Mark, 18, lives in Laredo, TX.
Since everyone seems to be starting their columns with lyrics that bear seemingly no relevance to the rest of the column, I, like a good little conformist, will follow in this tradition!
"I, time, sum/..ee, nah, mah, la (wait) yah, lovely bee when i, gird whirl, Ghandi as a young yeti, eats Verdi...ow! (growl..hork) hoit, oooo, ow, wow, what? eoeoeo" -John Oswald, "Blur, Moment" from "Plexure"
The Exorcism (July 7th)
So yeah. These insightful lyrics are part of a fun little thing by John Oswald called "Plexure," a twenty minute CD entirely composed of tiny bits of previously existing music from roughly '80 to '94. Very rough, dizzyingly fast. Imagine what it would sound like if your ears vomited back up everything they had heard the for the last decade, only partly digested and recombined. Why am I bringing this up? Well, beyond the fact that it's pretty fucking cool, this work, moreso than most, serves a useful function for me. It works as an exorcism. All that shit you're forced to overhear in public mutilated, wrapped in a flame tornado straight from purgatory, whipping around, exposed for the nonsense that it is, finally condensing into a vortex beyond recognizable sound before winking out of existence. I'm not sure why, but I need an exorcism every once in a while. Check out the poem I submitted, for example. It was written on AIM on the fly, starting from random phrases picked for sound, then gradually attaining a tenuous inner form. For a good section of the poem, each line is derived from the last. A bit like cutting paper dolls, all linked in a stagnant ring-around-the-rosy, from the fabric of discontent. After writing it, I felt nicely purged. Exorcising yourself can be quite healthy.
I can't even tell you why I need my occasional exorcism. As I said before, things could be better, but they could be a hell of a lot worse as well. At least I'm channeling my free-floating anxiety into something creative.
Dreams (Written the 13th of June)
Heh. Not one day after I send in the July column do I get a hankerin' to write some more. I was anxiously reviewing what I'd sent in the day before when I realized from that first coming out experience how often I've taken the path of least resistance. Shit. I guess that's one good thing about writing these columns, they make you analyze yourself a bit more than you would normally.
As I said, I was reviewing the events of recent days, thinking about various dreams I'd told Marble, and dreams Marble had told me. Looking back, the two dreams I remember most vividly are dreams in which I was presented very directly with a choice. The first is one I've never told anyone else about. I had this dream my seventh grade year, when my first "gay" feelings were really manifesting themselves. The dream goes as follows:
I'm changing for P.E. and as I'm walking out of the changing room/rest room, I see this guy I was attracted to at the time using the urinal. For some reason or another, the coach was leaning against the wall waiting impatiently for him to finish, as if he were administering a drug test for the sports team or something. From the position in relationship to the coach and my crush, a few innocent steps to the right would get me quite an eyeful of this crush, but going out of my way to do this would communicate very clearly my, ahem, status. The dream ends, knowing I must act quickly. Fight or Flight.
The other dream is more recent, from the fall semester of my junior year in high school. This one is much more metaphorical, and I don't believe it has anything to do directly with my being gay. The weather had been rather strange lately, and the day I had the dream I was standing on a corner next to a stop sign inside the school grounds, waiting to be picked up. I casually looked up and saw the most amazing cloud formation I've ever seen in my life. The sky was pretty much horizon-to-horizon clouds, but right over the stop sign where I was standing was a strange roughly circular gap in the clouds- it was absolutely beautiful, a kind of vaporous, irregular tunnel into the sky. When I got home I immediately went to bed* and had the following dream:
I was standing at the stop sign, or a place similar to it, (I don't even remember if the stop sign was there in my dream or not) and I looked up as I had done in real life about half an hour earlier. It was equally cloudy, but this time, rather than seeing an irregular, vaporous tunnel, the structure of that gap had taken on an amazing regularity of form: Imagine the walls of the coliseum, several floors of ornate columns separating stone archways, the color of clouds but with a much denser consistency. The upper layers were brightened by cloud-muted sunlight, but there was electricity in the air. I began to feel drawn upwards, but the feeling of static electricity was intensifying and I knew that if I stayed there any longer I'd be struck. I ran away, but with difficulty, as if against a strong wind, climbing up the street to take refuge in a modern-looking house made of gray cinderblocks, all with the feeling of being drawn upwards and inwards with the threat of lightning overhead.
Again, this dream presented me pretty clearly with a fight or flight situation. In seeking refuge, it's obvious which option I chose. While it didn't occur to me until very recently, my waking decisions have followed a similar pattern.
* At the time I preferred to go to sleep as soon as I got home, get my full amount of rest, and then do my homework while everyone else was asleep. For some reason, that schedule resulted in some really amazing dreams. The cloud-tunnel/lightning one is the one I remember most clearly.
Being Open With Elvis (July 15th)
I had another dream recently, around the twelfth of July, one that can be interpreted as a litmus test, like the first one, for my actions. If nothing else, it's a much more positive sign than the first one was. It also bore certain similarities to the first dream; it was at school, it was a single scene, and it involved revealing myself to someone I'd had a crush on in front of an audience.
The dream began and I found myself right inside the gate of my elementary school, the way it looked while I was in the first grade. But rather than being populated by all the first graders, etc... a scattering of the population of my high school were crowded around the entrance, with their attention generally turned towards me, though I didn't feel nervous or overly scrutinized. "Elvis,"* another crush of mine, (though one that I came into regular contact with and was quite used to speaking to, unlike the one in the first dream, with whom I've never spoken) asked straight out: Are you gay? To clarify, he didn't ask this in an accusatory way; it just as if he was asking my name or what my next class was. I can't even remember answering him... maybe just giving him a look as if to say, "Duh!" However I responded, the point is that the word was out, to him and to a semilarge group of my peers. He considered this for a moment, and, with a bit of puzzlement on his face, asked "Why?" Feeling elated and a bit silly, I say, "Well, guys that look like you, for one." I grab him by the shoulders and show him off to the massed crowd, trolling for support. I then look him once more in the eyes, seriously, and say, "But really, when I was growing up, I just started noticing boys instead of girls." The dream ends there, with me feeling elated and self-confident... not even needing to see the response of Elvis or the crowd of peers. By any interpretation a wonderful omen, even if I haven't yet reenacted this dream in the real world, as of yet. But still: Fight or Flight? Fucking-A Fight! at least, in this instance.
*Elvis, like Marble, Latex, and Incense, is yet another pseudonym. While I'm attracted to this Elvis, the name doesn't directly refer to his behavior or appearance. If he ever reads this, and I don't think he will, (I have no means of contacting him, and he's notoriously heterosexual) he'll get understand why I chose it. The rest of you will just have to wonder. The real Elvis, the original one, by the way, has always repulsed me. Now more than ever, what with him being a few decades dead, and all.
Well, as of July 15th, I'm still not out to my parents or the majority of my friends. I'd probably be out to more of them if I saw them on a regular basis, but most of our contact was through high school. My parents are a different story. I don't _really_ think they'd take it poorly, in the long run, but as I'm sure everyone knows out there, it's hard to go in and deliberately open a rift, however momentary, with the people who provide your wardrobe, shelter, and food. And education. Last month, I used a rather shallow justification for not coming out to them. No more. I won't even offer any justification for remaining closeted. I'm just weak and unwilling, at the moment, anyway, to take that final step out. (While I assume situations differ from everyone else, I consider them to be the holy grail, so to speak, of my trip out of the closet. After they know, what's to worry about everyone else? At least that's my frame of mind.)
I also recently came out to a friend of mine pseudonymed Bee. I met Bee... my sophomore year, I think. It seems like I've known him longer. Anyway, he's incredibly entertaining... very smart. Easily entertained, too. I mean that in the best possible way; he notices and enjoys things that few other people would. Every once in a while I'd do or say something that I thought nothing of, but he would be immensely amused by whatever it was. You, the anonymous reader, should take a cue from Bee. Savor little things. Big things are fine, too, but you'll live more vividly if you can appreciate a word, a gesture, a tone of voice. Marble is like that, too, come to think of it.
Anyway, Bee's in Dallas, and I hadn't had any contact with him in about a year. One thing you should know about me: One big-time neurosis of mine is that if I've met you and gotten to know a lot about you, etc... and then we lose touch for an extended period of time, I begin to dread talking to you, no matter how wonderful or charming or whatever superlative you are. That's how I was with Bee. Marble had run into him on AIM ages ago, and had given me his AIM name so I could contact him. I added him to my buddy list but either tried to ignore or avoid him whenever I saw that he was on. (He wasn't trying to contact me, however... I don't think he knew my AIM name or that I even had AIM until I first approached him.) Finally, a few days after the July issue of Oasis had gone online, I sent him an IM with the URL of my column. Then I realized he didn't know who I was behind my screen name (MrPlutonium, if you care to contact me.) so I sent him another IM introducing myself. He greeted me, and we talked for a while. He made absolutely no mention of the column.
Because I had not talked to him in so long, I'd forgotten how awesome he was. I have a short memory. Since he made no mention of the column, I asked him if he read it. He said he'd read the entire thing before I'd sent my second message. (He's a speed-reader.) He made no other comment. We went on updating each other about recent events. This made me wonder... if he'd read it, why wasn't he saying anything? Was he in denial, had he not made the connection? These were pretty stupid questions to ask myself, in retrospect, as Bee is very on the ball and would not fail to grasp the full implications of the article. After the conversation had progressed a bit, I asked, "So, were you surprised at all by the contents of the column?" He responded that he wasn't really surprised, though he hadn't "suspected" me or anything, and that I was still Mark, et cetera and suchlike.
It was really awesome. I'd recommend his response to be included in textbooks about the proper way to react to someone who's just come out. I should've known. He read it and was totally unfazed. All people should be like this. I can't even say that I'm like this. Had our roles been reversed, had he come out to me, I wouldn't have been able to shrug it off like he did. Not that I would've been angered or shocked or felt betrayed, (well, maybe a little shocked) in fact, I would've been elated, but it would've dominated the conversation, at least for a few minutes. Not so with Bee.
Well, this has been pretty lengthy and pretty personal. If you've made it this far, congratulate yourself, because it wasn't exactly intended to keep you hanging on my every word. This, I guess, was just another exorcism. I wrote this mainly for myself, not for the innumerable electron-lit disembodied eyes scanning this page. Not too much universal appeal. No experiences common to us all. Oh well. I'll probably write my next column with less of a strictly autobiographical focus, but until then, the Universe can wait. It's been around a few billion years... another month won't kill it. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're in the mood to criticize, question, comment, etc... Be not afraid.