The third anniversary of my online blog has come and gone. It’s been more than a month since I last wrote about my life. I’ve been licking my wounds during those weeks. I won’t go into the details of why, exactly—but I will say that betrayal has left a very bad taste in my mouth. Even now, it’s difficult for me to muster up any enthusiasm to write.
When I started this blog, it was from a combination of lofty intentions and basic braggadocio. It seemed to me that remarkably few people were talking frankly and unabashedly about real sexual lives. There were a lot of blogs out there tallying loads collected at the bookstores, or that combined unlikely scenarios with cheap porn-movie dialogue. There were a lot of blogs that were simply collections of porn clips, or unerotic erotica based on some black-and-white photo of a shirtless stud. But thoughtful pieces of actual writing about real sex, with its joys and pitfalls and its awkwardnesses and its humorous moments were few and very far between.
I think that’s a pity. Cultures develop narratives about the acceptable lives that individuals can live within its confines, and it’s easy to play out our existences against prefabricated stage sets that have little to do with what our stories actually are at any given moment. Little straight boys and girls grow up with the notion that they’ll maybe lose their virginity at the age of eighteen when it’s perfectly legal and aboveboard, that they’ll have a couple of—but not too many—sexual encounters in their twenties within the context of steady dating, and that they’ll then meet the great love of their lives, with whom they’ll settle down forever in bliss and sexual exclusivity for the rest of their lives.
We all know it doesn’t happen like this. We come from families that are broken, that have divorces and affairs. We have parents who’ve cheated on each other, and brothers and sisters who are total whores before they settle down. We know of marriages with swingers, and couples who are open, or who’ve made their own arrangements that have little to do with antiquated notions of sexual fidelity. We know marriages that don’t last forever, or that dry up sexually, or that just should never have been attempted to begin with. We all know, on some level, that this standardized domestic narrative doesn’t always work. Maybe it doesn’t even often work.
And yet, when it doesn’t work for us, we torture ourselves because we’ve been carefully taught that they ought to. When they don’t, too many people don’t blame the unrealistic expectations of the narrative. We blame ourselves, and our own lacks.
For years gay men and women had to invent their own narratives; we weren’t discussed in the mainstream culture except as monsters, or as invisible creatures dwelling on the margins on society. But look at what’s happening to us now: there’s an expectation (formed just over the last ten years, but now accepted as cultural gospel) that all the gay boys want to settle down forever with a nice boy and adopt a pretty baby to dress up, and that all the gay girls want to find a nice lesbian to move in with after the second date. We’re expected to hold our breaths for every marriage equality debate. On television we used to be silly, sexless fairies. Now we’re silly, sexless married couples with infants. We’re being accommodated into the mainstream—even if it’s a mainstream narrative that doesn’t ring true for so many of us.
What happens to those of us with stories and experiences that in no way conform to the mainstream narrative we tell ourselves as a society is that we’re regarded at best as oddities. We’re exceptions. Freaks. At worst, we’re demons and monsters, trying to tear apart the fabric of polite society. Never mind, mind you, that if a heavenly apocalypse befell the earth and our souls and thoughts and deeds were laid bare by some godly archangel, the number of those who failed to deviate from the mainstream would be vanishingly small, and would consist only of the timid and the unimaginative.
Face it. We’re all freaks. We want to do things with our privates that our parents told us we shouldn’t. We fuck in the dark and pretend we didn’t by daylight. We keep our sex lives—our real sex lives, not the ones we pretend to have for the sake of our families and our reputations—mum. All because we’re too frightened to let anyone think we’re one of those people. A deviant. A freak.
Over the course of the years of my public blogging, I’ve had no problems talking about all kinds of things I’d never seen anywhere else. I’ve discussed my pubescent sexuality, my sexual assault, my love affairs—the ones genuinely involving love, that is. I’ve celebrated my strengths, like my ability to read men and their needs even better than they can sometimes read themselves. Like the sexual fearlessness that’s made my life a great adventure. Like my ability to put men at ease, and to give them not only what they think they want, but what they secretly crave and can’t bring themselves to express.
But among the sexy confidence I sometimes exude, I’ve also been remarkably forthright about my own faults and shortcomings. I’ve discussed incidents in which I flatly fell short of both my own expectations and those of my partners. I’ve talked about times I’ve let down friends, or failed to do the right thing. I’ve explored the times I was a disappointment. Rather than disguise these blemishes with paint or to leave them in the shadows, I’ve put my own imperfections squarely center stage and shone upon them harsh spotlights for my audience of millions—I regularly expose my own arrogance, my competitiveness, my short temper, my selfishness. I don’t pretend to be virtuous, by any means. I know, without need for readers to inform me via emails to my Manhunt or Adam4Adam accounts, that my ‘looks are not all that.’ I’ve never pretended I wasn’t susceptible to flattery, or that my vanity wasn’t the Audrey 2 from Little Shop of Horrors, always demanding to be fed. I know these things. Because I present them to you, you know these things.
In return for rolling over and exposing my white, soft, lard-like underbelly, however, I’ve always assumed there was an implied contract with my readers. I’m offering this to you as a gift, I thought I was telling them. I’m revealing you so much of myself, good and bad, ugly and hot. And all I ask in return is that you treat these offerings, and the men involved, with a little respect, and not to trample upon them. I never expected reverence, or to be showered with compliments and gifts (though I’m craven enough to enjoy that when it happens). I don’t get fortune for it. I don’t get fame.
Over the three years I’ve kept this blog, I’ve found that I’ve gotten repaid sweetly and amply by the friendships I’ve made. There’ve been men I’ve met in person who are dear friends of mine. There are readers whose friendships were like summer wildflowers—blossoming for a time and then fading and blowing away at the end of a season. I’ve had beautiful boys and handsome men and wonderful women reach out to me with their stories and their photos, to let me know that they’re glad to have me in their lives.
That is wonderful. I love that every one of these remarkable people who recognize that everything I present to them is a gift not only from my loins, but from my heart. Thank you all, very deeply and sincerely.
There’s another brand of person, however, for whom everything is never enough. I serve them so much of myself, and they don’t respond with thanks. They don’t push their plate away when I’m done and declare they’re full. Instead, they sit there with knife and fork in hand, napkin tucked in their shirt collar, pounding their fists on the table and demanding more, more, more. It’s not enough to know my sexual secrets, my history, my disappointments and joys. The abundance I give doesn’t satisfy them. They demand more.
They pry. They snoop. They break open doors I’ve locked and root through closets I thought were sealed. And really, it’s not as if they use what they find in order to understand me better. They grub around so that they can find things that give them what they imagine is control over me. Dirty secrets of which they think I’m ashamed. (I’m probably not.) Inconsistencies that they imagine will bring my house of cards a-tumbling. (When basically, I’m just inconsistent.)
I am totally aware that I am displaying the typical grandiose paranoia associated with most of the songs on sophomore albums released by former boy band members, but damn, bitch, when you’re all famous ’n’ shit, everybody want a piece of you, yo.
But seriously. When I encounter situations in which these people to get out of control, I find them draining. They suck my attention, and my energy. For the last month, one situation in particular has just left a sour taste in my mouth when it comes to my blog.
I want to enjoy writing again. I’ve got no bombastic delusions that what I do here is akin to Proust, or alternately is the Lord’s work. But in a landscape in which the frigid gyrations of Fifty Shades of Grey is what passes for wildly erotic, or real bloggers are trying to pass off awkward fantasies as anyone’s actual sex life, I think there’s a need for real voices talking about real sex lives—about real feelings.
If I’ve had a mission statement all along, it’s been to get down to the core of my encounters, past and present, and isolate those elements that make them important. I’ve wanted to preserve those sweet moments, the memories of which make life worth living during dark, cold days. The absurdities, the funny quirks that make an encounter more than just another load. Everything that elevates animal copulation into human intimacy—those are the things that are important to me.
Not caring enough to write about them—which is the pit in which I’ve been nursing my bruises for the last month—has just about killed me.
To those of you who were concerned enough over the last few weeks to reach out and ask if I’m okay, I offer my thanks. I’ll try to respond to those emails personally in the coming days. (Okay, let’s be honest. It’ll be weeks.)
I’m tiptoeing back into the waters, here. I can’t guarantee I’ll have the stomach to resume at the same vigor or frequency as before, but I think that as touch-and-go as it was for a while there, I’ve managed to convince myself that writing here is something I find worthwhile.
Convincing myself, I’ve found, is usually the biggest hurdle.