February 1998

Vincent is in his twenties and lives in upstate New York

Four months? Has it really been that long? I don't know where all the time went. Well, grab a soft drink and a snack and let's catch up.

Less than one year ago, a closeted, tired and somewhat depressed guy happened upon an oasis. It was a beautiful sight to behold, a place full of life and nourishment. He timidly sampled the water for awhile, dipping his big toe in the water. The water was inviting and shortly thereafter he decided to dive right in. It was invigorating. He never felt so alive before. Soon thereafter, he ventured back out into the desert, but carried with him his newfound self-respect and has since been growing every day.

When I bought my computer last year and reconnected to the internet (I used to be on way back in the earlier days of text only) it didn't take me too long before I stumbled across gay web sites, which then led me to Oasis. "Well, what do you know? There's a bunch of NORMAL queers out there? You mean not all gays are cross-dressing, flaming queens who sleep with every man, woman or other they meet?" It was a bit of a shock to this conservatively brought up Catholic. My only prior exposure to gay people (that I knew of) was the media.

I soaked in the stories and tellings of every author on Oasis. For a few months, I'd wait on the edge of my seat for the first of the month to arrive so I could read the new issue. I became more and more comfortable with the idea that, "Yes, I'm gay." The first time I typed it was difficult. I was hesitant to say those few little words. Then I found someone on Oasis who told a story so close to that of my own, I could have taken it word for word and signed my name to it. "Here is someone who can understand me," I thought. I immediately wrote him and he responded with a beautiful letter and closed by saying "Thanks for writing (I love getting mail...I can't believe I'm actually talking to gay people)." Gee, I felt the same way. He became my first gay friend, e-mail or otherwise. That was back in early July.

It was about this time that I also found IRC. I became a regular on the Talk City network. (You can frequently find me in the #gay or #gaydudes channels as an op; my nickname is Penguin) Here I found a host of friends whom I could rely on to be there when I wanted to talk or just shoot the bull.

Meanwhile, my new found self-acceptance allowed another wonderful thing to happen. I became comfortable. It took awhile, but I became more and more comfortable with myself as a gay male. (Even today though, I still felt a slight pang as I typed those last two words.)

I ventured into Greenwich Village in Manhattan and gathered enough courage to go to a few gay bars. Surprise! Surprise! They were full of normal people too! Well, not all of them, there's always a few of what I affectionately call "Hollywood Homos" but for the most part I found out that gay people are just like me. I wasn't alone.

Then one night while chatting away on Talk City I found someone from my home town. I couldn't believe it! He was in the Navy in Hawaii at the time, but he grew up less than one mile from my house. We talked for hours that night and have been good friends ever since. He now lives in Washington D.C. and is out of the Navy. We'll see each other whenever he comes home for the holidays and I'll probably visit him sometime this summer.

That same week I met several other people, all who live near me. Two others from my high school, one from a nearby town and a few who live in New York City. One of them, whom I'll call Matt, introduced me to a bar/dance club called Triangles in Danbury, CT. This being much closer to my home than NYC, I started going there regularly. I met one of my best friend's brothers there! I sort of always knew he was gay, but he had never known about me. I'll have more about Matt in a future column.

Although I haven't told my family or any of my straight friends about me yet, I plan on doing so soon. I think many of my friends already know, or at least have an idea. I'm going to start with my brother and with my friend who's brother is gay.

I have met so many great people either online or at a few places I frequent. I dated a few times, but nothing too serious yet. I'm still looking. It shouldn't be too difficult right? I mean, all I want is someone who is beautiful, has a perfect body, and is always there for me when I need him. No, I'm just kidding, that isn't who I'm looking for. What I really want is someone who will be faithful, honest, willing to listen; someone to share my interests with and who will share his with mine; someone who is fun and has a good sense of humor; someone to lift me up when I am down and whom I could likewise lift; someone to love. I want someone to love me for who I am; and I want to return that love ten-fold. But then again, isn't that what we all want?

Thanks for listening. If you feel like talking e-mail me at vincentmar@hotmail.com or catch me on Talk City. I look forward to hearing from you.

[About the Author]

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