I may be gay, or I may not be. Mostly I am confused.
When I reflect on it, I can recall numerous instances of being attracted to men; young, beautiful men, older rugged men; men with definite character and the courage to display it fully. Yet, when I have thought of expressing my attraction physically the best I can manage is a hug. When I was younger, sexual acts with men were not one of my fantasies. True I did on occasion envision a soft skinned bottom to be penetrated, but I did not know if it was male or female. When I had such fantasies, the butt typically was disembodied, floating free from any face or distinguishable other body parts. I did see women attached to the bottom sometimes, and when I found out that women had vaginas as well as anuses I was shocked. Having only learned of female anatomy from my cousin’s Barbie doll I thought women only had one hole down “there”. When I first began having sex, I found the female vagina alternatively beautiful and disgusting. In fact I found all sex alternatively beautiful and disgusting. I still do much of the time.
I explained to a friend recently that when I engage in sex it is as if I am an observer. I have virtually no sensations of arousal. I am able to successfully masturbate but when confronted by the real thing my body shuts down; most of the time. When I used to smoke pot sex felt wonderful. I had trouble with premature ejaculation at times but the feeling was there. Unfortunately, hallucinations and paranoia also accompanied my use of pot and alcohol. Once I got sober, sex lost its appeal. I found myself performing because it was expected of me; except for one time. I recall that when I returned from Japan after a failed attempt to become a Zen priest sex was very exciting, every bit as exciting as when I used to be high. I felt free of guilt and fear for one of the first times in my life. I wanted to continue on my sexual high and travel the world forever. Unfortunately, as diagnosed by very knowledgeable physicians, my exuberance was mania. I could scarcely argue since during my entire “episode” of sexual “liberation” I was certain that I was being filmed for a movie. Once my mania subsided, so did my sexual desire.
Today, I have returned to the land where sex is unimportant, or at least much less important than friendship and kindness. I would use the word “love” rather than kindness, but the term is so overused it has ceased to have much meaning for me. Kindness, gentleness, compassion; these seem more real and concrete than love and romance. And, they are much more precious to me than sex. If it were possible to have both kindness and sex I might reconsider things. But, I have not mastered this art. When I engage in sex it inevitably feels as if I am “performing”, trying to make sure my partner is pleased and that I am pleased in turn. The goal of climaxing overrides all else. Kindness seems to be replaced by lust and desire. The result is that I feel very sad afterwards. The same way I feel when I am selfish with money or other material things.
I am not saying that I no longer masturbate. I do. But it is primarily for relief of stress or to counteract boredom. I enjoy it. I truly do. When I masturbate I do not feel like I have to perform or be successful. I can take care of things and go on about my day.
Also, I am not saying I do not feel sexual attraction during the day. The beauty of the human form does not escape me as I engage in my pastime of people watching. I daydream about sexual encounters with both men and women, sometimes both together. Then I return to the reality of my experience. I am open to change. I truly am, but I will not waste anymore precious moments of life “wishing” and “desiring” change or trying to twist myself into changing. I will not hold my happiness hostage. I will not play the “I will be happy when” game. If change comes simply by being open, then it will come. If it requires endless fighting and struggling then I prefer to enjoy the day.
Thankfully, most of the guilt about sex has left me; at least the guilt that can be accessed by an honest attempt to face my fears and review my past behaviors. A friend has told me that I act as if I “were emotionally castrated at some point at life.” I do not know. There may very well be deep seated, repressed unconscious sexual feelings that I simply cannot access. To paraphrase Robert DeNiro’s character in the movie Awakenings, “I cannot tell anyone about the things of which I am not conscious.” I write. I draw. I share. Thanks to these efforts I can confront and discount guilt put upon me by other’s religious and political views. I am very thankful for this freedom. It allows me to candidly ask myself, “Am I gay, heterosexual or both?” I kind of like the idea that I may be both. At least that it is interesting.
Regardless of the fate of my genitalia, of one thing I am certain - whatever sexual activities or fantasies I engage in (or choose not to engage in) my first motive must be kindness. I can celebrate. I can fantasize and play roles. I can even be a little bit “kinky” in my dreaming – sometimes this is the most fun. But I must never force anyone to do things they are not comfortable doing. And equally important, I must not force myself or allow myself to be forced into doing something sexually that is uncomfortable to me. When I do this I give up all hope of seeing sex as a cause of celebration, and turn it into nothing more than a duty. I do not know how to enjoy sex, and perhaps I never shall. But I am fairly certain that any hopes of sexual enjoyment must begin with honesty.
So, I guess I AM GAY if the definition of gay is that I can think of men who are sexually attractive to me. Some of them are very attractive. But I can think of women who I find very attractive as well; many of them. So I guess the real truth is that I AM GAY, I AM HETERO, I AM BISEXUAL, I AM A REPROBATE – A CELIBATE BISEXUAL REPROBATE. I may be celibate for the rest of my life, but I still am Dale even if my sexual status is ambiguous. Perhaps this is why my Grandmother Hankins wanted me to have an ambiguous name, a name that could be male or female, pink or blue, but in the end mostly just purple. Today I am content with this thought; very content, because I am speaking from my heart as clearly as I know how to speak. I know there are family and friends who will not be comfortable with my words, if they ever happen to read them. I do not know what to do about that. My words would be true even if I had never written them. I hope that anyone who is offended will forgive me for any pain I may cause them. I certainly mean them no harm and I wish them well. Perhaps they can do the same for me.