MonDATE: Bisexuals and the Right to Privacy, Part Two

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Him: You’re being extremely unfair!

Me: I’m sorry about that. Did you see August Osage County? What did you think?

Him: Seriously, are you Bisexual?

Me: I keep thinking if I hadn’t seen the Broadway play, I might have really liked the movie. I liked it quite a bit, actually, but I might have been blown away if I hadn’t watched the Broadway show twice.

Him: Don’t change the subject! Stop it.

Me: Julia Roberts really blew the doors off the hinges. It’s worth seeing just for that.

Him: I didn’t see it yet, okay?

Me: Okay. No spoilers, then.

Him: I’m asking you a question, and you’re avoiding it.

Me: I don’t see why I owe you the information. It’s just information, after all.

Him: I read your site for years. I’m extremely curious. What happened? It seems like you’ve made a 180, and I don’t know what to make of all of it. It seems…

Me: Don’t trail off. How does it seem?

Him: Hypocritical. It seems hypocritical. Sorry.

(There is a long pause. I sit on a bench at the bus stop.)

Him: You waiting for a bus now?

Me: Only if it’s an express bus to Canada.

Him: What does that mean?

Me: I dunno. It’s about half a joke. I’ll let you know when/if there’s a punch line.

Him: Hey. I’m sorry I called you a hypocrite – just how I see it.

Me: Ha. Then you’re not really sorry! You’re frustrated about quite a few things, and I’d suspect the root of it has very, very little to do with me.

Him: You can’t just… You can’t write about the gay community for years, and talk openly about being a poly-amorous homosexual – you can’t run some sort of online ‘brotherhood of man’ pie cult for the gays, and then just get married to a woman. Just, poof, you’re married and normal again. Just like that.

Me: Can’t I? Why can’t I? Why can’t I marry whomever I want? Isn’t that the underlined point behind the Marriage Equality movement?

Him: Don’t you feel you owe people like me an explanation?

Me: Why?

Him: Because I am one of your readers. Because I’m your audience.

(There is a long pause.)

Me: Well… thank you. I’m flattered you’re reading, that you’re still reading, and that you took the time to contact me. All of these things are incredibly flattering, and part of me agrees with you. A huge part of me thinks I owe it to you to tell you exactly how my sex life is structured, what it means to be LGBTQ in a traditional marriage structure, and send you home with a slice of pie and a warm feeling of hope for tomorrow.

Him: That’s what I’d like, yes.

Me: Then again, I’ve read quite a few books on writing, and while authors agree it is important to have an audience, they seem to also agree that catering things to your audience leads to atrophy in a major way. Bill Cosby said something like, I don’t know what the formula for success is, but I know the formula for failure is trying to please everyone.

Him: Teach me, oh wise one.

Me: I’m not getting paid to teach you, or, for that matter, to tell you how to live your life, or to tell you how I live mine.

Him: Okay, I’ll admit – it’s none of my business.

Me: Thank you.

Him: But I’m CURIOUS.

Me: Yes. You’re curious. That’s exactly right. You expect me to tell you intimate details of my personal life to you, the way I would to my therapist, because you read my site for a while and you feel somehow entitled to missing information. But you’re just an audience member. You’re just tuning in. You don’t know me and you have no real right to my inner physical, emotional, or intellectual life, beyond what I publish on my site, which by the way you read for free – so I owe you even less.

Him: People are going to want to know! You wrote about your sex life for years!

Me: No. Incorrect. I did not.

Him: Yes you DID. You’re being a hypocrite!

Me: Actually, I wrote about awkward dates, urban alienation, and my disappointment in a community full of brilliant, motivated, socially broken people. I almost never mentioned who I was having sex with.

Him: Come off it. You were sleeping with all those boys who made pie with you.

Me: Incorrect. Those were models, or friends, or people who contacted me online who wanted to help. It was very rare I slept with the people on my site.

Him: What?

Me: The “Awkward Dates” happen with people I don’t sleep with. That is the whole point: Here’s how NOT to sleep with me. The irony is, it’s pretty easy to sleep with me, if you’re cute and sweet, but most gay people have no interest in being kind, gentle, or generous of spirit – at least the ones who live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn don’t. They think they don’t have to, and in some sense, they’re correct. Someone will stomach their painfully underdeveloped, spoiled, sour personalities. But that someone isn’t me…

Him: Still seems hypocritical to me.

Me: You’ve now called me a hypocrite three times.

Him: So?

Me: So take a deep breath.

Him: Why?

Me: I’m about to tell you what I think about you.

(Pause. He looks concerned. I take a deep breath and count to ten.)

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

MonDATE: Bisexuals, and the Right to Privacy – Part One

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Him: Hello, are you Michael?

Me: Yes. You’re Sam?

Him: Yes. Hi. Nice to meet you.

Me: You too, Sam, I like your shirt.

Him: It’s Hollister.

Me: I like it anyway. Wanna take a walk?

Him: A walk? That sounds so weird and creepy, in the middle of the night.

Me: Is it? I just don’t really want to go drink right now. I’m trying to shed the winter layer.

Him: But isn’t a bar… Safer, somehow?

Me: We can stick to Colorado – it’s well lit. I’ll try to resist the urge to take you to a park and chop you into small pieces.

Him: That’s what I meant when I said weird and creepy!

Me: Let’s operate off the assumption neither of us is a murderous sociopath?

Him: You don’t seem like a sociopath to me.

Me: Thanks, man! I like your attitude!

(We walk for a while, chatting. I find out things about him. He’s in medical school. He’s into extreme sports, hiking, and surfing. He seems nice enough, and he’s no dummy. He’s read most of Kurt Vonnegut, so he gets points.)

Him: So, I guess you’re wondering why I’ve contacted you?

Me: I guess I am, now that you mention.

Him: I wanted to ask you a question. Do you mind if I ask a personal question?

Me: No, I guess not, as long as you don’t mind not getting a full answer, depending on the question.

Him: Haha, fair. Fair enough.

Me: What’s the question?

Him: Well, I have a few questions. Firstly, are you bi-sexual? I read your site for a long time and I always assumed you were gay, but now you’re married to a woman, and what’s the deal? Is she a lesbian? Does she need a green card, or whatever?

Me: Oh wow. I thought personal question meant something like ‘boxers or briefs?’

Him: No. You clearly wear briefs. I’ve seen your Instagram.

Me: Fair enough.

Him: Are you bisexual?

Me: Let me ask you a question. I’ll answer yours, but let me do the rudest thing and follow up a question with another question. Does it matter?

Him: What?

Me: Does it matter? The difference between me being Gay or Bi? Or even straight?

Him: What do you mean? Of course it matters. Of course .

Me: How so?

(There is a pause. He looks confused.)

Him: Do you realize, I’ve read you for years?

Me: No, I usually go into these meetings pretty blind. When I meet with people it’s much more likely they’ve lurked or stalked me, whereas I might only have a brief email and a fuzzy photo to go on.

Him: But how can you do this? You talked about Gay dating, alienation and minority rights for years. How do you just get to marry a woman and continue on like nothing happened?

Me: Because nothing happened. I got married. It was pretty important to me, in the scope of my life, but in the grand scheme of human events, it’s not even a blip on the radar. It’s just a marriage. Most people do it at least once.

Him: But why a woman? Are you Bisexual?

Me: Again, I don’t see how that matters. It’s clear that I’m definitely a member of the LGBTQ community. Right? And, consider this: you haven’t told me your sexuality, yet you seem to think it’s fine to pry about mine and my wife’s?

Him: I’m Bi.

Me: Okay, good. I’m Queer.

Him: What does that mean? In what sense?

Me: It means I am as Gay as Kurt Cobain.

Him: What about your wife?

Me: She’s whatever she is.

Him: Stop. This is frustrating.

Me: This is nobody’s business. One of the perks of marriage is people stop prying about who does what, when, with whom, and how.

Him: But I’m curious!

Me: Well, that’s flattering. Are you openly Bi?

Him: What?

Me: Do people know you’re Bisexual?

Him: Some people do.

Me: Your family?

Him: No. My brother knows, I think, but by and large, no.

Me: Your work friends?

Him: No. I don’t want them thinking I’m weird, or off.

Me: Your friends from school?

Him: No.

Me: So, pretty much, just the people you have sex with.

Him: You make it sound sad.

Me: No, you make it sound sad. You’re the one who made those choices.

Him: It’s just what happened. I’m a victim of circumstance.

Me: You’re what? 28? 27?

Him: I’m 30 this year.

Me: Okay, well, welcome to the club. I’m going to say something, and I hope you don’t get offended.

Him: Are you going to call me a Jerk?

Me: I don’t do that anymore, Jerk. Just kidding. No, just this: There’s no such thing as a victim of circumstance. Not really. I believe life is a series of choices. It’s in the art of choosing we discover what kind of man or woman we become. If you don’t like your circumstances you have a right to make a different choice. It might be more difficult to make a courageous choice. It might, in fact, be stupid to make a courageous choice. It might make your life more of a struggle to make an honest choice, or to have enough integrity to look your family in the eye and say, here’s what I am – here’s how I was born and here’s the way things are for me. I’m sorry you feel differently about how I should live my life, but then again, my life is the only thing that is arguably entirely mine – and I’m the one who has to live it.

Him: What’s that have to do with the way the world is?

Me: To say you’re a victim of circumstance is a bit misleading when you’re the one creating your own reality.

Him: That’s arrogant. That’s incredibly arrogant, and I knew you’d say something like that. I knew you’d come up with a way to make me being down low about my sexuality my fault. My sexuality doesn’t define who I am anymore than my liking baseball defines who I am. Why do I have to make a huge issue of who I’m sleeping with? Doesn’t my mother deserve a good birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving without me ruining everything by talking about sex with dudes? Why are people so obsessed with where I’m putting my penis? It’s nobody’s business.

Me: And yet, you’re so very obsessed with where I’m putting mine.

(There is a long pause. He starts to speak, then stops, then looks confused.)

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

 

Kansas, and My Own Water Fountain

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The way I see it, Kansas owes me several water fountains. In fact, consider this essay a public request for a separate LGBTQ water fountains outside every single government building in Kansas. Are you listening, governor Sam Brownback? You owe me a water fountain, at the very least.

I don’t feel qualified to comment on politics most of the time. I tell stories for a living and I’m mostly ignorant of real-life human events. I traffic in emotions, imagination, and plot twists. Punch lines, tag lines, and silhouettes interest me far more than local, regional or global events. I don’t watch the news, or own a television. I work on my stories. I take walks, cook meals, and try to ignore things that don’t lift me up. In my opinion, with the exception of satirists, artists don’t have the luxury of being political. I mean, if you write for South Park or late night television, sure, but otherwise, no.

I am intentionally uninformed. My mother had to call a few weeks ago, to warn me about a small black bear loose, terrorizing my area of Los Angeles. She knows I’m not paying attention. This is the man I’ve evolved into. I’m not saying it’s good or bad. It’s just what I’ve become.

In the past I have been a human rights activist with organizations such as Amnesty International. I’ve campaigned for candidates I believed in. I’ve protested unjust legislation or organizations. I’ve served as a community leader, sometimes, in different capacities. I believed in equality. I believed in brotherhood. I believed in the idea of a baseline human right to exist, untampered with.

However, the bill introduced this past Wednesday by the Kansas State Senate has me re-thinking some of my core beliefs. Please forgive my rudimentary, layman’s interpretation of this piece of legislation – it’s written in legalese. I don’t have the proper technical qualifications to interpret it the way a judge could, but here’s what I’ve gathered:

Anyone who owns a private business or works for the government can refuse goods and services to same sex couples for religious reasons. Do you own an ice cream store in Kansas? Creeped out by the gay folk who just moved in down the street? Don’t sell them an ice cream cake for their anniversary! You don’t legally have to, and this new law will make you immune to a civil suit for refusing them service. Hotels, gyms, nail salons, restaurants can all ask homosexual couples to leave, and not worry about getting sued.

In fact, they don’t even have to prove you’re homosexual. They can refuse service to people based on suspected homosexual activity. Let’s say your name is Steve, and you’re in a band with your friend Ben. Let’s say your band is 3 years old next Tuesday and your Aunt Ruth wants to print a banner that says “Happy Third Anniversary, Steve and Ben!” The owner of the print shop can deny service to your Aunt Ruth based on a suspicion that he might be aiding and abetting a same-sex couple. What’s more, he’s on the right side of the law, and there’s no legal recourse for your Aunt Ruth.

It’s not just about denying access to main street businesses, however. The law specifically extends its language to include state run services as well. This means any publicly funded service can be denied by the employee in charge, like an ambulance, a state run hospital, or something as fundamental as the postal service.

The governor of Kansas defended this bill, saying “Americans have constitutional rights, among them the right to exercise their religious beliefs and the right for every human life to be treated with respect and dignity.” Thank goodness the state senate had the good sense to strike the bill down.

Here’s what I have to say about it:

At least you’re being honest, Kansas. At least you’re willing to put it down on paper – you think what I am is so revolting, to such an extent that you think your Creator gives you the right to oppress my people.  What’s more, the majority of a legislative body agrees with you, is willing to write a piece of legislation which attempts to codify and legalize your xenophobia, your hatred.

I picture myself at 22 reading about this bill, naive and upset. A younger, more politically active version of myself would have tried to use my blog, my Facebook account, my Twitter feed – to mobilize some sort of action. Tweet at the governor, or anyone in the state senate! Write letters! Make a flash mob happen in Kansas to protest the bigotry with some grandiose, large scale demonstration of love! Even now, thinking of those types of things – a smile spreads itself across my face. I love thinking of things in those simple, artistic terms. How cute. We really showed them, didn’t we?

But in reality, we didn’t. We didn’t show them anything. They win. And they win everywhere. They win in Russia, and they win in Asia, or India, where they pressure us to stay in the closet. They win in Wyoming, when they crucify us on fences, and they win in Jamaica and Nigeria where they lynch us, where they kill us with no fear of punitive measures. Even where we huddle, cloistered in our coastal bastions, they win. You don’t have to go to the mid-west, or Nigeria, or Moscow to get spit on, beaten, or denied services because of your sexuality. That happens in NYC and Los Angeles, too, on a regular basis. The discrimination is more subtle in those places, but only in the daytime, and only in the strictest legal sense.

So, Kansas, you win. You have the majority, and that majority hates me for existing, and you win. Make your laws and enforce them. I will, or won’t, go to Kansas – depending on whether or not my business takes me there.

However, do give me my own LGBTQ water fountain? I’m afraid I must insist.

I want my own water fountain, Kansas. Not because I think people should be separated, segregated, devalued, beaten down, or systematically discriminated against. I want my own water fountain for a simple and plain reason:

I’m better than you.

Time will show. I have the moral high ground here, and I’m better than you. If you’re going to institute a Neo-Jim Crow, do it right, and give us separate water fountains. Not because you’re better than us; because we are better than you. We asked for basic human rights, and you rushed to your senate floor to protect your privilege. You had the option of letting society inch forward a tiny amount, and you attempted to block it. We are better than that. I am better than that.

I insist on my own water fountain.

I will not drink from the same spigot that waters your dirty mouths, nor the mouths of your bigoted children. Nor will I listen to the vile, contaminated filth which consistently turns forth, bubbling up from your ilk, belching its way forward – ruddy, unwashed, rude –  into the American consciousness. I’m a performer and a writer, and over the years I’ve discovered I don’t have much shame, but my pride will not allow me to share the same water you drink, nor the same bread that you break.

Give me my water fountain, Kansas, and have done with it. I’m certainly done with you.

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