Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hope Springs Eternal

As a man who likes to be in the presence of other people, I often find myself honing in on those around me who interest me. Sometimes they are in my workplace, my apartment building, or any kind of social group/gathering where sustained interaction is possible. And sometimes, I can count three occasions in the last three years, I fancy the idea of a romance with one of them.

These are not really crushes, per se, and I do not lust after them. In all three cases the men were not the type that I would have the strongest physical reaction to, and they have diverse backgrounds. Something about their personality, friendliness, and my perception that these individuals may like to be more intimately connected to me, sets me off so that I could see myself in a caring relationship with them. Then, whenever the fact that I’m gay pops into my mind (and it does usually every day, and more than once), I have a real, kind person, a face, to relate it to.

So if anything, these attachments of mine are longings, or perhaps even beacons of hope, for finding a meaningful and loving relationship naturally, i.e., within the sphere of the heterosexual and homosexual worlds mixed together (the real world). Not being one to put my own sexual orientation out there for everyone to see, I let my conversations, acquaintanceships, and sometimes even friendships, evolve with these people. And today, I heard implicitly the verdict from my third such fixation: heterosexual. Thus goes yet another beacon of hope and another falsely-perceived opportunity for a romantic relationship.

The reason why the LGBT world is set apart from the heterosexual world seems to be to make these interactions and finding opportunities for courtship easier. Within the gay world, we don't have to worry as much about discovering that the person of interest isn't gay. But creating such a world based on sexuality seems to be a rather difficult project. Too often the 'sex' part of sexuality takes on an all-too-prominent role, and the primary institutions that define the gay world focus on a culture of drinking (and sometimes drugs) and other activities that would turn a lot of people off. Beyond the classic gay bars and clubs implied above, gay events (such as pride parades and cultural festivals) provide important gatherings and a safe space, but they are also all too ephemeral (and as such often most advantageous to the most extroverted). Specialized groups, each with a purpose, also exist in the queer community. However, these groups cannot accommodate all LGBT persons. Additionally, because homosexuals are as diverse as the broader demographics of our society, with varying backgrounds and points of view, these groups are not always capable of creating a rewarding environment for all of their members within the context of their mission. Related to groups, there are also online interactions, where people often act with more evasiveness and superficiality than anyone one would meet in real life. So while the LGBT world may seem to be the only viable option with respect to finding that special someone, one must ask, is it always the best?

I suppose it depends strongly on the case. What seems like the best solution is the advisable course of action for managing any stock portfolio: diversification. In other words, it's important to have multiple outlets (or forums, both within and outside the gay community) without putting too much stock into one in particular. However, this requires a careful juggling act of multiple environments: not revealing too much of yourself here, revealing a little more of yourself there, and standing your ground without feeling too bad when you sway too far one way or the other in this complicated balancing game.

Sometimes I ask myself, is all of this, which takes much effort, even worth it? In my case, I often like to think that I'm strong and can overcome any need that I have for a relationship. After all, I am a fiercely independent man; I'm used to living alone and entertaining myself with various projects. However, to quote the classic torch song 'Night and Day,' there is always in the background an undeniable thirst, "such a hungry yearning, burning, inside of me, this torment." It's something much deeper than a desire for sex, romance, or self-expression; it seems to be at its core a longing for wholeness by sharing the soul with another person. And it is on that very quest, try as I might at times to abandon it, that I will see through as far as I can go, as much of the rest of the single world. And on this adventure, where false hope springs eternal, at least there always is hope for something wonderful.

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