by Josh Puetz
September 1996

'Some things are better left unsaid
But they still turn me inside out
Tell me Why...'

--Annie Lennox, Why

Hi. My name is Josh Puetz, and I'm a 19 year old sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. I've been reading Oasis since its first issue last year, and I am constantly amazed and encouraged by the columns I read here every month. I've always wanted to write on a regular basis and have it posted here, but I guess a little paranoid part of me was afraid somebody I knew would read it and find out I was gay. Now, I really don't care who know about my sexuality. I guess I'm just sick of trying to hide it.

So, where should I begin? I guess I've had what could be called the 'typical' gay childhood; I felt different from all of the other kids, but could never quite put my finger on what it was that separated me. In high school, I dated a few girls, but quickly found that women in general didn't arouse me at all. Well, it didn't take me long after that to figure out that I did look at guys and think about being with them. Nothing much in the beginning, just little crushes and stuff that were completely non-sexual.

OK, that's my childhood stuff. I think I've blocked out most of grade school and high school because I was too worried about why I wasn't dating girls and going to prom and stuff like that. Now I'm fine with my sexuality. Well, mostly fine. I mean, I know that I'm gay, I just don't know where I go from there.

Here in Wisconsin, there really isn't such a thing as gay culture. Having a nose ring around here is a big deal; homosexuality borders on unthinkable. I can't help thinking that my life would be a lot less complicated if I just packed up and went to college in California or something...

Am I in the closet? Hmm, interesting question. Depends on what you consider the closet. Do all the people in my life think I am straight, and do I actively try to hide the fact that I am gay? Um, no. I got sick of that little game a long time ago. Most of my close friends know, as do my parents (but those are stories that I'll save for another time). Not all of my friends know, which still bothers me a little. I haven't told those friends of mine that I consider to be homophobic, but I suppose I'll just have to bite the bullet and tell them someday.

What I don't do is tell everybody I meet on the street about my sexuality. I'm not actively trying to hide anything; I just don't see any how what I do is anybody else's business but my own. From my own experiences, America can be a pretty dangerous place for homosexuals. Enough said...

One of my friends asked me that other day if I was angry because I was gay. Angry? Well, that really isn't the right word. I don't exactly regret anything, since I didn't make a conscious choice about my sexual orientation. Still, I can't help thinking that if I was straight I might be happier. Who's to say?

One thing I do get angry about is stereotyping. I don't fit into any of the classic gay stereotypes (effeminate men and all of that crap) that some straight people seem to need to be comfortable with their own sexuality. Hardly any of my friends suspected that I was gay before I came out to them. I don't know if that is something to be proud of or not. I guess that I've been living around heterosexuals for so long that I just didn't know any better.

There are a lot of different facets to my personality, and I really hate it when people see me as "the gay guy." When I sit down with my circle of friends, I sometimes feel like that's all they see me as: that funny single gay guy. All of my friends are straight, so I feel like there is this barrier between us. Does anybody out there know what I mean?

Well, I guess I'd better stop babbling now. How am I doing so far? Drop me a line and let me know. One of the great things about the Internet is that I don't feel so isolated since I've made a numerous gay friends over it. Guess I've written enough for now. The CD in my stereo is still playing (the soundtrack to "Trainspotting," in case anybody cares), the city lights outside my window still make me feel empty and alone, but I do feel a little better for writing all of this out. Later...

Josh Puetz is a 19-year-old Management Information Systems major at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire that likes to write cyberpunk fiction, watch NBC, and live in clothes from The Gap. His web page is at http://www.tiac.net/users/winks/josh/josh.html and can be reached at puetzjj@uwec.edu.
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