MonDATE: Bisexuals and the Right to Privacy, Part Three

piefolk_tone

Him: Okay. I’m ready to hear it. Tell me what you think of me.

Me: No. I’ve decided I don’t have an opinion.

Him: Don’t. Yes you do. You do have an opinion.

Me: Well, I’m doing a new thing where I don’t always say every single thought in my head. I’m trying to see what happens if I’m more judicious about what I say and who I say it to.

Him: Come on. Let me have it. I sat here and called you a hypocrite for half an hour, didn’t I?

Me: Yes, you did. That’s true.

Him: So, give me a piece of your mind, then.

Me: Well, okay… You’re here because you’re a fan, right?

Him: I was, yes. I was a fan.

Me: Right, and now you feel shortchanged and disillusioned?

Him: That’s strong language, but sure – I guess there’s a truth to what you’re saying.

Me: I feel shortchanged and disillusioned by you.

Him: What? What does that even mean? What did I do?

Me: Now that is a great question. What did you do? You did nothing. Nothing brave, nothing honest, nothing remarkably difficult, nothing noteworthy. You did nothing.

Him: I…

Me: In a world where people are coming out of the closet left and right, you sat back and did nothing. Think about this, Sam – is that your real name?

Him: No. It’s not. I didn’t want you saying my name if this meeting went south.

Me: Just illustrates more of my point, “Sam.” In a world where many, many people are coming out of the closet, you chose not to do that. You chose to contact me and tell me what a supreme hypocrite I am for not illuminating every single detail of my marital life to you, but you find it nearly impossible to say that you’re bisexual to your co-workers, family, and friends.

Him: Why would I say I’m bi, or identify as LGBTQ? Gay people are the lowest rung on the ladder, why would I place myself there?

Me: Don’t you think there’s a value to coming out? Aren’t there lonely, depressed, or even suicidal teenage kids out there – people who are bisexual like you – who could use a role model? Don’t you think the first step to eradicating the ‘bottom rung of the ladder’ mentality is to admit what and who you are to your colleagues, friends, and loved ones?

Him: Get real – me coming out of the closet isn’t going to change the way people view gay and bi people.

Me: Really? You can’t see the use in everyone coming out? Seriously? It takes bravery to change the world, and we will be the invisible minority for as long as we stay invisible. What’s more, you come here and call me a hypocrite for a half hour, but you’re too much of a coward to even say what you are.

Him: I don’t owe it to anyone. I don’t have to say I’m bisexual just to feel accepted for who I am. The gay community won’t accept us anyway.

Me: No, not with that attitude they certainly won’t. You’re projecting quite a bit onto me. You’re homophobic to the core, “Sam.” You’ve built yourself a  prison of your own silence, your own isolation. You’ve allowed your actions and modes of self-expression to be determined by what other people think. You would rather follow the status quo than insist on a world that is fair to everyone – even if that means you, yourself, have to submerge and cover an essential part of your identity. You have decided to be what the neighbors expect you to be instead of what you really are, and it’s not me that you think is hypocritical. It’s not me you despise. I don’t owe you anything beyond 800 words, twice a week, and “Sam,” I don’t even really owe you that. You don’t hate me. You’re wading through a thick mire of self-hatred, and even as you choke on it you’re well aware you chose it yourself. Whatever contempt you may harbor for me is eclipsed by your own self-hatred. You despise yourself. You couldn’t possibly hate me as much as you hate you.

(There is a long pause. I look at his face, which has changed quite a bit.)

Me: I’m sorry. I didn’t want to say any of those things. Please forgive me? I’m probably off base anyhow.

Him: No. It’s pretty accurate, actually.

Me: Well, I’m still sorry. I didn’t 100% mean it.

Him: But part of you did.

Me: But part of me did, yes.

(There is another long pause.)

Him: Do you think I could have a hug?

Me: I’m married now.

Him: Oh, okay. Sorry.

Me: Just kidding. Hugs are always free.

(We hug, and change the subject, and walk a little further before saying goodnight.)

IMG_3164

TuesDATE: The Closet

photos by eryc perez de tagle

Him:  Thanks for meeting up with me.  It’s good to see you again.

Me:  Yeah.  How’s Chicago?

Him:  Eh.  Chicago is small.  It kind of holds you down.  It’s stifling sometimes.

Me:  I hear you.  Hey, sorry about the email.  I meant to email you back and I had a busy week.

Him:  Yeah, I was wondering.  You probably get a lot of email, though.

Me:  I do.  And sometimes I’m having a busy week, and they pile up, and some of them are really long and detailed questions about relationships.

Him:  That must…  Does that ever feel heavy?

Me:  Ha…  Nah…  It’s uh…  it’s fine….

(pause)

Yes.  It feels extremely heavy, sometimes.  There’s a guy I correspond with sometimes who lost his lover last year in a car accident.   He’s paralyzed with survivor’s guilt and he’s trying to find a way to mourn his boyfriend.  He’s having an awful time and sometimes I don’t know what to say to him.

Him:  Yeah.  That seems pretty difficult.

Me:  How are you feeling?

Him:  Yeah, I dunno.  I feel strange.  I’ve been in my situation for so long, that I don’t know what to do about it.

Me:  I take it you’re still in the closet.

Him:  My friends and family don’t know that I’m Gay.  I don’t want them thinking of me that way.

Me:  What do you mean?

Him:  Well, I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m Black.  So that’s always been a thing with me.  I feel like I want to be known for someone who’s me, and not someone who’s Black, and now if I come out of the closet people will look at me and see a Black person and a Gay person, and I just want to be known just for being me.

Me:  I understand that.  But don’t you think you’re making the world better by coming out?

Him:  How so?  I don’t get why I have to run around saying I’m Gay all the time.  Straight people don’t have to do that.

Me: But they do, in a way, don’t they?  Doesn’t every movie or tv show feature Straight love interests and such?  Isn’t proclaiming your heterosexuality kind of ubiquitous?

Him:  I guess so.  I just don’t want people to think different of me.

Me:  They won’t.  Or, if they do, it will only be for an adjustment period.  Sooner or later they’ll realize you’re just the same person you were before.  I think if we live our lives openly we give Straight people the opportunity to digest our sex lives as normal.

Him:  I dunno…

Me:  Well, it’s certainly a load off your shoulders, when you come out.  It feels like a heavy weight is lifted off you, and you don’t have to pretend anymore.

Him:  I’ve heard people say that.  There’s a guy at my office that I have a crush on.  I kept asking him to coffee, and I’m pretty sure that he can’t tell if it’s social or work related coffee.  I thought about that for weeks, before I asked him to coffee.  I planned it out forever.

Me:  See?  If you were out, you could just ask him out, and not worry about it for weeks.  I mean, you’d still worry about it for weeks anyway, but not for the same reasons…  Hey.  What if he’s Gay, and he likes you back?

Him:  What?

Me:  If he’s Gay and likes you back, what will you do?  Won’t he want to go places with you as your boyfriend, eventually?

Him:  But then it would be okay.  If I had a super hot boyfriend it would be okay that everyone knew I was Gay.  Or if I made a lot of money.  Then it wouldn’t matter, either.

Me:  Is that how it works?

Him:  That’s how it works.  Do you want another drink?

Me:  No.  I have an early day tomorrow.  But thanks for getting in touch with me.

Him:  Thanks for meeting with me.  It makes me feel better to talk to you.  I think you’re great.

Me:  I think you’re great too.  Can I have a hug?

(we hug for a long time)

Me:  Take care of yourself?

Him:  Of course.  Always.  But who takes care of you?

(pause)

Me:  I do.

(pause.  we hug again for a long time)

Him:  Okay, bye. 

(I turn to leave.  I start walking away.)

Him: Jerk.

(a smile spreads across my face)