December 27, 2000 - Wednesday 11:55AM Eastern Standard Time
Christmas Eve, I headed to bed at around midnight in a relatively "regular" state of mind; not depressed or anxious or feeling lost... and not what I'd expected considering that my usual Christmas Eve activities would have kept me awake until 2AM or so wrapping presents for Santa. Indeed, not trying to pull off a secret production, the mood was much more relaxed; I think for everyone. Not better or worse, just more relaxed.
Christmas Day came and my brother woke everyone at the customary 5AM hour. He opened his presents, and I opened mine, and well, it just wasn't nearly as lacking as I'd thought it would have been. Sure, it would have been better with Larry and the kids present, but I figured I'd have to be sloshed to make it through. Instead, I opened my presents, played with my new digital picture frame, and just had a nice Christmas morning.
By the time the afternoon had come around, I'd wondered if I should call and see how the day was going in California. On one hand, I didn't want to emphasize that this special day was being spent apart, but on the other, I did want to share it with them. I didn't have to decide whether or not to call, though, as Larry called here and I spoke to Katie on the speakerphone for a bit.
Christmas Night, too, brought about the unexpected. A call from my uncle in the late afternoon invited us to a get-together with the rest of my mom's side of the family, the side I'd basically disowned. Yet, the dinner seemed like a decent idea... or at least, a bearable one. So, Mom cooked, I made stuffing, and the four of us headed over to his house.
When one of my cousins opened the door, I didn't recognize him, and instead thought how he must have been the relative of the white trash my white "refuse" family had married. (My cousins of marrying age are all boys and straight, so he couldn't have been married to one of them directly.) Yet as I went in and saw some faces that I hadn't seen in 8 or 9 years, I was pleasantly surprised how my other cousins had turned out. I was amazed at the difference time had made, too.
The girl who was only five or six when I last saw her was now nearly as tall as me. The cousin who was a boy when I last saw him, was now a man, complete with a man's face, the extra poundage of marriage, and a daughter. It was comforting, in some odd fashion. It was as though we'd "grown up" and we were still there. And while no one spoke much of my cousin Jason, who was killed in a car wreck in June, or of my uncle Chris, who was killed in a car wreck last year, I'm sure we all thought of them.
Indeed, thoughts of Jason had gone through my mind as soon as I saw his straight twin brother. I had thought about contacting him before, when Mom said that he was having real problems with Jason's death, but I wasn't exactly sure how to handle the situation. Part of me wanted to be very honest about Jason's torment from the religious rhetoric his brother told him about gay guys going to hell and from his brother's saying that Jason would give his baby AIDS, yet the other part could see no real point in prolonging the pain. If I wanted, I could "make it better" by saying that Jason understood, that he'd wished it was different, but that I explained to him that it wasn't about him, more about ignorance. But I can't even buy ready-made greeting cards because they say something that isn't exactly true in my mind. How could I possibly lie in such grand proportions? Even when I was writing those e-mails to Scott, even when he was obviously lying to me, I knew I would be telling him the truth a day or two later. How could I possibly lie at that level and keep it to myself, forever?
So, who knows? He did tell me that I should come by his place, but I don't know if I will before I head back to California. I don't want to make it worse, but I know I can't lie and make it better.
December 28, 2000 - Thursday 2:55PM Eastern Standard Time
A few days after I arrived back here in Kentucky, I placed the following personal ad on Yahoo!
Cute, 25, and I don't hate that I'm gay!
I'm a masculine cute 25 year old guy who happens to be gay... and I'm totally fine with that fact. Believe it or not, I actually LIKE myself. And in my normal guy life, being gay is not a big deal... must sound impossible given everybody's thoughts around these parts that all gay guys are either liking themselves and being all flamey OR hating themselves and being all masculine. I like myself AND I'm masculine... and I'm not a bear. ;-) So, anyway, I'm here, back in Richmond at the parents' house, visiting for the holiday. I was born and raised here for 18 years before heading off to Boston University then on to the University of Southern California. I now live in L.A. and am moving down to San Diego, but I figured I'm here for the next 2 weeks, so see if there are any guys with a Kentucky sensibility who'd be interested in making a new friend... and heck, if things hit it off right, I've been known to spontaneously fly my friends to California for a weekend. ;) So, check out my profile, look at my websites, and drop me a line back. I'm a darn fine catch, if I do say so myself. *grin*
P.S. I prefer blondes and red heads, but if you're height/weight proportionate and decent+ looking, drop me a line. Oh, and ya either gotta have a picture or an e-mail address to get a response. If you're only gonna write once, save us both the time and don't bother.
In less than a week, I've gotten over 40 responses, and almost without fail, they've come from free e-mail accounts with a fake name in the "From:" field. "Jason Lawrence" is really Brad. "Chase Webster" is Kent. "Ty Smith" is really Don. The list goes on and on, and I just don't get it.
Moreover, the responses have come from Arkansas, Washington D.C., Tennessee, and the complete other end of Kentucky, six hours away. I've gotten "Married But Looking" and a lot of "I'm not gay" (but "curious"). I've gotten e-mails saying that the sender wants to be my "friend", that he "would like to maybe j/o with a guy sometime but [he is] not gay." Oh, and that he has a nude picture he can send me if I send one in return.
Everyone seems to be completely fucked up and hating himself, even considering that "everyone" is only the people writing a response to an ad specifically stating how I'm comfortable with the fact that I'm gay. I can only barely imagine how much self hatred exists in the general gay population back here.
And what's more ironic is that no one I know cares that I'm gay. In fact, I've never had any problem being gay with anyone back here. My parents don't care, my siblings don't care, and I'm even continually surprised at HOW much my brother doesn't care, at how he even treats it as something of which he's proud. He tells folks that I'm gay, any time the subject of being gay comes up. Apparently, as of late, some friends and he were trying to determine if some other guys were gay. My brother told them that he'd bring me around as I could tell if guys were gay just by looking at them. When another friend of his came out to him and expressed some concern about my parents' reaction, my brother said that he didn't care and that my parents didn't care either as I'm gay, too. His friends know, his girlfriend knows; it's so not a big deal for him. Quite amazing considering that he used to call me "fag" when we bickered as a kid.
So being gay in Kentucky is a series of contradictions. The hatred doesn't come from without, where it's assumed to exist, but from within. All I do know is that I'm sure I couldn't live here all the time. Even in the limited time I've been back here, a week and a half, I've become completely aggravated and disgusted at the constant denials and lies.
December 30, 2000 - Saturday 2:29PM Eastern Standard Time
The other day, during my little birthday party, Bryce, Alex, Noam and I were talking about online personal ads, and somehow the subject of pictures came up. Both Bryce and Alex said that I didn't look like the picture I'd used in my ad when they'd met me, implying/indicating that I didn't look as cute, while Noam said that I looked better in person.
Of course, the reason I chose the picture I chose was because I looked my absolute cutest in it. It's the same reason I shave on a first date. We all put our best foot forward... and mind you, Bryce and I did date, and Noam wanted to date me, and well, Alex called our second meeting a "date" several times that night: It's not like they were displeased with the actual me.
So, anyway, with the newly fallen snow yesterday, I decided it was time to give a fresh face to an old concept. Of the fifty or so pictures I snapped with Mom's digital camera, three top the list, and two almost made it.
8:59PM Eastern Standard Time
I've been here a week and a half, and I'm nearly at my time-back-home limit. While life in the city has been rather rough lately and thereby caused me to think about moving back to the country, I now fully realize how much I was romanticizing Kentucky. I now remember, with clarity, exactly why I was so certain I had to move away from here in the first place.
My general Kentucky observations: Life revolves around food, gas stations have signs that read "new and used guns on sale inside," the county courthouse has a nativity scene on the grass in front of it, cigarette stores are plentiful and every restaurant has smoking and non-smoking sections (but you'd be hard pressed to find a Playboy, let alone a Playgirl or actual sex shop), people constantly pay for things by check... and, most importantly, everyone knows everything about everyone else... and what they don't know, we're doing our best to hide from them and they're doing their best to find out.
In my specific world within Kentucky, a powerful smell of natural gas in one room of the house is completely ignored/disregarded. Another room holds a self-contained gas stove which heats the house yet somehow doesn't need an exhaust... yet smells like unburnt fuel. The yard where the cars are parked reeks of gasoline, which Dad attributes to the gas tanks in the back of the truck which have spilt (but which supposedly pose no threat through inhalation or via combustion). The four small dogs bark at all hours of the day and night for no reason whatsoever. The pee-filled toilet remains unflushed as to "conserve water" yet the detergent laden water from the dishwasher and washing machine empty straight into the ground/creek.
The refrigerator holds a freshly roasted turkey, chicken salad, a honey baked ham, and a country ham, yet there's nothing to eat... so Mom has to cook something or we go out. And when we do go out, people feel no qualms about staring, figuring out if they know us or not.
I mean, seriously, when we went out to eat tonight, it was as though we were celebrities, with everyone turning and looking. Yet for each person entering the restaurant, the routine was the same. "Who's that? Do I know her? Who's she with?" seemed to be going through everyone's mind. And when a late arrival caused me to sit at a peculiar angle facing another table at Cracker Barrel the other day, I couldn't help but see that two late-twentysomething girls were gossiping with their heads just several inches apart... for the entire course of the meal.
And that's not even thinking about the whole aforementioned closet case crap... Whatever miniscule doubt I had about moving to San Diego as opposed to Kentucky is now gone. I just couldn't take it back here.