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Josh Puetz

November 1996


It's not as though we just broke up
It's not as though it was yesterday
But something I just can't explain
Something in me needs this pain
I know I'll never see your face again
--George Michael, Waiting For That Day

Hey, what's up? It has been a very hectic month for me; apologies to everyone out there who has e-mailed me and not received a reply (yet). I read everything that gets e-mailed to me and do write back, it just takes me a little while to get my act together. Someday, I'll have pretty 8 by 10 glossy pictures of me to send out with preprinted thank you letters, but for now I'll just stick to short e-mail notes.

Well, I've gone and done it. Next year, I'll be leaving behind dorm life for an apartment of my own. Me and three of my friends (two women, one man, all straight) are going to renting an apartment eight blocks from my college. I just can't explain how excited I am! For the first time in my life I am starting to feel like an adult. It is going to be really nice to tell people, "Yeah, I have an my own apartment; stop on by."

Of course, its not all as simple as that. The three people I am going to be living with have been good friends since my freshman year, but I know that one of them has a problem with gays and lesbians (I am not out to her). Actually, she has a problem with just about everyone she knows, but that is just her personality. I was at a party with her last weekend, and she pointed out a guy to me that was a little effeminate and who she had been teasing all night. She leaned over and whispered in a falsetto voice, "I think he's a little faggot." I whispered back, "I don't ever want to hear that word out of your mouth again. Now get off your ass and go apologize to him for being such a jerk." She looked stunned, but got up and said she was sorry to the guy. The issue of whether this guy was gay or not was irrelevant to me; I will not stand for bigotry like that in my presence.

I am sure my friend is wondering why I blew up at her like that, but she hasn't come to ask me about it yet. I was talking with another friend of mine (yeah, I know this must be getting confusing, but I can't use names for obvious legal reasons), a guy I knew from last year and who I'm out to. He revealed to me that some of my friends that I am not out to have questioned my sexuality in the past. From what my friend told me, I guess there was no tone of ill will, just a curiosity. I find that to be encouraging; if that group of my friends doesn't know soon, it will of course become obvious next year when I am living with them. One of the guys who was asking about me has made it clear that he does not approve of homosexuals, and bashes them verbally every chance he gets. Still, our friendship is strong. I believe that my coming out to him will be positive. Of course, I am sure he will be a little surprised and possibly angry at first, but I know I have a chance to change one person's closed mind.

It makes me angry that many of the people I know have an Us vs. Them mentality. I'm not just talking about heterosexuals; some of the homosexuals I know despise straight people and degrade them at every opportunity. Sure, some anger is a natural part of belonging to an oppressed class, but we as a group of people have to get over it already. Yes, there are heterosexuals in America that hate us and would not extend a helping hand if they found one of us bleeding and dying in the street. However, they are they exception; just as the stereotypical gay child molester hardly exists.

I hope that the apartment I will be living in next year doesn't become another gay against straight battleground. These are my friends; I don't want to lose them. On the other hand, I have no intention of ignoring my sexuality to satisfy anyone. If there is a friend or a lover I want to bring to my room, that is my decision. I suspect at least one person in our house will have a problem with that, but she's going to have to get over it really quick. As with national politics, I am not asking for special rights; I simply want the rights everyone else has. For me, it will have to start on a small, personal level in my own home.

Madonna, I know exactly where you're coming from. There was an MTV news special about Madonna and her new baby the other day. I just caught the tail end of it, where they were discussing the reasons Madonna chose to have a baby. Somebody remarked that her biological clock had been ticking, and she had an instinctive need to have children.

I have recently been feeling a similar sensation, but not the need for children. I am sorely feeling in need of a relationship. I wish a really nice and sweet man would just bump into me some day and sweep me off my feet. That's not very realistic, but I can always dream. In the meantime, I know all the pressure is on me to go out and find myself a man.

I'm not one for excuses, but there are a few factors at work in my life that are completely out of my control. For one, I am under 21. That makes getting into gay bars difficult at best (especially since I look pretty young). More importantly, Eau Claire, Wisconsin is for most intents and purposes a very small town. This city has a population of over 55,000, but I sure seems a lot smaller.

When I first got to college last year, I expected my life to change profoundly. I expected college to be a time for me to discover other people like me. A little over a year later, I am more realistic. Sure, my personality has changed a lot, but as far as my sexual personality goes, I'm still pretty much the same person I have always been. I came to college looking for other gay men and women to bond with; I'm realizing Eau Claire was a poor choice for what I wanted.

Something I read the other day stuck in my mind. I can't remember who the author is or what the title of the book is, but I read it in my human wellness class. The author was talking about life, and how we always seem to put off doing things. We use the same excuses time after time. I'll start having a life after high school. I'll start having a life as soon as I'm done with college. I'll have time to have a life as soon as this big project is done. Eventually, people realize those things are life: high school, college, careers. You can't put off having a life; if you do, you'll never have time for one. As I get farther into the semester and deeper into my own pit of homework, I have to remember to get out and live. You should too.

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