Paul Pellerito

April 1997

Hello, faithful readers. Well, this is my one-year anniversary with Oasis, but more on that later.

This month I've got a lot to talk about. I'd like to start out with a major event in my life, something that's made me feel all sorts of things.

A different kind of alone

This story is centered around a new friend I've made, Michael. I can remember almost every detail about how I met him, all that stuff. I got an email on December 31st, with Mike asking to meet me if I've got "space in my life." My first impression was set, this struck me as such a sweet thing to say.

I ended up meeting him at Javasphere, a local hang out, on the 14th of January. He walked in with his friend Julie, who I had met a few years back through my work volunteering at a local-access TV station. After Julie left Mike and I talked about all sorts of things, from computers to our friends. I found out that there wasn't anyone in his life that knew about him, and compared to me he wasn't very fortunate in this department.

Well, Mike's a gorgeous guy and he's just as beautiful on the inside as he is on the outside. I knew when I met him that there probably wasn't much chance of us having a relationship, and I knew when I met him that he wasn't someone I wanted to just meet with to have sex.

I got to know Mike, and had a big huge crush on him. Even though I knew I didn't have a chance, I still had this hope. Well, that wore off about a month and a half later... I remember the day: March 9.

I woke up that Sunday and went to work depressed and feeling alone. I guess that's what it's like "coming down" off a big crush on someone. With the help of Kevin, a "family" cashier I work with, I got to feeling better. Later that night Kevin invited me over to his place to watch movies, so I invited Mike.

Kevin, a bunch of his twenty-something gay friends, Mike and I watched "Torch Song Trilogy" that night, and by the end of the night I realised that I was pretty much over Mike. We're just good friends, and that's more than I could ever ask for, more than I expected. I'm attracted to him, that's for sure, but the longing for a relationship just isn't really there anymore. Reality, I suppose, has set in. I'm still alone, but it's a different kind of alone, something I share with Mike as well.

Since then Mike and I have met umpteen-million times and I really like hanging out with him. He's a great friend and besides, I don't think we would have made a very good couple. So, in short, I'm still alone but I have found a great friend. Kind of disappointing, but I've been let down before so it doesn't hurt as much.

Life after God

Mike did get me to thinking, though. He goes to a Christian school and is pretty much Christian because of it. I've never had a very strong religious base in my life, so there wasn't much of a conflict between my sexuality and my religion. Mike, on the other hand, has had some problems with it. He's cool with it now, but I guess in the past it was a problem for him.

He got me thinking about God and my relationship with religion and the whole deal. That and the fact that I just re-read Life After God has made me decide to talk about religion yet again in my column. Here we go.

"The radio stations all seemed to be talking about Jesus nonstop, and it seemed to be this crazy orgy of protection, with everyone projecting onto Jesus the antidotes to the things that had gone wrong in their own lives. He is Love. He is Forgiveness. He is Compassion. He is a Wise Career Decision. He is a Child Who Loves Me. "I was feeling a sense of loss as I heard these people. I felt like Jesus was sex-or rather, I felt like I was from another world where sex did not exist and I arrived on Earth and everyone talked about how good sex felt, and showed me their pornography and built their lives around sex, and yet I was forever cut off from the true sexual experience. I did not deny that the existence of Jesus was real to these people -- it was merely that I was cut off from their experience in a way that was never connectable."

This passage describes how I often feel, alienated and foreign from the world of Christianity and religion in general. In a way I'm kind of jealous of Mike; he can go to church and not feel this way. It makes me sad that I didn't have this growing up.

"Life was charmed but without politics of religion. It was the life of children of the children of the pioneers -- life after God -- a life of earthly salvation on the edge of heaven. Perhaps this is the finest thing to which we may aspire, the life of peace, the blurring between dream life and real life-and yet I find myself speaking these words with a sense of doubt. "I think there was a trade-off somewhere along the line. I think the price we paid for our golden life was an inability to fully believe in love; instead we gained an irony that scorched everything it touched. And I wonder if this irony is the price we pay for the loss of God."

This passage seems more like I wrote it instead of Douglas Coupland. My upbringing was pretty much free of religion, I was left to discover a faith on my own, all the time my mother just assuming that I would come out of the religious bread factory just like her: Christian, but not really; believing in God just because. Well, I find that sort of practised agnosticism dreary and unfulfilling. Then I see Mike who goes to church almost every Sunday, and even though there's a contempt there for his religion (after all, they tell him he's going to hell) he still seems to be able to accept most of it. I often wish I could.

"Now -- here is my secret: "I tell you with an openness of heart that I doubt I shall ever achieve again, so I pray that you are in a quiet room as you hear these words. My secret is that I need God -- that I am sick and can no longer make it alone. I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem to be capable of giving; to help me be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness; to help me love, as I seem beyond being able to love."

The special anniversary section

When I wrote here last year I told everyone on how the Internet has helped me come out, and since then I've talked about using the Net in your own life. In almost every column I've said "So what can you do" and I've ended most my columns with the phrase "The future lies in our hands." Well, this next year should bring some more inflection on my part, hopefully something interesting for you to read about every month, and maybe something funny here and there. Thanks to all of you who've read and gotten a glimpse of my life. Many extra-special thanks to those of you who wrote me.

And now, I open up the next few months to you. If there's something you want me to discuss, just mail me and you'll probably hear something about it in Oasis. So, that's what you can do.

Something for us to remember (from Douglas Coupland of course):

"First there is love, then there is disenchantment and then there is the rest of your life."

Thanks for reading.

The future lies in our hands. See you next month.

Passages in this column are from the book Life After God by Douglas Coupland, © 1994, available from Pocket Books.

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