooting pain in my neck keeps me up at night, but this is something that I tend to think about on such nights. I love my two partners deeply, but I worry that some day one or both of them may wake up, look about, and say “you know what, I’ve changed, and now I’m moving on.” Actually, this has happened several times with Summer and it has been unbelievably awful. However, the Lady has other ideas and at these times tends to remind us all that ours is essentially an arranged marriage and she has final say.
Although Summer claims not to be bothered in the least that his broadened horizons have left him without a fondness for Friends, I can’t help but think that something fundamental has clearly shifted in his experience of the world. He attributes that shift in large part to Fire and I, and I can not help but think that he is correct. Intellectually I understand that in sharing your life with someone or more than one, you accept that they will influence you. However when I see it in a clear example, I can’t help feeling an instinctive revulsion at the idea of having that kind of impact on another human being, especially one I care about. And to be honest, I can’t help feeling a bit disturbed at the idea that they almost certainly are having the same sort of effect on me.